I had the opportunity to visit ASPCA Spay/ Neuter Clinic located in South Los Angeles and I shadowed Dr. Peyvand Silverman a couple of weeks ago. Dr. Silverman is a shelter vet and also the veterinary staff manager at ASPCA LA. I love her work and personal story, so I asked her a few questions about her journey in veterinary medicine, her role in animal welfare, burnout tips, and more.
Why you decided to go into veterinary medicine?
Just like a lot of other veterinarians out there, I have always loved animals and had a passion to care for them. My parents were always supportive of my love for animals and helped me take care of them in our house in Iran. Growing up, I had all sorts of animals as part of our family. Dogs, birds, turtles, chickens, ducks, and even a squirrel!
What motivated you to go into shelter medicine?
After I worked in private practice for a year I noticed that my passion to help the helpless and injured animals wasn’t completely fulfilled. I then worked in an animal shelter where I could focus all my time taking care of the stray animals that were brought in either by Animal Control officers or the public. I soon learned that to be a good shelter veterinarian I had to be excellent in high-volume spay/neuter surgeries, a proficient emergency veterinarian, great in wound management, and also a strong public educator.
What is your typical day like?
I currently work at the ASPCA clinics in Los Angeles as the Veterinary Staff Manager. I work in different areas such as spay/neuter clinics which also includes our mobile trucks, Primary Pet Care, and work with the ASPCA relocation team to provide health certificates for the shelter animals that can be relocated to low intake shelters in different parts of the country. A part of my job is managing the veterinarians and relief veterinarians and also training them in becoming better high-volume spay/neuter surgeons and learn the ASPCA’s protocols to better serve the animals in the community.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Our services in LA are fully subsidized for clients in certain zip codes with a low-median-income. Being able to help the under-served community and putting a smile on their face is priceless. A lot of these clients wouldn’t be able to keep their pets due to the costs associated with pet care, licensing, etc. Knowing that I can help these pets stay with their loving families is very rewarding.
What is your role in animal welfare and animal cruelty prevention?
ASPCA has always been a driving force in prevention of cruelty to animals. As an ASPCA veterinarian I have an obligation to protect the victims of animal cruelty and severe neglect and ensuring that perpetrators of these violent crimes are held accountable. This is essential to the safety and well-being of our communities.
As a shelter vet, do you have any tips on preventing burnout?
My experience as a shelter vet has taught me that sometimes you have to look at the big picture and all of the animals that you treat successfully, not just the ones that possibly don’t make it out of the shelter. Stress is a given in a shelter environment, but burnout doesn’t have to be. You must be creative and have a supportive team. You also need to have established set protocols and follow shelter medicine guidelines that have been made for shelter veterinarians to use. Learn how to delegate tasks because you can’t do it all. Lastly, don’t be scared to ask questions. There are many veterinarians out there that are willing to help and all you have to do is to reach out to them.