There are veterinarians who help cats and veterinarians who hate cats. Some comfort dogs and others have to put their own dogs to sleep. But a veterinarian who’s allergic to animals? There can’t be such a thing, could there?
According to a recent Philadelphia Inquirer article, yes there absolutely could. Dominic Dallago, VMD, and Becky Ehrlich, VMD, are two such veterinarians.
Feline patients can easily trigger the asthma of Dr. Dallago, who works at World of Animals Veterinary Hospital at Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. “I usually sniffle, snort,” Dallago told Philadelphia Inquirer. “Cats will do it to me. But animal allergies and asthma are the norm for me. And it's pretty common in the profession. An allergist said I'd be in misery all my life as a vet. But it's ingrained in me to do this.”
For Dr. Ehrlich, who works at Radnor Veterinary Hospital in Wayne, Pa., the allergy resulted in her eyes swelling shut, her throat closing up and passing out — all thanks to a guinea pig. Even though she still can’t occupy the same space as a guinea pig — or even be in the room it had been in without the room being bleached first — she won’t give it up. “I keep working because this job is what I need to do. I couldn't do anything else with my life,” Ehrlich told Philadelphia Inquirer. “I was told by doctors my career was not going to happen because of my animal allergies, but it just pushed me harder.”
And Dallago and Ehrlich aren’t the only ones. Philadelphia Inquirer reports that researchers at University of California, Davis conducted allergy skin tests on several veterinarians. Nearly 90 percent of them had an allergy. In addition, a study in Canada showed that “39 percent of veterinarians who did not have prior allergies developed one during their careers.”
Still, veterinarians with allergies often persevere and keep the job they love. “Being a vet is a very fun job,” Dallago told Philadelphia Inquirer. “Allergies are just a part of my life.”
Do you have an allergy to an animal (or animals)? How do you handle it as a veterinarian? Share your story in the comments.