The word “veterinarian” often elicits a sense of dedicated service, as in dedicated to the care of animals and to the veterinary profession itself.
Many veterinarians attest that their love for animals began at a young age. They work hard to get into—and pay for—vet school and then spend a lifetime of long hours and dedicated care helping the very animals they once fell in love with.
David Schwarz, DVM, is one such example. He’s been in practice for 36 years, and although Dr. Schwarz knew he wanted to be a veterinarian at 8 years old, he didn’t foresee becoming a practice owner.
“Circumstances just worked out that way,” says Schwarz, who has owned and operated the Ashland Animal Hospital in Ashland, Mass., since 1977.
Some of the challenges of being a veterinary practice owner are continually trying to provide the best care to patients, educating clients and maintaining a state-of-the-art animal hospital employing highly qualified staff, according to Schwarz.
“It is an endless work in progress,” he says.
Yet, he doesn’t stop there. Schwarz has kept busy over the years by getting involved with various industry groups and organizations.
For instance, Schwarz served as president of the Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) from 2007 to 2009. Now he sits on the board of MVMA Charities Inc. and the New England Veterinary Medical Association.
“The Charities is a great organization that not only helps raise money for some of the important causes in Massachusetts, but also gives our members a way to get involved in their communities,” Schwarz says. “When veterinarians partner with others, great things happen. The Charities is one of them.”
Schwarz is also president of the State of Massachusetts Animal Response Team (SMART). As president, Schwarz travels throughout the state to collaborate with organizations, cities and towns as they work toward planning a timely and effective response to emergencies involving animals.
“SMART has and will continue to grow as we work hard to be sure that when an emergency or disaster happens in Massachusetts the animals will get the attention and care they need,” Schwarz says. “Taking care of the animals is really about taking care of the people. We are continuing to try to help emergency managers in our state and bring best practices to everyone involved in our mission.”
Going Above and Beyond
Schwarz’s commitment extends beyond the veterinary profession as well.
“I have always been interested in being helpful to whatever community I am in,” he says.
Schwarz volunteers with the local Medical Reserve Corp., which supplements resources such as the Red Cross and public health, fire, police and emergency management services.
When his children were young, he was on the school board and coached baseball.
“I had the most fun coaching all three children’s baseball teams, and I was one of the commissioners for the league,” he says. “That lasted 15 years total … hard to believe.”
His work within the veterinary profession and community hasn’t gone unnoticed.
In 2010, Schwarz received the Richard Stein Award from the Animal Control Officers Association of Massachusetts and in March, Schwarz received the MVMA’s Distinguished Service Award.
“This is an exciting time for the Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association and the MVMA Charities as we are honoring Dr. David Schwarz for over 35 years of dedication and service to veterinary medicine in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” says Susan Curtis, executive director of the MVMA. “He is being honored by the MVMA this year for his exemplary service and dedication to the veterinary profession and all animals in Massachusetts.”
Schwarz describes the MVMA gala where he received the award as “a tremendous evening.”
“The [Distinguished Service Award] is the highest award that the MVMA bestows,” he says. “Receiving recognition from my colleagues is the highest praise I can achieve. It is truly an honor to be recognized by my peers.”
Down the Road
The road on which Schwarz traveled is clear. He selected the veterinary profession at an early age and from then on “stacked the deck in my favor” to attain that goal. This included going out of his school district to attend an agricultural high school in New York City, a big step toward getting into an agricultural college and then to Cornell University for his DVM degree, he says.
What’s ahead is yet to be determined. When asked where he sees himself down the road, Schwarz answers, “Good question.”
Schwarz notes that his accomplishments are from the help of others.
“I consider myself very lucky to be able to work with so many people that do so many wonderful things,” he says. “My accomplishments have come on the ‘shoulders of giants.’ We have a great veterinary community in Massachusetts, including animal welfare organizations, the veterinary college, and when we all work together great things happen.”