WESTMONT – Emily Doemland always has loved animals – she was the classmate who would have zookeepers bring animals to her birthday parties – and her family always had pets growing up.
When she got to Downers Grove South High School, the Westmont native discovered how much she liked her science classes, and a career goal became obvious – veterinarian.
But would she be able to stomach the heartbreaking cases?
Doemland told a story of participating in a clinic in high school during which a young pit bull named Keba was determined to have the parvo virus, which can be fatal but is treatable. The college-aged owners did not have the money to pay for the expensive treatment, she said.
“They surrendered the puppy,” she said. “So I had to spend the whole day taking care of the puppy before I had to euthanize it. I still remember her very well.
“I remember being like, ‘OK, if I can get through that, I’ll be OK to get through being a vet.’”
Doemland graduated from Augustana College with a bachelor’s degree in biology in 2010 and was accepted into the University of Illinois’ Veterinary Medicine doctoral program, one of 28 such schools in the country.
This spring, her third year of the four-year program, she was honored by the school with the Dr. J.E. Salsbury Scholarship award. The award is given for initiative, perseverance and potential for leadership.
Doemland said her experience with Keba taught her that you can’t fix every problem.
“You just have to know to keep trying your best next time,” she said.
After graduation, she said she wants to work in a clinic that treats cats, dogs and other pets. She hopes she never has to turn anyone’s animal away. That includes raccoons, squirrels and other small neighborhood animals in need of help that occasionally are brought into pet clinics, she said.
“Most the time you try to look on the bright side,” she said. “What can you do to help the animal?”
She is putting that attitude to work this spring during her first round of clinical rotations. This summer, she will take a rotation in China, learning alternative medicine including acupuncture and herbal medicine.
“Not many clinics do it, but I think it’s a good option if [we] run out of options,” she said.