*Animal Planet recently launched The Vet Life, a weekly reality television series showcasing the experiences of three young Black veterinarians trying to balance the excitement and responsibilities of work and life.
“We are normal, happy people who love their families,” offers Diarra Blue, DVM, veterinary physician and show co-star. “We also love animals and we love fixing them!”
Blue, along with partners Michael Lavigne III, D.V.M. and Aubrey J. Ross II, D.V.M., co-own Cy-Fair Animal Hospital, a Cypress, Texas-based practice that focuses on the all-around well-being of household pets. Each week, the vibrant trio takes viewers on adventures set at their one-year-old facility.
“All three of us had a love for animals at a very young age. Drs. Blue and Ross knew they wanted to become veterinarians at a young age. But, I didn’t think about pursuing it as a career until I was older,” Dr. Lavigne reveals. “It wasn’t until I was dating my wife and she saw my passion for animals that I thought about it. She gave me the idea to go into veterinary medicine.”
Each week, the audience gets a glimpse of diagnoses, treatments, and surgeries for various animals. Episodes highlight a surprise goat pregnancy, a canine C-section, and a dog with a zoonotic disease (diseases that can spread between animals and humans).
“We are blessed with the ability to not only help the animals, but we also help the owners,” Dr. Lavigne explains. “Pets have healing power. That’s why you see so many therapy and service animals that impact human beings. Pets can help people heal physically and emotionally. Many people consider them family members.”
Blue, Lavigne, and Ross are Tuskeegee alums
The trio met and completed their training at Tuskegee University’s College of Veterinary Medicine (TUCVM), the nation’s only veterinary school at a historically Black university. Since 1945, it has graduated more than 2,500 veterinarians. The institution recently received a federal grant to recruit more students. TUCVM’s dean Ruby Perry, D.V.M. says the university offers a family atmosphere and a rigorous education.
“Students enrolled in veterinary school have to be serious and committed to studying and learning the material to not just graduate, but to also pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE),” Dr. Perry informs. “By the time they graduate from here they have acquired the necessary observation, communication, motor coordination, and intellectual skills needed to diagnose and treat animals.”
Dr. Ross has many fond memories of his time at the Alabama-based institution.
“My favorite moment at Tuskegee was walking across the stage and they told me I was a doctor,” he recalls. “I remember the dean handing me my doctorate of Veterinary Medicine. It was a huge weight off my shoulder.”
The partners agree that anyone with passion, ambition, determination, and faith, can overcome any obstacle standing in the way of their dreams.
“Without ambition, you are just settling for mediocrity. You cannot live a full life without pushing yourself,” Dr. Blue asserts. “I want to be the best veterinarian I can possibly be. When I put on my mask, I can compete with the best of them.”
Dr. Ross adds, “Every day I thank God for allowing me to live my dream. A lot of people are intelligent, but so many people fall short of their goals because they lack confidence or resources. I am blessed to be able to live my dream.”
The show mixes family values, animal medicine, and friendly competition for inspiring entertainment.
The Vet Life appears on Animal Planet each Saturday at 10 p.m. CST. For more information on Cy-Fair Animal Hospital, log on to www.CyFairAnimalHospital.com. And, click www.Tuskegee.edu for the Tuskegee College of Veterinary Medicine.