“Veterinary medicine is not my profession – it is my life. Everything we do revolves around animals. In our practice, with my associates, it’s the same way,” he said. “Animals are their life.”
It is no exaggeration to say that animals are his life. He and his wife, Jill, care for more than 60 pets on their farm, including seven dogs, five cats, donkeys, horses, sheep, Scottish Highlanders and – of course – rescued chickens.
The first and last thing they do every day is feed, water and spend time with their pets.
“We don’t even know how to turn on the TV,” he said with a laugh. “Our lives are made up of animals. We look forward to our animals. I think that’s what God put us on this earth for.”
The hardest thing about having so many animals was realizing that he couldn’t heal everything. For example, their 35-year-old donkey, Elaine, was born with a club foot. (She is named after a client who is a podiatrist.)
“I’m just keeping her comfortable,” he said. “I can’t solve everything.”
It’s fitting that he wins an award from the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show as some of his patients have won in the past. His own Norwich terrier, Doloris, was best of breed in the competition in 2020.
At home, Doloris potters around with her grandmother, Louise, and daughter, Loretta, as well as other dogs such as an Irish Wolfhound named Big Al, a Jack Russell Terrier named Heidi Klum, and a Spinone Italiano named Tony de Spinone.
Regardless of the breed or species, each beloved pet has its own personality, Rossi said.
“They’re all important,” he said.
Rossi hopes the award and donation to MightyVet will shed light on veterinarians’ commitment to helping animals — and the challenges they face.
You look into the eyes of (the animal) and they come into your heart. And if it doesn’t go well, it’s terrible for the owner, but also for us. We take it personally. We cry ourselves.
A 2019 study found that veterinarians are more than twice as likely to die by suicide than the general population. Issues like exhaustion, high student debt, stress and burnout were already rife before the pandemic led to increased staff shortages, longer wait times with protocols on the streets and stressed – and sometimes abusive – customers.
So MightyVet and its related organization Not One More Vet want to support veterinary professionals with the challenges they face.
“We’re human too,” Rossi said. “We all do our best. But it’s not like repairing a car. You look into the eyes of (the animal) and they come into your heart. And if it doesn’t go well, it’s terrible for the owner, but also for us. We take it personally. We cry ourselves.”
While Rossi understands that people should advocate for their pets because animals can’t talk, he also wants them to be nice to vets. He said that if vets were motivated by money, they would work in human medicine or other professions.
Instead, they have chosen a labor of love.
“Every vet I know is out to help the animals,” he said. ‘That’s our oath. We are here for you and your animals.”