Dr. Melanie McLean
Office of the Director
1. Why did you become a veterinarian?
I became a veterinarian because, ever since I can remember, I loved animals and wanted to help them. It didn’t hurt that I was also good in science in school!
2. What made you want to work for CVM?
After graduating from vet school, I worked at a couple of veterinary hospitals in the Baltimore area. But, for many reasons, private practice wasn’t for me. I started looking at government jobs for veterinarians, as I always had an interest in public health. CVM seemed like a great fit, and it is!
3. What is the best thing about being a veterinarian for CVM?
Quality of life. CVM offers a great work-life balance, something I was lacking in private practice. It’s also nice working with people who really care about CVM’s mission to protect human and animal health.
4. What does the veterinary profession mean to you?
When I think of the veterinary profession as a whole, I think of a group of dedicated people working hard to better the lives of both animals and people. I think a lot of the work veterinarians do goes unnoticed. Vets make our world a happier and safer place in so many ways.
5. What is your most memorable moment as a veterinarian?
I have many memorable moments, both good and bad, both funny and sad. I liked the attachments I made with some pets and their families. There was “Zca-Zca,” an 18-year-old cat with kidney failure. I think her name was supposed to be “Zsa-Zsa,” after Zsa-Zsa Gabor, but her owners misspelled it. On several occasions, Zca-Zca was hospitalized for intravenous fluids, and her owners diligently visited her every day. Zca-Zca’s “human dad” would bring his guitar and sing to her in her cage at the hospital. And each time I entered the exam room to discuss Zca-Zca’s latest test results, her “dad” would raise both arms straight into the air like a football referee signaling a touchdown. I guess that was his way of greeting me. I laugh about it even now.
Then, there was “Allie,” an 11-year-old black lab owned by a severely handicapped teenage boy and his family. Allie and the Orioles were the boy’s two biggest loves in life. Like Zca-Zca, Allie had kidney failure. The family and I kept her going for almost a year. Every day at home, Allie’s family would give her fluids under the skin to keep her as hydrated as possible and other medications to slow down the progression of the kidney failure. When Allie’s kidney values got really high, she would stay in the hospital for a few days on intravenous fluids. Eventually, Allie’s kidney failure became so bad that she was suffering. Her family made the tough choice to let her go. The day I euthanized Allie, with her family present, was one of the hardest in my career.