Marlboro Woman President of Veterinary Association
Veterinarian says hers is a 'people business'

Worcester Evening Gazette
March 12, 1987
By Gayle Taylor

Before veterinarian Laura Schwarcz [LeVan] decided to devote her life to helping and caring for animals, she held a variety of jobs: a hospital admissions clerk, a counselor for mentally retarded adults and a factory worker.

"But what linked them together is that they all involve working with people," she said. "I consider this a people business, not an animal business." The need for a pet in the family is a type of social service, Dr. Schwarcz, 39, said she searched long and hard before she made up her mind to devote her career to caring for small animals such as dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, snakes and even iguanas.

"I really didn't settle on anything when I was in college," Dr. Schwarcz said. "Nothing really thrilled me."

While in college she did have an interest in biology and, later, medicine- human medicine. "But I wanted to study more than one species," she said, so she turned to veterinary medicine. "I found it very rewarding," she said.

Dr. Schwarcz was recently rewarded in another way. Last month, she was named president of the nearly 100-year-old organization.

The statewide association, based in North Grafton has about 500 members.

"The association is really an association of hard workers," Dr Schwarcz said. "Vets often work 60 to 80 hours a week, yet these people still find time to devote to the organization."

Yesterday, Fifi, a 14-year-old black poodle, was brought to the hospital after her owner said she wouldn't eat or drink.

As she took her temperature, looked into her ears and mouth, Dr. Schwarcz gently reassured the dog, who eventually appeared soothed.

She applied the same tenderness as she preformed an electrocardiogram to another 14-year-old poodle.

The hospital has an EKG device that allows the animal to be hooked up to the machine and tested through a telephone modem that connects to cardiologist in New York City.

The process takes about three minutes to perform providing that the animal stays fairly quiet. Results of the test and therapeutic advice are available in about an hour after the exam is completed, and are phoned back to the hospital by the specialist.

"It's like having a specialist right here in the hospital," Dr. Schwarcz said.

While the most common procedures performed at the hospital include preventive care, Dr. Schwarcz said she has had a number of geriatric disorders to contend with, including heart disease and diabetes, which are treated virtually the same way as in human cases.

"People are taking better care of their animals. The average life span of a dog is now 14 to 18 years, as opposed to a few years ago, when the life span was 9 to 12 years," she said.

As an owner of her own pet (she didn't want to specify what type so that she wouldn't offend any of her patients), Dr. Schwarcz seems pleased to have a knowledge and devotion that she can express at home.

"But all my patients are special to me. It's like they're all my pets."