Veterinarians are a relatively diverse group of people. Of course, I’m not talking about racial or gender diversity because the overwhelming majority of veterinarians under 50 are white women. When I talk about diversity, I mean diversity of opinions and ideologies. As best as I can tell, there are approximately equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats in the veterinary world. There are vegans and paleos. There are those who favor declawing cats, and there are those who oppose it. There are some who feel that veterinary schools are producing too many graduates, and those who believe the U.S. has a shortage of vets.
Over the past several years, only one thing (or rather, one person) has been successful in uniting vets of all ideological persuasions. I’m referring to Dr. Pol. In a future post I will discuss the contempt that he inspires in his colleagues, but for now suffice it to say that Pol is universally unpopular among vets.
Well, move over, Dr. Pol. America has a new least favorite vet, and her name is Kristen Lindsey of Texas.
Surely you know the story. Lindsey is believed to have posted a picture of herself on Facebook with her “first bow kill.” The bow kill in question was a cat, which she claimed was feral but which other people claimed was a pet cat named Tiger — not that it matters. Lindsey is suspected of shooting the cat in the head with an arrow and then bragging about it. To quote her post: “My first bow kill, lol. The only good feral tomcat is one with an arrow through it’s [sic] head! Vet of the year award … Gladly accepted.”
When a someone suggested her actions might cost Lindsey her job, Lindsey allegedly replied in the Facebook post’s comments section, “no I did not lose my job. Lol. Psshh. Like someone would get rid of me. I’m awesome!”
Predictably, things went south for Lindsey very rapidly thereafter. Her employer promptly fired her and used duct tape to cover up her name on the hospital’s sign. Her post went viral. She deleted the post, and then removed her Facebook account.
By that time it was too late for Lindsey. A furious public has hounded Lindsey in an effort to ensure that she never practices veterinary medicine again. The furor erupted anew in June when a grand jury declined to indict her. However, on Sept. 1 it was announced that the Texas Veterinary Medical Examiners Board has determined to sanction Lindsey. Her punishment will probably be announced in October. Many are hoping that her veterinary license will be revoked.
Not that it matters. In this era of Google, Lindsey is unemployable as a veterinarian and probably also as anything else. Her best hope is to marry someone with lots of money and no conscience.
So, you may ask, how do Lindsey’s colleagues feel about this matter? The average cat lover may be furious at Lindsey, but I can assure you that such feelings pale in comparison to those of the average veterinarian. Lindsey’s bad behavior has made us worry that we all look bad.
The American Veterinary Medical Association, the Texas Veterinary Medical Association, and Colorado State University (where Lindsey obtained her veterinary degree) fell all over themselves at their first opportunities in efforts to condemn Lindsey and distance themselves from her actions.
The Veterinary Information Network, or VIN, is a proprietary internet community for veterinarians. VIN’s message boards are the original social network for veterinarians, and Lindsey has been a hot topic on the boards. Words and phrases that come up on the boards include monster, future serial killer, sickening, disgusted, idiot, personality disorder, and think of suicide. The topic sparked enough anger that threads degenerate into redirected aggression as vets attack each other over hunting, cats vs. songbirds, and even whether it’s okay to kill a neighbor’s dog that has been killing pet chickens.
Things got sufficiently heated for Dr. Michelle Gaspar, the veterinary world’s mindfulness meditation guru, to step in and write an article about whether the veterinary world might ever forgive Lindsey. The replies were a mix of “no” and, I suspect out of respect for Gaspar, “forgive but not forget.”
How about you? How do you feel about Lindsey, and could you ever forgive her? I’d like to hear the thoughts of Catster readers.
Other stories by Dr. Eric Barchas:
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