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To: Todd Lavender, President Animal Hospitals and Pet Care Services at VCA

Justice for Vanessa Gutierrez: Demand Compassion and Support from VCA for All Veterinary Staff

Justice for Vanessa Gutierrez: Demand Compassion and Support from VCA for All Veterinary Staff

The loss of Vanessa Gutierrez (Veterinary Assistant, VCA Veterinary Specialists of Connecticut) on October 27, 2021 was an avoidable tragedy. Her final testimony of being ignored and belittled by the very people who are entrusted with taking care of veterinary support staff members is a call to action to support those who still suffer under dehumanizing conditions in many corporate veterinary clinics and hospitals.

Working in veterinary medicine is an incredibly stressful and often thankless job. For credentialed Veterinary Technicians, Veterinary Assistants, Customer Service Representatives, and all veterinary support staff there are added issues of low wages and substandard benefits. When these stresses are paired with incompetent and/or uncaring leadership, the result is both tragic and unsurprising. From a study published in 2019 by Dr. Witte, et al. (https://tinyurl.com/vetstaffsuicide) we know that veterinary support staff members have a 2.3 - 5 times higher risk of suicide when compared to the general population. Vanessa’s situation will occur again and again until something in the veterinary industry changes, and the importance of mental health is paid more than lip service for PR purposes.

We call upon MARS PETCARE, including their wholly owned/controlled North American subsidiaries - VCA, Banfield, BluePearl, and Antech Diagnostics - to immediately:

1. Provide each Associate working in their hospitals, clinics, and other facilities with free, unlimited mental health care separate and independent from any previously announced mental health program administered by MARS;

2. Implement a paid mental health leave program for all Associates experiencing a mental health crisis (as defined by a mental health professional), regardless of full or part time status;

3. Conduct a thorough and independent investigation into the corporate processes and practices that left Vanessa without the support she needed support at every level of hospital leadership, and which continue to leave countless other Associates in the same desperate situation;

4. Require all Hospital Administrators, Practice Managers, Regional Managers, and HR Department personnel, including: Corinne Tarullo, Scott Shaw, Kelly Meechan, Marie Druse, and Todd Lavender to take part in mental health training including: QPR Gatekeeper Training (suicide prevention), crisis aversion, compassion fatigue prevention, burnout prevention, empathy and compassion, and ethical treatment of Associates, and to extend the current diversity and equity education programs to include training on behavioral health diversity.

Why is this important?

Working in veterinary medicine is an incredibly stressful and often thankless job. For credentialed Veterinary Technicians, Veterinary Assistants, Customer Service Representatives, and all veterinary support staff there are added issues of low wages and substandard benefits. When these stresses are paired with incompetent and/or uncaring leadership, the result is both tragic and unsurprising. From a study published in 2019 by Dr. Witte, et al. (https://tinyurl.com/vetstaffsuicide) we know that veterinary support staff members have a 2.3 - 5 times higher risk of suicide when compared to the general population. Vanessa’s situation will occur again and again until something in the veterinary industry changes, and the importance of mental health is paid more than lip service for PR purposes.


Reasons for signing

  • I’m signing because bullying in vet Med is rarely ever seen as an issue. The victims feelings are rarely validated and seen as truth. This needs to change.
  • Because everyone deserves to be heard.
  • I was bullied by the company after my suicide attempt. This is a horrible company with a pattern.

Updates

2021-11-03 17:19:56 -0400

I spoke to a reporter today in Hartford, CT who is writing a story about Vanessa Gutierrez. His name is Christopher Arnott and he wants to hear YOUR stories about working for VCA:

“I am a reporter with the Hartford Courant and want to do a story on this petition and working conditions for veterinary staff. I would like to hear from those who knew Vanessa or have firsthand knowledge of VCA work. I can be reached at 860-681-2807, carnott@courant.com. Thank you.”

2021-11-03 12:56:18 -0400

1,000 signatures reached

2021-11-03 00:36:18 -0400

500 signatures reached

2021-11-02 20:34:50 -0400

100 signatures reached

2021-11-02 20:18:22 -0400

50 signatures reached

2021-11-02 20:08:22 -0400

25 signatures reached

2021-11-02 20:02:03 -0400

10 signatures reached