Get to know Grand Rapids (and the world)

Dr. Lynn Happel

Lynn Happel loves her relationships with her patients.

“My patients generally love me,” Happel said.

Happel is the owner of Eastown Veterinary Clinic, and loves working with animals — except pocket pets (she meant hamsters, mice, rabbits, etc. I just liked that term she used).

A lot of children change their minds after dreaming of their grownup jobs as seven year olds. Not Happel, she was determined to be a vet. Her mother even tried to get her to change her mind; sending her on job shadows of anesthesiologists, pediatricians, and other medical careers.

“When humans don’t obey you, they’re doing it purposefully,” she said. “Animals aren’t intentionally hurting themselves. They always love you. They aren’t judgmental.”

She feels her duty is important; keeping a best friend healthy for as long as possible. The world is becoming a more distant place with all the electronic ways to communicate. People rarely even get together for a cup of coffee to chat anymore, she said.

“Animals make that companionship,” she said, adding that scientific studies have shown petting animals chemically make you happier. “You get your snuggles in.”

Not only does she keep best friends alive, she also plays a role not many think about when it comes to vets: public health. Sure, wild animals can carry diseases and parasites that can transfer to humans, but so can pets. Very scary.

Euthanasia, I suspected, would make her sad and be the part of her job she hates. That’s only partly true.

When a terminally ill pet is suffering, Happel would rather end the pain with a peaceful process. What is heartbreaking for her is when a patient has a very curable disease and the owners can’t afford the treatment, and decide to put the animal down.

“That is a heartbreaking situation,” she said. “I do what I can, but I can’t give my services away.”

That brought us to the over population of animals and how to begin to curb it. It begins with responsible pet ownership, knowing when you can and can’t own a pet. Spaying and neutering also are important. I found it quite amazing that vets aren’t inspected and can do things fairly inhumanely — and do. Happel was recently appointed to the state board of veterinarians and hopes she can change some of that.

She said although some of her classmates are unhappy with where they ended up in the vet world, she is extremely happy with her life choice.

And the thing that keeps her going, as for many of us, is when people are happy with her job.

“I love when people appreciate me,” she said. “I can do all the right things and people won’t appreciate what I do.”

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2 Responses to “Dr. Lynn Happel”

    • Pat Evans

      I’ll leave you that to ponder on your own, but I think she meant like hamsters, mice, little things that don’t do much.

      Reply

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