ITHACA, N.Y. — A Cornell University graduate is in the running to be America’s Favorite Veterinarian, according to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation.

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Dr. Lashonn McNair is one of 20 veterinarians who are finalists in the annual competition.

In a profile submitted to the veterinary foundation, McNair said she has had a lifelong passion for caring for animals.

“As a kid, I drove my parents crazy bringing home different types of animals, dead or alive, to try to help them or to study them,” she wrote.

The passion led her to Cornell University, where she graduated from the College of Veterinary Medicine.

McNair is currently practicing at Links of Love Veterinary Clinic in Miami.

“Some people have said that doctors who don’t want to work with people, choose to work with animals. I never understood that statement. I believe that animals bring out compassion in people,” she wrote.

Voting started July 11 and is open until Sept. 1.

Dr. LaShonn McNair  (Provided images)
Dr. LaShonn McNair  (Provided images)

The following was written on McNair’s profile:

Why I became a veterinarian:

I grew up in a small town in Mississippi called Gautier, barely on the map. As a kid, I drove my parents crazy bringing home different types of animals, dead or alive, to try to help them or to study them. Every weekend I slaved scrubbing the floors of our screened-in back porch because I didn’t want my rooster that I raised from an incubator to sleep outside, afraid the chicken hawks might get him.

As soon as I was eligible in middle school to do little odds and ends, I started volunteering at a veterinary clinic, and then was hired to be a kennel attendant there, taking care of the animals all throughout high school. When my mentors saw that this was definitely the career path I had chosen, they really began to mold me.

Once they tried to get me to hold an animal to assist them in a minor procedure. I saw one drop of blood hit that cold steel table and I turned as white as a ghost and was told to go sit outside for fresh air. At first, I felt so defeated thinking how on earth can I be a veterinarian, but I just didn’t give up. I engrossed myself in it, turned down family trips so that I could participate in summer programs to get one step closer to my dreams.

Surprised that I got into a few schools that I applied for, I decided to move out to Ithaca, NY and attend Cornell University, College of Veterinary Medicine. Homesick, doubting how smart people thought I might actually be, and exhausted, I pulled through and earned my degree, my dream realized.

Why I am passionate about veterinary medicine:

Some people have said that doctors who don’t want to work with people, choose to work with animals. I never understood that statement. I believe that animals bring out compassion in people.

I rejoice with my families when they receive good news about their pets. I weep in their sadness when I deliver devastating news. I hold their hand every step of the way.

It feels so good to know that I make a difference in their lives. The bonus is when a pet meets my eyes with his and sort of smiles when he sees me, or runs over back and forth to play a few times when it’s time to leave the office, as though to say, “I’ll see you later, and I like you, but now I gotta go, Doc”. They take a piece of me with them.

A special time when I helped an animal:

I wish that all pets recovered from an illness, and I have helped save a lot of animals. But, one stands out in my mind that I couldn’t save and it broke my heart. I had a patient named Casey, a beautiful beagle mix puppy, stunted at growth, the most amazing ocean-blue eyes.

Soon after her presentation, I found that Casey was suffering from Distemper. Casey’s family included a “dad” who was a sincerely kind man and 3 beautiful children between the ages of 5 and 8, all in love with this puppy. They visited her every day in the hospital and drew pictures for her, which I hung inside of her kennel to make sure that she would see them.

This was an emergency clinic, so at the end of my shift, I was relieved by the night doctor, but I would go home and shower and then go back and sit with Casey.

I watched her decline steadily every day, struggling with blood abnormalities, developing neurologic symptoms. No matter how miserable she felt, this pup would get up and stumble over to me as if to show me she was trying so hard and that she could do it. I knew she was declining, but the family and I kept fighting and pushing for her to pull through.

When I finally had to let the family know that she was not going to get better, the kids drew Casey their final pictures to say goodbye and promised that they would see her again. They brought me a framed photo of a close-up of her with her beautiful piercing eyes. I felt like I had let the family….these poor kids down, and it was so hard. But it was touching that they knew that I too had fallen in love with Casey and had done all that I could.

I have Casey’s picture up even now, some 7 or 8 years later, and I will never forget her or the family that loved her dearly.

Why I was nominated to be America’s Favorite Veterinarian:

“The moment you enter the clinic, you can feel the love! My dachshund, Baci, suffers from seizures so we have to visit the vet frequently. He was terrified of the vets until we got to Dr. McNair. He warmed up her the minute he saw her. Her bedside manner is like none I’ve seen and you can see that she really loves animals and her profession. She follows up on her patients and is very much involved in their well being. The name of her clinic sums it very well, Links of Love and Dr. McNair are the best!” – Clara

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Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.