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The Daily Vet by petMD

The Daily Vet is a blog featuring veterinarians from all walks of life. Every week they will tackle entertaining, interesting, and sometimes difficult topics in the world of animal medicine – all in the hopes that their unique insights and personal experiences will help you to understand your pets.

Controversial Reality TV Veterinarians Do Nothing to Help the Profession

Another day, another veterinarian reality TV show. I don’t know why Animal Planet loves Denver so much, but their latest reality offering, “Dr. Jeff: Rocky Mountain Vet,” premieres on Saturday, and a bunch of us are already cringing at how this one is going to play out.


Dr. Jeff is a veterinarian in the Denver area who runs a low-cost spay/neuter practice. I haven’t seen it yet, so I can’t write it off without giving it a chance, but the fact that he was chosen for being a self-described “controversial pariah” doesn’t bode well. As far as I can gather, he’s so far managed to offend the following groups:

  • breeders
  • oncologists
  • owners who dress up their animals and refer to them as family
  • veterinarians who try and make a livable wage


Although I’m trying to keep an open mind, the Dr. Jeff show is brought to us by the same media company who brings us “Hippo Hunters,” as well as “Fat Girls and Feeders,” so I admit I don’t have the highest of hopes.


It’s not what he does that worries me; it’s what he says, which is of course why they cast him, I’m sure. I’m all for spay/neuter, all for veterinarians who choose to dedicate their careers to doing low cost services, but I’m also all for veterinarians who choose to dedicate their lives to providing cutting edge medicine to those who want it. It’s not an either/or thing.


Rather than call veterinarians who are trying to improve the quality of care for veterinary patients money-hungry, I prefer to thank them for moving us past the days where we immobilized reptiles for surgery by sticking them in the freezer and considered pets writhing in pain post-surgery as “nice and awake.” While I agree that not every pet and client can or should pursue costly high-tech procedures for every ailment, the options are there, and that is not a bad thing.


It’s the same stuff that pops up with shows like Dr. Pol. Controversy drives ratings, and every time a person protests about a questionable action on camera, tons more fans come out of the woodwork to defend him. The more people are fighting, the more people are paying attention, and that drives more people to the show, so I anticipate this new show will be just as migraine-inducing.


Controversy and fist-waving does nothing, however, to drive amicable conversations about the thorny issues that won’t be resolved without a little more finesse: access to care, finances, the balance between resources, and expensive medical care. A measured discussion with no yelling about those issues, while helpful, would be much less entertaining, so it won’t be on TV.


I guess what I’m getting at here is just a reminder, on the dawn of this new show, to please look at it less like a documentary and more like what it really is: a highly produced piece of entertainment.


While this new star may be very fun to watch, by the nature of the beast he’s probably also going to be just off his rocker enough to get people worked up, for better or for worse. At the end of the day it will likely bear as much resemblance to real-life veterinary medicine as “Survivor” does to summer camp.



Dr. Jessica Vogelsang



Image: Composite: Javier Brosch and Minerva Studio / Shutterstock


Comments  12

Leave Comment
  • Animal Planet
    07/17/2015 06:42pm

    Makes me glad I don't have Animal Planet in my cable package. I'd probably watch and get all worked up.

    I will confess to watching "Dr. Chris Pet Vet" (an Aussie TV vet) on CBS. It's a teensy unrealistic because rarely are sad outcomes shown. I enjoy the medicine part and wish there was more clinical stuff.

  • 07/23/2015 05:11pm


  • 06/02/2016 04:50pm

    I've seen Dr Chris. It's a good show. Dr Jeff is a wonderful show. This guy is like a Hippie/closet heart-of-gold-heart on his sleeve tough guy/incredible micro surgeon/and you like him right away. The charity work that he does in the community is phenomenal and I find it fascinating that he can castrate a farm animal in the field one day and the next do intricate micro orthopedic surgery in the office with really dedicated vet techs staffing his entourage. He had me from day 1

  • I find it refreshing
    07/31/2015 09:48am

    I find it refreshing to watch DR.Jeff. He helps some that have no money, yet does surgery to save a dogs life, when this dog is all these women have. I think his stand on Spay /Neuter should be commended. He also travels to places where they need a vet. I do not see our vets doing these things, so why belittle him? I also find DR Pol delightful. yes he is outdated in some of his things he does, but they work, and cost less money. I think they are entertainment shows, but I also learn something everytime I watch them.

  • Are you kidding me!!
    07/31/2015 11:37am

    Let's talk about how many animals are put down every year because their owners can't afford the high cost of Vet care.
    To suggest that we should pay more because the Vet has more humane ways of treating our animals now is ridiculous.
    I applaud Dr Jeff because he is a true Vet he cares about his patients and also there owners, he is not strictly money driven. How can you condemn anyone for that.
    If he brings to light the exorbitant fees and over treatment of our pets then so be it.

  • Prejudging is like a bad
    07/31/2015 01:16pm


    When you criticize something you have not even seen, you are not acting as a professional. Granted most TV is bad these days, but the vet shows I watch all seem to have more compassion that the high priced vets I know.

  • Lighten up, Dr. Jessica
    08/13/2015 10:56pm

    You have a good point, it is probably not realistic. In reality, you call the vet, wait a week or more for an appointment, show up early just to wait 20 minutes to get into a room, and wait another 15 for the doc to walk in looking as enthusiastic as mud. Then pay $275+ for an annual exam+heartworm+flea/tick meds+stool sample processing. So offended by your 'higher than thee' attitude. Is this show entertaining? Sure. Viewers understand reality TV these days. Heartwarming? Sure. Do I learn about animal care and diseases each and ever show? Sure. If it inspires and leads others to pursue the career path, that's great. Lighten up, Dr. Jessica. We aren't going to all move to Denver and threaten your livelihood. Would it hurt to be more supportive of someone in your field?

  • 07/03/2016 08:14pm

    This comment has been flagged as inappropriate.

  • Boy, You Got This Wrong
    06/02/2016 05:02pm

    I find these vet shows quite encouraging, enlightening/informative and uplifting as well as totally engaging and real. We've seen the HUMAN Dr. shows and now it's time for the veterinarians.
    How many people don't bring their pets to the vet because of money, or they aren't informed enough to spot symptoms their pets are exhibiting that could lead to serious problems?
    I believe these shows are important and we get to see different vets and how each handles situations, from good to bad (and we DO see bad outcomes)!

    I adore Dr Jeff! I wish he were in my area but frankly, my vet is also Superman when it comes to my pets. I can always call and get my pet into the office the same day if I have to and he works with me in my attempt to handle things holistically with my pets if at all possible and he's supportive and always in my pet's corner. He has a HUGE practice here now and has hired many super vets to help him.

    These shows actually encourage people to go to their local vets more often so I wouldn't be critical of these shows, nor would I look a 'gift horse' in the mouth as the saying goes!

  • You really should...
    06/26/2016 06:31am

    This comment has been flagged as inappropriate.

  • Dr Jeff
    07/09/2016 07:23pm

    Your cranky..Dr Jeff is great. You "experts" are money hungry and charge ridiculous amounts of money to get rich! You don't care about pets just the almighty dollar. Shame on you!!

    07/10/2016 07:46am

    Dr Jeff is amazing. I applaud him and his staff for going above and beyond to help the 4 legged family members of those who can't afford vets like Dr Jessica. Cutting edge does nothing for those of us who can not afford it. Without compassionate vets like Dr Jeff and his staff a lot more animals would be put to sleep simply because their owners struggle to pay their bills and 4000.00 isn't sitting in their bank accounts for an emergency. For a lot of us 1000.00 would mean the mortgage wouldn't get paid this month. The world needs more Dr Jeff's and less Dr Jessica's. I really do like animals a lot better than people.

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