Nov. 4, 2022

The Emotional Cost of Being a Vet with George Melillo | The Long Leash #66

The Emotional Cost of Being a Vet with George Melillo | The Long Leash #66

Veterinarians are at high risk of suicide: twice as likely to kill themselves than the general public. George Melillo is creating workspaces that reduce that risk … and give better care to our pets.

Veterinarians are animal lovers, and many expect their careers to be all about spending quality time with animals. Reality is a little different, though.

First, veterinary school is hard. It’s also expensive. When vets graduate, their starting yearly salary might be half of their debt burden.

Practicing animal medicine is an emotional roller coaster, and every day features new and more loop-the-loops. Over the course of a single workday, a general practice veterinarian goes from handling a playful kitten to helping someone understand their pet is dying.

This daily fluctuation in emotional tone is sometimes called the killing-caring paradox. It can take a heavy toll on caregivers.

And now things are changing. Pet health providers have responded to pet parents viewing their dogs and cats as family members. The medicine is better, the vet practice is safer, and the stakes are even higher than they have been.

Where does that leave the veterinarians?

On today’s show, we discuss changes in veterinary medicine, and how to improve wellness for those who care for our pets.

George Melillo is the CEO and founder of a chain of veterinary hospitals called Heart + Paw. In his hospitals, the veterinarian’s mental well-being is the priority … with the aim of improving pet care, as well.

George Melillo’s innovations may seem simple, but they could be seen as revolutionary. Aiming to reduce stress in an incredibly stressful profession, he gives veterinarians more autonomy when it comes to scheduling and includes pet parents are included in all aspects of care.

Join us as Dr. Melillo explains why his business approach will help animals and veterinarians alike.

Episode Links

Heart + Paw


[00:00:00] Teaser

[00:00:14] Introduction

[00:01:41] Introducing George Melillo

[00:03:54] The Challenging Career of Veterinary Professionals

[00:06:04] High Rates of Veterinarian Suicide

[00:07:15] Creating a Safe Space for Veterinarians

[00:13:47] Changes in the Vet Industry

[00:16:33] Changes in the Industry as a Result of COVID

[00:22:55] Heart + Paw

[00:24:57] Giving Advice to your Past Self

[00:26:17] Outro

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Dr. George MelilloProfile Photo

Dr. George Melillo

Co-founder and Chief Veterinary Officer

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. George Melillo, VMD, Co-founder & Chief Veterinary Officer, brings more than 35 years of veterinary experience to Heart + Paw.

In 2018, he co-founded Heart + Paw, bringing to life his lifelong commitment to animals and the people who serve them. Heart + Paw is now one of the fastest growing veterinary care, grooming, and dog daycare center groups in the country, with a mission to become partners in pet parenthood, helping four-legged family members to live a longer, healthier, and happier life.

Central to Heart + Paw's mission is the dedicated team of veterinarians and team members who maintain the highest quality of care for Heart + Paw's patients, led by Dr. Melillo. Often described as the "heart" of Heart + Paw – he is committed to the health, wealth and mental well-being of those that serve this community.

In 2021, Heart + Paw grew from 10 to 23 locations, covering nine states from Tennessee to Rhode Island, with nine current locations in the Philadelphia region, where Heart + Paw is based. The company anticipates nearly doubling locations by the end of 2022.

Dr. Melillo is frequently interviewed by media and has been featured in media including CNN, Los Angeles Times, iHeartRadio, Reader’s Digest, PureWow, Daily Paws, and more.

Currently Dr. Melillo serves as the Secretary/Treasurer of Animal Care of Pennsylvania and enjoys life with his wife, five millennial children, two grandchildren and his 10-year-old rescue Jack Russell terrier, Pancho.