Dr. Merck is the owner of Veterinary Forensics Consulting, LLC, (www.veterinaryforensics.com) in Austin, Texas. She’s a forensic veterinarian consulting on cases involving animals. She assists investigators of animal cruelty with crime scene investigation as well as the examination of live and deceased victims. Dr. Merck helps with large scale operations including exhumations of burial sites and examination of skeletal animal remains. She frequently testifies as a veterinary forensic expert for animal cruelty cases around the country and provides training for veterinary, attorney and law enforcement professionals internationally on the use of veterinary medical knowledge in the investigation and prosecution of animal cruelty cases.
Dr. Merck is on the WSAVA Animal Wellness and Welfare Committee and the Association of Prosecuting Attorney’s Animal Cruelty Advisory Council. She is the author of the textbook “Veterinary Forensics: Animal Cruelty Investigation, 2nd edition” by Wiley publishing, the co-author of the book “Veterinary Forensic Investigation of Animal Cruelty: A Guide for Veterinarians and Law Enforcement,” and a contributing author on forensics in other textbooks. She developed the first Veterinary Forensics course for University of Georgia and Florida veterinary schools and frequently lectures at other veterinary and technician colleges. She teaches workshops on animal crime scenes and the processing of burial and surface remains. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Science and member of the International Association of Blood Stain Analysts. She is also a former president of the NAVC Board.
As I sit here contemplating this column, I am struck by the amount of change we have seen in the past year. We have witnessed changes in many areas that affect our lives, including politically and socially—we may have been shocked, surprised, or expected the outcome.
Change can create hope or fear, confidence or insecurity, balance or uncertainty. This year’s NAVC Conference theme, Welcome Home, is both poignant and timely. That sense of “home” is an important element to navigating through life and its inevitable changes.
What Is “Home” to You?
Home can mean many things. It is where you recharge, refill your soul, and grow; where you feel connected and are loved. Home is where you feel safe.
For most of us, home is where the tail wags, where the favorite toy is dumped in your lap. It is doggie breath, tuna breath, and the smell of hay. Home is filled with neighs, snorts, barks, purrs, bleats, and moos. It is the clicking of nails across the floor or thundering hooves in the pasture. It is the lick, the nuzzle, and the feel of sleek fur under your fingers. It is the eyes that knowingly connect with yours.
Where Is Your “Home”?
Home can be more than one place. It can be wherever you are and whatever you create. It is the feeling of familiarity.
We spend the majority of our time at work, our home away from home. This is where we grow personally and professionally. The veterinary medical profession is one of service and giving. It is important to build bits of “home” into our place of work—where we rejuvenate and regain a sense of balance and calm.
We need to create touchpoints at work that connect us with “home”: from textbooks we saved after graduation to decades of dusty journals to memorabilia from colleagues. “Home” is filled with the sights and sounds of lab machines, IV pumps, monitors, dental machines, clippers running, and rolling stall doors and cage doors latching.
Creating a place where you feel at home is important for individuals, clients, and patients. It is why the NAVC has new programs focused on the development of Fear Free practices and enhancing the health and wellbeing of the veterinary community. We are committed to building a physical and virtual home where you can learn, reach out, and grow.
NAVC has created a home for the veterinary community through the educational opportunities of Today’s Veterinary Practice and Today’s Veterinary Technician, the NAVC Conference and NAVC Institute, VetFolio, and NAVC Discovery and NAVC Live, coming this year. These resources provide continuous learning experiences and the power of connection to colleagues and experts on a world-wide level. A place where you can have a sense of home and make it your own.
We all look forward to coming home. So, welcome home.