One in five tweens who love dogs, cats and all animals claim they want to be a veterinarian when they grow up, and St. Augustine vet Chris Carpenter is taking them seriously. Dr. Carpenter recently launched “Vet Set Go!” – a web site and a companion book for young aspiring vets. Recently named among the best in family-friendly media by Mom’s Choice Awards, “Vet Set Go!” is designed to give Dr. Carpenter's future colleagues (and their parents) what he wished was available to him as a kid.
“The love of animals is a very powerful and motivating passion that germinates early in future veterinarians,” Dr. Carpenter explained in an interview with Dogster magazine. “With 65 percent of today’s current veterinarians having decided before the age of 13 that it was the career path they wanted to take, we need to take these tweens seriously. Veterinary medicine is a calling, and it is our job to provide our kids with the tools necessary to follow their dream. But today’s tweens today face a quandary. They know that they want to become a veterinarian, but at best the advice they get is to ‘study science and get animal experience.’ But how? How do they do that? Because of liability reasons, many veterinary clinics and even humane societies won’t let someone shadow or volunteer until they are at least 16 years old. So how can our aspiring vet tweens gain animal experience if they don’t have an outlet to be working with vets or animals?”
VetSetGo.com is the only online community that connects aspiring young vets, practicing vets, and veterinary camps, zoos and shelters. With features such as “The Community Section,” where vets and aspiring vets can share their photos and stories with each other, to “The Activities Section,” where tweens can search for volunteer opportunities and animal-related summer camps in their area, such as the Zoo Camp at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens and volunteer opportunities at the Jacksonville Humane Society.
“Classroom presentations are fine,” said Dr. Carpenter. “I wanted to give today’s aspiring veterinarians something much more powerful. I wanted to give them a way to go behind the scenes and meet veterinarians. I wanted them to hear from veterinarians and see what they do.”
Dr. Carpenter has also created a network of passionate people and a directory to further that passion. As you continue through the site, you can stop to “Meet The Vets,” where tweens can watch the videos of vets, veterinary camps, and zoos that started it all for Dr. Carpenter. And a favorite of many site visitors is “The Science of Veterinary Medicine,” in which tweens are given an unfiltered view into what goes on behind the scenes in specific cases.
The book, which was released in January and is available on his website for $21, gives tweens a roadmap on where to begin their journey to becoming a veterinarian. Chapters detail everything from how to write a professional-looking letter to the vet they would like to shadow (and what they can expect if they get the opportunity), to a step-by-step guide on fostering animals, and even a checklist for what they should look for in an animal-based summer camp.
Dr. Carpenter holds a license to practice veterinary medicine in multiple states. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the National Science Teachers Association. In addition to his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the Auburn College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Carpenter holds a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology from the University of Florida and a Masters of Business Administration from New Hampshire College. Raised as a “military brat” who grew up all over the country, he now lives in St. Augustine with his wife, daughter and a goofy labradoodle named Jackson.
Today, in addition to his work with Vet Set Go, Dr. Carpenter directs the non-profit Companion Animal Parasite Council. The mission of the organization is to foster animal and human health, while preserving the human-animal bond, by generating and disseminating credible, accurate and timely information for the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and control of parasitic infections. An independent council formed in 2002 to create guidelines for the optimal control of internal and external parasites, it brings together broad expertise in parasitology, internal medicine, public health, veterinary law, private practice and association leadership with the express purpose of changing the way veterinary professionals and pet owners approach parasite management.