BOOKS: All My Patients Kick & Bite

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  January/February 2013:

 

All My Patients Kick & Bite: Favorite Stories from a Vet’s Practice by Jeff Wells,  DVM St. Martin’s Griffin (175 5th Ave.,  New York,  NY 10010),  2012.  246 pages,  paperback.  $14.99.

 

Rural Colorado veterinarian Jeff Wells in All My Patients Kick & Bite follows up his 2009 hit All My Patients Have Tales, which was also subtitled “Favorite Stories from a Vet’s Practice.”  Chiefly treating livestock,  especially sheep and horses,  Wells is among many vets aspiring to reprise the success of British veterinarian James Alfred Wright (1916-1995),  who began his practice in 1940,  and published the first of his 14 books written as “James Herriot” in 1970.  

Participating in the transitions from animal-powered farming to the use of tractors,  from home-brewed remedies to advanced vaccines and pharmaceuticals,  and from treating mostly animals doomed to slaughter to treating mainly valued pets, Wright/Herriot wrote as much about the evolution of human attitudes toward animals,  albeit often quite conservatively,  as about animals themselves.

Wells in All My Patients Kick & Bite treats neglected horses and a flock of sheep who have been mauled by dogs,  among other animals whose plight might lead into controversial discussion.  Yet Wells time and again sidesteps the larger issues.  I’m left thinking that the most interesting half of many of his stories has not yet been written.

––Merritt Clifton

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