We appreciate the hard work, passion, and perseverance of those who dedicate their lives to the veterinary profession. Today we share the story of one veterinarian who has gone above and beyond to pursue her dreams and educate the public about her passions—even when faced with a Hurricane and a leopard in a Las Vegas apartment.
Pursuing a Veterinary Career
Like many other veterinarians, Dr. Jyl Rubin knew she wanted to work with animals from a young age. By the time she was 4 she knew animals were her passion.
Even as life lead her to pursue a liberal arts degree in theater arts and dance, her heart remained with the animals. “I started volunteering at a horse farm just out of college, and I fell in love with it. I just remember talking to my mom and saying ‘I don’t know what I was thinking about the arts, I want to work with animals.” She took a course on horse science and approached her counselor who told her she could never become a veterinarian, but she wouldn’t take no as an answer.
She enrolled in animal science classes and applied to a veterinary technician program to gain the experience she would need in the field. Dr. Rubin started her career in animal medicine as a licensed vet tech and worked for 13 years before she would finish veterinary school.
Try, Try Again
“I took the long route,” recalled Dr. Rubin. “I was told no. I applied to veterinary school four times.”
She was admitted to Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in St. Kitts, West Indies. During her time there, Hurricane Hugo hit and the water supply was tainted. She fell very ill and had to return to the United States—giving up her place at the veterinary school.
Upon her return to the US, her mentor, a veterinary orthopedic surgeon for whom she had worked, suggested she apply to work at the University of Tennessee. As a licensed veterinary technician she assisted and taught emergency medicine skills and intensive care techniques to the seniors in the veterinary program. After a year of work for the University of Tennessee they asked her to extend her position there, she knew she had to keep moving forward. She pursued an opportunity at Tuskegee University where she obtained her veterinary degree.
Educating the Public
Right out of veterinary school, Dr. Rubin dove right into a job in Las Vegas. She learned a lot during her years as a veterinarian in Nevada, where people could own a variety of animals. “It was a really unique experience, you’d walk into somebody’s apartment and there would be a black leopard.”
Although the burgeoning veterinarian tried to help the animals in her care, she became frustrated with the condition many of them were in. “I had developed a lot of skills for exotic animal medicine and I became quite frustrated. There were baboons, lions and all kinds of odd animals from Africa people owned. I found a majority of them were nutritionally and environmentally deficient. I decided I needed to educate the public and send a message to clients they shouldn’t be in possession or own these wild animals.”
Dr. Rubin approached a client who was a producer to CBS and together they set up a weekly “Ask a Vet” program to talk about the issues—from exotic animals to cats and dogs. She fell in love with it and the segment took off, leading to a TV show in Las Vegas and regular weekly segments in Nevada and California on the local news.
During this time she started working for a practice that took a corporate route and asked that she stopped treating exotic animals. She decided to open her own mobile practice. “I just decided to make house calls and started out of the back of my car,” Dr. Rubin recalled.
She eventually had the opportunity to purchase a mobile veterinary practice where her business took off. With a mobile practice, Dr. Rubin was able to assist pet owners and animals with mobility issues, large animals, and get a better perspective on each patient’s environment. She was able to treat her patients holistically—identifying issues you might not see when a pet comes into a practice.
Dr. Rubin eventually moved to California full time, and purchased a property to open a brick and mortar practice. While she doesn’t make as many house calls now, she recognizes that the mobile veterinary industry really helped build her practice.
Looking to the Future
Over the last ten years, Dr. Rubin has focused on alternative therapies including acupuncture; Chinese herbals, laser therapy, ozone, and UV light therapy. She offers nutrition counseling and rehabilitation, especially for patients with cancer or paralysis.
She developed a passion for integrative and alternative medicine and focuses her education efforts on informing pet owners about their options. She is constantly looking for opportunities to educate and stay on top of emerging trends in animal medicine.
In her practice, Dr. Rubin has had many success stories where alternative therapies have helped extend a good quality of life to pets that are given a poor prognosis. She spoke of one patient in particular, a Golden Retriever with an aggressive tumor. “Her owner was so amazing and compliant. As I was developing skills in acupuncture and ozone, I would offer my services at no charge to pet owners who were open to it and made sure that the owner and pet stayed comfortable.”
This patient had an aggressive tumor and was given three months to live. With chemotherapy, IV vitamin C therapy, ozone treatment, veterinary orthopedic manipulation (VOM), reiki, and home cooked meals, she lived over 1.5 years with a good quality of life. Dr. Rubin noted, “she had a longer quality life, even with a bad diagnosis.”
Dr. Rubin continues to appear on a weekly news segment educating the public about common pet health issues and questions. She started her own natural pet care line of topical relief and sunscreen products for pets and people. “I’ve been on a mission to educate and implement quality animal care to pet owners and the public. My love of veterinary medicine has allowed my life long goal to change the way the world looks and interacts with animals, and I think I’ve had some part of in making positive changes happen.”
Thank you, Dr. Rubin for sharing your story and insights, and thank you for taking the best care of the pets we love. Happy Veterinarian Appreciation Day!