VANCOUVER, WA (KPTV) – They spend countless hours caring for your pet, but are veterinarians getting the help they need?

Banfield Pet Hospital is launching a training to help combat mental health issues within the industry, which are rising at an alarming rate.

Banfield Pet Hospital says one in six veterinarians have considered suicide, according to a Center for Disease Control study.

In light of that number, Banfield says it wants to face the problem head on by giving veterinarians the tools to recognize when someone might be struggling.

The online program is called ASK. It stand for assess, support and know.

Banfield Pet Hospital Chief Medical Officer Molly McAllister says it gives the veterinarian community the tools to look out for trigger signs, how to get people help, and the knowledge to find the right resources.

McAllister says every day, veterinarians bring compassion and love for our furry friends.

“Pets make people better," McAllister said. "And so, pets make the world better and that's why we do it."

McAllister says the responsibilities weigh heavily on veterinarians. For McAllister, some of those difficult times still linger, like back in 2007, when a young dog named Kelsey had acute kidney failure. She says they did everything to save her, but ultimately, had to put her down.

“I think what's so hard is watching not just the pet but the people and feeling the responsibility for their emotions. And after we put Kelsey to sleep her family gave us one of her leashes,” she said. “To this day, I still have a piece of her leash wrapped around my stethoscope.”

McAllister says the veterinarian community is struggling.

“Most have learned some degree of ability to separate from the situation but we know that compassion fatigue is a huge issue for our profession,” McAllister said.

According to a Center for Disease Control report, female veterinarians are three-and-a-half times more likely to commit suicide than the general population. Their male counterparts are two-point-one times more likely to commit suicide.

McAllister says she wants the veterinarian community to know it’s okay to talk about mental health issues.

“You're not alone and there are people and places where you can get help and get through this because your passion to the profession is so valuable, we can't lose one more veterinarian,” she said.

Banfield says it will have all its employees go through the program before January 2020. It’s also offering the training as a free resource to other veterinarians and colleges.

Copyright 2019 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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