DESIRÉE FITZGERALDDVM, EMERGENCY VETERINARIAN
Desirée FitzGerald, DVM, WestVet Emergency Veterinarian, is an Idaho native. She grew up in Eagle. In 2005, she graduated Cum Laude from the College of Idaho with a Bachelor’s degree, majoring in Biology, Anthropology/Sociology. In 2009, she earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, graduating with academic honors.
In addition, she completed a one-year internship for advanced training in Albuquerque, New Mexico at VCA Veterinary Care Animal Hospital and Referral Center. During this assignment, she worked with emergency doctors and specialists. She joined the WestVet 24 Hour Animal Emergency and Specialty Center as on emergency veterinarian in 2010.
Dr. FitzGerald says she has always had a love of animals. “Growing up in the Eagle countryside I was surrounded by animals. We owned horses, cats, dogs, turtles, fish, rabbits, and even a goat named Gandhi,” she said. “I was that young child that wantedto be a veterinarian. My family laughs because in almost every picture of me as a child I have a pet posing with me.”
As a young adult, she enjoyed a particular closeness to a Golden Retriever named Dakota. “She was my first dog after moving out on my own. I raised her from a puppy. She was a ball full of energy—incredibly smart and people oriented. Everyone who met her loved her.” Dakota passed away suddenly at age eight from heart-based cancer, an experience that Dr. FitzGerald remembers as she works with pet owners at WestVet. “Having loved her so deeply and losing her so suddenly helped me understand what it is like for people when they have a loss on an emergency basis.”
Currently, she is enjoying the companionship of her three cats, and a mastiff/black lab rescue named Lola–though she says that ultimately she will adopt a Golden Retriever again. “Everyone who has owned Golden says, ‘Once a retriever owner—always a retriever owner.’ Now I know what they mean!”
Her compassion for people and animals, love of pets, and a natural affinity for science brought her to veterinary school. During this time, she also tackled the painful topic of pet loss. Dr. FitzGerald completed advanced training in Pet Loss support working with a grief counselor. She served as manager of the Pet Loss Hotline for three years and contributed to two WestVet blogs regarding families losing a pet; ways pet owners can process grief and loss; helping children cope with the loss of a pet.
“I visited my cousin’s emergency veterinary practice in Georgia as an undergrad which started my interest in emergency medicine. But it was during veterinary school and my internship I realized emergency medicine is what I wanted to do.” This led her to pursue advanced training in Albuquerque, NM with specialists and emergency doctors. She brought that passion and expertise home to Idaho when she joined WestVet.
“I love emergency medicine because I love working in a fast-paced environment, seeing a wide variety of cases that are challenging intellectually, and also the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with the specialists and local referring veterinary community,” She said. “I enjoy being available for people during emergencies, whether it is something as simple as a torn toenail or more serious trauma cases. I know it is stressful to have animals sick, and I am glad I am available to help people in their time of need.”
When she is not working, Dr. FitzGerald enjoys an active lifestyle. She travels around the Gem state and around the world camping, hiking, biking, whitewater rafting, and even SCUBA diving. She says she loves being home and living near her family. “I truly believe Idaho is one of the best places to live.”