FAIRMONT — From an early age, it seems Dr. Scott Moore was destined to become the West Virginia Veterinary Medical Association’s “Veterinarian of the Year.”
In 2020, he achieved just that.
The son of local veterinarian Dr. Jamie Moore, Scott grew up next door to his father’s practice and spent his formative years alongside his dad.
“When I was born, my father’s office was over on Watson Hill and we lived in the house across the parking lot from it. As a little kid, when I got out of school, I’d simply run across the parking lot to see my dad and what was going on. I’ve always been around veterinary medicine. I literally grew up in the profession,” Moore said.
Moore, who’s been a veterinarian himself now for 14 years, is the owner of Fairmont Veterinary Hospital on Gaston Avenue, the same practice his father began many years ago.
A graduate of North Marion High School and West Virginia University, Moore earned his doctorate from The Ohio State University’s veterinary school. Upon graduation, he returned to Fairmont in order to practice veterinary medicine with his father. The two remain colleagues today.
Dr. George Seiler, the owner of Paw Prints Veterinary Clinic in Morgantown and a longtime friend and colleague of Moore, commended him on becoming Veterinarian of the Year.
“I’ve known Scott since his childhood and have watched him come up through his schooling. He’s an excellent veterinarian, who’s been highly-active in the West Virginia Veterinary Medical Association. He’s also been active since the inception of the North Central West Virginia Regional Veterinary Emergency Clinic at the Prickett’s Creek exit in Fairmont. I can’t think of anyone else more deserving of the award,” Seiler said.
Moore said in addition to being nearby his father’s practice as a youth, animals were always a presence in the family home.
“We always had pets growing up. I’ve been around all different kinds of animals all my life. I even participated in the 4-H market livestock programs, always raising sheep and steers, marketing them and selling them,” he said. “When I moved to Columbus to attend veterinary school, I was in an apartment by myself, so I got two cats. Animals have always been nearby.”
Moore said his passion for taking care of pets has never waned.
“With veterinary medicine, it’s the opportunity to have your mind challenged from a new angle at every moment and then getting to see the positive outcomes in pets,” he said. “It’s also the understanding you’re not simply helping a pet, you’re helping the people who love them. People have such tight bonds with their pets. If we help one cat, it actually helps a whole family of people at home.”
During this year’s Covid-19 pandemic, Moore said people have learned more than ever the value a pet brings to one’s life.
“One of the things we’ve noticed throughout this Covid quarantine situation is if someone lives alone, having the companionship of an animal is immensely important. Being able to keep animals healthy in order for individuals to stay mentally healthy is really an undervalued part of what we do,” Moore said.
He added a little-known fact that pet adoption has reached an all-time high this year.
“Nationwide, the shelter population today is at its lowest in decades. People, especially in major cities, got locked in on quarantine. They’re in a small apartment by themselves and think ‘I need someone.’ So, they’ve gone and rescued a dog. Or they’ve rescued a cat,” Moore said. “There are major metropolitan cities today with animal shelters that are completely empty. We’re talking shelters with capacities of three or four hundred dogs and they’ve adopted them all out. It’s awesome because those people sought the companionship of an animal.”
Moore said a key to becoming a good veterinarian is being a lifelong learner.
“I’m mentally learning all the time. That’s why we refer to medicine a ‘practice.’ Every day, a veterinarian should be learning and broadening his or her scope,” he said.
Moore said part of that professional growth is undertaking hard-to-solve pet cases. Unlike humans, pets cannot verbalize their ailments, which puts more of an onus on veterinarians to properly diagnose the situation.
“Sometimes we get pets with really weird issues, so it takes talking with specialists at Ohio State or Auburn or other places. I can end up talking to someone in California who’s the only expert in the country on a specific disease,” Moore said. “We may have gone down a crazy circuitous path, but if it gets us to a resolution where we can manage the issue, the pet can live a good or better quality life. At the end of the day, those are some of the high-five moments.”
The veterinary world is surprisingly small, he said, which is often helpful when dealing with a crisis illness or needing to address a rare disorder.
“There are only about 87,000 veterinarians in the county and we graduate only about 2,200 students from veterinary school each year nationwide. There’s no six degrees of Kevin Bacon. There’s only three degrees. If you make the right calls, you can get somewhere pretty fast,” Moore said.
As one might imagine, the most difficult time for a veterinarian is ending a beloved pet’s life when other options have been exhausted. Unlike people doctors, veterinarians are often charged with euthanizing pets in order to end their suffering.
“The flip side is we always have to talk about letting animals go, too. We help guide people through that process. It’s not rewarding, but it’s so vitally important. We have to see it for what it is. At times, it’s a relief for everybody. It’s a hard decision to make and we have to help people work through it,” Moore said.
He said that aspect of his business is perhaps the most trying.
“It’s a very difficult thing on lots of veterinarians and their staff that have to be part of that. I don’t like it, but we have to see it for what it is and, in a lot of cases, it’s helpful for the separating pet. It’s difficult, but it’s such an imperative part of what we do,” he said.
Fairmont Veterinary Hospital today employs seven veterinarians and more than 50 support staff. Moore credited his colleagues for their respective roles in making his organization as success.
“I’m really lucky to have great staff members, some who were around when I was a kid and have been working here for thirty-plus years. I’ve got a phenomenal team that’s extremely dedicated and skilled. I’d go the extent of calling them the best veterinary staff in the whole state. Their training and dedication are a blessing. I don’t take them for granted,” he said. “It’s my name on the plaque, but it’s everybody else’s award.”