Veterinarian John Hallet cares for ďDozer,Ē a maltese mix
who just had skin masses surgically removed as part of an
operation on Tuesday.
Josh Perttunen/Enterprise Staff
TOWN OF OCONOMOWOC ó With two
hands and a host of implements, veterinarian John Hallett has
assisted many four-legged family members in Waukesha County with
what ails them.
His practice at 5744 Brown St. in the Town of Oconomowoc was
started in 1998, after Hallett had been a practicing
veterinarian for eight years. He works with his wife Heidi,
partner Michael Fagan and associate Leyla Wirth.
Being a veterinarian combines the two subjects Hallett was
demonstrating an aptitude for in high school.
ďI really liked art and working with my hands,Ē he recalled.
ďAnd I really liked science. This put the two of those together.
ďThe art background helps in surgery with the manual dexterity,Ē
he added. ďAnd thereís a creativity that most people donít
realize when it comes to surgery. You have to be able to
recognize whatís normal and abnormal and be creative in how you
address it. Even though you may be doing the same procedure as
before, every operation is different.Ē
Hallett had a healthy discussion with the Enterprise on Monday
about his career.
ENTERPRISE: How do you begin a veterinary visit and why?
HALLETT: When I come into the exam room, I greet the owners
first. Then, I turn to wash my hands. This means I donít start
off by getting in the animalís space right away. Then I sit on a
stool and let the patient come to me. This can be accomplished
by having treats on my end, by verbal encouragement or sometimes
the patient comes on its own. Itís about putting an animal at
ease. Cats are more at ease in rooms that donít smell like dogs,
ENTERPRISE: If a patient is agitated by its visit, how do you
HALLETT: You have to pay close attention to body language.
If the ears are back or an animal is cowering in the corner, you
have to try a different approach. A technician can distract a
patient by rubbing its ears, talking to it or holding it if that
Fortunately, Iíve never had a serious bite.
ENTERPRISE: How have things changed since you became a
veterinarian in 1990?
HALLETT: The technology is allowing us to do procedures we
couldnít do before. For example, we use a long snakelike
instrument with a digital camera on the tip to do an endoscopy,
where we enter through the mouth and go into the stomach to
retrieve objects. This method means the the animal does not need
to be opened up via surgery. Weíve removed socks, underwear,
toys, bones and batteries.
Itís almost like operating a video game; we have attachments
that are loop snares and graspers.
On the diagnostics side, we can use ultrasound to look inside of
the body, where we can observe internal organs and blood flow.
We can also use a needle to collect samples from any mass we see
on the screen, meaning we donít have to cut an animal open if we
donít need to.
There is also a lot more dentistry, thanks to digital dental
x-rays where vets can see what is going on below the gumline.
Itís allowed us to be more proactive in that area.
ENTERPRISE: With the endoscopy, what is the weirdest thing
HALLETT: A Labrador retriever had swallowed some lingerie.
Other than a bit of chewing, it was mostly intact when we
ENTERPRISE: What is one of the weirdest injuries youíve seen?
And what is the most exotic animal youíve worked on?
HALLETT: Both of these came from the same operation in
veterinary school, where we worked on a polar bear that had
slipped on the ice at the zoo and fell into the moat, breaking
its leg. You wouldnít expect a polar bear to slip on the ice.
ENTERPRISE: Even with all of your experience, do you still
feel the pressure of having the well-being of somebodyís
four-legged family member in your hands?
HALLETT: It can be hard. With every case we see, there is a
problem to solve. We try to do it in the most cost-effective
manner; but we donít want to miss anything. It still keeps me
awake at night, trying to think of how to do things differently.
Sometimes all the tests come out normal, but you still know the
animal is sick. Itís a matter of finding of the right tests. If
weíre really stumped, we bring in specialists.
ENTERPRISE: Is there any advice that youíd offer to pet
owners based on what youíre seeing?
HALLETT: It is that dental component. Everybody thinks that
dogs love bones (and they do), but pet owners need to keep in
mind that though a dogís jaw is stronger than a humanís, it has
weaker tooth enamel than people do. The likelihood of fracturing
a tooth or chipping a tooth is high.
There are also instances where the crown of a dogís tooth looks
fine, but chewing on a bone has broken the root of the tooth
below the gumline.
ENTERPRISE: What makes a good veterinarian?
HALLETT: Somebody who listens. Somebody who interacts with
the owners to offer options. Just because we can do tests
doesnít mean itís always the best option.