If you spend too much time on social media looking at cute animal photos and videos, chances are you're already familiar with Dr. Evan Antin, a veterinarian based in Thousand Oaks, CA. After a 2013 appearance on Kris Jenner's short-lived daytime television show Kris, he made his Facebook account public, and started sharing more pictures and facts about his animal patients. "I find [being a vet] so fascinating, and I see so many cool cases, that I figured it would be good to share it with the world," he explains of his hugely successful Facebook and Instagram accounts, the latter of which has over 375,000 followers.
While for many of his followers, the posts are an opportunity to see great photos of rare and exotic animals, Dr. Antin wants viewers to find his accounts informative. "There are so many things I wish I'd known before vet school," he says. He hopes that by putting his personal photos and animal trivia online, people will learn more about all forms of wildlife.
"I want to show the world the cool stuff I do. I find it fascinating, and I figure lots of other people do, too."
Growing up a self-proclaimed "animal nut" near Kansas City, KS, Dr. Antin spent much of his childhood outdoors, skipping rocks at a nearby creek and looking for snakes with his friends. To this day, he considers snakes among his favorite animals. "I remember my little toys: my favorites were always the crocodiles and the king cobras," he says. This lifelong appreciation for wildlife was one of the galvanizing forces in his eventual decision to become a vet.
One of the most memorable moments in Dr. Antin's early career came while he was spending time in Indonesia. "I had just gotten out of school and I had been working for a few months, and we were volunteering at a sanctuary in Indonesia. They just so luckily needed a vet, and I happened to be in the area," he says. "They had a critically endangered monkey species who needed dental work done." Dr. Antin immediately volunteered, and got to help a species at risk of extinction—truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
At home in California, Dr. Antin's practice is a little more traditional. He sees patients every day, ranging from cats and dogs to more exotic pets, such as rock iguanas, ball pythons, and micropigs. He seeks out new research on exotic animals and how best to care for them, so that he remains on top of the latest information. On some days there are surgeries, which combine the most fascinating and stressful parts of Dr. Antin's job; many involve removing foreign objects that pets may have accidentally eaten. One pup patient in particular has a very indiscriminate appetite. "I've pulled out a few tampons, some rubber toys, and some wire from the same dog," he says.
Hands-on training is key to becoming a vet, and Dr. Antin encourages any aspiring veterinarians to spend time with animals early and often. During veterinary school, he enrolled in any exotic animal elective he could, and urges prospective vets to do the same. "Work with animals and other vets in the capacity that you're interested in to see if it's something you still really want to do," he advises.
Yes, Dr. Antin really loves his career, but working with animals all day isn't all "puppies and rainbows" as he points out, although yes, there are a lot of the former. "It's a stressful job," he says, noting the challenges of emergency surgery and the true life-or-death situations that he deals with on a regular basis. "It happens to the best of us," he somberly acknowledges, before explaining that the heartbreaking aspects of his job never become easier. "You're dealing with somebody's baby," he says.
But for all of the challenges, being a vet is an incredibly rewarding and exciting career choice. "Getting to connect with all these different animals, and trying to establish some sort of relationship with them is the highlight for me," he says. "Looking into the eyes of a cat and forming a bond with them is really special."
Want to follow in Dr. Antin's footsteps? Find more information on how to become a veterinarian at vethow.com. Join our favorite vet on his adventures in the animal kingdom by following him on Instagram at @dr.evanantin.