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Meet RAPS’ vets: Dr. Assaf Goldberg

Being a good vet as much about people as animals

As a young man, Assaf Goldberg expected medicine was in his future. His father is a dentist and his uncle was a physician. Growing up in Israel (but a Canadian dual-citizen because of his father), Goldberg’s love of animals led him to study veterinary medicine.

“I’m the only one in my class who didn’t dream of being a vet since he was 10 years old,” he recalls, “but I thought this might work well and I know I’m in the right profession.”

As it turns out, he says, being a good veterinarian is as much about knowing how to work well with people as it is about caring for their companion animals.

“Maybe 70% of my job is dealing with people, not animals,” he says, adding that this is a fine situation because, as much as he loves animals, he seems to develop a great rapport with their people, too.

There are tough times in the job, especially comforting people when their pets are facing serious health issues or come to the end of their lives, and his own experience in losing beloved animals helps him empathize and find the right words.

There are also the highs of the job.

“Nothing feels better,” he says, “than when it’s a hard case or wasn’t that straightforward and you figure it out and you help the animal and everybody’s happy. It’s priceless.”

Goldberg will be one of the leading vets at the RAPS Regional Animal Hospital, which is expected to open by the end of this year. He graduated from the veterinary college at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2011 and received his North American practice licenses in 2013.

Dr. Goldberg has intensive experience working as a veterinarian in emergency and critical animal care and specialist centers for most of his career and, over the past year, he has provided his expertise in critical care to the animals of RAPS.

While waiting for completion of the RAPS Regional Animal Hospital, Dr. Goldberg has donated his time and helped set up a philanthropic dental clinic serving the cats at the RAPS City of Richmond Animal Shelter and the RAPS Cat Sanctuary. Dental treatment for a cat can cost between $700 and $1,200, so creating the in-agency dental clinic even before the completion of the animal hospital is already saving RAPS thousands of dollars.

“I’m really excited because it’s happening,” says Goldberg. “I really like working with Eyal [Lichtmann, RAPS’ executive director] who, along with the Board of Directors, has developed a new international model for no-kill agencies, which includes the animal hospital and the establishment of sanctuaries. The idea of RAPS and this social enterprise clinic that’s going to help the RAPS animals, people that adopted animals from RAPS and people in the community – I think it’s just fantastic. It’s a great opportunity to start something new, to be part of it and also to serve the community. It feels great.”

Goldberg came to Vancouver just over a year ago because his wife, Hagar, is doing her postdoctoral work in neuroscience at UBC. They have three children under the age of seven, have a 12-year-old Boxer named Jessie and are adopting another dog and cat very soon.

There will be a minimum of three highly professional and experienced vets working at the RAPS Regional Animal Hospital, with surgical and critical care experience utilizing “Fear Free” care to patients, which is the gold standard established by the American Animal Hospital Association. The other vets who will be treating animals at the RAPS Regional Animal Hospital will be featured in the coming days. To complete the hospital, RAPS needs your help. Please learn more and support this project today.

When you give…they live.