At the Harrison Veterinary Clinic, Dr. Emily Bridge takes X-rays of a goose named Mick. He stands on the X-ray table, his eye tearing, red, and barely open, with a massive growth protruding from the side of his face.
Emily quickly determines there is a cancerous tumor degrading the bird's skull. In a calm, matter of fact tone, she tells Mick’s owner, Denise Andrews, that there is nothing she can do to treat the tumor.
The best option is to put Mick down.
As Emily waits patiently, quiet and reassuring, Denise considers the situation, staring at the X-rays on the screen. Her eyes well up and her voice begins to quiver.
"Are you sure?" Denise asks.
Emily is sure.
For the veterinarian, sometimes the hardest part of her job is supporting the animals' owners. She's up to the challenge.
"It's a passion for people, more so than a lot of jobs are," Emily says. "It seems like people that do it are really drawn to it."
Emily has been working at the clinic for five and a half years. She grew up in neighboring Scott County, and now lives on eight acres in Cynthiana with her own two dogs, a cat and her husband.
In a typical workday, she treats both large and small animals, including livestock and beloved pets like Mick. The scope of her cases ranges widely, from performing surgery on chihuahuas with dislocated knees to conducting pregnancy herd checks on local cattle farms.
Sometimes, Emily says, the strong emotions associated with her cases conflict with economic realities.
“[When people] bring in their animal that they love," she says, "and then you tell them it's going to be $1,000 to treat this, all they see is that you're not treating their pet when you could."
In the examining room, standing over Mick, Denise makes her decision.
“If you surround yourself with living things," she says finally, "you have to accept that they will die."