As the number of pets in the United States declines and breeders produce fewer and fewer horses, recent graduates of veterinary school are struggling to resolve crushing debt with decreasing job opportunities.
A report by the New York Times profiles 30-year-old Hayley Schafer, whose lifelong dream of a veterinary degree has cost her $312,000 in student loans in an industry where the expected starting salary has sunk 13 percent in the last decade to $45,575 per year–if new vets can find jobs at all.
While the numbers of dogs and cats have suffered significant declines in the last few years (as has the amount pet owners are willing to spend on their care), equine statistics are likely down even more. Dr. Stuart Brown of Hagyard Equine Medical Institute estimates that the horse population is down about 30 percent from 2008, resulting in fewer job opportunities for veterinarians.
“Traditionally we have hired five to seven new grads to our internship program,” he said. “Lately, it's one or two.”
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