For Noel Berger, DVM, MS, DABLS, his love of animals came naturally. Growing up, he loved anything having to do with animals—from household pets, to zoo animals, and even the charismatic critters on TV’s Wild Kingdom. Dr. Berger always had an affinity for science, biology, and the nature of life. But there’s one incident that stands out for him as the moment he realized that becoming a veterinarian was his true calling. When Dr. Berger was about 5 years old, he accidentally injured the family dog.
“From that moment on, I pledged to help animals get better,” Dr. Berger said. “It was a life-changing experience at a very early age and I still feel that way.”
Between his practice and more than 200 Airvet cases, the Florida-based vet has done just that. Dr. Berger graduated from Cornell University in 1988 then went on to own and operate veterinary practices in Sutton, Mass., and Pawleys Island, S.C., for over 20 years. Dr. Berger is certified by the American Board of Laser Surgery in veterinary surgery, physics, and safety and even published a textbook on veterinary laser surgery. Dr. Berger has been providing care through Airvet since February and, though he no longer owns a practice, he’s not ready to retire just yet.
“As a relief vet with Airvet, I’ve been able to provide care and peace of mind to hundreds of pet parents all across the country,” he said. “I set my own schedule, work when I want, and generate more income for my family by putting my degree to work and doing what I love. I couldn’t be happier.”
Dr. Berger views working with Airvet as a great way to fill an important need. Demand for veterinary service is higher than he’s ever seen it and the supply of labor is extremely low, leaving pet parents unable to provide care for their pets. Often, pet parents can’t get an in-office appointment for two or three weeks and face up to a 10-hour wait to get care at an emergency clinic. As a former practice owner, he understands that it’s hard to say “no” to a pet in need and that sometimes you really can’t squeeze in one more appointment for the day. But Dr. Berger said Airvet is filling that gap. And while anxious pet parents wait for an in-person appointment they can call Airvet, and “at least they know someone out there really cares,” he said.
Dr. Berger said that the pet parents he’s helped have been grateful for the (virtual) hand-holding, warm smiles, and comfort he provides them.
Dr. Berger recalled one set of pet parents who were especially grateful for the detailed instructions on how to perform a minor medical procedure at home.
“I had to walk them through how to catheterize their male dog,” he said.
The dog was suffering from prostate disease and was unable to urinate on his own. His abdomen was swollen with urine and they knew they couldn’t wait for an opening at the ER. They were desperate. Luckily one of the parents is a nurse and with Dr. Berger’s help, the procedure was a success.
“It’s a huge win because there was immediate relief for the dog, the people have learned a new skill, and it gives them confidence that Airvet was a great solution,” Dr. Berger said.
The couple formed a strong bond with Dr. Berger.
“We’re family now,” he said.
In addition to dogs and many cats, Dr. Berger has also treated a horse, mice, and bunnies through Airvet.
When he’s not taking calls for Airvet or treating patients at Veterinary Center at Fishhawk, Dr. Berger is the proud parent of dogs, guinea pigs, a chinchilla, a bunny, parakeets, mice, a Russian tortoise, a few backyard squirrels, and three adult children. Dr. Berger and his wife Gayle have been married since 1991.
Dr. Berger has so many pets because sometimes his clients can’t afford to pay for treatments. So, he just treats the surrendered pets and takes them home.
“We give them as good a life as we can for as long as we can,” he said.
Have a question about one of your pets? Download the Airvet app and connect with a licensed veterinarian instantly. You might even get a chance to meet Dr. Berger.