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Dr. Lara Sypniewski holds Tasha, a P3 team member owned by Ashlyn and Dr. Erik Clary.
Dr. Lara Sypniewski holds Tasha, a P3 team member owned by Ashlyn and Dr. Erik Clary.

Dr. Lara Sypniewski helps care for Pete's Pet Posse

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Media Contact: Mack Burke  | Editorial Coordinator | 405-744-5540 | editor@okstate.edu

Dr. Lara Sypniewski spent 12 years in private practice before joining Oklahoma State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in 2010.

As  a clinical professor in primary care medicine and surgery, she teaches practical hands-on skills to aspiring veterinarians and
provides the highest standard of care to her patients at OSU’s Boren Veterinary Medical Hospital.

That includes animals from Pete’s Pet Posse (P3) such as Scruff, the Hargises’ canine companion.

“Scruff is the most spirited dog I have ever worked with in 22 years,” she said. “He has a truly effervescent personality! I
absolutely love his resilience. He has overcome many obstacles — a gunshot wound, orthopedic surgeries, hospitalizations, extensive
rehabilitation, homelessness and foster families, and he has done it all in a constant state of happiness.”

She called the P3 program a game changer and said high-profile stories like Scruff’s help to increase the program’s visibility and impact, highlighting the dedication of students, faculty and nursing staff who provide lifesaving care. Another P3 dog, Evie, who
happens to adore Scruff, was also a high-profile story, surviving the 2013 Shawnee tornado, recovering from her injuries, adjusting to a
new family and finding her place as a P3 therapy dog.

“I think impactful stories remind us of the good that veterinarians do and how hard we work for our community’s animals — small, large and everything in between. Veterinarians are really front-line heroes for these animals.”

Sypniewski, colloquially referred to as Dr. Syp by everyone, said she’s honored to be part of P3 because it represents the reason for her vocation.

“I absolutely adore animals, but I became a veterinarian in order to serve people,” she said. “The impact our companion
animals have on each and every one of us is profound. In my opinion, the unconditional love of our pets is simply the closest thing to perfect that we can get! It is my job to keep these pets healthy and happy so they can continue to bring joy and happiness to those around them.”

Emotional fortitude and grit are keys to a long career in veterinary medicine, she said. She said remembering the victories is a powerful thing. She has saved every thank-you card, photo and note since 1994. They’re a source of strength, a reminder that her work matters.

“Veterinarians are members of your family’s health care team, and we are expected to provide the best care possible and be open, honest and accountable for the care we provide. In addition, though, I hope more pet owners offer their veterinarian a little bit of grace. It is a tough job,” she said. “When a student receives a thank-you card or a note of appreciation, it literally can make their whole year. This small gesture helps to melt away the stresses of the job and reminds us why we have chosen this amazing profession.


Story by Mack Burke | Photo by Phil Shockley

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