Short film highlights mental health struggles in veterinary medicine


The Dog is a fictional story featuring actress Kate Walsh as an overworked veterinarian over a 24-hour period with challenges that include a power outage and an ethical dilemma.

The Dog with Kate Walsh

Photo courtesy of IndeVets

Kate Walsh plays Claire, a veterinarian in a 24-hour clinic, in The Dog.

An overworked veterinarian is having an especially difficult, emotional night in the new, live-action, short film The Dog. Played by actress Kate Walsh—best known for her role as a human medicine provider on the long-running series Grey’s Anatomy and its’ spinoff The Practice—the veterinarian, Claire, struggles with a power outage, personal demons, and an ethical dilemma while caring for a sick dog that arrives in the 24-hour clinic.1,2

The Dog is written, directed and produced by Australian filmmaker Danielle Baynes, who said in a prepared statement that she set out to develop a story about loss, facing death, and how humans handle these emotional events.1 The 12-minute film aims to provide a look at the practice demands and mental health challenges, including the emotional toll of responsibilities, faced by many veterinary professionals.2

“While developing the script, I asked a veterinarian friend about the experience of shepherding so many people through this deeply emotional moment. They introduced me to staggering statistics that shifted my whole perspective on the story that I wanted to tell inside that vet clinic,” Baynes said in the statement.1

Results of an Australian study released in 2022 indicate that nearly 70% of veterinarians have lost a colleague or professional peer to suicide, and approximately 60% have sought professional health for mental health issues.3 Additionally, in a CDC study, investigators found that veterinarians are at higher risk of suicide than the general population. Suicide was found to be 2.4 times more likely for female veterinarians and 1.6 times more likely for male veterinarians than the general population, according to the study results.4

“Through conversations with more vets and people within the industry, I learned about the numerous factors that plan into the mental health crisis in the profession. Although impossible to represent all facets in a short film set over 1 night, through the character of Claire, I wanted to explore the experience of being the anchor in other people’s storms while enduring a private struggle,” Baynes continued.1

The film’s key supporters include the Veterinary Angel Network, VetCart and IndeVets. “Improving the mental health of veterinarians has always been our No. 1 goal,” Michael Raphael, founder and CEO of IndeVets, said in a news release.2 “We are proud to put our name behind a film like The Dog as it helps to bring the issue of burnout in the profession to the forefront.”

The new film is scheduled to premiere at the Bentonville Film Festival in June 2024 and will subsequently screen at film festivals around the world. It will also be made available in June to organizations in the veterinary community for private screenings, for which a guide will be provided to help facilitate conversations. These screenings are intended to generate awareness and conversation about mental health in the veterinary profession.2

Additionally, a private screening of the film is scheduled to be shown September 26, 2024, at the Southern Veterinary Conference in Fort Worth, Texas. Open to all conference attendees, the event will be hosted by IndeVets and offers free admission with a post-screening panel discussion. Panel speakers will include Baynes, Brian Bourquin, DVM, president of the Not One More Vet organization; Marisa Brunetti, VMD, chief veterinary officer for IndeVets; and Dave Shuey, LMSW, DMA, a veterinary social worker with IndeVets.2

Baynes’ previous work Comments was launched as a social impact campaign that addressed the impact of cyberbullying. The award-winning Comments is now used in schools around the world as an educational tool, according to IndeVets. The Dog can similarly be used as a resource in the veterinary industry to facilitate discussions about mental wellbeing as well as encourage the general public to have more empathy and support for individuals who need help, the company noted in its’ release.2

“While the film explores the specific struggles of a veterinarian at work, I hope is offers a message of hope to anyone grappling with their own ‘dog,’ Baynes said.1 “We are not alone in our fights. Through empathy, understanding and shared resilience, we can extend support to one another through life’s darkest moments.”


  1. Director’s statement. The Dog press kit. Accessed May 6, 2024.
  2. The Dog starring Kate Walsh. New release. IndeVets. May 6, 2024. Accessed May 6, 2024.
  3. Nearly 70% of veterinarians have lost a colleague or peer to suicide, study finds. The Guardian. June 11, 2022. Accessed May 6, 2024.
  4. Nett RJ, Witte T, Spitzer EG, Edwards N, Fowler KA. Suicide risk for veterinarians and veterinary technicians. CDC. September 4, 2019. Accessed May 6, 2024.

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