Gary Block was recently named veterinarian of the year by the Rhode Island Veterinary Medical Association. Block is co-owner of Ocean State Veterinary Specialists, located in East Greenwich. He received his doctor of veterinary medicine from the New York State College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University and holds an M.S. in animals and public policy from Tufts University.
PBN: Can you tell us about your professional involvements?
BLOCK: I am currently involved in a number of nonprofit and professional organizations, including the Society for Veterinary Medical Ethics and the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association. I am also the Rhode Island veterinary representative to the American Veterinary Medical Association. One of the charities I am most proud of is the Companion Animal Foundation, which provides financial assistance to pet owners with low incomes here in Rhode Island. As one of the founding board members, we have provided tens of thousands of dollars for subsidized veterinary services to animals whose owners would otherwise not have been able to afford it.
PBN: What led you to the decision to pursue a master’s degree from the Center for Animals and Public Policy at Tufts University?
BLOCK: For the last 25 years, I have been extremely interested and actively involved in animal welfare-and animal-rights issues. As our society has evolved from an agrarian to a more urban one, the role that animals play in our lives has evolved as well. The master’s program at Tufts University was an opportunity for me to devote an entire year to critically studying the historical, philosophical, evolutionary and scientific underpinnings of the animal-welfare movement. As a program that focused on public policy, it also provided me with the tools to utilize this knowledge to try and bring positive changes to the way we treat animals in our society.
PBN: Are there any recent trends you’ve noticed in companion animal care/animal welfare in Rhode Island?
BLOCK: As one might expect, the economic woes facing Rhode Islanders are often borne out in their ability – or lack thereof – to provide adequate and appropriate veterinary care for their pets. This is doubly tragic in that in times of stress, depression and need, pets are often the only security and “friend” we can count on. •