Amber Roudette, ’13

Diverse pets -- and vets

March 7, 2023

Animal Care

By Amy Ogle, ’26

By the time she was 5 or 6 years old, Amber Roudette, ’13, knew what to tell grown-ups when they asked what she wanted to be when she grew up. She wanted to treat illnesses and send patients home feeling better. However, her patients needed to have key features: fur, feathers, or scales.

“I just honestly … never really had that interest in the human side of [medicine],” says Roudette, a veterinarian in Charlottesville, Virginia. “I’ve just always felt that I kind of like that my patients don’t look like me.”

Roudette treats a variety of pets, from your standard cat and dog to reptiles and even a peacock. Her most common case is the annual wellness visit, which includes vaccines, heartworm testing, and flea and tick prevention. A typical checkup also requires Roudette to examine all parts of the body and look for abnormalities such as masses on the abdomen or swelling.

Even though she spends most of her time with animals, part of Roudette’s job is working with humans. “Half of the challenge is figuring out what’s going on with the sick pet and trying to get them feeling better. But the other half is definitely comforting the owner, explaining things to them without overwhelming them,” she says.

She often discusses uncomfortable topics with her patients’ owners. They range from financial issues to the severity of an illness to euthanasia. Veterinary science is not only a medical field; it is an emotional field.

Despite the emotional challenges, Roudette finds pride in her work. It allows her to meet diverse owners. It gives her the opportunity to treat exotic animals. Most importantly, it allows her to pursue her dream and, as a Black woman, diversify her profession so that more pet owners see someone who looks like them when they come in for care.

“Just because you don’t look like the vets that you know doesn’t mean you can’t be a vet,” she says.