We’re Only Human – Sophie’s Legacy to curb mental health crisis among veterinarians

04 Jul 2023


The grieving parents and loved ones of a young veterinarian who died by suicide have launched a national campaign urging people to be kind to vet staff. 

Adelaide parents Garry and Kate Putland and their sons launched the “We’re Only Human” campaign almost two years after losing their beloved daughter and sister Dr Sophie Putland in September 2021. 

The 'We’re Only Human' posters will be sent to every clinic in Australia from July and include a QR Code, which pet owners are asked to scan to pledge that they’ll treat staff with respect. 

In the wake of Sophie’s death, the Putlands established a GoFundMe Page and raised more than $50,000 to establish Sophie’s Legacy and the new national campaign to help prevent suicide in the veterinary industry.  

A Sophie’s Legacy survey of more than 600 veterinarians and staff has identified demanding clients including client abuse – where clients lash out at staff – as the biggest trigger for poor mental health among vets and staff.  

Survey respondents also identified burnout, under resourcing and unattainable treatment time targets set by some employers as causing widespread mental illness among those working in the industry.   

“These are all things that Sophie experienced – and the final abuse she experienced four days before her day, we believe, just sent her over the edge,” Garry said. 

Kate and Garry are sharing Sophie’s story widely to make a difference, including with journalist Caroline Winter’s 'Sick As A Dog' podcast which outlines the vet industry crisis. 

Their 'We’re Only Human' campaign has so far attracted widespread support from the grassroots vet industry as well as nationally and internationally. 

The South Australian Government recently gave Sophie’s Legacy a $25,000 grant to continue the campaign to educate the public on the pressures vets and staff face every day.

“We never want anyone to experience the pain and loss that we have, and we certainly don’t want to discourage anyone from pursuing a career as a vet. We just want to make sure that vet staff are as well supported as possible, and part of that is educating the public that vets are human too,” Kate said. 


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