This article, "Welcome to Hell," describes the unfortunate suicide of a VCA (animal hospital owned by MARS Inc.) employee, Vanessa Gutierrez of Passaic, New Jersey. The article refers to MARS Inc, as being "best known for making chocolate bars. But it also owns the most pet hospitals in the U.S., and workers say the conditions are toxic."
She referred to the VCA it as "the most toxic place I have ever worked" and due to ongoing mental health challenges, she she unfortunately committed suicide in October 2021. "While still working at VCA, Gutierrez went missing from her family for days and was eventually hospitalized for suicidal ideation. When she returned to her job, she found a disciplinary “No call/No show” write-up from her manager, for missing work".
According to her posts on social media, she reached out to VCA president Todd Lavender, who then allegedly forwarded everything to VCA's HR vice president, Maria Druse, and neither addressed her concerns.
She also posted, "I’m sorry that I didn’t think to stop in the middle of my suicide attempt to call and let Management know that I would not be making it in for my shift"
Mental health issues, especially during a pandemic seem to be the norm these days. Stress, anxiety, depression also appear to be part of daily life for many people. However, returning from work post-hospitalization for suicidal ideations to be disciplined for an absence, just can't help one's stress load.
Since MARS Inc, is a behemoth of a corporation, I'd bet their employees, including management were just following protocol, which lacks concern for individuals. I believe this lack of concern also applies to the services provided to our animals if they are treated at a MARS facility (Banfield, VCA, Blue Pearl) or eat their kibble (Eukanuba, Royal Canin, Pedigree, Iams and Nutro to name a few of 41 brands they own). Companies want to make money. If they truly cared about their employees or our animals, perhaps their protocols would change to practices that promote health instead of destroying it.
Also, even more disturbing, according to the 2021 Bureau of Labor Statistics Data, "male and female veterinary technicians died by suicide at a rate that was 5.0 and 2.3 times greater, respectively, than the general population."
This statistic is alarming. These are the folks we are trusting our beloved animals to and they are stressed AF. In my view, stress is a negative energy that blocks healing. If our vets and vet techs are so stressed (thank you, MARS Inc.), how can we trust that our animals are receiving the quality care they deserve?
-Written by Erica L.