Sarasota Pet Magazine. Interview by Candance T. Botha
“My father was very old school,” Dr. Rand says. “He owned the neighborhood drug store in Staten Island for 50 years and knew nothing but work; he never understood my interest in animals. But from the time I was a young boy, I knew that I would, one day, become a veterinarian.”
His parents, however, had other plans for their son’s career; they wanted him to manage the family business after his father retired. So, placing his own career goals on hold, Dr. Rand attended Fordham University College of Pharmacy.
Upon graduating with his degree in pharmacy, Dr. Rand worked with his father for a year before leaving home and heading south. “I thought I would enjoy working in pharmacy more in Florida, so I moved to Miami and worked there for a couple of years.” Dr. Rand remembers. “But I just was not happy. In the back of my mind, I still wanted to be a veterinarian.”
After serving in the United States Army at Fort Dix for two years, Dr. Rand moved back to Miami and continued to work in pharmacy while he started researching veterinary schools.
“At the time, there was only a limited number of veterinary schools in the country, and it was difficult to get in,” Dr. Rand says. He eventually was accepted at Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine in Alabama, where he spent the next four years earning his veterinary degree.
Just before leaving for veterinary school, Dr. Rand married his wife, Nancy, whom he had met just three months before they wed. “Nancy and I got married on a Saturday night and the following Monday, I started my veterinary training; we went to vet school on our honeymoon,” Dr. Rand says with a smile.
Now married for 49 years, Dr. Rand and his wife have two sons, a daughter, and four grandchildren, with another grandchild on the way.
As part of his educations, Dr. Rand did an externship at a racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky, where he had an opportunity to work with thoroughbred racehorses. In 1965, after earning his veterinary degree, Dr. Rand moved to the rural outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia, and opened his own practice, where he exclusively treated horses for the next 22 years. “The Equine Hospital was the only horse hospital and the first privately owned veterinary facility of its kind in the state of Georgia,” Dr. Rand says with pride.
The equine practice flourished and Dr. Rand’s reputation as a skilled veterinarian attracted clients from throughout the Southeast. In the years that followed, Atlanta’s eventual urban sprawl compelled local horse framers to leave the area, leading Dr. Rand to transition his practice to the veterinary care of small animals. He built a small animal hospital adjacent to the equine facility on his 25 acres of property and changed the name of the practice to Horse & Hound in 1987. He continued to practice there until 2001 when he sold the property, and he and his wife relocated to Sarasota.
Dr. Rand already had been practicing conventional veterinary medicine for nearly a decade when he first developed an interest in holistic animal care. “There were many times during the early years of my practice that I felt like I was up against a brick wall when conventional veterinary medicine offered nothing more than I could do to help my patients,” Dr. Rand says. “I could not accept defeat, so I began exploring alternative therapies.”
“When Nixon returned from his visit to China in 1974, people started talking more and more about acupuncture,” Dr. Rand adds. “Nobody was doing it here, so I decided to look into it.
It was during that same year that a group of veterinarians in California launched the International veterinarians who were interested in the practice of acupuncture. the IVAS developed a four-month course for veterinarians, who traveled from around the world to Dr. Rand’s veterinary facility in Atlanta, which served as a wet lab for the program. After completing the course, Dr. Rand and his colleagues became certified acupuncturists.
Surprisingly, even natural, wholesome pet foods can cause allergies in animals. “You can feed your pets the best foods in the world, but if they are allergic to them, it doesn’t make a difference,” Dr. Rand says. What causes allergies in some animals but not others? “Basically an allergy is a malfunction of the body’s immune system, ” Dr. Rand explains. “Allergies actually involve the brain, which says that a particular substance, such as food or dust, that is normally not a problem in other patients cannot be tolerated by this animal.
“Each animal’s immune system has a threshold, and once that threshold is reached, the body says, ‘Hold on; I can’t handle anymore,'” Dr. Rand continues. “That’s when symptoms begin to show up in the weakest systems of the body. If it’s the digestive system, the animal begins to experience chronic vomiting or diarrhea. If it’s the respiratory system, the animal will suffer from sneezing or coughing.” Dr. Rand points out that more than 50 percent of all domestic animals suffer from allergies and most animals, he says, suffer from multiple allergies. “It’s extremely rare that an animal is allergic to just one product or substance, and the majority of patients that I treat suffer from skin problems or itching allergies,” Dr. Rand says. “Although different animals may experience the same allergies, each animal is an individual. It’s not black and white; one size does not fit all. Successful treatment is much like assembling a puzzle and fitting the pieces together correctly.” In his practice, Dr. Rand first identifies the allergies by using his NAET training in combination with the holistic practice of Applied Kinesiology. With the assistance of his veterinary technician, allergen-producing substances are identified one by one, while others are eliminated. To be certain, it is a fascinating diagnostic process to observe. The technician acts as a surrogate and places either a small vial that contains the suspected allergen or a sample of a product that may be suspect (such as the pet’s food, bedding, shampoo, etc.) on the animal’s back and gently holds it in place. She then forms a ring with the thumb and forefinger of her other hand. Dr. Rand uses his thumb and forefinger to try to break the ring formed by her fingers. If the ring can be broken, a weakness in the animal is transmitted to the substance. If the ring is strong, no allergy exists.
“While it may seem like a simple procedure, it really is not,” Dr. Rand says. “You have to know how to use it correctly, assimilate the information you have received and take into account the many variables that can exist.”In treating allergies, my goal is to boost the immune system, raise the threshold and lower the allergen level until symptoms disappear,” Dr. Rand adds. “With NAET Allergy Testing and Treatment, once you clear the allergy, it’s gone for good.”
One of the most critical keys to success in the use of both conventional and holistic medicine, Dr. Rand says, is client compliance. “Cooperation by the animal’s owner is so important in the treatment of all chronic diseases and conditions, especially allergies. Clients have to follow doctor’s orders and adhere to the prescribed diet and regimen. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it has to be done if you want your animal to heal and experience optimal health.”
Forty-four years of internationally-acclaimed veterinary service is undeniably a noteworthy career achievement. But for Dr. Rand, it is his unique interpretation of conventional and holistic veterinary practices that is his proudest accomplishment. “As veterinarians, we are all taught the same medicine by studying form the same books,” Dr. Rand says. “As we mature in the field, we develop our own unique ways of practicing veterinary medicine. What makes us different is how we eventually assimilate everything that we have learned and how we choose to put that knowledge into practice.”
It is his successful integration of conventional medicine and holistic principles, coupled with gentle, compassionate care, that has given Dr. Rand an unrivaled ability to offer each of his patients an opportunity to experience optimal health and well-being in every phase of their lives.