Any person who could extract excitement from a job looking for pesticide residue in cow manure has but one calling.

In his new book, Town of Tonawanda-based veterinarian Pete Freyburger recalled that job and many of the other events in his life that help mold his 30-year career helping animals.

“Vetting,” what Freyburger called a semi-retirement project, focuses on the time between his graduation from Kenmore High School and his co-founding of the Brighton-Eggert Animal Clinic. That decade saw him graduate from Cornell University, become the father of three children and come very close to abandoning the veterinary field in favor of becoming a government meat inspector.

Oh, and take a summer job one year doing that manure-inspecting work.

The book travels back and forth in the beginning. It starts with him on the first week on the job in a West Seneca clinic in June 1976 before quickly — and in vivid detail — flashing back to the summer before he went to Cornell. He began courting his future wife Barbara that summer, and within a couple years they were married and expecting their first child.

Defying the odds, Freyburger was accepted to Cornell’s veterinary school during his junior year as an undergrad. He nearly found employment elsewhere upstate before landing the West Seneca job. Within a year, he moved on to a Lockport clinic; two years after that, in August 1979, he opened Brighton-Eggert with Phil Weber, a vet he worked with in Lockport.

Getting a glimpse of Freyburger’s self-doubt and career struggles is quite interesting, especially considering he works in a profession that demands complete confidence. Only after correctly guessing that a cat had been misdiagnosed — and performing surgery at his own expense to save the feline — convinced him to complete even one year as a veterinarian.

As one might expect, the animal anecdotes push this book above average. Whether it’s the woman who discovered her husband was cheating when another woman’s underwear were pulled out of her dog’s stomach, or the accidental shower the vet received after a lab technician failed to empty an animal’s bladder before surgery, there’s plenty of entertainment to be had here. Freyburger’s concise writing style and attention to detail in his stories make this book a breezy, fun read.

But the reader also gets to see the formation of a true professional. Freyburger cited several mistakes made by other doctors (skimping on supplies, lacking in patience with pet owners) that showed him how not to run a clinic, and it’s quickly clear how much the author enjoys his work.

More so these days, however, “enjoyed” is the proper word. Having expanded multiple times over the course of 30 years and eventually taking on dozens of employees, Brighton-Eggert was purchased by a corporation in 2005. Freyburger remains a part-time managing veterinarian there, and used his newly found free time to piece together this book, which he said was a combination of short stories written over the years and new material he recently penned.

Thankfully for pet-lovers — and enjoyers of a read that’s sharp and pleasant if not ground-breaking — that free time was found.

Contact Paul Laneat 693-1000, ext. 116.


• WHAT: “Vetting: The Making of a Veterinarian”

• BY: Pete Freyburger

• DETAILS: Published by PJF Publishing, 190 pages


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