Fitting the pieces together

Closeup of Neil Sinha and his dog Molly.
Dr. Neil Sinha poses for a picture with his dog Molly.

Dr. Neil Sinha was perplexed.

Why was a 4-month-old puppy that should be happy and playful instead lethargic, not growing properly, and limping? And what was causing its skin lesions?

It was one of Sinha’s first cases as an internal medicine resident at Washington State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital, and like the veterinarians who had previously examined the dog, he was stumped.

“I look at every case kind of like a puzzle,” Sinha said. “You have certain pieces, but you never have the full picture. Your job is to fit the pieces together.”

While others were beginning to suspect the puppy may be suffering from a congenital condition, Sinha was not yet convinced and ordered a CT scan for a clearer picture.

The pieces started to come together.

The images showed the puppy had eaten a wooden skewer that had punctured his stomach and was poking into its hip.

“No one had any idea,” Sinha said. “I felt good because we got him to surgery, and he did well. Hopefully, he won’t eat another stick.”

Sinha, who was born and raised in Houston, started his three-year residency at WSU in 2020 after earning his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at Iowa State University and completing year-long internships in private practices in Ohio and Michigan.

Unlike many of his colleagues, there was no defining moment or childhood bond with an animal that set Sinha on the path to becoming a veterinarian. While the profession runs in his family – in India, his grandfather and uncle are veterinarians – Sinha didn’t have his first pet until he was in high school, and it wasn’t until he was 21 and several years into college that he made his career choice.

Sinha, though, deeply loves and cares for animals, and now shares his home with a dog and three cats.

“In college, I looked at dental school and medical school, but I thought is that really a career I want to do when I am 50 or 60 years old? So, I looked it into veterinary school, and I was really drawn to it,” he said.

It has been a great fit Sinha.

“I love taking care of my patients and animals,” he said. “It is a challenge every day, and you have to work hard, but you get to do a job that you enjoy.”

When Sinha completes his residency in two years, he hopes to go into private practice in the Chicago area. One day, he would also like to visit India and provide veterinary assistance. Until then he is keeping his options open.

“I’ve become a yes person. I won’t say no to any opportunity that arises, because you just never know what is going to come up,” he said. “I never thought my path from Houston would lead here, so, honestly, I will consider any opportunity.”

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