By now you might have seen screenshots of an email allegedly sent to Dr. Valerie Marcano (co-founder at Pawsbilities Vet Med) from Dr. Keith Hilinski. From calling Dominicans “ingrates” to poking fun at the term BIPOC (and simultaneously diminishing mental health issues), the screenshots reveal extremely problematic thoughts.

These emails were allegedly sent in response to Dr. Valerie Marcano in response to an article she wrote for the California Veterinarian Magazine highlighting the need for meaningful DEI (diversity, equity & inclusion) efforts in veterinary medicine.

In his alleged emails, Hilinski boldly calls the Dominican Republic “a backward nation.” According to her Facebook, Dr. Marcano was born in Florida and grew up in the Dominican Republic until the age of 14. You can learn more about her work at Pawsibilities Vet Med here.

Dr. Keith Hilinski is the practice owner in at Rolling Hills Pet Hospital in Chula Vista, California as well as past-president to the San Diego County Veterinary Medical Association. (SDCVMA) A Google search reveals he has also served as chairman to the SDCVMA’s mentorship committee.

We share this because it is beyond time to ensure veterinary medicine is a safe space for all to work in. When you look up Dr. Hilinski’s practice on social media, you won’t see this alleged dark side.

At Snout School, we believe in marketing with transparency and integrity. This sometimes means we must reveal deeper issues plaguing veterinary medicine. If a practice owner with views like those expressed above cannot hire, for example, it isn’t an advertising problem. It’s an issue with the morals and ethics of leadership that is driving staff away.

What can you do?

Taking action is so important when you see racist behavior. We hope you will call it out when you see it. In this particular situation, we want to garner support around Dr. Marcano and her work. In addition, it is important for the organizations Dr. Hilinski is affiliated with (according to his website) to know about this situation. When people with problematic beliefs are in positions of power, we can’t wonder why vet med is a predominately white industry.


  1. Please be sure to offer up your support for Pawsbilities Vet Med on their Facebook and Instagram.
  2. Check out Dr. Marcano’s article in the California Veterinarian Magazine, and let the CVMA know you support more discussion of DEI in vet med.
  3. Contact the San Diego County VMA to express your thoughts on their executive board member’s alleged behavior.