By Sue Tiffin
Published March 27 2018
Everything is going to plan for Dr. Aimée Filion even if on a day-to-day basis she doesn’t know what type of animal might cross her path – but that’s part of the plan.
Earlier this month Filion a veterinarian became the new owner of Haliburton Veterinary Services where she has worked alongside previous owner Dr. Laurie Brown for the past six years.
It’s a goal she has aspired to for years and one that became more attainable when while pursuing post-undergraduate studies at the Ontario Veterinary College at University of Guelph she reached out to Brown about possible opportunities in Haliburton.
“A friend of mine had done his placement up here” said Filion. “And he said ‘you know Aimée this is the perfect practice for you…You kind of see everything and you would really like it.’”
Based on her friends’ feedback of the mixed animal practice in Haliburton Filion was interested. He told her the practice had a James Harriot-like approach comparing it to the stories and philosophy of the famous veterinary surgeon and writer of All Creatures Great and Small.
“[Harriot] would try all sorts of different things on different animals” said Filion. “It was just kind of the way it was back in the day. You kind of did what you could and tried your best and maybe tried things you never thought you would try before. He got paid in eggs someone gave him a chicken…It’s a description of a practice that isn’t your classic small animal-only practice.”
Brown and Filion were able to chat at a meet and greet at the school where Filion said she was offered a job immediately after strong recommendations from professors and an instant connection with Brown.
“I really liked her and we seemed to have the same thought processes on how things should go and the type of medicine we wanted to practice and it went from there” she said. “We both have the same approach to medicine which is you do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. You have to be practical and do the best you can with every case.”
Since 2012 after graduating with a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine Filion has seen that the description of the mixed animal practice offered by her friend was accurate.
“That’s very true in our practice” she said. “You see dogs cats bunnies rats horses cows llamas alpacas wildlife pigs chickens budgies … I’ve treated a porcupine before I’ve treated a bear cub a bald eagle. You kind of see everything and that’s part of the charm. It’s not the same thing. Every day is different and every day is a great challenge in a really good way so it’s not boring. It keeps me on my toes.”
It’s becoming rarer to see mixed animal practices according to Filion with veterinary services tending to focus on small animal-only practices or equine-only practices sometimes depending on location.
“We’re the true mixed animal practitioners” she said. “You literally see everything under the sun that’s not a human.”
One of the challenges of being such a versatile clinic is the need to be ready to see any animal at any time even visiting large animals at their homes as needed. Managing a life-work balance can be tricky.
“On-call is a way of life” said Filion. “You’re not leaving the county sometimes you’re up all night and all day.”
Moving forward Filion said she plans to look at whether the addition of regular evening services might be useful for the community and expects to hire another vet to work alongside her and Brown. (Brown is staying with the practice but slightly reducing her hours.) Filion said the mentorship and guidance from Brown has been incredible and has helped her learn about managing aspects of the veterinary medicine business – accounting public relations human resources – to balance the science and medicine focus from school. It was Brown who started the clinic more than 30 years ago.
“She’s done amazing” said Filion. “The clinic would not be what it is without her.”
With the sale finalized Filion is transitioning into her new role as owner – a transition she said is made easier because of her years at the practice. She’s enthusiastic about the change in her life which she described in a similar way to what each of her days at the clinic look like: “It’s different and exciting and challenging.”
For more information about the services offered by Haliburton Veterinary Services visit haliburtonvets.com.