Dr. Ashley Bernauer works with one of the new machines at the Qualicum Beach Animal Hospital.

Dr. Ashley Bernauer works with one of the new machines at the Qualicum Beach Animal Hospital.

Big or small, new vet loves them all

Qualicum Beach’s newest veterinarian likes horses and large animals, but is happy to be focusing on smaller animals and their owners.

Qualicum Beach’s newest veterinarian likes horses and large animals, but is happy to be focusing on smaller animals and the bond with their owners.

Dr. Ashley Bernauer hails from the farming community of Armstrong in the Interior and has worked with horses, but these days she prefers her new dog and cat patients.

“I like both, I have both, but I really enjoy being a small animal veterinarian,” she said during The NEWS’ recent visit to the Qualicum Beach Animal Hospital that she recently took over and was still renovating.

She said with small animals, “the relationship between the owner and animal is usually different and the relationship between the owner and the veterinarian is different, small animals are a family member.”

“Horses can be family members as well, but they don’t usually live in the house, sleep in your bed or share your dinner.”

Bernauer spent the last three and a half years working at a large clinic in Courtenay with seven veterinarians and four emergency rooms.

While she enjoyed it, she longed to get back to a smaller town, smaller clinic feel where she could bond with regular patients, which she figures will comprise around 75 per cent of her business.

“I really really wanted to get back to working in a smaller practice because I found that, the practice that I came from was really really busy and I wouldn’t get to see regulars. Following chronic cases was really difficult, so I felt like I couldn’t help them as much as I wanted.”

Plus she said she loves beautiful little Qualicum Beach “and there was a good opportunity here with Cathy (McDougall) retiring.”

She also wasn’t interested in working for the large distant corporation that bought out her former clinic. “The whole corporate thing really really bothered me,” she said.

She said this is an interesting time to be starting her own practice, with holistic and small animal medicine booming, and she suggested the town’s older demographic won’t make much difference, except maybe people will do less Internet research before they come in.

“It’s important for people to become educated,” she said of that research, “but they need to realize the information they’re getting may not be coming from a well-educated source.”

She added that Internet research can freak people out and they automatically jump to the worst case scenario.

She’s excited about her new little clinic where she’s the only veterinarian, with two and a half other staff.

“It’s a whole new venture, but I think it’s exciting, its a smaller scale than what I’m used to and I’m excited to have a work family.”

Bernauer and the staff invite the public in for an open house Saturday, Sept. 26 from 1-5 p.m. People can see the result of the extensive renovations, including fancy new equipment and the ability to do all their own X-rays, blood and lab work on site.

The office is at 666 Memorial Aveune, beside Naked Naturals, open 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday to Friday.

For more information call 250-752-3622.

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