Helping animals around the clock

Dr. Julia Jackson and Dr. Veronika Kulinova are the only two veterinarians in Revelstoke

~ Sobia Moman

More than 14, 000 animals are under the care of just two superhero veterinarians, Dr. Julia Jackson and Dr. Veronika Kulinova.

When Jackson first began working at the Revelstoke Veterinary Clinic, it was under a different name and offered much less than it does now.

“I was the only vet, there was no x-ray capability, no lab capability, it was pretty much bare bones,” Jackson said.

She didn’t find the work she was doing rewarding enough, so she became determined to make a standalone clinic that could serve the growing pet population better. Jackson and her husband purchased the practice in 2010 and bought x-ray machines, dental equipment and hired staff.

One of the staff additions that was made two years ago was Kulinova.

“She brings an equine medicine background allowing us to offer equine services as well. She is a huge asset for the practice,” Jackson said.

Kulinova completed veterinarian school in her hometown of Zuberec, Slovakia. But when she came to Canada, her education and training did not transfer. That did not stop her from meeting her goal of working with animals, so Kulinova re-did all of her accreditations in Jasper, Alberta.

Kulinova battles through the language barrier every day. English is her second language and although she feels uncomfortable sometimes, she powers through.

“I think I can communicate with animals better than with people sometimes. At least they don’t know that I have an accent,” she said.

Kulinova moved to Revelstoke right after she finished up her second round of veterinary school, which was also only two weeks before the pandemic began.

“Although I did not imagine my start being so hard with all the restrictions, shortage of staff, quarantines, masks and travel restrictions, I think the hard time brought the best out of me,” Kulinova said.

The difficulties for the two veterinarians did not begin nor stop with COVID-19. The local pet population is exploding with growth which makes their workdays endless.

Jackson encourages pet owners to seek veterinarian care many times throughout the year, but the demand for veterinarians is growing at a rate that is not being met. One of the largest issues is not enough schools offering veterinarian education.

Due to the high stress and demand of the jobs, the entire team at the clinic experiences burn-out.

“The emotional roller coaster through a typical day goes from elation for the new pet owner, to sorrow for the person saying goodbye to their best friend and everything in between,” she said.

In the little free time they have, Jackson is working towards her accreditation as a veterinary dental practitioner and Kulinova works in search and rescue, along with her dog who is in training.

The veterinarian duo will soon become a trio, with Dr. Suzanne Tiggleman joining the clinic very soon.

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