For the vets at the newly reopened Memorial Veterinary Hospital along Business Route 6 in Dickson City, helping pets is a calling. The practice reopened in June and Dr. Robert Ruane and Dr. Emily Gillette are doing brisk business already. Read on to learn more about what they love about helping pets.
Q: What inspired you to become a vet?
Dr. Gillette: I’ve wanted to be a veterinarian for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I was constantly around animals and admired the hard work that veterinarians did for our furry friends. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else! I obtained my bachelor’s degree in biology from La Salle University. During my undergraduate studies, I worked at the Philadelphia SPCA as a veterinary assistant. I then attended Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine and finished my clinical studies at Michigan State University School of Veterinary Medicine. I started at Memorial Veterinary Hospital in 2019 and have been here ever since! My preferred species to treat are dogs and cats, but I love small mammals and equine medicine as well.
Dr. Ruane: My inspiration was derived from a variety of influences. Growing up my family always had cats, dogs and other random furry creatures. Like many pets, several of them came with their own medical issues. I always felt that as a vet I could potentially help other’s four-pawed family members in ways that my own previous pets had been helped. This paired with a general interest in science and medicine led me to the veterinary profession. I started gathering experience in veterinary medicine by shadowing as a student at MVH roughly 10 years prior, while also expanding out over the years to gather experience at several zoos and rescue centers. My preferred species to treat are cats and dogs, however I enjoy the challenge of working on pet birds and small mammals as well.
Q: Is being a vet all you imagined it would be?
Dr. Gillette: Being a veterinarian is more challenging than I initially anticipated. We are faced with numerous trials and a roller coaster of emotions daily that differ from most other career choices. With that being said, I do enjoy a medical mystery and the work that goes into solving it. I have a great love of science and animals and feel strongly that the veterinary world is where I was meant to be. I’ve been able to experience a variety of different species in my training, from hedgehogs to elephants and everything in between. My favorite cases are usually surgical cases. Aside from the very important spay and neuter procedures, I’ve done foreign body removals, bladder stone removals, and tumor removals. Surgery is one of my favorite parts of being a veterinarian and I’m fortunate to work with a great colleague, Dr. Ruane, who has helped me better my skills along the way.
Dr. Ruane: I love what I do and I had a very good impression of what life as a veterinarian would be like due to my previous experiences. With that said, there are many challenges, responsibilities and emotions that come with the profession that can only be experienced once in the shoes of a veterinarian. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to meet some very unusual cat and dog breeds, such as a tamaskan and xoloitzcuintli breed for dogs and Scottish folds and Egyptian Mau cats. For my zoo experiences, the list of species is quite long, but I really enjoy working with penguins, panamanian golden frogs and of course the classics like lions, tigers and giraffes! I remember several of the cases from my first day and still see those patients today. One of my favorite success stories involves a diabetic dachshund I performed surgery on for a foreign body in the stomach as well as a surgery to remove bladder stones. His story goes further, though, as he also had an uncommon condition of a hyperactive pituitary gland causing dangerously high calcium levels that was damaging to his body. While there are several procedures to correct this, I was able to use a technique outlined in several journals to ablate the tumor using ultrasound guided ethanol injections and can happily report it was a success to this day!
Q: Why did Memorial decide to reopen the Dickson City practice?
Dr. Gillette: We reopened up the Dickson City office due to the sheer amount of new patients and clients we were obtaining from all the pandemic adoptions! Our urgent care and wellness center at Throop was growing at a rapid pace, so the best option was to expand. While working curbside during the pandemic, we had our veterinary technicians getting pets from cars and we would communicate with owners over the phone. It was difficult at first, but we adjusted quickly. I am so excited to have our owners back inside the building! For me, it is easier to discuss their beloved pet face to face and the pets usually respond better having their person in the room.
Dr. Ruane: In the pre-pandemic era, the staff of the hospitals of Dickson City and Throop merged into an expanded hospital at the Throop location, featuring a wellness and a surgery/urgent care center. However, with the multifactorial surge for the need of veterinary medicine during the pandemic, it was decided that we should expand once again to further accommodate patients and pet owners in need. It was difficult adjusting to COVID-19 life, which involved speaking with owners over the phone while facilitating care inside the hospital. Credit is due to the managers/owners who guided the hospital through the difficult trials that COVID presented, as well as thanks to our great clients who understood the changes and challenges that we all faced. At this point we have begun adjusting somewhat back to what normal life used to be and are welcoming one masked owner per patient back into the building. I believe this does make patient care and client communication much easier.
Q: There’s a vet and support staff shortage across the country. What advice would you give to someone interested in becoming a vet, a vet tech or another career working with animals?
Dr. Gillette: There is a significant shortage in veterinary staff at this time. Working with animals can be so rewarding but also comes with its own set of challenges. If you’re interested in joining the veterinary field, I’d encourage you to volunteer first. Help at a local shelter, shadow at a veterinary clinic or even clean stalls for a local stable. Volunteering is a great way to get your foot in the door and see if the veterinary world is right for you.
Dr. Ruane: I’d recommend for anyone interested in veterinary medicine to go out and gather experience and exposure in the field. It is no doubt tough and challenging, but the field can offer very fulfilling and rewarding careers. There’s a large variety of animal care and veterinary medicine that goes well beyond what most people are familiar with as your common cat and dog clinic. I encourage those interested to see what may be out there!
Q: Do you have pets of your own?
Dr. Gillette: I have a dog, Reese, two cats, Todd and Ted, and a horse, Niall! Reese and Todd were adopted during my time in veterinary school. When I moved back to my hometown, I decided to adopt Niall, my thoroughbred. We compete in local horse shows and he is a great jumper! Ted is the newest addition to my family. He’s an older cat that was found by one of my great veterinary technicians. All of them have such unique personalities and I’m so thankful I get to share my life with them.
Dr. Ruane: I currently have an amazing husky mix dog named Boomer. He was a rescue as a puppy from another state and has been by my side for the last 6 years. We’ve gone on plenty of adventures together with his favorite being woodland trail runs, long walks on the beach and playing catch with his squeaky ball! I always encourage adopting, and there are many great rescues in the area such as True Friends, Baby Jacks (cats), Willing Hearts Dalmations, Griffin Pond and more!