Dr Brittany has been a Lort Smith Veterinarian for just four months, however she has volunteered and worked for Lort Smith for much longer.
Upon moving to Melbourne for her veterinary degree from Upstate New York via Brisbane, Dr Brittany found Lort Smith through our foster care program. She was in her second year of her degree and desperately missed fostering animals, having loved doing this in her previous home cities.
Shortly after, Dr Brittany started volunteering onsite in the cattery and kennels, walking dogs and cleaning enclosures.
“I remember one day sitting in the kennels and hearing Serena (Adoption Centre General Manager) talking about a job advert. I immediately thought ‘I need to go and introduce myself to this woman!’ So I quickly jumped on that opportunity,” laughs Dr Brittany.
Dr Brittany went on to work as an Animal Welfare Officer in the Adoption Centre for four or so years whilst she studied. She also worked in customer services, trained on the phones and did some reception shifts. “I trained in nursing so I did a lot of my placement in nursing and got trained through that pathway.”
The values of Lort Smith are what drew Dr Brittany to the organisation. “Affordability of care is something that has always been really important to me. I love that Lort Smith offers affordable vet care for people who otherwise wouldn’t have anywhere to go. I hate that for some people, euthanasia seems the only option because of cost. At Lort Smith, we will provide the care they need – I just think that’s such an amazing quality in an organisation.”
Dr Brittany recalls a cat that arrived after it had received a bite to the face from the resident dog. The cat had a CT scan and it looked likely he was going to lose sight in one eye. One of the cat’s carers wanted to euthanise the cat due to the medical costs. But the other carer wanted to give the cat a chance to see if he would pull through. In happy news, the cat is alive and now doing really well. Lort Smith supported the family by offering an affordable payment plan to cover the veterinary costs. In many other clinics, this cat would likely have been put to sleep.
Dr Brittany was always going to return to Lort Smith once she got her degree. “It does what no other clinic can do and it has a really high standard of practice. We’ve got CT scans, same day x-rays – it has everything you can possibly need. The organisation is well organised and the staff are really well looked after.”
“We have clinicians who have been here for ten, 20, 30 years. You don’t find that very often in small vet clinics, it shows it’s a good place to work.”
Dr Brittany admits that our shelter is the main reason she wanted to return to Lort Smith. Her passion is in shelter medicine, so she is excited about Lort Smith’s second site opening in the near future because the Adoption Centre will be relocating to Campbellfield offering a dedicated spot for shelter medicine.
“I also love inpatient care because I enjoy spending time with animals who have complex cases. With inpatient care you have time to work up cases and piece the puzzle together to determine the medical diagnosis. I get a lot of joy out of that!”
When asked about what the future of veterinary medicine look like at Lort Smith, Dr Brittany states there will be lots of new opportunities. “The future looks really good, there will be more focus put into supported learning. For example, Dr Tom and Dr Jonathon are amazing teachers and great at walking you through things. As far as the shelter goes, I’m excited about it moving into a bigger clinic because we will be able to do more, for more animals. There will be a lot of growth and change in the future – it’s exciting!”
“Louisa Lort Smith left a lovely legacy. It’s pretty cool to have started something like this and have it grow into what it is today. Who knows what she would have expected when she founded it way back in 1936?! It was a very brave thing to do and it has changed veterinary care in Victoria.”