Think back to your childhood. What did you want to be when you grew up? Brek Perry wanted to be an engineer. Perry imagined following in his father’s footsteps and going to engineering school, but his mother recommended he become a vet. Perry is a veterinarian at Westgate Pet Clinic in Edina. In this career he never dreamed of pursuing, he found purpose and community and a job that is never boring.
Some days are more exciting than others, but over the years Perry has seen his fair share of interesting cases. “Years ago [at a former clinic] I got a call from a client with a pet goat and was kicked out of his house,” Perry says. “He had to go stay in a hotel, and we boarded his goat for a few weeks.” The goat was a welcome guest at a clinic that usually sees only cats and dogs. The goat's owner even brought cookies for the staff to thank them. “We loved having the goat,” Perry says. “Those are the kinds of cases you remember.”
Another memorable case didn’t involve a pet at all. At first Perry thought the unusual call was a joke, but it was no joke. A wild duck had been hit by a car and was lying in the caller’s front yard. The clinic decided to take the case, and miraculously the duck survived. When Perry went back to the scene of the accident to release the duck back into the wild, he was astonished by what he saw. “Like 20 people were waiting to see the duck be set free,” Perry says.
More frequently than goats and ducks, Perry sees pocket pets come into clinic. The term refers to small mammals commonly kept as pets like rabbits, hamsters, rats, mice and more. Although these pets are small, they can have mighty personalities. “As an adult I had a rabbit with one heck of a personality,” Perry says with a clear fondness in his voice. “He was a little snot.”
Pocket pets are low maintenance and require little space. This makes them ideal pets for children, but many adults enjoy their company as well. “One gal in particular, she would do anything for her hamsters,” Perry says. “It wasn’t until later that she told me she had cancer and her hamsters got her through it. She would come home after chemotherapy, and they would snuggle up to her.”
Although pocket pets can be great companions for children and adults alike, Perry warns about lifespan. “They just don’t live very long,” he explains. “When it comes to diseases of these pets not a whole lot is known.”
Many veterinary clinics, like the Edina Pet Hospital, prefer to focus their attention on treating more common animals. “We specialize in canine and feline medicine,” says Edina Pet Hospital veterinarian Jill Eversman, “everything we feel cats and dogs need from their veterinarian.” Eversman has been with the Edina Pet Hospital for seven years.
Cats and dogs generally live much longer than pocket pets. Dinah, a Tonkinese cat and patient at the Edina Pet Hospital, is 18 years old and won the coveted “Pet of the Month” title this past May.
Eversman advises potential pet owners to always do their research. “Talk with some people who have had the pet,” she says, “and be realistic about your lifestyle.” Both Perry and Eversman love to help animals, big and small, furry and wild, but they also enjoy the human connection of their jobs. “Many clients have become friends,” Perry says. This is indeed a special perk of a very interesting job.