Growing up, children often dream of their future careers. Whether it is becoming a teacher, a police officer, a firefighter or a doctor, children seem to be fully aware of their life’s purpose.
While most choose a career involving other people, there are individuals who find themselves following a career where animals take the forefront. People who dedicate their lives to ensuring animals receive the best medical care possible and can live their lives to the fullest.
These individuals are veterinarians. People who find solace in their love for animals, as they seek ways to help them. As the French poet and novelist, Antaloe France once said, “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
Dr Jason Blick and Dr Jacqui Burdon are two local veterinarians whose love for animals has brought them together in more ways than one.
Qualifying as veterinarians in 2012, the couple’s journey in the veterinary world began as youngsters.
Jason explains that at the age of six, he knew he was meant to be a vet. “I have a photo of myself, where we had to do a project at school; on what we wanted to do when we grew up. I was dressed as a vet and standing with a calf,” he smiles.
Jacqui explains that she decided on becoming a vet after matriculating. “I took a gap year after school and was involved in horse polo. I was playing and training horses. One day, one of my cousins who is a vet came to treat a horse who had a gash on its leg and at that instant, I knew I wanted to be a veterinarian.”
With their futures decided on, the two enrolled to study to become veterinarians. Neither expecting that their paths would cross and their lives becoming intertwined.
“We met during our second year in 2007 and have been together ever since,” Jacqui laughs.
After graduating, the couple married in 2015 and have embarked on their veterinary journey together.
Jacqui took up her first post at Honeydew Animal Clinic, before moving onto Bryanston Veterinary Hospital.
From there, Jacqui then joined the Welfare Outreach KZN, where she played a role in reducing animal welfare issues. Jacqui assisted in sterilising animals, ensuring there were no unwanted litters which would suffer later in life. “It is there that I developed my passion for working with cats and dogs, as well as performing surgeries on them. I felt I was really making a difference.”
Jacqui eventually returned to the private sector in Pietermaritzburg. While establishing a name for herself, Jason was just as busy.
“After qualifying, I was stationed in Krugersdorp at a mixed practice, where I enjoyed the variation of work, dealing with all types of animals from mice and parrots to dogs, cats and even bucks and lions.”
He then moved on to Kokstad Veterinary Clinic, where he developed his passion for working with livestock. From there, Jason then moved onto Greytown, where he also dealt mainly with cows.
Gaining substantial experience, the couple eventually moved to Dundee in 2016. During his time in Dundee, Jason explains he learned a lot from the veterinary clinic.
In 2017, the couple moved to Newcastle. “Both of us have enjoyed our time in Newcastle and we feel this is the place to settle down,” says Jacqui.
With the couple establishing their practice, Newcastle Veterinary Clinic, at 48 Victoria Road, how do they feel their relationship as husband and wife benefits their careers?
“I feel we complement each other’s work,” says Jacqui, explaining their respective passions in the veterinary world and shared knowledge sees them being able to unite for the benefit of the community’s animals.
While focusing on the health and welfare of animals, what is the hardest part of being a veterinarian?
“It is difficult when you have tried your utmost best and the animal does not pull through. It is exceptionally hard, especially when you have known the animal and their owner for some time,” Jacqui says.
Jason adds it is also exceptionally difficult when the time comes for an animal to be put down. “I remember the first time I had to do it, the man cried so much, I started crying with him. It is never easy,” he explains.
Despite the challenges that their career holds, both are determined to make a positive difference in the community.
Jason and Jacqui explain it is imperative that pet owners take certain steps to care for their animals. These steps are as follows:
- Vaccinate your animals, especially against parvo, which is a highly contagious disease.
- Ensure you practise tick and flea control on your pets, as tick and fleas can make your pets extremely ill. Certain fleas are also intermediate hosts for certain tapeworms.
- Ensure your pets are sterilised (spayed and neutered).
- Rabies vaccinations are also important. “There has been a resurgence of rabies and it is important to have your animal vaccinated against it,” Jacqui emphasises.
As they focus on the welfare of animals in Newcastle, Dr Jason Blick and Dr Jacqui Burdon more than just vets. They are parents to a beautiful daughter and proud pet owners, who ensure the love they share at home transcends into the workplace.