Today, we have a special treat for you – a captivating interview with our new veterinarian, Dr. Olivia Reid. They moved to Danville to join Family Vet, and we couldn’t wait to share their story with you! You may see Dr. Reid during a leisurely walk with their spirited 4-year-old Biegel, behind the wheel of their car singing along to the joyful melodies of Broadway show tunes, or exploring the farmer’s market with their husband Alex – don’t forget to greet them with a warm hello!

We are thrilled to have Dr. Reid on our team, and we are confident that you and your furry companions will enjoy their gentle treatment. Dr. Reid puts compassion above all and sees their purpose in empowering owners to be active participants in their pets’ care. They believe that animals are emotional beings, and take a mindful and empathetic approach to pet care.

So, without further ado, let’s hear from Dr. Reid in their own words! Get ready to be inspired by their journey, learn valuable insights into veterinary medicine, and perhaps even share a few laughs along the way.

Fun facts about Dr. Olivia Reid

  • In kindergarten, future Dr. Reid wanted to be a zookeeper
  • They took their first pet care job in high school, working at a dog rescue
  • The most exotic animal they treated was a barred owl
  • Their favorite class in vet school was anatomy
  • Behavioral medicine is one of Dr. Reid’s biggest passions
  • They admire the old brick warehouses downtown and think that the highlight of Danville are the sweet and friendly people
  • Dr. Reid believes that the first thing people can learn from pets is pure and uncomplicated love
  • Their number one advice to pet owners is that preventative medicine prevents!
  • They have a dog called Mellow, and two cats, Tybalt, and Pantalaimon
  • Their hobbies are video games, watching movies, reading, knitting, cooking, and spending time outside.
  • Their favorite food is Pho and Reese’s Pieces.

The path to becoming a veterinarian

I was one of those kids who knew from a very early age that I would spend my life working with animals. In kindergarten, I would tell everyone that I was going to grow up to be a zookeeper and take care of big cats! As I got older and explored more careers with animals, I decided a veterinarian was a better fit … much to my mother’s relief, since she was convinced I would get eaten by a tiger!

I took my first job in animal care in high school. I spent most of my weekends and summers helping at a dog rescue, feeding, watering, and cleaning upwards of 100 outdoor kennels and performing other assorted odd jobs. It was very hard work, but I absolutely loved it. I owe a lot to the adults there who guided me, as well as to the dogs! 

My professional training was focused on small animal general practice, but I was lucky to have some exposure to wildlife and exotics. I think the most exotic animal I’ve *treated* is a barred owl, but I’ve also examined a spot on a black bear!

My favorite subject in vet school was anatomy – I loved sketching the figures and labeling them! A rotation in shelter medicine has probably had the biggest impact on me and my professional development. The instructors were absolutely amazing at helping us push our limits and improve our skills while still making sure we (and the patients) stayed safe.

Treatment style and professional philosophy

One of my biggest passions is animal behavior. It is really the only thing in vet med that is never optional. Every single time you interact with an animal, any animal, behavior influences that interaction! Whether it’s helping clients tame their energetic puppy or teaching otters to lay in a PVC tube and accept vaccines, behavior has so many applications and impacts on our field! 

To me, an exam is a conversation. What are they telling me in this moment? How am I responding to them, and what impact are my actions or demeanor having on them? Are they communicating a want or a need, and how can I move to meet them? I do very much believe that animals are emotional beings, so I suppose I would describe my approach as mindful and empathetic. I always try to look at things from the animal’s perspective and, in conjunction with the behavior I’m seeing from them, try to understand what emotions they are dealing with. Once you understand the “why,” it’s MUCH easier to work on the “how” of moving forward. 

I aim to be compassionate above all, and to empower owners to be active participants in their pets’ care! I hope to foster a trusting and collaborative environment where owners feel safe to be curious and ask questions, and in doing so can gain a better understanding of their pets’ needs. More than anything, I know just how much our animals mean to us, and I want to respect and support those relationships between pets and their people as much as I can.

First impressions of Danville

We are absolutely loving it here so far! What has struck us the most is how incredibly sweet and friendly everyone has been. I genuinely think every single person we’ve met, right down to a total stranger in line behind us at Walmart, has gone out of their way to be kind and welcoming. So far I think our favorite thing we’ve seen is the area along the river downtown with all of the old brick warehouses; those buildings are so striking and remind us of our childhood home back in Richmond. I am very much looking forward to exploring the Dan River and visiting the farmer’s market soon!!

I am absolutely thrilled to join Danville Family Vet. The culture there is truly one of the best I’ve seen, and I can’t wait to be part of a team that truly respects and values each other. Of course, I am also excited to start forming relationships with clients! I love that Family Vet is an employee-owned hospital, and being powered by Galaxy Vets fuels its growth.

Plans for community involvement

There is an organization based out of Raleigh called “Beyond Fences” that I have followed for years. They provide community-based mutual aid in the form of transport to and from vet appointments, financial assistance, and building outdoor kennels for folks who would otherwise tether their dogs outdoors. I would love to start or help with something like that here in Danville, especially considering we have the strictest tethering laws in the state! 

Thoughts on the human-animal bond and responsible pet ownership

Dr. Olivia Reid

So far in my 25 years of life, I haven’t stopped learning from pets, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. They have *so much* to teach us about honesty, trust, compassion, respect, emotional regulation, and, as cheesy as it sounds  … living in the moment. Animals ask so little of us – just food, water, shelter, and our presence – and in return, they give us everything. Their love is pure and uncomplicated, and I think that alone is worth learning from. 

Probably my best advice for pet owners is that preventative medicine prevents! Flea and tick meds may seem expensive upfront, but they’re cheap compared to the cost of diagnosing and treating a tick-borne disease or deep cleaning your home from a flea infestation! I would always prefer to see a pet for something “silly” or small, rather than seeing a much bigger problem later on.  

Dr. Reid’s furry companions and their quirks

We have three pets currently – Mellow, Tybalt, and Pantalaimon (Pan for short). Mellow is our only dog, a 4-year-old beagle. She was my “canine instructor” assigned to me at school in Blacksburg, and came home to us at the beginning of COVID. She is the best animal on Earth (not that I’m biased) and my honest-to-God emotional support dog. She is truly mellow, but ready for anything. She’s gotten along with just about every single creature she’s ever met (I’ve even seen her play-bow at bumblebees). She raised both our cats from kittenhood and is an excellent, patient big sister.

Pantalaimon is our “middle child.” He is more or less your typical cat – hides from strangers, a little aloof, pretty invested in looking cool. He’s actually the animal we’ve had the most struggles with behavior-wise, because he has a really weird and obsessive relationship with food. But deep down, he is a sweet and sensitive soul, and an excellent snuggler!

Tybalt is the baby of the house. He’s spoiled and could get away with anything and KNOWS it. He is our biggest snuggle bug and LOVES to be held, he will scream until he is picked up and then will drape himself across one shoulder, sack-of-potatoes style. He makes occasional appearances on the Facebook page “All orange cats share one brain cell” because while I love him to death, there is just not a lot goin’ on up in that head of his. He’s also our “lemon” who has thrown the most difficult health issues our way. He came home with me from a rotation I did at RACC in Richmond (shoutout to them, amazing place and people!) and he came with nasty infections in both ears, a head tilt, and ocular lesions. He still has janky eyes (in doctor words he has anterior synechiae/corneal edema and persistent pupillary membranes) and a little bit of a head tilt. Unlike his brother, he has absolutely zero hangups about new people in our house, he will literally follow at their heels and hop onto their laps. Yet, he is the animal that is most fearful and fractious at his vet visits …

Life outside of work

My hobbies are video games, TV/movies, reading, knitting, cooking … I have the ADHD curse of dabbling in just about any sort of craft or art form! I am a nerd and like to blast Broadway show tunes to sing along to in the car, and I tend to lean indie/folk in my casual listening. But I also enjoy some rock and country!

Vietnamese or Thai is my food of choice. My mom spent several years of her childhood in Bangkok while her father (my grandpa) served in Vietnam, so in my family, it is a big comfort food. As a treat, I love a good sugary coffee drink or Reese’s Pieces. 

My favorite way to spend a day off when the weather is nice is just by being outside. I love traveling to see natural spaces, and have visited the Grand Canyon, Natural Bridge, Joshua Tree, and most recently Niagara Falls! I would love to explore Yellowstone, and also hope to take a tour of Europe someday. 

My current favorite book is “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer. I read it two years ago during COVID, and it completely changed the way I see and interact with plants. At one point she describes seeing a familiar species of plant in the field as “like greeting an old friend” and something about that is just so beautiful and perfect to me. It’s ridiculous that we see so many plants on a daily basis and think nothing of them, but really why shouldn’t we be friends with them? It sounds a little silly, maybe, but there’s nothing to lose and adds so much happiness to my every day when I can step outside and know the plants I’m sharing space with.