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New vet joins White Pine clinic

Kelly Evertsen, Of the Record Staff

Dr. Kate Bjordahl of White Pine Veterinary Clinic said she’s been an animal lover since she learned how to talk.

"Growing up, I have photos of me taking blood pressure on my cat," Bjordahl said. "Anything with animals has just always attracted my attention."

Bjordahl joined the clinic after she graduated from the Ohio University five years ago and moved to Utah while her husband was finishing medical school at the University of Utah, where he was studying to become a kidney doctor. The two lived in Salt Lake, but Bjordahl said she enjoyed visiting Park City for ski vacations. She and her husband decided to move to Park City where she started her new job at White Pine at Kimball Junction in July.

Bjordahl said she has enjoyed her experience helping Park City pets and said Park City is full of animal lovers.

"I absolutely love [Park City], it’s so dog friendly," Bjordahl said. "The major difference [between Park City and other places] is people just really care about their pets."

Dr. Keith Lund, founder of White Pine in Park City, said Bjordahl is a great addition to the team.

"Kate was referred to us by the surgeon who comes in here and does surgery and said there was a smart young veterinarian [in town]," Lund said. "She’s been great. All the clients and staff like her. You’re always a little concerned of what the dynamics will be when you hire someone new, but she’s a really good vet and a really hard worker, and that’s hard to find in the vet profession."

Bjordahl said she really enjoys taking care of animals and said the biggest satisfaction she gains from her job is seeing the happiness it brings to pet owners when their pets are healed and leave the clinic "wagging their tails."

"You help people by helping animals," Bjordahl said. "My husband deals with human diseases, and animals get similar diseases, so it’s neat to compare."

Bjordahl explained that although every species’ anatomy is different, animals have physical features similar to humans. The difference between veterinary school and medical school, Bjordahl said, is vet school requires students to study many different anatomies.

"It was hard because we had to be certified in all animals. I had to know pigs, cows, cats, dogs and birds. Cows have four stomachs they have a totally different intestinal system than dogs or cats. You have to study all the different species," Bjordahl said.

Still, she said, it allowed her to be a more dynamic doctor because she can help all sorts of animals.

Bjordahl said it’s been interesting to work in Park City because a lot of Parkites travel with their pets.

"I have to keep up-to-date on diseases that come from different states for pets flying on planes and travel requirements," Bjordahl said. "Certain parts of the country have fleas and we don’t have fleas here, so you want to have them protected in places like Florida."

The new vet also reminds people who frequently travel with their pets to beware of heartworm and mosquitoes in the South, even during winter. She said it’s also a requirement for pet owners to obtain health certificates for their animals before they can travel with their pets to foreign countries.

"By plane, people must come [to the vet clinic] within 10 days and get a certificate that said their [animals are] healthy enough to travel," Bjordahl said.

She also gives tips to animal lovers and pet owners in the area.

"One of the things I’ve been surprised about is porcupines and skunks that animals run into," Bjordahl said. "Be careful with stuff around your house, including toxins like rat poisons, which dogs often try to eat.

She also reminds pet owners that chocolate is poisonous to animals.

"During the holidays, we have a lot of pets who eat chocolate," she said.

She also said Xylitol, an artificial sweetener typically found in gum, can be toxic to pets.

Overall, Bjordahl tells pet owners to be aware of what their pets can and cannot eat and to watch for hazards around the house.

"It’s kind of like when you have to child-proof your house, you have to pet-proof your house," she said.

Lund started White Pine in 1978. It was originally a large animal clinic for cows and horses and other farm animals, but Lund said it slowly evolved exclusively into a small-animal hospital.

"[It has been fun] to watch the evolution of how this animal clinic has changed," Lund said. He said when it first opened, there was no McDonald’s at Kimball Junction and Jeremy Ranch and Pinebrook had not been developed yet. He said except for Summit Park and some dilapidated A-frame homes on a frontage road, "it was just us."

Lund now co-owns the animal clinic with Dr. David McDonald, also a Parkite, and said the clinic has become one of the best around.

"We are a very progressive clinic. All three of us [vets] spend great deal of time educating ourselves and learning new procedures. We spend a great deal of energy and time learning about treatments and protocols in medicine," Lund said. "We don’t want to do things that we did 20 years ago. [This] is a dynamic field, things change all the time. We spend at least 50 hours a year in education away from practice."

Bjordahl said the vets see interesting cases every day and hopes to continue helping and treating animals in Park City. Originally from a small town herself Chagrin Falls, Ohio she said the small-town feel of Park City reminds her of her hometown.

"I’m really glad to be here because I like the small town I grew up in and everyone kind of knew everybody, and I like being the vet in town that people know," Bjordahl said. "It’s hard to have that small-town feel in Salt Lake City."

White Pine Veterinary Clinic is located at Kimball Junction at 2100 West Rasmussen Road. For more information, visit whitepinevet.com or call 649-7182.


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