New vet fitting right in

You have to move fast to keep up with Dr. Heather Gunn-McQuillan.
What the district’s newest veterinarian lacks in physical stature she more than makes up for in energy.
Ever since the petite Gunn-McQuillan started working at the Nor-West Animal Clinic here May 9, she rarely has stopped for breath. But she did sit down for half-an-hour last Friday to explain what brought her here.
In the first place, with such a shortage of professionals (doctors, nurses, and veterinarians) in the district and others moving away, what would bring a freshly-minted vet to Rainy River District?
“We’re both avid outdoors people,” she enthused from her office downstairs at the clinic, referring to herself and her husband. “We love canoeing, hiking, camping, and fishing.”
Gunn-McQuillan, 27, seems to come by those interests honestly enough. She noted how both her father and grandfather used to tie their own trout flies back in her native Nova Scotia.
She said she has not yet had the time to take up that hobby herself, but does not rule it out down the road.
Her husband is Jarrod McQuillan, whom she met while taking her degree in biological science at the University of Guelph (he was taking his Bachelor of Commerce there).
“We met during ‘Frosh Week’ and have been together ever since,” Gunn-McQuillan recalled.
He went on to take his Bachelor of Applied Science and Nutrition at Ryerson University in Toronto while she went on to study veterinary medicine in Guelph.
She graduated this year.
But still, Fort Frances is a long way from southern Ontario—and even farther from the Maritimes. And there were plenty of other places Gunn-McQuillan could have gone to pursue her career.
That’s where Dr. Dan Pierroz entered the picture. She said it was his skill as a recruiter that really turned the tide for them.
“We got a really nice welcome from Dr. Dan [Pierroz],” she recalled. “I really like the reception we got. He bent over backwards to make me feel happy.”
Dr. Pierroz’s efforts even went as far as arranging to fly the couple here at his own expense to show them around.
And after they decided to accept the position, he was instrumental in finding them a home near Devlin, where they now live with their chocolate Labrador retriever.
Fortunately, her husband’s education also is about to pay off here. He currently is finishing his Master’s in Applied Nutrition through the Northwestern Health Unit.
In August, he will begin working as a registered dietitian in Emo.
In the meantime, Gunn-McQuillan has been constantly on the go, including vaccinating horses against West Nile virus. And this fall, she will be handling the animal health seminar—a job normally done by Dr. Pierroz.
She acknowledges hers is a demanding job, but she is not deterred or intimidated in the least.
“I know this is a large area and there are long distances to travel, but I see it more as an opportunity than a challenge,” she remarked.
Gunn-McQuillan also is already looking into the future, saying she would like to own her own practice some day or perhaps go into research.
In the meantime, she is prepared for whatever is thrown her way. She said she is trained and qualified to handle virtually all animals, including exotics.
She even has taken the CFIA inspection course which qualifies her as a meat inspector at federal abattoirs. “When it comes to species, the sky’s the limit,” she enthused.
But whatever direction her career takes her, Gunn-McQuillan is certain she will remain here. She said she and her husband are in it for the long haul.
“I definitely see myself here for the future,” she stressed. “We don’t see ourselves leaving anytime soon.”

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