Get to Know Our New Vet

August 9th 2019

A Q&A with Dr. Tara Pugh

Montgomery Village Veterinary Clinic took a huge step – 15, 815 kilometers to be exact, to welcome a new veterinarian to the practice.
Dr. Tara Pugh and her partner arrived from South Africa at the end of July. Dr. Pugh responded to our online ad and in her application and in our discussions with her, she showed great compassion in her care of animals and a willingness to support owners to provide the best possible care. There was a real sincerity in her responses and a genuine interest to work with families and their animals.
As well, the commitment and challenges involved in moving countries and what it takes to come to a new country is well known by Dr. Dekens who immigrated from and Belgium over 25 years ago.
Read more about Dr. Pugh’s journey to Canada, her interest in small animal surgery, integrative medicine, her experiences with large game animals and her journey to become a certified veterinarian in Canada in this one-on-one interview.
Q: What brought you to Canada?
A: Google is a great thing, and from extensive research and watching all the You Tube videos we could, we came to realize that Calgary is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. So we thought this would be a great place to call our new home.
I saw the job advert on Indeed and (Montgomery Village Veterinary Clinic) looked like a fantastic clinic. I saw the website and the clinic is a fantastic concept - I just love the idea of a stress-free environment for dogs and cats.
Q: What is your background in veterinary medicine?
A: I qualified in 2014. I did some work in a town at the border of Kruger National Park working mainly in primary animal health care; that is working in the rural communities and teaching them how to look after their animals.
After that I was a wildlife vet for two years, treating all sorts of large game animals. Lions, elephants and rhinos, you name it, I treated it. Then I went into small animals. I have a great interest in small animal surgery. In the last couple of years I was doing only small animal work and have gained valuable experience in that area.
Q: What is the process for you to be qualified as a veterinarian in Canada?
A: I’ve already started the process. It is basically four exams. I’ve written both of the theory exams, and then I have the two practical exams that I still need to do.

In the interim, I will be working with Dr. Dekens under what they call “immediate supervision” until I am fully qualified. As soon as I can, I will do the practical exams. Then I’ll be a fully qualified DVM. I’ve already registered for the next one so as soon as they have a gap in the examination schedule, I’ll be able to do that one. 

Hopefully, within the next year or so I should be finished with all of the exams.  
Q: While you are going through the certification process, what will you be doing?
A: I’m very excited to have joined the Montgomery Veterinary team. Officially, I start work beginning of August. So I’ll be working very closely with Dr. Dekens and learning the ropes. Definitely I think I can learn a lot from Dr. Dekens and his years of experience.
Q: What are your veterinary interests?
A: The mobile service is something I’ve been really interested in doing, but obviously these services are limited in South Africa for safety reasons. Crime statistics in South Africa are quite bad so we always have to be very vigilant. You just don’t go into a stranger’s house.
There are also options that Montgomery Village offers, particularly on the alternative side, which I’m very intrigued about and, which again, in South Africa is very limited. People are not as open minded to alternative forms of therapy such as acupuncture or chiropracticy. I am intrigued to learn more about that side of veterinary medicine.
Q: How are you enjoying living in Canada?
A: In South Africa, you have to always be on high alert. It is not safe to walk around, at any time of day. There is always the risk you will get mugged, or worse.
The safety is definitely a new concept that we’ve experienced in the last week that we’ve been in Calgary. We immediately felt how safe it is and how easily we can walk around and enjoy the city. It is very new for us and very exciting.

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