POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. -- It's not unusual for Alissa Fairlie, a Poughkeepsie veterinarian, to treat a dog, a cat, and a porcupine all in one day.
Fairlie, a veterinarian at Creature Comforts, which is celebrating its 5th anniversary at 64 Pine Street in Poughkeepsie, Fairlie was a 2017 Forty Under 40 Honoree by the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce's 40 Under 40 awards are bestowed annually to 40 individuals under the age of 40 who have shown a strong commitment to the Hudson Valley.
"Our credo is we are here for pets of all shapes and sizes," Fairlie said. "A mouse is not just a mouse, it is a living breathing animal with a heart. It is just as important to us as a Great Dane."
One of Fairlie's earliest memories is when she was three years old and was asked what she wanted to be. Her family brought up being an eye doctor to help her brother, who had night blindness, but she said she didn't want to be a doctor for her brother, but would rather help her dog, Cookie.
"I've never wanted to be anything else," Fairlie said. "I made sure I had a lot of experience and was well-rounded in every aspect."
Fairlie said she has always been fascinated with exotic animals who she believes are underserved and misunderstood. Fairlie has treated hedgehogs, peacocks, snapping turtles, owls, seagulls and a coatimundi. Forty percent of her patients are exotic animals.
"Exotic animals can be very complicated," Fairlie said. "An iguana and a gecko are completely different- they have a different environment. You have to know a ton about the species in order to help them."
Recently Fairlie had to take care of an alpine porcupine that had developed an infection.
"Treating it was not difficult," Fairlie said. "We put it on antibiotics. The exam was more difficult but we were very careful with it. We just had to be able to read her cues and then it accepted human touch. We gave it a thorough exam and she's doing well."
The hardest part of the job is having to see sick and injured animals, but Fairlie is comforted knowing she can help them. She said when it comes to euthanizing an animal, she will only do it when it's appropriate.
"What gets me through it is you're giving the animal a gift of dignified ending," Fairlie said. "You're not allowing it to suffer anymore."
Fairlie had to euthanize her dog Cookie and said she still gets teared up thinking about it.
"I try to offer my clients comfort and compassionate to make their most difficult decision a little easier," Fairlie said. "But it's extremely rewarding when you can treat an animal and get it back to normal. We celebrate the successes. I feel I can go home and know I did the right thing."
Many animals are terrified of the vet and Fairlie said owners should try to minimize stress and not make the trip a huge deal. Some owners will bring their dog in just to get treats and kisses so they learn to trust the vet.
"Every relationship requires trust," Fairlie said. "We speak softly to the animal and we like to stroke their head.
Fairlie said she recommends an annual trip to the vet, while older animals should come in more frequently.
"If you're concerned about something, always come in," Fairlie said. "Never wait it out. It's good to have that peace of mind and know that everything is okay. Your pet can't speak to us so you have to be their advocate."
Fairlie will be honored at the 40 Under 40 celebration on April 25. Tickets are available through the DCRCOC website .
Creature Comforts is at 64 Pine Street in Poughkeepsie. For more information, visit http://www.creaturecomfortsanimalhosp.com or call (845) 625-2474.