Pet parents in Dadeville will see a new face or a new location the next time they take their children to the vet.
Those who are used to seeing Dr. John Caldwell at Animal Care Center will now see Dr. Michelle Karagas-Reeder. Those who visit Dr. Lisa Plaisance at Dadeville Animal Clinic on East South Street will soon see Dr. Lisa at her new location on U.S. Highway 280.
Caldwell has retired from veterinary service and Karagas-Reeder settled into ownership of Caldwell’s practice – her first time in an ownership position. She has been easing into the role since the first part of December and officially took over in January.
“I’ve been seeing patients and meeting people with Dr. Caldwell for the last month,” Karagas-Reeder said. “Jan. 1 it was all me. It’s awesome.”
Karagas-Reeder said things have been relatively normal so far.
“It has been normal visits with wellness plans, vaccinations and spay and neuters; everything is routine,” Karagas-Reeder said. “Oh there is the one dog eating out the sutures we put in the toe.”
Karagas-Reeder said even the cone is not working for that patient.
Plaisance has been in Dadeville on East South Street since 2004 and has owned the property on U.S. Highway 280 for a while with a vision to build some day. Shawn Mahan said the Dadeville Animal Clinic staff is looking forward to the new building.
“This place is tiny and old,” Mahan said. “The new building will be impressive. It has more exam rooms and is just a better facility. We will be able to give better care to our patients and customers.”
Crews are still putting the finishing touches on the building and moving furniture. Mahan said the practice will make the move across town soon.
“We had hoped to be in there for the new year,” Mahan said. “The weather and other things delayed it a little. We are hoping to be in it in the next few weeks.”
Karagas-Reeder did not come be a veterinarian in the normal way.
“I’ve wanted to be a vet all my life,” Karagas-Reeder said. “It’s my second career. I was in business management before.”
Don’t worry, Karagas-Reeder didn’t just decide to make the career change overnight. She is well trained and finished vet school just down the road at Auburn University in 2013.
“It was eight years of classes,” Karagas-Reeder said. “They wouldn’t count my classes from the first go around; they were too old. I started from the beginning.”
Karagas-Reeder said she was one of the oldest in her class at Auburn in 2013 and got accepted on her first try.
After graduating, Karagas-Reeder has been practicing in nearby clinics all around from Opelika to Tallassee to Dadeville and after gaining some experience decided to hop into ownership.
“You want to work with others to see how they practice and learn,” Karagas-Reeder said. “There comes a point where you want to go on your own. It was time to take the reigns.”
Karagas-Reeder said she and Caldwell had been talking for a few years about his retirement and her possibly taking over.
“I thought the day might come for me,” Karagas-Reeder said. “If I was going to do it, it was going to be in this area. My husband and I own a farm in Camp Hill so I wanted to be close by.”
Karagas-Reeder said the family farm consists of 55 acres with cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys and bees but her veterinary practice will be different.
“The large animal is just a hobby,” Karagas-Reeder said. “I will (practice some) on my farm but not here.”
Karagas-Reeder has been spending her time between patients freshening up the building with some paint and her own personal touches but Dr. Caldwell’s staff remains.
“I have a great staff,” Karagas-Reeder said. “They do fantastic work.”
While Karagas-Reeder is settling in to working in just one building, she is happy to call it hers.
“Now this is my home,” Karagas-Reeder said. “It is wonderful.”