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By Shirley Murtha
Samantha Marquis McNamara knew she wanted to be a veterinarian from the tender age of six years. Not just a childhood dream, the aspiration lead her to a BS in Animal Science at the University of Connecticut after graduating from Granby Memorial High School in 2005. From the friendly confines of her home state, Sam was off to the University of Prince Edward Island, where she received her degree to practice general veterinary medicine. After taking a few additional specialty courses, she developed an interest in the care of “exotic” animals — definitely a selling point when on a job hunt!
McNamara’s first employment was with a practice in Andover, Massachusetts, but when an opening occurred here in her home town, she was eager to apply and hopefully return to the place where her family is located. As a youngster and teen, she had brought the family pets to SBVH and had even worked in the kennels for some time. She was hired and began work this past January.
Although she takes care of the regular cat and dog clients at SBVH, a fair number of exotics have found their way to her. Turtles with vitamin deficiencies, snakes with respiratory infections and “egg-bound” parrots and cockatiels are among some of her interesting cases.
McNamara notes that there is rarely regular preventative medicine for exotics that there is for dog and cat house pets. The veterinarian doesn’t usually see a reptile, amphibian or bird unless the owner has perceived something is not right, so problems tend not to be caught until they are full-blown.
Sometimes the owner doesn’t have enough knowledge of the animal husbandry of their unusual pet and that inadvertently causes the problem. For example, most reptile owners know that they should use UV lighting for their animal so that it can make a sustainable amount of Vitamin D. What they don’t know, however, is that the ultraviolet part of the bulb burns out well before the light bulb itself burns out. A substantial amount of time may go by during which the animal becomes Vitamin D deficient.
Although the town has changed a bit since she was in high school, she is mostly pleased with the new aspects, such as the diversity in restaurants — something she thought she would miss, having lived close to Boston. In her spare time, McNamara likes to hike and read fiction. By the time this issue of the Drummer is published, she and her husband Daniel will have welcomed a golden retriever puppy into their home. No doubt that pup will receive the best of veterinary care!
Samantha Marquis McNamara is newest vet in town. Submitted photo.