Snakes, tigers and falcons? Oh, my!
Dr. Erica Lipanovich might be new to Lake Oswego, but she's a vet when it comes to treating exotic animals. Literally.
Lipanovich is the newest member of the team at Compass Veterinary Clinic, and she arrives with a wealth of knowledge about exotic animals and advanced veterinary science.
Hailing from Memphis, Lipanovich's interest in veterinary science started at a young age.
"When I look back at some of the stuff I wrote as a kid, a majority of it was that I wanted to be veterinarian. Some of it was biology or marine biology, but it all had to do with caring for animals," she said.
After pursuing an education at Mississippi State University, Lipanovich entered private practice for a couple years in Phoenix, before landing a residency with the Denver Zoo. There she gained valuable experience, both observational and hands-on, while treating and caring for all different types of animals.
Her experience with the Denver Zoo led her to an opportunity to serve as the resident veterinarian at the Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, Mo.
"Being at the zoo, you're involved with a lot of different exotics — from elephants and bears to giraffes and the small, rare lizards and birds," she said. "In private practice, I wouldn't say it's more tame,. It's just a different mentality. In the zoo, it's about conservation and preservation. In private practice, it's about making the animal comfortable and quality of life for everyone."
Lipanovich decided to return to private practice three and a half years ago when she moved to Oregon. After she and husband Jake took a vacation to the Pacific Northwest, the couple became enamored with the region.
"We fell in love with the area and the people. We knew instantly this is where we wanted to be," she said. "(Our time here) has been absolutely wonderful, I've really just enjoyed everything about Oregon."
Lipanovich first landed at the Willamette Valley Animal Hospital in Salem, where she began to build a large clientele of exotic and domestic pets, from rabbits in Corvallis to tigers and other large cats at the Wildcat Ridge Sanctuary in Scotts Mills.
"Being a veterinarian in general is an incredibly rewarding job." Lipanovich said. "Like any other profession, there are good days and bad days. Overall, it's amazing to get to participate and help make any animal, as well as their human companion, feel like they've received some sort of answer. There's a lot to be said about receiving an answer."
Last month, members of the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce had the opportunity to meet Lipanovich at Compass Veterinary Clinic, along with a couple of her clients and patients — a pair of peregrine falcons, a beautiful owl and several snakes. The event served as an introduction-of-sorts to the community, where chamber members got to pick her brain about veterinary science and ask questions they've been yearning to ask about exotic animals.
One of Lipanovich's clients was accompanied by West Linn's Alina Blankenship, a falconer and founder-president of Perch Wildlife Education — a local nonprofit that uses live birds of prey to provide educational experiences to schools, camps, businesses, churches and a variety of other groups.
"I met Dr. Lipanovich this past year, and she's been phenomenal. There's not a lot of options for falconers to go to who are skilled and knowledgeable around avians," Blankenship. "I've actually brought other falconers to her, and they've just been so delighted to have her here."
Whether it's a peregrine falcon, a reticulated python or an 18-year-old tiger at Wildcat Ridge Sanctuary, Lipanovich said she truly enjoys her job because of the personal and professional relationships she makes with the animals and their humans on a daily basis.
"Even if it's just a sweet regular domestic cat or a happy-go-lucky puppy, it's incredibly rewarding to interact with these animals and their companions," she said.
Compass Veterinary Clinic is located at 3 Monroe Parkway, Suite Y, in Lake Oswego. Contact Lipanovich and the rest of the staff by calling 503-850-2444 or going to compassvet.com.