How many people can say they knew what they wanted to do as a career when they were a kid? For Dr. Lisa Booth at Vale Park Animal Hospital, her future was never a question. While just a young fifth grader at Saylor Elementary, Booth heard a presentation from her teacher’s husband, fellow Vale Park veterinarian Dr. Jerry Rodenbarger, on vet medicine. “That day I went home, told my parents I wanted to be a veterinarian, and I never looked back!”
After graduating from Portage High School, Booth attended vet school at Purdue and came back to work in Chesterton after graduation. Transferring to the emergency clinic at Purdue North Central, Booth discovered her love for emergency medicine. Seven years in, Booth started a family and went back to a day shift in La Porte that was more accommodating to being a mom.
“When I was working at the emergency clinic, I did relief work at Vale Park, anytime the doctors were on vacation or someone was sick,” she said. “I enjoyed working here so much!” The opportunity arose three months ago for Booth to join the team at Vale Park and she jumped on it.
“I’m new but I’m not new,” she stated with a laugh. “Some of the clients I’ve seen before, since I used to do relief work here. I really enjoy the atmosphere, it’s a great clinic! When I come in here, I feel like I’m coming home.”
Each of the doctors at Vale Park has a particular aspect of animal health that interests them most. With Booth’s background in emergency medicine, her personal niche is pet CPR.
“When I was in vet school, I read an article that said 80% of people would run back into a burning house to save their pet,” she said. “And a lot of fire departments didn’t know how to save their pets.”
Realizing this was an area that needed more awareness, Booth began working with the local fire department while at the clinic in Chesterton, training them in pet CPR. “It really caught on,” she exclaimed. Booth reached out to fire departments across Porter, La Porte, and Lake Counties, to offer free training for first responders.
“This is a passion of mine,” she said. In her trainings, Booth teaches the firefighters how to pull the animals out of the fire and administer life-saving treatments. When the Red Cross found out about Booth’s classes, they brought her in to teach so civilians could get certified.
Booth now teaches classes to organizations all over, connecting by word of mouth. “I have 12 sets of dog and cat mannequins at my house,” she laughed. She often teaches staff education classes at veterinary clinics, along with her fire department trainings and general public CPR classes. “It’s really important that everyone on staff is certified,” stated Booth. “If you have a dog that crashes in the waiting room or boarding facility and everyone knows what to do, administering help sooner can make the difference.”
“My new area is K9 officers,” she went on to say, discussing how those dogs are often injured in the line of duty, putting their life on the line and how officers aren’t given much training in this area. Booth partnered with Vohne Liche Kennels in Denver, Indiana, to offer classes on canine CPR and first aid to police officers.
Out of this new initiative, Booth founded “Kits for K9’s,” a non-profit to “raise money to supply first aid kits to K9 officers,” she stated. The organization gave out 91 kits this year alone to police officers throughout the United States, and hopes to be able to give out 100 or more next year. Each kit costs $60. Several clinics donate supplies to help outfit the kits, along with public donations. Like the Kits for K9’s Facebook page to find out how you can help!
Eventually there will be public classes offered at Vale Park Animal Hospital, so pet owners can receive valuable knowledge that could be lifesaving. “Anything you can do in an emergency situation can help. The knowledge might make you calmer when your dog is scared,” stated Booth. “The littlest bit can go a long way.”
“I’m very passionate about making sure dogs are safe!”