Having a warm, knowledgeable staff is one of the many things that sets Vale Park Animal Hospital apart from other veterinarian clinics. Dr. Brent Lakia is the newest member on Vale Park’s team of doctors, but in a lot of ways he is a familiar face. Lakia, a Chesterton native, worked at Vale Park Animal Hospital in the kennel department after high school, just before he pursued his undergraduate degree, then came and worked there again while he was attaining his Master’s degree. After then completing veterinary school and a brief stint in emergency medicine, Lakia has finally returned to Vale Park Animal Hospital for good.
Lakia brandishes a new title in addition to “Doctor,” as he is now part-owner of the practice. While finally settling into his new responsibilities, we took a took a moment to speak with him about his career, his interests, and an exciting new expansion in the works for Vale Park Animal Hospital.
Tell us a little bit about your journey with Vale Park Animal Hospital. What made you want to circle back?
When I was in veterinary school, I always knew my dream was to come back to Vale Park. However, I had to also grow within the profession, so I started working at other clinics in two metropolitan areas. I worked in general practices and referral centers, where I gained an exceptional amount of knowledge both in medical practice and in the different cultures within different practices.
What I always found was that, no matter where I was, I wanted to bring the Vale Park values I had learned as a team member to those other practices. When the opportunity to come home arose, it was a no-brainer decision to circle back.
What are some of the unique responsibilities or challenges you’ve faced since becoming owner and fulltime Doctor at Vale Park?
I think the unique experiences at Vale Park, as a Doctor, have arisen more from my increased managerial role rather than most of our medical procedures. While there are always difficult medical cases in all walks of practicing veterinary medicine, the benefit of having a large team of experienced doctors has allowed us to work through many of them as a collaborative group.
But as I transitioned into my role at Vale Park from being an associate to an owner and leader of the practice, I found that the time requirements of a business owner are much larger than I had understood. While I knew I'd have extra meetings and more weight on my shoulders, I think once you're in those shoes you begin to truly understand those responsibilities, and you have to make adjustments in your day-to-day to help you to manage all of the responsibilities in life: medical appointments, ownership duties, and your homelife and family responsibilities.
Tell us a little bit about the new and expanded facility in the works!
So, we are super excited about our new facility! Our current location has been added on to several times, not only the actual building, but our parking area, as well. This has helped with our caseload, but because of word-of-mouth, we continue to grow, so much so that our longtime clients have a hard time getting in for an appointment, finding congestion in our lobby, and our parking area constantly full. Unfortunately, our current location is also landlocked and, without a large inconvenience to our ability to take care of our patients, could not be expanded.
Thus, we looked for alternatives and we were fortunate enough to find a property ON VALE PARK ROAD! We are in the process of being the first business in the new business park associated with Lakes of Valparaiso on the East side of Route 49, at Vale Park Road. The new location will have better parking flow, separate cat and dog entrances to alleviate stress for our different patients (and clients,) and will allow us to offer boarding and grooming for our canine and feline patients. While we have not broken ground yet, we are in the process of finalizing plans to submit to the various authorities, so we can start construction.
What’s something you love doing outside of work?
I'm a sports fan, and I love the Cubs, Purdue football and basketball, and Da Bears. I'm a music junkie, though I prefer folk and classic rock bands; I even try to play guitar and sing along to the songs when I can. But mostly, I enjoy time with my wife and three kids. We'll go to the Dunes to hike, go to dinner around town, and try to do the festivals that Valparaiso offers to see all the great things our community provides.
What is your favorite part about your job?
I am so thankful for being a veterinarian. I love coming to work every day, meeting our patients and clients, helping to provide preventative care, and managing difficult medical cases. In my new role, I am excited about helping to lead our team to continue to provide the standards of care we strive for, both for our patients and our commitment to exceptional customer service for our clients. I am really proud to be working on our new location that should allow us to serve our clients even more effectively.
Schedule your appointment with Dr. Brent Lakia today.