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From Disney’s Animal Kingdom to Vale Park, Dr. Ashley Walker loves caring for animals

Autum Meyers
By: Autum Meyers Last Updated: July 21, 2022

Vale Park Animal Hospital’s new veterinarian, Dr. Ashley Walker, may just be starting her career in veterinary medicine, but she is already a kind, driven, and intelligent young woman who any loving pet owners would be lucky to have care for their furry friends. 

Dr. Walker is originally from Peru, Ill. She earned her bachelor's degree in Zoology at Southern Illinois University and received her veterinary degree from the University of Minnesota. 

In between her undergraduate and graduate schooling, Dr. Walker took some extra time to further her knowledge of animals. She worked at PetSmart for a while and was a wildlife medicine extern for the California Wildlife Center. She even worked at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park for six months in the nutrition department where she got to formulate diet plans for exotic species.  

“I think a lot of that now ties into me working as a general practitioner veterinarian and helping people come up with diet plans for their pets,” said Dr. Walker.

Dr. Walker just recently moved to Valparaiso at the end of May to start her veterinary career at Vale Park Animal Hospital. Her first day was June 6.

Dr. Walker recalls childhood memories when thinking about what led to her decision to become a veterinarian.

“Something that’s weird about veterinarians is that most of us have wanted to be veterinarians since we were little kids and we just never changed our minds. Of course, some people go to the vet's office and think 'Never mind,' but for the most part, us veterinary kids think, 'Yes, veterinary medicine is just something we’ve always wanted to do.' So, I’m one of those,” said Dr. Walker. 

However, now that Dr. Walker has graduated and is a veterinarian, she’s come to realize why she truly loves the work she does. 

“My favorite thing is just being able to help people who love animals. I like keeping those family ties together because I know how important pets are to a family. Some people may not have anyone, so that’s their only support system and their only comfort. So being able to help them take care of such an important part of their life is really special to me,” said Dr. Walker. 

Dr. Walker may be working as a general practitioner veterinarian and helping people with their pets’ diet plans, but she has a specialty and soft spot for cats. 

“My passion in veterinary medicine is felines, more specifically because I know a lot of fantastic canine doctors. They know how to diagnose and treat, and I just felt like in comparison to everything we know for dogs, the information is just so much less for cats, and they don’t get quite the same attention and focus,” said Dr. Walker. 

By focusing more specifically on felines and showing her passion for them, Dr. Walker hopes to make people feel more confident in bringing their cats to the vet. 

So far, Dr. Walker is fitting in with her new team at Vale Park wonderfully. She’s grateful for everyone making her feel so welcome and for being such great role models to her since she is new to the industry. Even though Dr. Walker is new, she already feels like a helpful and valued member of the team. 

“Each of us has a very different interest or skill set. I’ll be asking them questions about specific things, but then they’ll ask me questions too, and I feel valued even though I’m a new veterinarian, so it’s a really nice balance,” said Dr. Walker.

Dr. Walker is already proving herself to be a successful veterinarian. She is sure to be a bright spot not only for Vale Park Animal Hospital but for the future of veterinary medicine.

“My advice to someone wanting to be a vet is to never give up. Getting into veterinary school is hard, veterinary school itself is hard, and even if things don’t go as planned, keep going if you know it’s meant for you. Always believe in yourself and you can accomplish anything,” said Dr. Walker.

To learn more about Vale Park Animal Hospital and the amazing work Dr. Walker is doing, visit https://valeparkah.com/