Life in the fast lane

Our profession is filled with wonderfully talented people; people who excel at work and beyond. Dr Laura Brown is one of those people!

Laura is an accomplished veterinarian, being the senior vet for the Animal Animal Welfare League (AWL) Veterinary Clinic NSW, responsible for managing an amazing team and implementing protocols and procedures in the AWL veterinary clinics. She has worked with both small and large animals in her career and seen a large number and variation in case-load due to the area in which she works and the clientele seen by AWL. In addition to her busy role at AWL, she is also a board member for the Exhibited Animal Advisory Committee (EAAC) and has completed further training in surgery via distance education in 2013.

Being no ordinary human, Laura has also excelled outside of her work as a veterinarian. Laura was the WINNER of the Final for ABC TV Series, ‘Strictly Dancing’ in 2006, has represented Australia in the UK for Latin American Dancing and most recently, won the female category in 2015 and 2016 for motorcycle racing! Laura also acts as Motorcycle Ambassador for rider training, ‘Stay Upright’.

We recently asked Laura to share her story and insight with us and we are thrilled to be able to share this with you on the blog today.

Please tell us a little bit about your role at AWL and any special interests that you have

I am passionate about the welfare of animals. I am the head veterinarian of the Animal Welfare League Veterinary Clinic NSW. This position involves ensuring the smooth running of the veterinary clinic on a day-to-day basis. Beyond the veterinary clinic, it involves protecting the health of the animals in our care at our three shelters and ensuring standards of care are at optimum for maximum welfare. We aim to increase adoption turn rates by decreasing the waiting period experienced for each animal for any vet treatment or surgeries required. I am also a member of the EAAC, which helps to improve the welfare of animals on exhibition.

What have you learned from experience that you didn’t learn from a textbook?

At AWL, we see a large number of cases with limited (and at times no) funds. This has emphasized the need for our team to reach the most likely diagnoses, without always being able to perform gold standard diagnostics. Furthermore, I have learned that the amount of money a owner earns does not always correlate to the level of care they are willing to provide to their pet. Having worked with homeless and low socioeconomic clients, it is evident that there are is a large variation in the level of care owners are willing to provide, and this appears to come down to the relationship with the pet more than the means of the client.

What procedure, technology, or medication have you used and realised that there was a better alternative?

A significant issue for shelter medicine is the treatment of ringworm. Previously, the shelter used Grisofulvin. Now however, we use Itraconazole with a better result and a decrease in adverse effects.

What practical advice would you offer fellow vets?

Things are not always black and white in the real world and being grey is OK, providing that you can work things through logically.

Looking back, what advice would you give new graduates or even to yourself when you started out If you could “turn back time”?

I would probably tell myself not to stress about the speed I can desex an animal, but rather, put the effort into understanding the relationship between the pet and the owner on a deeper level. I think this made me a better vet. Owners appreciate open communication, understanding and care for their pet.

What do you like to do for fun?

I enjoy riding horses, spending time with my dog, running and I love racing motorbikes, specifically the Ninja 300 in the Kawasaki Cup. I spend my days off working on training fitness for motorcycle riding, cycling or horse riding.

Can you please tell us about your exciting motor sports career and how you came to be involved?

An ex-boyfriend got me interested in riding motorcycles and from there I became addicted to riding around Sydney Motorsport Park. Given I was still on my P plates, I road my 250 road bike around the track every opportunity I had. A friend convinced me to enter my first race on my road bike. From there I was hooked and bought a race bike a month later! I now have two race bikes and race a minimum of 9 times a year.

Could you please tell us about your recent success on the track?

I am currently leading the ladies Ninja 300 Cup and coming 9th in the overall series. This was the 4th motorcycle race I have competed in. There are usually 25-30 riders, both male and female. I intend to come in the top 5 by mid-season then on the podium by the end of the year.

I had two bad accidents last year, I broke 17 bones in March off my bike then broke my leg in June the same year. It has been difficult to get my confidence back on the bike after these two serious accidents. I now feel confident on the bike but also much smarter than prior to these accidents. I am looking forward to the future and hopefully competing overseas.

VetPrac wishes Dr. Laura Brown all the best in continuing her success both in the clinic and beyond. Good luck achieving your goals this year!