Dr. Claire Peterson
Dr. Claire Peterson
Dr. Claire Peterson received her DVM degree from Oregon State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Before that she received a BS at the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies from the University of Redlands. Although she traveled away for college, Dr. Peterson grew up in the larger Portland area and loves all of the outdoor opportunities this area provides.
Dr. Peterson’s clinical interests include avian medicine and surgery, as well as those lovely felines! She is an instructor for the International Academy of Animal Acupuncture, although she does not perform acupuncture herself. She has done some research abroad in New Zealand and Ethiopia, as well having trained for two months at the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital in the United Arab Emirates. The highlight of that trip was the fresh dates straight from the trees!
She shares her home with two older rescue kitties named Oliver and Bubbles, who, between the two of them, have diabetes mellitus, FIV, glaucoma, asthma, and seizures – so they certainly have found a perfect home with Dr. Peterson! Regardless, Dr. Peterson maintains that they are the best cats ever. Dr. Peterson is also a licensed falconer and has been involved with wildlife rescue and education through a few organizations. She currently has one red-tailed hawk named Atticus who lives in an enclosure called a “mew” in her back yard. She’s excited to find more places to take Atticus out flying in the greater Hillsboro area!So, do you go by Claire or do you have any nicknames?
I probably shouldn’t be telling this story because it’s a little embarrassing, but back in high school we had these “student of the month” awards that came with a little fancy certificate. In my math class my teacher was announcing the award one morning, and she looked right at me so I knew it was me. She said “and the student of the month IS….” But then she glanced at the certificate and her face became red and rather horrified, and she gripped the paper to her chest and said “Never mind!” and tried to change the subject. Of course the entire class then erupted, demanding to know what the certificate said, me especially! Turns out they misspelled “Claire” as “Larry” and the certificate was made out to Larry Peterson. To this day I still have a few friends that call me Larry, and even an old teaching buddy who calls me the formal “Lawrence.”
In your words, what is your job at Frontier? Any special projects or responsibilities?
My job at frontier is to advocate for the patients, as they don’t have the proper vocal cords to do it themselves. Having the education to know that say a broken tooth really does hurt even if Fluffy is hiding it, or animals can still get bitten by fleas and it itches even if you never see a flea means I have a lot to impart to our patient’s caregivers! I consider surgery like suturing up lacerations the fun part of my job. There’s something very satisfying to see a problem and to be able to fix it with your hands and see that immediate relief and benefit for the pet. So really, more of my job is advocating and education than the usual bits (like surgery) that people think make up most of the doctor role.
My next job here will be to help bring in some avian patients since birds are my passion. Once I get the swing of Frontier’s flow and the computer system (my goodness, the computer system!) we’ll be training some people in our treatment area on how to properly handle parrots, chickens, and even birds of prey!
Why did you decide to work at Frontier?
I was impressed by Frontier’s dedication to quality medicine and to their clients. At first glance, coming from a veterinarian standpoint, the first thing I noticed was the AHAA accreditation and the Cat Friendly Practice accreditation. I know these probably aren’t the first things pet owners look for, but from a veterinarian standpoint that was a huge plus as to why I wanted to check these guys out! Once I interviewed I was impressed by how all of the doctors here share ideas and wisdom and how there is a constant environment of collaboration. I LOVE an environment that works together as opposed to competing and stress. I know most people who bring their pets in don’t get to see our technicians very much since they mostly hide behind the scenes, but let me tell you that they are amazing! I am constantly impressed by everyone who works in the hospital, from those that you meet at the front desk to our hospital staff back in the treatment room. They have been wonderful putting up with my learning curve and my constant “Where’s this? What’s this invoice code mean?” There’s lots of laughter when there’s free time, and lots of efficient and proficient work when we’re busy – just like it should be!
Do you have any pets?
Of COURSE I have pets! What a silly question! The pet I’ve had the longest right now is Oliver, my beloved medium-hair gray tabby cat. I adopted him from a shelter many years ago. I was in their FIV+ room looking at another cat, and while this other cat was going about his catly business, Oliver walked over, crawled into my lap, and fell asleep. I wasn’t even in vet school at the time, but did work as an assistant in a veterinary clinic. I could tell he wasn’t 2 years old and healthy like they claimed… but I adopted him anyway. He turned out to be closer to 7 years old (best guess) and had clinical diabetes. It’s been, oh gosh, about 7 or 8 years later and he’s on diabetic food but no longer on insulin and is my favorite companion. He sleeps every night as close to my face as possible (I’m allergic to cats, and I suspect both my cats know it).
My second cat’s name is Bubbles (she had the name before I adopted her), and she’s even older than Oliver. I adopted her fairly recently, a couple of years ago. I was working my last student rotation before graduating veterinary school, and it happened to be at the Oregon Humane Society. There was this old cat (17 years old) who had been there for 6 months and her diabetes was STILL not appropriately regulated. She had already been in a couple of foster homes, but now she was back in the medical center to once again try and find an appropriate insulin dosage. At that time we also noticed that her eyes didn’t look quite right and discovered she had glaucoma and was going blind. A very friendly, rare orange female tabby, and my heart broke. Turns out her back story was that her older owner went to live in an assisted living facility that didn’t take pets. I knew she was going home with me and she has been an excellent addition to our fuzzy family. She is now completely blind but she has gone from skin and bones to a virtual pumpkin now that I’ve finally gotten her diabetes appropriately controlled.
My other animal companion is not a pet, but a working member of the family. I’m a licensed falconer and have gone through all of the tests, inspections, and licensing required to own, train, and hunt with a bird of prey. I have a 1-year-old red-tailed hawk named Atticus, who I constantly jokingly complain about (he has a very persnickety attitude!) but love dearly. Because of my licensing, this means that I can also falcon-sit for other falconry and educator friends, such as a couple of owls who I owl-sit for on a semi-regular basis. They may be making appearances at the clinic every once in awhile as well
Tell us a little-known fact about you!
I’ve done some traveling for various research and academically related things in the past and have been to (in order) Japan, Ethiopia, New Zealand, and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. I’m hoping to return to Africa eventually, but also would LOVE to see the Kazakhi eagle falconers in Mongolia one day.
I also met Lily, the newest baby elephant at the Oregon Zoo, when she was about a month old. She is a very spirited little girl and ended up tripping me while playing (she’d sweep one of her front legs to catch a person’s leg and this was one of her favorite things when she was a baby) and I remember the keepers told me not to sit down with the 300lb baby elephant because it’s obviously dangerous… but I still argue that she didn’t give me a choice! Little known fact – you can only listen to an elephant’s heart with a stethoscope while they are very young (I listened to Lily’s), but as they get older they have too much muscle and flesh to hear their heart anymore.
“Yes, Dr. Peterson was amazing! She knew exactly what was wrong with my African Grey Parrot and acted quickly and professionally to take care of her. She even got the staff to make accommodations for her because I could not give her the medications needed. It turned out great and she is fine thanks to Dr. Peterson! I am so grateful there is finally a place I can trust with my parrot!”Julie L.
“The reception area staff and Dr. Peterson were both friendly and so kind to my dog! We will definitely return to Frontier. I was very impressed with the kindness, caring and excellent service. Your facility is clean and welcoming. Thank you for taking care of Ruby on a Saturday!”Ellen A.