ALBION — Her fondness for dogs?

“We went to see ‘Lady and the Tramp’ in a movie theater when I was 7,” Dr. Erika Pailer, 36, said.

After the movie, her grandpa took her to a pet store where there was a cocker spaniel, the breed featured in the Disney film. She was hooked.

“I told my parents I had to have it,” she said.

Now dogs and cats are not only her passion, but her occupation.

Pailer has purchased the Albion Veterinary Clinic practice from Dr. Rick Carmien. She knows she has big shoes to fill.

“I’m going to try to do good by Dr. Carmien’s legacy,” Pailer said. “I know he is very respected throughout the community. I am going to try to carry that on.”

Pailer is carrying on Carmien’s tradition by breaking away from her more urban roots.

She grew up in a large city in New Mexico. She knew she wanted to become a veterinarian, so she chose to pursue her degree at Purdue University.

It was there she met her husband.

“I love Indiana, so I stayed,” she said.

But she wasn’t quite through with the big city yet. After graduating from Purdue, she worked two years as a general vet practice, then spent eight years in emergency veterinarian medicine in Indianapolis.

When Carmien’s practice came up for sale, she jumped at the chance to try a more rural approach to life.

“It’s so nice to be out of Indianapolis,” she said. “We love the country, the hiking and the lakes. We are absolutely loving the area.”

The best part of her job is helping people and their animals. The most difficult part?

“That I can’t help everything all the time,” she said. “That’s not always possible.”

Her husband works for Steel Dynamics in Whitley County.

Her office hours are going to be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, her practice will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday hours will be from 8 a.m. to noon.

She said an illness known as canine influenza is headed this way. Symptoms of canine influence include coughing, sneezing and lethargy. The illness could lead to pneumonia.

“It’s very, very infectious,” she said.

If someone suspects their dog may be suffering from canine influenza, they should seeks treatment.

“Bring it in,” she said. “There are treatments that are available.”

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