March 13, 2014

Meet Dr. Michelle Oakley

Vet to Pretty Much Everything That Moves in the Yukon

Meet Dr. Michelle Oakley, the only all-species veterinarian for hundreds of square miles in the Yukon territory of Northern Canada.

In the village of Haines Junction, Yukon, Dr. Oakley runs an animal clinic out of the home she shares with her husband Shane and three daughters, Sierra, Maya, and Willow. She also runs weekly clinical sessions 148 miles away in Haines, Alaska, and 96 miles away in Whitehorse, Yukon.

In Haines, Dr. Oakley shares her satellite clinic with the American Bald Eagle Foundation which houses injured birds unable to survive in the wild. In Whitehorse, Dr. Oakley works as an on-call vet for the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, which houses a massive enclosure full of animals native to the Yukon and a large wildlife rehabilitation facility.

Michelle has run specialized research programs for First Nation organizations and the Canadian government. She is the first veterinarian to be a regional biologist in Canada's Yukon Territory.

Fiercely committed to her clients and animals of all species, she also makes house calls, sometimes driving hundreds of miles through the rugged Yukon terrain to check on a patient in need.

An Indiana native, Michelle earned her undergraduate degree in zoology at the University of Michigan. While studying there, she took her first trip to the Yukon as a field assistant on an arctic ground squirrel ecology study. It was during that first trip that she met and fell in love with local fire fighter Shane Oakley, who kept referring to her as "Squirrel Girl."

After marrying Shane, Michelle graduated from Atlantic Veterinary College in 2001 with a doctorate in veterinary medicine and shortly after that interned at the Calgary Zoo. She is an Associate Professor at the University of Calgary's College for Veterinary Medicine and often travels back to the Calgary Zoo as part of her job.

Other than her three daughters, Dr. Oakley is mother to one pug named Daisy May Lover Pants.

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