From left are Dr. Meghan Simoneaux Richard, Veterinarian Technician Bridget Reed LeBlanc, and Dr. Armand Coreil. (Gazette photo by Nancy Duplechain)
LeBlanc retires as veterinarian technician
After 21-and-a-half years of working as a veterinarian technician at Coreil’s Veterinary Clinic, Bridget Reed LeBlanc has retired. Through tears she thanked the staff at the clinic, in particular Dr. Armand Coreil who hired her all those years ago.
Working with animals was Bridget’s destiny. From the time she was a small girl, she would help her dad take care of the animals they had, with a menagerie of dogs, cats, chickens, rabbits, pigeons, and even a flying squirrel she tamed. They bonded over their love of animals, and her bond with animals grew from that. When she was in high school, she decided to become a vet technician and asked Dr. Coreil, her family vet, if she could observe the practice. He obliged, and when she graduated as a registered vet tech from Northwestern State University she returned to Coreil’s clinic in 1999. “Growing up, coming here with Dr. Armand as my veterinarian, I saw the love and compassion he had for animals, and I wanted to be a part of his team.”
Bridget started as the head registered vet tech and the office manager at the clinic. Right away, Dr. Coreil saw something special in her. “He saw a lot in me, and he believed a lot in me,” she said.
Bridget said the best part about working at the clinic was working with the animals and the relationships with her patients and their owners. She also said the relationships she has with Dr. Coreil, Dr. Meghan Simoneaux Richard, who now owns the clinic, and all the friends she’s made have been the most rewarding to her.
For Bridget, the hardest part about working in the clinic was saying goodbye to the patients. “It was really heartbreaking, because I was there for the owners and helping them to say goodbye when it was either a euthanasia or an accident. Seeing my patients grow ... some of them we were there from when they a puppies to when they were seniors and take their last breath. You develop a really strong bond. It’s hard to say goodbye.”
Her love didn’t stop for her animals patients. Bridget also had a place in her heart for their owners. “I’ve always had a compassion for animals and the love for them, but also the love I have for people, their humans. Helping them is important to me, not only helping them in being their nurse and being there for them when they were sick, but guiding the humans in how to take care of them, in what they need and being there when they need it.” That compassion for the owners continued as they had to be there for their pet at the end of their life. “It is hard. You have to know you’re doing the best for that animal. I did what I needed to do for the pet at their last breath, but I was also there to comfort the owner, which was important for me.”
Bridget’s started her new business, Paw Fit Behavior Training, in June of 2020. “I wanted more. I prayed, and God led me on this incredible journey.” She said when she was a vet tech, she saw behavior and health issues with her patients and how it was related to their owners’ behavior. She saw an opportunity to educate pet owners, so she got her certification as a canine obedience trainer and as an integrative life coach. “That way I can help both dogs and their owners.” Now she continues to serve dogs and their humans. Her goal is to not only help train the dogs, but also help the humans become more aware of why they do what they do. “It’ll help to strengthen their bond once they understand that. So, it’s not just training the dogs, it’s training the humans.”
On the importance of educating pet owners to the needs and understanding the psychology of their pets, Bridget said, “We don’t realize how much they feel our energy. They feel everything we feel. When we’re tense, they can feel that. Sometimes things can happen as a puppy and it will shape that, but you have to give them the confidence they need to know everything’s going to be okay.” In turn, she said many times pets will sense their owners going through a difficult time. “They also know when to comfort us. They feel our stress and our worry.”
When asked if she thinks the old adage “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is true, she said it’s not. “I have worked with young puppies and I’ve worked with adults going into seniorhood. It just takes time and consistency and repetition. They are so smart. They just get it. When you take the time and you’re consistent, then they learn.”
With Paw Fit, Bridget goes to the clients’ homes to work with them and their dogs. She helps them to utilize obedience training which sets the foundation to help with behavior issues. This builds a bond with the dogs and strengthens the relationship. “We don’t realize a lot of their behaviors is part of being a dog. It’s just that we don’t want it in the human world. Getting them to know there’s a way to manage that with toys and treats, and teaching them to sit and focus is a proper greeting instead of jumping and getting excited. We think they’re being bad when they do that, but they’re just being dogs.”
Further, Bridget stressed the importance of keeping pets’ minds stimulated and giving them an outlet for their energy. “We don’t realize how much energy they need to run off, how much exercise they need.” She said she would like more people to understand their dogs need exercise, like a good long walk around the neighborhood or letting them run and play fetch if it’s safe to do so. She said they also need mental stimulation, and there are some toys that can help with that.
Bridget said going from a regular job with steady income and then going to be an entrepreneur is scary, but “I have the tools, I have a community with my integrative life coach and my other friends in the coaching community, and we’re there to help each other every step of the way. It really is a mind-set. Once you can see that it’s a mind-set it can help you get over those old beliefs and have courage and confidence to step out, then anything’s possible.” She added, “I’m excited to be on a new journey.”
When reflecting on her time working with Dr. Coreil, whom Bridget considers a second father to her, she said, “He was such a great teacher and a great person. He taught me everything I knew, but he also gave me wings to fly because he believed in me.”
Dr. Coreil, said of Bridget, “She’s always been a sweet person. Her daddy was coming here with her and her dog. When I found out she was going to vet tech school, I said I’d love for her to be able to work for me, but I know Ville Platte can’t sustain the kind of salary she could be making. She and her daddy said, ‘Well, you never know.’ So I was blessed she decided to stay in Ville Platte. She could have made twice as much money anywhere else.”
Dr. Coreil said his staff, his patients and their owners have always loved Bridget. “All the girls who ever worked with her, they fall in love with her because she’s just that kind of person. It was like that with everyone. It got to where people would call and want to talk to her.” He further said, “She’s a one-of-a-kind person. She absolutely loves animals. She’s very kind-hearted, very personable. We hate to lose her, but we’re glad she’s moving on to something she likes.” Perhaps the biggest compliment he could give her was when he said, “She’s the reason that I was as successful as I was. That’s a fact. I got blessed with her.”