From Vegetarian to Veterinarian

Michelle Zanol

Before she could pronounce her future profession correctly, Dr. Michelle Zanol knew she would eventually become a veterinarian.

“I have wanted to be a veterinarian ever since I was a little kid and before I even knew the right word,” Zanol said. “According to my mom, after taking our dog to the vet I came home and said I wanted to be a vegetarian.”

Zanol’s “vegetarian” career has taken her from Iowa State to a trio of clinics where she has served as an associate veterinarian, including stops in Fargo, North Dakota, and Savage, Minnesota. She met her husband John and his cocker spaniel Joe in Fargo, and adopted another cocker spaniel named Jack while in Savage.

That’s surprising because Zanol grew up with dachshunds and believed she would have that breed as an adult as well. But Joe, the cocker spaniel, had other things in mind.

“Joe was such a sweet boy that I fell in love with the breed,” Zanol said. “Then we got Jack.”

Jack was surrendered to the Scott Lake Veterinary Center in Savage where Zanol was an associate veterinarian. It seems the one-year-old cocker spaniel would run away from home and his owners couldn’t care for him.

“I took Jack home to show my husband and knew he would be staying with us,” she said. “After we neutered him and did some training he no longer runs away. We have since lost Joe, my husband’s first cocker spaniel, but have gotten two more.”

For the past three years, Zanol has worked at the Elm Creek Animal Hospital in Champlin, Minnesota. In the small animal clinic she not only sees daily appointments but sets aside one day for surgeries.

“Being a veterinarian makes me very happy most days,” Zanol said. “I love helping people provide the best care for their pets.”

But like any job, there are trying days.

“Sometimes cases aren’t very straight forward but I love working together with colleagues to try and figure it out,” Zanol said. “That’s what keeps me coming back into the clinic every day – the opportunity to see how happy the clients are when I make their pet feel better as well as working with my colleagues as a team.”