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TOWNSEND — For about 30 years, John Lindermuth has been a practicing veterinarian in Pepperell. Now he’s expanding his business to provide for Townsend.

Caitlin Normington’s story begins in Leominster. When she was 9, she fell in love with animals. In high school she enjoyed the school’s animal-science program and yearned to become a vet.

“Leominster High School has a barn nearby, and I really got into it,” Normington says.

After graduating she attended the University of Vermont where she studied animal science as an undergrad with a pre-veterinary focus track. While taking a semester abroad, Caitlin met her future husband, James. After graduation she was accepted into the University of Scotland at Edinburgh and went across the pond to train for the new career and to marry.

In 2008, Normington became a licensed doctor of veterinary medicine. She eventually settled in Leeds, England and began working at a clinic in Bradford. After seven years in England, she and James decided to move back to the U.S., which they did in 2010. There, Normington found relief work in Gardner, helping vets when needed, but she scoured the Internet and put out resumes for a full-time position.

At 68, Lindermuth has been pushing off retirement for the love of his work. Over the winter, he began leasing a building on the south side of Townsend Common and set it up as a “satellite” office for his practice.

“According to my wife, I have a lot of energy still,” he says.

“But it was time to get some back up.”

One day in November, back-up came in through the door.

“I went to drop off my resume at John’s office in Pepperell, and it was him at the desk. He said ‘Let’s do an interview,’ ” Normington said.

Soon after, she began working in Pepperell alongside Lindermuth who was preparing her to head up the office in Townsend. Normington bought a house in Townsend and settled in at the new practice: the Townsend Common Veterinary Hospital.

The new facility, at 256 Main St., will serve Pepperell, Townsend and surrounding communities in tandem with Lindermuth’s practice, the full-service Preventative Veterinarian Medicine Clinic at 39 Maple St. in Pepperell.

“(The Townsend facility) is just the basics like consultation and checkups,” Normington says.

“We can use it for emergencies as well, but larger operations will be undertaken at the Pepperell Clinic.”

Its Main Street location provides a central, visible location for Lindermuth to grow his business. Normington says her schedule also requires some time for her in Pepperell where she can use the clinic for surgeries and assist Lindermuth. So far, she says she enjoys working with Lindermuth.

“He made me feel very relaxed, just like his customers and patients,” she said.

“He’s like a father and even helped me find along the way, even helped me with getting the house.”

According to Normington, the “small-town feel” to the clinic is better than a larger facility where there may be competition between specialists.

“Animal welfare is our priority,” she said.

Finances are a large part of the work they do as well. Normington says that support throughout the process is important and she wants to strive to work with owners because it’s “about them also.”

“We want to allow them to look at costs and different options to see what they can do to help their pet,” she says.

“This practice works like a family. We really get along well and understand it is not a job where things go smoothly. We are able to wipe the sweat off our brows with smiles on our faces.”

Including Lindermuth and Normington, the two offices employ around six staff members in clerical and assistance capacities. The family aspect lends itself to Normington’s creed on veterinary practice.

“A lot of people, pet owners and vets a like, don’t know how to handle simple things,” Normington says.

“Instead they refer them to more advanced clinics or prescribe medicines which may or may not make the problem go away.”

These diagnoses, what Normington calls “common-sense stuff,” sometimes end up costing owners unnecessary fees. Also, she says vets struggle to make proper diagnoses sometimes. Animal dermatology is her specialty. She studied the subject during her time in Scotland. She says her knowledge of “identifying things like rashes and allergies all the way up to performing soft-tissue surgery” gives her the skills she needs to provide for customers.

Being across the pond for nearly a decade, Normington says there is a different feel to the vet industry here. The primary reason for that is health care.

“People here are accepting of finances because they have to pay medical costs themselves. In Britain the (National Health Service) takes care of people, but not animals,” she says.

Of course that just means people see those costs, says Normington.

“It also means more of them are insured,” she adds.

Normington also said that vets in the U.S. don’t do as many “exotics” such as smaller, furry animals likes rats and hamsters or other out of the ordinary pets, although birds are common.

“I’ve done surgery on a hamster,” she says proudly.

However, the Leominster native says she’s happy to be home. She has nieces and nephews living in the Townsend and Pepperell area. Lindermuth’s has several daughters living in Townsend as well, and says he is happy to be moving into a community where his grandchildren are growing up.

As for her personal animal life, she says, “I’ve always been a cat person, but I have a dog too.”

Her greyhound Otto recently had a leg surgically removed. Normington did not perform the surgery. The cats are named Benji and Wallace.

Townsend Common Veterinary Hospital is open from Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Appointment can be scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon and 1-4 p.m. The office can be reached at 978-597-5060. Preventative Veterinarian Medicine Clinic, in Pepperell can be reached at 978-433-6050. According to Lindermuth weekend hours are being considered as the two clinics develop.

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