Paton: “It’s not just treating horses”
Dr. David Paton always enjoyed working around large animals while growing up on the family dairy farm in Ladner, B.C. But it was the influence of their local veterinarian, Dr. Gordon Davis, that sparked his interest in veterinary medicine and developed his focus on horses.
“He was just an outstanding and astute horseman as well as veterinarian – I think of him as one of the many good role models and mentors that surrounded me right from when I was a child.”
That influence led Paton to the Western College of Veterinary Medicine’s Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program. After graduating in 1978, he spent a year working in Ontario before returning home to Aldergrove, B.C., and establishing his practice, now known as Paton & Martin Veterinary Services Ltd.
Over the years, as the horse population of the Fraser Valley grew by leaps and bounds, his practice expanded and evolved to keep up with the increased demand for services while providing progressive and high quality veterinary care to his clients. The four-person practice now includes an equine referral surgery with a boarded surgeon as well as two interns.
Always active in the equestrian and veterinary communities, Paton has been a longstanding Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) veterinarian and belongs to a number of organizations including the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA).
“I was encouraged by my father to always be part of my community,” says Paton. “That’s why I’ve made myself available for various committees and speaking duties and was able to become an FEI vet – mostly a volunteer position. It’s a way of being involved and giving back to the equestrian community.”
During his multi-year term as an advisory board member of the WCVM’s Equine Health Research Fund (EHRF), Paton was instrumental in establishing the equine memorial program as a way of recognizing clients and their horses in a positive way that provides long-term benefits for the horse population.
Paton has also been active in riding and competing. “I like to say that I finally made the time to stop being underneath the horse and started getting on top,” laughs Paton. “About six years ago, I got involved in cutting, and that’s kind of become my equestrian sport.”
Looking back on his 34-year veterinary career, Paton emphasizes that a major reward for him has been the scope of people that he’s been able to meet and the scope of opportunities that he has been given.
“When you’re graduating from veterinary school, you’re not thinking about being on the EHRF board or being an FEI veterinarian, but those have been important facets of my career – it’s not just treating the horses. It’s having the opportunity to work with the people in the industry.”