By Debbie Shelley

The Catholic Commentator  

Pets receive “special treatment” during visits to Staring Plaza Veterinary Center in Baton Rouge, where “arff and meow” are spoken and there are doors welcoming “cats” on the left and “dogs” on the right.  

 

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Brett Berryhill (holding Hannah) and wife Lucie (holding Stella) enjoy working with people at Staring Plaza Veterinarian Center. Photo by Debbie Shelley | The Catholic Commentator 

 

Pet owners feel included too, as owners Dr. Brett and Dr. Lucie Barker Berryhill keep a family-oriented, light-hearted atmosphere.  

The Berryhills, who grew up in families who were active in the Catholic faith, are members of St. Jude the Apostle Church in Baton Rouge. They are long-time members of the choir, with Brett singing tenor and Lucie singing alto.  

With cats, dogs and horses around as Lucie grew up in Lockport, her combined love of science and interest in what the veterinarians were doing when her pets were taken to them tweaked her interest in helping animals. Brett, a Baton Rouge native, attended kindergarten and first grade at St. Thomas More School in Baton Rouge and found his calling as a vet in the fifth grade through family trips to the veterinarians.  

The two met at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine. Class seating was in alphabetical order so they sat next to each other and were lab partners. They graduated together in 1985. They have been married for more than 30 years and have four children and nine grandchildren and are happy to see the living out of faith in the next generation.  

“That’s the way it’s supposed to be,” said Lucie. “It’s so hard today to stay true to the faith. It was hard for our generation.”  

Lucie takes care of the clinic’s business while Brett cares for the animals and interacts with people, his favorite part.  

“I enjoy chatting with people, I like to talk a lot,” mused Brett, who enjoys making them laugh. 

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Lucie said Brett’s people skills allow him to comfort owners when their pets are ill.  

“We have some people who are really hurting (because of their ill pets). He is very compassionate when he has to tell them bad news.”  

“Sometimes I have to be serious,” said Brett.  

Even though people’s pets may come and go through the years they continue to come to the clinic when they adopt new pets. One owner continued to bring her dog even though it did not have medical problems, quipping that seeing the Berryhills was “so much cheaper than a therapist.” 

“My theory is God must have a sense of humor. Just talk to my choir buddies,” smiled Brett, who likes to tell his clients “give me some knuckle (high-five)” when they follow his directions in caring for their pets. He said the best way to keep a balanced perspective about one’s work is not to let it define who you are.  

“Who you are is not what you do. Who you are is what you bring to your job,” said Brett.  

The Berryhills enjoy the fact that every day is different at the clinic. Lucie pointed out that Brett’s duties may range from trimming pet’s nails to orthopedic surgery to maintenance work around the facility.  

The Berryhills know God’s grace is sufficient to handle the “good” and the “bad” of the day and hope they have passed on that gift of grace to owners.  

“That’s what it’s all about, touching the lives of other people. That’s what the kingdom of God is like,” said Lucie.