Over a year ago, Salisbury City Council formed the Nuisance Animal Study Committee to address animal-related issues. One of the major problems the committee found when it comes to animal issues is a lack of education, so it offered the Salisbury Post a regular column to help answer questions about the health, behavior and general welfare of the community’s pets.
Two members of the committee, veterinarian Dr. Rebekah Julian and certified trainer/behaviorist Nina Dix, agreed to do the column.
As they start what the Post hopes will be a regular column, we asked them to tell readers a little about themselves and their interest in animals.
Rebekah grew up in Rockwell, graduated from East Rowan High School in 1994 and attended UNC-Wilmington. In 2001 she graduated with a doctorate from N.C. State College of Veterinary Medicine.
She worked in a mixed animal practice in Tennessee for a little over a year, then moved back home to Salisbury joining Dr. Ted James at James Animal Hospital practicing small animal medicine and surgery and Dr. Corrie Connolly with Lazy 5 Veterinary Mobile Veterinary Service practicing large animal medicine and surgery.
In 2005, Rebekah and Corrie bought James Animal Hospital and now have a six-doctor, mixed-animal practice, Lazy 5 Veterinary Hospital, on South Main Street. Rebekah’s passion in private practice is in physical therapy and geriatric patients.
In 2007, they opened a new 9,000-square-foot hospital just across the street from the original hospital. This made the surgery room in the original building available for non-profit work. In 2009, “No Pet Left Behind,” a non-profit low-cost spay/neuter program, was started by a generous private donation. No Pet Left Behind has spayed and neutered more than 2,000 dogs and cats since 2009 to help families unable to afford the standard surgery prices.
While on the Nuisance Animal Committee, Rebekah became more aware of the city’s feral cat population and how it creates risk for human health and the cleanliness of the city. In 2014, she started the Trap, Neuter/Spay and Release program through No Pets Left Behind. The goal is to provide community service opportunities for veterinary students while giving them vital surgery experience and, in return, helping control feral cat colonies.
In 2006, Rebekah helped start D.I.G.S. — Dogs In God’s Service — an outreach ministry through the Cove Church in Mooresville. Through this program, owners and their dogs go through an introduction program and testing to visit with two nursing homes in Mooresville. She also visits the VA State Nursing Home in Salisbury, and many times brings her children to pet therapy visits.
Rebekah’s passion has always been to share her knowledge with others and teach students, staff, clients or the general public about pet health. One of her philosophies is you can learn something new every day that will help you care for your pet and in turn hopefully have the best quality time with them.
Nina Dix, a professional dog trainer/behaviorist, owns and operates a social dog boarding-daycare-training facility in Salisbury called Doggie Holiday. Nina also does extensive private-lesson training and problem-solving work for clients/dogs in their home.
Nina works with several local veterinarians on the dog behavior issues they encounter and also instructs classes for Rowan Animal Clinic. Nina personally rescues, and also works with others to solve behavior issues in rescued dogs so the dogs can find homes or stay in their existing home.
Nina is a certified obedience trainer with honors from Animal Behavior College. Nina holds a certificate in dog behavior and training from Cesar Millan that she earned training with Cesar at his Dog Physiology Center in California. Nina is an AKC Canine Good Citizen & STAR Puppy Evaluator and is also the administrator, evaluator and certified trainer for Canine Caregivers, a local AKC-recognized therapy dog organization. The certified and insured dog/handler therapy teams of Canine Caregivers serve the community through nursing homes, schools, Catawba College, W.G. Bill Hefner VA Medical Center and Hospice, and even in-home visits upon request. Nina is also the founder, certified trainer, and foster for One Dog At a Time Rescue NC in Salisbury.
Nina has trained therapy dogs and their handlers for many years, and also serves as a volunteer in the field of pet therapy with her two certified therapy dogs. Nina holds a certificate from Wake Forest School of Medicine Northeast AHEC in animal assisted therapy.
Nina has always had a strong commitment to serve our veterans by bringing them the unconditional love of therapy dogs. In 2011, Nina was honored to be asked to select and train the first “resident” therapy dog for the Hefner VA Medical Center Hospice. After the project was completed, Nina still provides ongoing support and training for this rescue dog, Semper Fi, and the staff at the VA who care for her.
Nina’s passion has always been finding ways to prove to all people the wonderful contributions that dogs freely give to humans. It is Nina’s hope that someday all dogs will be treated with the respect, love, and compassion that every animal deserves.
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