Veterinarian makes house calls

KAPAHI — Dolly the hyacinth macaw got microchipped and she didn’t even have to leave her home to do it. The vet came to her.

“We were at a loss when Scott Simms died,” said Dolly’s owner, Dia Battilla. “I prayed for someone like Caroline; she’s been amazing.”

Simms, also known as the Aloha Vet or the barefoot doctor, was Kauai’s mobile veterinarian for many years. He died from cancer in July 2015.

Dr. Caroline Olausen has been operating her mobile vet clinic, Garden Island Veterinarian, since December through the nonprofit company Vorg, Inc.

The goal is to use one-third of net revenue to focus on community outreach and education, once the practice becomes established.

One of her focuses will be the island’s agriculture animal population, and finding ways to help people care for their food-producing animals.

To that end, Olausen has applied for several grants through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, hoping to get some money that will bring education and assistance to Kauai.

“We have very good brick-and-mortar clinics around the island, but sometimes you need the veterinarian to come to you. I want to fill in the gaps where needed,” Olausen said.

Olausen moved to Kauai from Ohio with her husband, John Buisson, just before starting her practice.

The couple bought a house in Kapahi where they live with their daughter, four cats, two tortoises, Quake the 9-month-old Australian shepherd, and a chicken.

“Someone gave me some wild chicks that were orphaned and one of them survived,” Olausen said. “It turns out it’s a he, so he crows every morning, but at least he does it at the right time when the sun is coming up.”

Olausen has an area in the garage set up for patient procedures, and her SUV is stacked with the tools of her trade.

“It’s taken me months to organize the truck,” she said. “There are so many things I need to fit in there, it’s a project.”

Once the practice becomes more stable, Olausen would like to add an office and have a surgical center for all species as well.

Even when that’s established, though, she plans to continue traveling to patients around Kauai.

“Going around and seeing people with their pets in their homes, you find all kinds of places you never knew existed,” she said.

Olausen was aiming to be a social worker when she finished high school. But while taking a year off and working in an animal shelter, she found she had more patience with animals than with people.

“The shelter was poorly run, sometimes we’d barely get paid, but I caught the bug,” she said.

And while paperwork is a drag, being able to help sick and hurting animals is what keeps Olausen going.

“It’s instant gratification,” she said. “They’re not feeling well and I come in and make them feel better.”

Olausen works with animals of all kinds. As well as cats and dogs, Olausen has treated bald eagles and owls, 20-foot pythons, foxes and skunks.

Battilla, who has more than a dozen different kinds of birds at Rainbow Wings bird sanctuary in Kapahi, said having someone come in and take care of all of their needs at once is a lifesaver.

“Sometimes you need the doc, and it’s been amazing working with Caroline,” she said.

Info: 638-3087 or gardenislandvet@gmail.com

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