Vet Angela Schlenker with Mesa the cat.After nine years of university training, Madras native Angela Schlenker has returned to join the practice at Cascade East Veterinary Clinic.

“I’ve known since the age of 4 that I wanted to be a vet,” she said, noting that her parents Royce and Connie Schlenker were friends with Cascade East owners Steve and Betty Nitschelm.

“They used to babysit me some, and would bring me here and let me hang out and observe,” she said of her early exposure to veterinary medicine.

Schlenker attended all 12 years of school in Madras, graduating from Madras High School in 2004. “I started working here when I was 16 as a veterinary assistant, and worked here through high school and while on vacations from college,” she said.

She attended the University of Montana Western in Dillon, Mont., where she did research on the “candida albicans” yeast which causes fungal infections in humans and animals, and also wrote her undergraduate senior thesis on that topic. In 2008, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science and Veterinary Science.

Applying to the Oregon State University Veterinary School, Schlenker was among 600 applicants vying for 56 spots. “It was good that I had worked here and had Steve and Betty as references,” she said of her successful selection.

In vet school, her senior project was on the most common diseases in golden retrievers. When she graduated this June, she was licensed as a veterinarian for both large and small animals, although Cascade East handles only small animals.

Schlenker had worked at different vet clinics for a couple of summers, but said, “I had my heart set on coming back here, and Steve and Betty offered me the position.”

“I’m very passionate about this community and the support that it’s given me. It makes me feel good to come back and help people,” she said, noting now with a second vet, “Steve is finally able to take a few days off occasionally.”

The Cascade East clinic is open 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday, Tuesday and Thursday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday and Friday; and she and Nitschelm alternate working Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

In her first four months, Schlenker said the job has been really fun. “Learning under Steve has been great. The fact that he’s been in practice for 25 years has been beneficial to me,” she said.

“There are cases that I take home at night, when I want to make sure I’m doing the right thing and doing the best for the pet,” she added.

One of the fun parts of returning to the place where she grew up is that many of the clients remember her and she’s familiar with their pets. “A lot of the patients I remember from when they were puppies or kittens,” she noted.

Schlenker herself has two golden retrievers and one cat. Her boyfriend, Ryan, is a commercial pilot from New Jersey, so both have busy lives.

When not at the vet clinic, she enjoys running and doing half-marathons, is an avid skier, and is a guest blogger for “Love and Paws,” a pet health and behavior blog site, where she contributes pet health information.

“My biggest passion in vet medicine is pet-owner education about preventive health and things to watch for. At the clinic, I like to talk to pet owners about what we’re doing and why,” Schlenker said.

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