Veterinarian Derek Nichols is fulfilling a longtime dream of owning his own clinic and says he feels incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to do so in his Virgil community.
As of Jan. 1, Nichols officially took ownership of the Virgil Animal Hospital at 1630 Niagara Stone Rd.
“Being the owner and the primary vet, I’m going to be here all the time,” he says, noting his full-time presence at the clinic is important to his clients.
“I think that’s going to be a huge factor for people, knowing that the owner and the primary vet is going to be the one they're conversing with and talking to all the time.”
Nichols says one of the most important things people want in a veterinarian is to be able to have that feeling of safety and trust.
“I aim to take a team-based approach with my clients, creating open lines of communication, offering options and working with them to develop successful prevention and treatment plans,” he says.
“I enjoy meeting new people, hearing their stories and contributing my part to the health and happiness of their pets, no matter how big or small.”
The friendly and supportive staff at the clinic have helped make the transition smooth for Nichols, he says.
“It's very important to me to have a cohesive unit that are working towards the same goal of providing exceptional pet care.”
Nichols recognizes the work previous owners Ron and June Mergl did to build the foundation for the clinic, which originally opened in November 2019, and says he is excited to be able to take over such a new space for his own practice.
Nichols, 38, is qualified and ready for this new chapter in his career. He has a four-year undergrad degree from the University of Guelph, graduating with a bachelor of sciences in zoology in 2006.
He followed that with four years at the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph, where he graduated as a doctor of veterinary medicine in 2011. He has practised at Wilson’s Animal Hospital in St. Catharines for the last 10 years.
“I enjoyed making connections with people and their pets and nurturing long-term relationships. I came to develop many close client/patient relationships throughout my years at Wilson's and hope to continue growing these here at Virgil,” he says.
He moved to Virgil in August 2020 with his wife Stephanie and their three boys, Mason, Logan and Reece. Since their move, he says they already have immersed themselves in the community, especially through sports, and are eager to become a staple in the neighbourhood.
Nichols’ boys are involved with soccer, baseball and hockey, and he is helping to coach all three of them in hockey this year.
“Virgil is an up-and-coming, tight-knit community. It has a small-town country feel with family-friendly neighbourhoods and family-owned small businesses. This is what drew us to this town,” he says.
He plans to provide the community with genuine, knowledgeable and personalized service.
“We've been welcomed into this town by so many people already and this is my chance to give back and do my part for this great community … I'd like people to know that I'm very upfront, honest and genuine. The old adage is to treat people as you would want to be treated. I tell them straight up, 'If it were my dog or cat, this is what I would do.' And I think they appreciate that.”
“This community is really growing and my hope is to be the main vet in Virgil that everybody's going to want to come to,” he says.
The Virgil Animal Hospital will retain its name under Nichols’ ownership and will be open from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday to Friday. Visit virgilanimalhospital.com or call 905-468-8585 for an appointment.