Shelburne veterinarian Liam Bisson works with the traditional to the exotic

Veterinarian Liam Bisson and a feathered friend hang out at the Shelburne Veterinary Hospital.
Veterinarian Liam Bisson and a feathered friend hang out at the Shelburne Veterinary Hospital.

Liam Bisson can easily make the transition from dog to parrot—one minute he is giving a friendly canine pal a checkup, and the next he is casually chatting with an office visitor while the colorful bird perches on his shoulder. The bird has one eye, which Bisson calmly explains away with, “He got into a bird fight.”

Bisson recently purchased Shelburne Veterinary Hospital from popular Shelburne vet Dr. Steven Metz. The hospital, which is on Shelburne Road near the Shelburne Bay Plaza, treats the usual dog-and-cat variety of pets as well as exotic animals and birds like bunnies, snakes, rodents, chickens, ducks, and amphibians.

Originally from Burlington, Bisson left the area for adventures including college, a stint teaching English in southern China, and eventually veterinarian school. His intention, however, was always to come back to Vermont, and the Shelburne Veterinary Hospital was a perfect opportunity to make that happen.

“Working with animals has been interesting and rewarding,” he said. In addition to his usual vet skills, Bisson said, “I am trained in acupuncture, as well, which is a cool extra tool to use.”

In addition to his practice, Bisson volunteers regularly with local rescue organizations after they contacted him to treat mostly dogs, and some cats, that come through their facilities. “I was happy to do it, simply because it was a way to try and help out [and] give back,” he said.

“Heartworn Dz is the most common and serious issue that I see with these rescue animals,” Bisson said. The southern climate is more conducive to this condition, and many rescue animals make their way to Vermont from the south. More frequent cases of heartworm are appearing in the state mostly because of the influx of rescue animals from other areas.

“Treating those patients has been a new challenge with respect to my practice,” Bisson said. “Most dogs (and cats) in Vermont are going to be a low risk for heartworms because of our colder climate and shorter mosquito season (heartworms are transmitted by mosquitos).”

At home, Bisson and his wife lives with four dogs and a cat who thinks she is a dog. “It is tough to not take every animal home that is in need,” he said. “The upside is that it is rare for an animal to be unadoptable. I also keep my eyes open for good family/pet matches for people that I know, like clients and friends who are looking for a dog to add to their families.”
Though animals take up most of his time, Bisson also enjoys being back in the Vermont outdoors, hiking and walking with his dogs and wife, and fly fishing. He said, “It’s lots of fun and relaxing, even if you don’t catch a lot.”