HANCOCK COUNTY — Caring for animals who cannot care for themselves started early for veterinarian Dr. Bailey Burnell. When she was a small girl growing up on the southeast side of Indianapolis, she saved some turtles from certain death.

Burnell tells the story of when she was 5 years old there was a new home being built beside where she lived and it was being constructed over a turtle’s nest, something she could not let happen.

“So I did all this research and I moved the turtles nest so they wouldn’t be disturbed,” Burnell said. “I was always doing little stuff like that, even helping injured birds.”

Way back then, Burnell said she knew her actions as a small girl had a deeper meaning and something inside told her she should be a veterinarian.

“My parents remember me being as young as age 7 telling everyone I wanted to be a vet,” Burnell said. “I feel like I was one of the lucky ones who knew what my passion was early on in life and I just started working towards that goal.”

Now and for as far as she can see down the road, Burnell, a county resident, wants to care for animals in Hancock County. In addition to working at Noah’s Brandywine Animal Hospital, 1479 N. State Street, Greenfield, she also helps care for large animals in the county and may end up in that kind of vet care service down the road.

Burnell says she’s quite fortunate to work with Dr. Jennifer Crowe, the veterinarian and medical director of the Noah’s Brandywine Animal Hospital and the rest of the staff there after not knowing where she’d go following graduation from college.

Burnell, who is in her mid-20s, went to Purdue University where she studied animal science and earned her earned her undergraduate degree and then went to veterinarian school at Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee.

Her study of animals however started well before then.

During Burnell’s senior year of high school, she volunteered over 40 hours a week the summer before her freshman year in college at the Indianapolis Animal Care and Control facility — one of the busiest shelter’s in the state. While there, she met Dr. Crowe who worked for the Noah’s Veterinarian company.

“Dr. Crowe sort of took me under her wing and mentored me and gave me so much experience on shelter animals as I could handle,” Burnell said. “She also talked me into working for Noah’s.”

After that, Burnell worked every summer, winter and spring break for Noah’s and said she knew she had found an operation she trusted and wanted to support and begin putting in more hard work to climb up the ladder.

“I worked as an assistant, then a tech in the evenings and did a lot of things in an ER setting,” Burnell said.

During her junior year of vet school, Burnell did a summer internship with Noah’s and traveled to different Noah’s facilities throughout the state. One day, she ended up at the Noah’s Brandywine Animal Hospital and found a home.

“I came back during my fourth year of vet school and I had good relationships here and they told me I could come work here, so I did,” Burnell said.

This June will mark her one-year anniversary at the local animal clinic. It’s a place in a community she truly enjoys.

“I love the small-town vibe here,” she said.

Burnell and her husband, Michael, moved to Hancock County and have made this part of Indiana their home for the foreseeable future.

“We really do like Greenfield,” Burnell said. “It’s big enough and has all the in town amenities, but you still get that country lifestyle which we like.”

Burnell noted that having an ambition early in life has allowed her to combine her love for animals into a career — something she wants to do for the rest of her life.

“It always makes work easier when you do something that you really love,” Burnell said. “The more animals I can help the better because it really brings me lots of joy.”

She also likes the people of Hancock County and gets a kick out of going to the grocery store and seeing clients whose animals she cares for. Burnell also noted she and her husband have good friends from college in the area and said the county makes them feel right at home.

Burnell plans to work for Noah’s and gain as much experience as she can for the next few years, but she also loves caring for large farm animals and can one day see herself having that kind of animal care practice.

“I’ve been doing some large animal care for family and friends and I’ve thought maybe some day that might be the thing I need to do, but I want to get a few more years under my belt before I’d ever make that kind of decision,” Burnell said.

That’s good news for local pet owners who are looking for the type of vet who cares for their dogs, cats and other domestic animals as much as they do.

“My husband and I have a pet (a rescue dog named Dallas) and I just care for the animals that come in the way I would want someone to care for my pet,” Burnell said.