Did you include your pet in your fam Christmas photo? Show us your best photos and we shall declare a winner! :)
Hi, I'm Matthew Wheaton. I was born at Hoag Hospital and grew up in Laguna Beach with 7 brothers and sisters and a constant crew of pets. As I remember, we always had at least 3 cats and 2 dogs growing up, but there were also lots of orphan kittens and puppies, because my father was also a veterinarian. He owned Corona Del Mar Animal Hospital for about 25 years, took a break of about 5 years and built a family pest control business. He then opened Aliso Beach Animal Clinic in South Laguna, but passed away from brain cancer 3 years later.
I started working during the summer of 6th grade and haven't stopped since. My first job was definitely the most challenging job of my entire life. My father's pest control company also would flea dip the customer's dogs and cats which was my job. So, take yourself back to the 80s and remember how ridiculously bad the flea situation was in Orange County. Then put a 12 year old with a scared cat in the bath tub inside a sweltering pop-top van. Add some potent, flea-killing poison dip and you get the worst job on Earth. Oddly enough, that experience for three years did not dissuade me from working with animals for the rest of my life. Growing up in this kind of environment (lots of brothers and sisters and tons of pets) has given me a profound sense of patience and understanding. Putting these traits together with my love for animals, I figured that becoming a veterinarian would allow me to work in a career where I could help both people and animals. I made this decision in high school, so I started working with my dad in an official position as a veterinary assistant at that time.
Luckily, I was accepted at UC Davis for my undergraduate studies. I applied to veterinary school after 3 years of undergraduate work and was accepted, making me one of the 5 youngest members of my class. During my time in Davis, I transitioned from skateboarding and skimboarding to snowboarding. Lake Tahoe was only a short drive away, so my love for the outdoors grew. Much of my free time was spent snowboarding, mountain biking, back packing and fishing in the plentiful wilderness areas. I still enjoy these things very much, but don't get to spend as much time playing like I used to.
After graduating from veterinary school, I moved to West Los Angeles to a one year internship program at California Animal Hospital (now ASEC). The internship was half emergency medicine and half surgery, so I had the opportunity to learn a variety of different procedures and concepts. My mentors at my internship and the very challenging experiences there had a huge impact on my life and are responsible for who I am as a veterinarian today. I enjoyed the emergency aspect of the internship so much that I took a full time position at our local emergency hospital in Mission Viejo, Animal Urgent Care. Taking the job there also allowed me to move back to my home town, where I ended up meeting my wife, Blythe.
When Blythe and I decided to get married, I started looking for a veterinary hospital to purchase so that I could have more normal hours for a family. I approached Dr. Dykstra, who I knew from managing his cases at the emergency clinic. He had been thinking of retiring before I spoke with him and decided that the timing was right for him to spend more time with his family. I purchased Alicia Pet Clinic in the summer of 2000. Since that time, I have worked to turn Alicia Pet Clinic into the state-of-the-art veterinary facility that it is today. We have upgraded every aspect of the facility here and have added countless tools to help us provide the best quality medical and surgical care for all of our patients.
The Wheaton babies started arriving in October 2003 with my son, Flynn Milton. Scarlett Elizabeth came in May of 2005. Our son Callan Becker arrived in December 2009. They are very sweet, intelligent and happy kids that also have their periods of being horribly challenging. We also have 2 dog "babies", Sally Sparkle and Fezzik Hodor. We recently dealt with the passing of Starsky, Blythe's labrador who was the reason she was at the dog park in Laguna Beach the day we met. After the passing of my two Australian Shepherds within the past couple years we rescued "Sally Sparkle" an Aussie of course and a rescued Orange Tabby Cat named "Grover."
Having a herd of dogs at home gives me a great deal of empathy for my clients when they are dealing with their own pet problems. My compassion is born of my own experiences with illness and loss in my own life and with the many pets we have had over the years. Combining that compassion with ultra-high quality medical and surgical care is what makes Alicia Pet Care Center the outstanding veterinary facility that it is today. It is my hope that Alicia Pet Care will feel like another family for all of my clients. All of our team here truly strive to help and stand by our motto, "We're taking care of your babies!"