When people think about veterinarians they typically think of cats, dogs and cute little gerbils. But what about for those critters that won’t fit through the door? Or the ones they don’t really think about like swans and antelope? Yes antelope.
For Elsberry the answer is pretty simple, they call Dr. Bruce Rhodes, DVM.
“We work on just about every kind of critter that will come in; not so much on primates but I’ve worked on petting zoo critters, horses, cows, dogs and just about anything else a person could think of,” said Dr. Rhodes.
Dr. Rhodes said he didn’t really know what he wanted to do until his third year in college. Prior to that he had a feeling it would be something to do with animals as he grew up with dogs, cats and showing horses.
“Really it just came down to having a love for animals, wasn’t a sudden jolt or anything, just kind of always knew this is what I wanted to do,” said Dr. Rhodes. “By my second or third year in college I became a pre-vet major.”
From there he spent a year in his hometown of Lee Summit, then he headed to Ohio where for one year he worked for a relief vet service half the time and a dairy practitioner the other half.
“Then I got engaged to my now wife and spent a few more years traveling and working, but as we began to build our family it just got to be too much,” said Dr. Rhodes. “That’s when this practice became available and was for sale. It really was just a handshake kind of deal, where they said, ‘Hey you get the financing and we’ll sell it to you.’ That was 15 years ago.”
Throughout the years Dr. Rhodes said he has had the opportunity to work on a wide array of animals including an antelope. However, one story that stands out for him is that about a swan that had a dislocated knee.
“I literally called all around the country trying to figure out how you can fix a dislocated knee on a swan,” said Dr. Rhodes. “After talking to a bird specialist, who had done similar work on some smaller birds, we were able to put two pins in and from the last I heard he is still walking around to this day.”
He went on to explain that the procedure was quite remarkable as he had to pretty much take a ratchet ball, attach two pins and use quick cement for it to hold long enough for the injury to heal.
“I haven’t heard about another procedure being done like that, at least not on such a large scale,” said Dr. Rhodes. “But with all varieties of animals is part of the reason I wanted to come to a small rural area.”
In fact one of his best clients is Boedeker Dairies, who have utilized Dr. Rhodes service since he arrived in 1991.
“Like I said I used to show horses and owned dogs and cats, so I knew this was a good area for what I wanted to do,” said Dr. Rhodes. “However, over the years the cattle part has decreased a bit as older farmers retire and no one comes in to take their place. Horses have picked up a little, but that’s how it goes when the smaller animals slow down the larger ones pick up and vice versa.”
When a client walks in the most important thing he says they try to do at Elsberry Animal Hospital is treat everyone like they’re family.
“And really over the years they have become like family,” said Dr. Rhodes. “We will always do the best we can for each animal and we strive to keep them healthy throughout their entire lifetime, as well as keep the owners well educated.”