Local veterinarian passing on the reins

Jodi
Jodi Schellenberg
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He has been in the saddle for almost 40 years and has decided to retire.

Douglas Allen, a local veterinarian, has retired due to health reasons and hopes to spend his retirement spending more time with his family.

Douglas Allen started up the Park Range Veterinary Services 38 years ago when he graduated from college.

“Going out to practice when you are just out of college is demanding,” he said. “You have a lot to (learn). You haven’t seen everything so you’ve got to work at it. It is challenging.”

Since there wasn’t a large demand for veterinarians in clinics, Allen said at least half his class started their own practice.

A lot of the lack of demand had to do with the settling down of combining the British cowherd and the continental breeds, he said.

“There was a real discrepancy between the two herds and there was a terrible lot of veterinarian work in just getting them to calf,” Allen explained. “Our class entered that market on the down swipe of that. It was still busy but the push for that change in our cow business was diminishing and markets were down.”

Unlike many veterinarians now, Allen opted to open a large animal practice, working with a lot of cattle and horses.

“It is totally different now. When I started, there was some companion animal, but my interest was much more into the domestic animal,” he said. “I was interested in the production of domestic animals … It was much more production oriented. Now it is much more emotion.”

He worked with many farmers throughout the years, going without sleep to instead help the animals.

“Farmers are good to deal with -- the largest population of farmers are pretty good to be with,” Allen said. “We were busy and didn’t have time to visit too much. We were running trying to make a living like the farmers were. They weren’t making anything extra.”

The farming families were all good to him, trying to be helpful while he was on their farms and inviting him to the house after the job was done, which Allen often had to refuse due to exhaustion.

“They were just trying to be good and there were lots of good people.”

The majority of his work was with the large herd animals instead of small animals and pets, although he wouldn’t refuse a farmer who asked him to look at a dog.

“We always did a few because your customers wanted you to,” he said.

He would help with spaying and neutering dogs, pulling out porcupine quills and broken legs.

Unfortunately, when the BSE scare happened the cattle business started to trickle off.

“This BSE really hurt them -- that really beat up the beef here,” Allen said. “It took the confidence of the industry away.”

In the last 15 years, Allen had to start looking at other animals, not just production animals.

“Because of marketing and everything, we had to get into some small animal,” he added. “The small animal grew and the large animal is only about 10 to 15 per cent of the business.”

Throughout the years, Allen said he had a lot of help running the clinic.

“I had some excellent people helping and that’s what makes a hell of a difference. I didn’t do it by myself.”

Now Allen is retiring, due partially to health concerns.

“Health entered into this. I had to quit and have surgery so I hope I’m on the upswing again,” he said.

Although he is retiring, Allen said he will still help out some of his friends he has made during his career.

“There are lots of fellows who are good friends and I wouldn’t mind helping, especially if they have a real issue,” Allen said.

He will not be reopening his clinic in the future, he said.

“You get old enough and you have physical issues. I’m going to be doing some things but I’m not going to be in business,” Allen said. “You do your lifetime work and sometimes you have to quit that and go on to something else.”

One of the things he would like to do now that he has more time on his hands is spend it with his family and hopes to stay busy.

“You have got to have something to do otherwise you just don’t do well, especially if you worked hard.”

Organizations: Park Range Veterinary Services

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  • "Redneck" Bill
    August 18, 2014 - 15:01

    Doug was a fantastic mentor with my pre-DVM aspirations and taught me aspects to veterinary medicine that were not in the curriculum (it is not always about being a "Doctor" with your clients). If I find myself in a pickle I often reflect on "What would Doug do?" All the best on the next chapter in life Doug!

  • "Redneck" Bill
    August 18, 2014 - 14:57

    Doug was a fantastic mentor with my pre-DVM aspirations and taught me aspects to veterinary medicine that were not in the curriculum (it is not always about being a "Doctor" with your clients). If I find myself in a pickle I often reflect on "What would Doug do?" All the best on the next chapter in life Doug!