Caring for livestock: Tri-State Veterinary Clinic prioritizes education, practicality in business
Cheyenne – Growing up as the first of seven children on his family’s ranch in northwestern Nebraska, Tri-State Veterinary Clinic Owner and Operator Jay Dee Fox decided it would be wise to pursue a career off of the ranch.
“It was obvious there wasn’t going to be any room on the ranch for me to continue ranching,” he says.
Fox’s interest in veterinary medicine was sparked from the veterinary work that his father did on the ranch.
“I just felt that would be a good profession to go into,” continues Fox. “I actually didn’t consider much of anything else.”
Fox explains that many factors influenced his decision to pursue a career in veterinary medicine.
“What appealed to me most was being able to help animals,” he notes.
In his practice, Fox primarily treats cattle and horses, but he also treats other livestock.
“We get an occasional sheep or pig into our office, and most of those are 4-H and FFA projects,” he says.
The typical day in his practice varies greatly depending on the time of year, says Fox.
In the fall from September to November, Fox stays busy pregnancy checking, bangs vaccinating and conducting other cattle herd work.
Some routine horse work, such as vaccinating and dentistry, is done from December to March.
“We do quite a bit of equine dentistry in my clinic. I have a power float we use on horses to adjust their teeth appropriately,” comments Fox.
The spring, from March to May, is dominated by calving season for Fox.
“Calving season is hot and cold. I’m either running for an emergency or sitting around getting paperwork done and watching the phone during the calving season,” he explains.
Fox continues that the summer months are predominately filled with equine work, such as emergency care for lacerations and colic, as well as common summertime illnesses like respiratory disease.
With the many rewards of practicing veterinary medicine, Fox admits the changing views of livestock over his long career pose challenges.
“The most challenging part of practicing veterinary medicine would be working with people who don’t have a realistic view of animals,” he says. “We’re three generations into the ‘Bambi’ mindset where people see animals that talk and have human emotions.”
He quickly asserts that animals have emotions and instincts given to them by nature.
“For example, Mother Nature has instilled instincts, like the animals’ knowledge of how to take their of their babies,” Fox comments.
“Love as we know it probably doesn’t exist for animals, but it would be replaced with another definition of love for the baby,” he continues. “Instinctive care is so much more present with animals than with people.”
The humanization of animals’ needs makes it a challenge to balance both what his clients want with what best suits their animals, says Fox.
He notes that many who manage livestock hold a more realistic, as well as economical, view of caring for animals.
“Humans who manage livestock understand that, while the people who humanize those animals doesn’t have an appreciation for ranch life and Mother Nature,” Fox comments.
According to Fox, his primary business philosophy is “lean and mean.”
Fox explains, “Basically, I don’t have a lot of employees. I do a lot of the remedial work myself and am the responsible party,” noting that everything from scheduling appointments and cleaning to ensuring his truck is stocked is his responsibility.
He continues to elaborate on the mean aspect of his philosophy as having the mindset that he is not above any job that needs to be done in the practice.
Meeting his customers’ needs is another driving philosophy for Fox.
“I try to be there for my customers. I try to educate them and give them reasons why I do what I do so they can understand better,” concludes Fox. “There are three generations I’ve served in some families as far as taking care of some of their animals.”
Emilee Gibb is editor of Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.