Crook County veterinary service: father and son team run only vet practice in Crook County
Sundance – Warren Crawford has been in Sundance for 40 years. After he graduated from Kansas State University, he moved to Crook County in 1977 and started his own vet practice.
“I grew up in southern Kansas,” Warren says. “I worked in Wyoming when I was in college, and I had a desire to come back here. There wasn’t a veterinarian in this extreme corner of the state, and I was looking for a place to go in a rural community.”
Operating in a small community provides both opportunities and challenges, but Warren says it’s enjoyable.
“We do both small animal and large animal work,” he explains. “Our original intent was to primarily work with large animals, but small animals help keep us busy when there’s not as much going on. They’re an important part of the practice.”
In rural communities particularly, Warren sees the benefits of having a veterinary clinic.
“A vet clinic in a rural community provides a good service. We could get along without one in Sundance, but it’s nice to have,” he says. “There are a lot of vets who travel a long way to do specialized work, but I’d rather stay local and work for our community.”
Holding on to agriculture businesses is important for rural communities, he adds, noting, “Anything rural communities can hold on to as far as business is important.”
Changes over time
As veterinary medicine has progressed, technology has changed dramatically.
“We have to utilize the technology available,” Warren says, noting that they utilize ultrasounds, x-rays, serum chemistry and more to provide services for their clients.
“The basic services we provide haven’t changed, though,” emphasizes Warren. “We certainly do more technical work with each patient.”
Despite changing times, Warren says that their customer base is consistent and steady, and he enjoys working with the people of northeast Wyoming.
“The future looks good for us,” Warren comments. “I don’t know that we’ll continue to expand much, but that depends on how much development we have in the community.”
As more people move into the small towns in the county and more ranches are subdivided into ranchettes, Warren says their business changes slightly.
“Production agriculture isn’t increasing, but the number of people with animals is going up,” he explains. “When people move onto a few acres out of town, it’s not uncommon for them to want some cattle, sheep or a few horses.”
Warren adds, “An awful lot of rural veterinary practices are pretty dependent on small-scale agriculture.”
If the cattle business is successful, he also sees increases in the number of livestock around the region.
“Some of what the future holds depends on the cattle business as a whole,” he says.
In 2013, Warren’s son Wade graduated from veterinary school and returned home to assist in the practice.
“The year before he came, I had about as many clients as I could take,” Warren says. “When Wade came back, it really helped.”
They keep a steady pace throughout the year.
“I’ve been in practice for four years, and it’s exciting,” Wade says. “I always knew that this was what I wanted to do.”
Wade’s love of the ag industry and the people involved led him back to Sundance to practice with his father.
“Our clients we work with are really, really good to deal with and they’re fun to be around,” Wade adds. “I enjoy working with them.”
Eventually, Wade will take over the operation.
“I don’t know when that will be,” Warren says. “At the moment, I’m still here and working steadily.”
While he has considered retirement in his future, Warren adds, “I don’t think it’s a good idea to retire yet. I like this work, and I’m interested in the vet business and the cattle business. I still like the work, and I’ll be around for a little while yet.”
Warren continues that being a vet provides continual education and a new challenge every day.
“The vet business is fun. I don’t like to do everything all the time, but for the most part, it’s a lot of fun,” he says. “It’s always enjoyable.”
The other aspect of the practice that both Crawfords appreciate are the people of northeast Wyoming.
“Northeast Wyoming has been really good to us, and everyone in the ag community recognizes that we have to work together to be successful,” Warren explains. “I feel a sense of responsibility to my clients, and we’ll stick around to serve their needs.”
Wade says, “We’re just here to provide a good, affordable service for whoever wants us to do their veterinary work.”
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.