By Kayleigh Rahn
Though the face of Okaw Veterinary Clinic has changed over the decades, local quality animal care has remained a constant.
And, after 30 years under the care of Dr. Sally Foote, the clinic will undergo a new phase as Dr. Kyla Kuhns takes over this week.
Dr. Foote came to Tuscola in May of 1988 when her husband Tom Wold was heading back to grad school at the University of Illinois. It was through the Extension office that Dr. Foote made contact with Dr. Robert Smith, who said he would be interested in someone purchasing the practice, or at least managing it.
“I remember going down to see it, and Dr. Smith said he had just had his 65th birthday,” Dr. Foote said. “He and his wife are still down the road from us on Scott Street.”
In school, like today, veterinarian students were taught both small and large animals. When Dr. Smith arrived to Tuscola in 1949 he was aware that his work would mostly revolve around farming families and large animals.
However, by the time the mid-century came around, the make up of small town America began to shift from mostly farming communities to industrial sites. With that, the make up of the average family began to include companion animals rather than strictly farm animals.
Tuscola had a front row seat to this transition as the industrial park on the west side of town opened and brought families to town for shift work and town living.
“You see when I came here in 1949, I came in general practice which I practiced until 1969,” he said. “I did small animals from there on. Part of the reason for that is when I came here it was strictly a farming community, and I knew the size of the community and I knew that it was important to be in large animal. By the time that came to pass in about ‘69, it got to a place where you had to decide, because the inventory of drugs was unbelievable. It was a big change.”
And since Dr. Smith took on that transition, the clinic has remained focused on caring for small animals. Smith’s practice, at the time, was located in the 600 block of South Washington.
The full story can be found in the Wednesday, Sept. 19 edition of The Tuscola Journal.