By Greta Sowles
When Dr. Anna Michael assumed ownership of Norwood Young America’s Countryside Veterinarian and Feed in 2011, she had some big shoes to fill. Not only did former owner Ralph Molnau leave behind the Countryside legacy, but he also left behind a distinguished career in veterinarian medicine and a special focus in large animal care.
For the past few years, Dr. Michael and Dr. Ng have focused on small-animal care, which includes dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, etc., leaving parts of the facility and its focused practice vacant. Fortunately, with the June addition of Dr. Amber Olson, a May 2013 University of Minnesota Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine graduate, Countryside can reopen the large-animal facility and focused practice that Molnau loved.
“We are so excited that we can put all of Dr. Molnau’s legacy to good use and keep it alive in that way,” Michael said. “It felt weird having it vacant.”
Olson grew up in Jordan, Minn., a town just over 20 miles southeast of Norwood Young America. After attending the University of Minnesota for her undergraduate education, Olson attended the University’s School of Veterinary Medicine, and focused her study on small animal, equine and small ruminant classes, or what they call “mixed animal tracking.”
“When I was looking for a job fresh out of school, Anna had exactly what I liked: mixed animal – the combination of small animal and large animal,” Olson said.
The addition of Olson to the staff at Countryside also meets the community demand for more individualized attention to the animals of local hobby farms, including sheep, goats, llamas and alpacas. According the Michael, many of the large farmers have been farming for lengthy periods of time and know the ins and outs of their species and when it is necessary to seek veterinary care.
Recently, the trend has been to have smaller numbers of goats or sheep on hobby farms as more of a “companion” pet. Many of these owners do not know of the nutritional requirements or preventative health measures, leaving these animals underserved.
Countryside can now provide nutritional information, intestinal and external parasite control measures, vaccines, deworming, dentistry care, Coggins testing for equine infectious anemia in horses, and other common husbandry practices for ruminants and large animals. Additionally, Olson emphasized that she is trained in hay sampling, which is important with the high demand for hay.
In 2012, it was difficult for farmers to get the hay that they needed, and as a result, hay was collected from all areas of the country and distributed to the areas of highest need, which included Minnesota. The quality of the hay and forage in the hay was unpredictable, causing problems for many large animals. Hay sampling is a way that veterinarian clinics, including Countryside, can test the quality of the hay and determine which feed best complements the hay.
The feed can be ordered and purchased at Countryside. “I think that it is great because we can work with people to figure out what is best for them, give them ideas, and provide the food ourselves,” Olson said.
Michael added that new veterinarians are better educated in small and large animal nutrition because veterinary school classes on nutrition are rather new. There is more focus on preventative care.
Preventative care for large animals includes floating teeth, or filing down sharp teeth, on horses. Michael said that many veterinarians avoid this process because it is difficult, and they do not like it.
“Dental floating was something that I did a lot in school and felt like it was something that was a great thing that I can bring to this practice,” Olson said.
In addition to preventative care, Michael and Olson hope to emphasize education and communication. Olson was a member of 4-H for 13 years and enjoys helping clients understand the process of caring for their animals.
“I love being able to do community service and helping people see the importance of medicine and proper care,” Olson said, adding that it is not necessary to have a medical concern to seek advice from a veterinarian. “Education is key.”
“That’s because it’s going to be a healthier animal and happier owners to not have problems with their animal. Then we can continue to provide really good care and guidance,” added Michael.
There is a lot of excitement around Countryside, amongst veterinarians, technicians and clients about Olson and the practice that she brings. Michael wants to “build that part of Countryside back as it comes.”
There is also relief for Michael as she is able to fill the void that the community had and continue Molnau’s legacy in a new way – focusing on preventative medicine, communication and education with a younger, practical female staff.
For more information about Countryside, visit www.countrysidevetandfeed.com.