Wayne Davis stands in one of two surgery rooms at Craig Veterinary Hospital. Davis started the business eight years ago after going into practice for himself.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Wayne Davis stands in one of two surgery rooms at Craig Veterinary Hospital. Davis started the business eight years ago after going into practice for himself.

'Compassion and responsibility'

Local veterinarian committed to animals, clients


Horses, cows, sheep, goats.

Iguanas, snakes, birds.

Elk, buffalo, llamas, alpacas.

Variety is one element that keeps local veterinarian Wayne Davis in his field, he said.

"The unexpected has become expected," he said. "You just never know what's going to show up."

Davis' voice, issuing from his full-bearded mouth, is soft; so soft it occasionally is drowned out by a pair of dogs barking in the dog run in back of Craig Veterinary Hospital.

Davis, who has worked as a vet for almost 21 years, started the business eight years ago.

For all those years, his calling did not lend itself to a nine-to-five schedule.

His workdays usually last between 10 and 12 hours, he said, adding that lunch is usually taken "on the run."

Life could have been different for Davis.

He initially studied music before veering into life science studies.

Even then, with a biology degree in hand, Davis was set to become a teacher.

Or, so he thought.

After student teaching, however, he decided to change direction a second time and enter the veterinary profession.

Davis sometimes still thinks about the career he once pursued.

"In retrospect, I think I would have enjoyed teaching," he said.

Still, Davis isn't complaining.

"I really enjoy my clients," he said. "I really enjoy the animals and the interaction between the animals and the people."

He estimates he treats between 20 and 30 animals daily and performs about 25 cattle Cesarean sections annually.

Walking through the clinic's empty and darkened rooms, Davis reveals piece by piece the elements that make up his occupation.

Two operating rooms serve as the stage where Davis performs his surgical work.

Surgeries at the clinic range from routine spay and neutering operations to extracting cancerous tissue from an animal's body, he said.

Those examples are only a sampling, he said.

"When it comes to the types of surgery we do, the list would be too long to put in print," Davis said.

Davis relies on a combination of high-tech equipment and time-tested tools to complete his work at the clinic.

In the coming months, he hopes to receive a new digital X-ray, he said.

Other tools, though less sophisticated, still get the job done.

Davis walks to the back of the clinic - a concrete-floored open space that seems more like a shop than a place of medicine.

However, it's here that Davis does some of his larger animal work.

A cattle chute - a green metal medieval-looking device - sits in the corner. Davis demonstrates how, with the pull of a lever, the machine closes around a pregnant cow so he can extract the unborn calf from the womb.

The clatter of metal-on-metal echoes eerily around the open space as the machine does its work.

An adjoining room, however, gives off a more modern feel. Here, animals are bathed and groomed.

The centerpiece of this room for Davis is a miniature cream-colored bathtub.

"I love our tub," he said. "Isn't that a beautiful tub?

"I wanted to be the first one to take a bath in it."

Davis never got the chance, he said. A dog beat him to it.

An all-purpose area serves as a pharmacy, a laboratory and, for Davis, a reminder of animals he's worked on in the past.

A centrifuge sits on the corner of a counter. On cabinet doors above it, Davis hangs pictures of clients and their pets.

Davis looked at the photos for a long moment, his gaze distant, and contemplated why he committed much of his adult life to caring for animals.

"There's a sense of compassion and responsibility," he said. "With my education, there's a responsibility that comes with that."

Bridget Manley can be reached at 875-1795 or bmanley@craigdailypress.com.


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