By SHELLY WILKISON
BERTRAM — For the doctors and staff of Highway 29 Veterinary Hospital, the move from a small cinder block building to a 6,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art animal hospital is about being able to provide better care for more animals — the passion that’s at the heart of the growing practice.
Drs. Trampus and Kelli Isom purchased the 1,300-square-foot building in March 2006 and as more clients from the Liberty Hill and Bertram areas were drawn to the family-owned business, the hospital has been “busting at the seams,” said Dr. Jenna Crouch.
Dr. Crouch joined the practice five years ago fresh from veterinary school at Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Hospital. A South Carolina native with a master’s degree in Animal Physiology and an undergraduate degree in animal and veterinary sciences from Clemson University, Dr. Crouch said she was immediately drawn to the area and is excited to be part of a growing business.
“This place reminded me a lot of my parents’ vet,” she said. “They had one exam room, no xray machine, did home calls in the middle of the night, and he sometimes saw dogs and cats in the parking lot.”
It was the rural, caring atmosphere, the demeanor of Dr. Isom and his compassion for his patients that made the cinder block building a perfect fit for Dr. Crouch five years ago. She took up residence in Liberty Hill where she has four dogs, a pygmy goat, a cockatiel and a horse.
The new building, which opened just before Christmas, is a stone’s throw away from the back door of the old one at 3500 E. State Highway 29 in Bertram. With the addition of 5,000 square feet of space, the hospital added several exam rooms, a large waiting area, and surgery rooms large enough to treat a horse.
The veterinarians treat small pets to livestock, and offer emergency and after-hours care. Dr. Crouch said the facility does not offer boarding, choosing instead to house only sick animals or those being treated for injuries.
“I think that’s one of the biggest appeals of our business,” she said of the after-hours availability. Even when the hospital is closed, a client can talk to a veterinarian about a problem and can get emergency care.
Dr. Crouch said she knew from age 10 that she wanted to be a veterinarian. She said her horse passed away that year and the local vet came to their place to perform an autopsy. He invited her to help, “and I never veered off (from that career path) from that point.”
She said she enjoys working with local 4H students who bring their animals in for treatment. She said many have an interest in becoming a veterinarian and she enjoys watching their interests develop while helping them care for their animals.
Dr. John Janicek is the newest addition to the Highway 29 team of veterinarians, joining the staff in August 2012. A veterinary school classmate of Dr. Isom from Texas A&M University, Dr. Janicek is a board-certified surgeon with a horse specialty. His clinical interests include orthopedic and general surgery, regenerative medicine, sports medicine and lameness evaluation.
Dr. Janicek said joining the Highway 29 team has been almost like starting a second career. For the past five years, he was a staff surgeon at Weems and Stephens Equine Hospital in North Texas, performing surgeries on horses sometimes 14 hours a day, seven days a week. Some of the finest horses in the world were sent to the facility for treatment because of his expertise.
Prior to that, he performed research at the University of Missouri Comparative Orthopaedic Laboratory and the E. Paige Laurie Equine Lameness Endowment Program. He earned a master’s degree in 2007 and became a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons.
Dr. Janicek is a published author and international lecturer on veterinary surgery and is considered an expert in equine surgery.
“I grew up around horses and cattle, but I didn’t grow up wanting to be a vet,” he said of his childhood in Bellville. “That really came later in life.”
He said there is something about working with horses that he finds relaxing and comfortable.
“They are majestic, noble animals and as a kid I felt like I could interact with them,” he said.
He said while most horse owners in the Liberty Hill area likely have them for enjoyment, he treats many horses for sports injuries associated with rodeo events, racing and showing.
While performing surgery on horses comes second nature to him, Dr. Janicek said he had to refamiliarize himself with small animal care when moving to the Liberty Hill area. And in the months he has been here, he has developed an increased interest in small animal orthopedics and using stem cell therapy to treat regenerative diseases like osteoarthritis.
“The rewarding part about this work, especially with horses, is getting them back to their original athletic level prior to the injury,” he said.
Working in a rural veterinary clinic offers opportunities to get to know clients — something he missed when performing surgeries on horses exclusively.
“A lot of times, I would never see the owner. The owner or the person I talked to on the phone was a corporation or an insurance company. They were absentee owners,” he said.
“I enjoy getting to know our clients,” he said.
Dr. Janicek said he enjoys being part of a practice where the three doctors consult regularly on cases and work together to find solutions and treatments.
“That’s a huge advantage of being part of a group like this,” he said.
“This is a humbling profession,” Dr. Janicek said. “If you’re not coming to work every day and learning something, then there’s something wrong with you.”
While his colleagues regard Janicek as an expert in his field, he said he is constantly learning from each procedure and from each patient.
Dr. Isom said he is excited to be in the new facility and is pleased to be able to do more for his clients.
“We will be able to provide improved services and do it more effectively. We can see more patients now that we have more room,” he said.
Dr. Isom said the hospital is offering a special discount on dental procedures in January and February.
“Pets need their teeth checked annually, but it varies how often they will need to have their teeth cleaned and scaled,” he said.
The tarter and bacteria that builds on an animal’s teeth can find its way into the blood stream and impact the heart and kidneys. Dr. Isom said it’s easy to prevent those more serious problems by having a pet’s teeth cleaned. He said the procedure is not painful for the animal.
“We polish them and put a sealant on them to prevent tarter from coming back,” he said.
In January and February, Highway 29 Veterinary Hospital is offering 15 percent off dental services.
To find out more or to make an appointment, call (512) 355-3002.
Veterinarians are always on call to handle after-hours emergencies. Call the same number after hours to reach a professional.