FACES AND PLACES: Acts of kindness
From cats and dogs to rabbits and ferrets, Dr. Rick Odegard long has treated animals with kindness. Besides caring for conventional domestic pets, Odegard, owner of Kindness Animal Hospital in Grand Forks, also has seen tigers, cougar and bear cu...
From cats and dogs to rabbits and ferrets, Dr. Rick Odegard long has treated animals with kindness.
Besides caring for conventional domestic pets, Odegard, owner of Kindness Animal Hospital in Grand Forks, also has seen tigers, cougar and bear cubs and huge snakes during his 28 years as a veterinarian.
An interest in horses led Odegard to become a veterinarian. His mother raised horses and Odegard competed in shows during grade school and high school. After he graduated from Minot High School, Odegard took pre-veterinary courses at NDSU, then attended Iowa State University in Ames where he earned his doctor of veterinary medicine degree.
After Odegard graduated from Iowa State he worked at the former Forx Veterinary Clinic in Grand Forks for a year and then moved to Williston, N.D. He spent two years working at Western Veterinary Clinic in Williston before returning to Grand Forks and purchasing Forx Veterinary Clinic and renaming it Kindness Animal Hospital.
Though Odegard initially intended to be a horse veterinarian, after working with small animals, he decided to focus on their care. He is interested in small animal orthopedics and routinely performs surgeries such as tibial plateau leveling osteotomy on dogs. The surgery helps correct ligament problems that eventually can lead to lameness.
All in the family
Though, such surgeries are expensive, people are willing to pay for them because they have strong bonds with their pets and want to improve their quality of life.
During his nearly 30 years as a vet Odegard has witnessed a change in people's perspective on animals. Instead of viewing domestic animals as simply pets, many owners now consider them part of their families.
"It isn't just the dog," he said. "More people have gotten to look at pets as family members. There's more of an emotional attachment and people want more services and are willing to pay for more services."
The change in pet owners' perspectives has resulted in more demand for preventative care, such as vaccinations, pre-anesthestic laboratory work and dental cleanings, Odegard said. February is National Pet Dental Months and Kindness Animal Hospital is sending letters to its clients urging them to get the procedure done on their pets this month.
The tarter and the plaque on the animals' teeth lead to inflammation and gingivitis, which, in turn, can lead to periodontal disease, Odegard said. Periodontal disease can result in infections that spread throughout the body and cause systemic illnesses.
"An unhealthy mouth is unhealthy for the dog or cat, it's not just a stinky mouth," Odegard said.
Over the years, Odegard has hired additional staff at Kindness and now about a dozen employees, including four veterinarians and five veterinary technicians, work there. The increase in staff members and the additional services Kindness provides have exceeded the space the animal hospital has at its building west of I-29 on 32 Avenue South and Odegard is planning to purchase the former Lithia Hyundai building further at 2325 32nd Ave. South in Grand Forks. He has received a conditional use permit to have a crematorium at the new clinic location. The crematorium would be available to owners whose were euthanized at Kindness.
Euthanizing pets and witnessing the grief of their owners is one of the most difficult parts of his veterinary practice, Odegard said. But there have been more happy moments than sad during his veterinary career. He enjoys helping pet owners getting their puppies and kittens off to a good start by vaccinating the animals and teaching the people about proper care.
It's also rewarding when he brings a very sick or severely injured animal back to good health, he said recalling that Kindness once took care of a dog that had been shot in the face and abandoned.
"That dog was brought to us by the Humane Society and was treated successfully. The dog was adopted by a client of ours."
Bailey writes for special features sections. Reach her at (701) 787-6753; (800) 477-6572, ext. 753; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .