I have known and respected Dr. Verne J. Fairhurst, DVM, since beginning my pet training career and continue to be impressed by him and his team of other caring veterinarians and staff. Dr. Fairhurst is owner and medical director of the Montgomery Animal Hospital in Kenwood. Understanding the importance of positive training, they have referred many clients to me and have invited me to speak to their clients several times. Please learn more about Dr. Fairhurst in my interview below.
Lisa: Your grandmother had a special impact on your work. Can you explain?
Dr. Fairhurst: My paternal grandmother lived on farm with 20 cats, mostly working toms whose job was to control the rodent population. She believed in reincarnation and told me that she would come back as a tomcat because they have a great life – running all night and being catered to all day by a “a fat old lady” as she described herself. I was in veterinary school at the time, so she told me she would come back specifically to me. When I pointed out that tomcats get neutered, she told me that before neutering any cat, I should look it in the eye and if I see a twinkle, it’s my grandmother – and I shouldn’t neuter her. To this day, I always look each cat in the eye, but I’ve yet to see her twinkle.
Lisa: Tell us about someone who has been an important influence in your life and why.
Dr. Fairhurst: When other kids were stumbling over the question, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up’ I knew I was going to be a veterinarian. That career choice was shaped by a family friend – a well-respected leader in our small town – who was a veterinarian. When I was just a snotty-nosed kid of 11, I liked what he did. Who doesn’t like animals? He really took time with me, letting me hang around the animal hospital.
When my buddies were playing ball, I was cleaning cages and observing how to interact with animals and their owners. I hung around him for 20 years. The summer between my sophomore and junior years in college I lived at his animal hospital, observing during the day and answering emergency calls in the middle of the night. During part of that time he served as president of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), an organization that sets the highest standard of care for veterinary hospitals. Only 12% of hospitals earn AAHA accreditation. Today, one of those is my practice, Montgomery Animal Hospital. AAHA accreditation shapes every aspect of our practice and I credit my mentor for exposing me to the best way to practice veterinary medicine.
Lisa: Tell us about your favorite vacation.
Dr. Fairhurst: Hiking is often a focal point of our vacations, so it was particularly appealing when my wife, Gail, who is a Professor in the Communications Department at the University of Cincinnati, was invited to an annual leadership conference in southern Utah. Our three kids and I tagged along – six different times. While Gail attended conference sessions, we hiked, kayaked and enjoyed the outdoor adventures at Bryce Canyon, Zion Canyon and Capitol Reef National Park. It wasn’t all work for Gail. During conference breaks she was able to join in the fun.
Lisa: What was your first job and what life lessons did you learn from it?
Dr. Fairhurst: I worked in a funeral home, helping with yard work and other responsibilities. As you can imagine, I saw people during their most difficult times. That taught me the importance of respecting people, particularly when they aren’t at their best. At the time, I didn’t realize the life lessons l was learning at that job, but now I see that it helped to shape the way I treat people, especially my clients. The experience taught me patience, how to handle emotional situations, remain calm, act professionally and communicate with people.
Lisa: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Dr. Fairhurst: My parents always encouraged me to pursue my interests and to never give up on my goals. Their encouragement and confidence in me gave me confidence in myself. My goal, of course, had always been to be a veterinarian, yet getting into veterinary school is difficult. With my parents’ encouragement and the confidence they instilled in me, I applied and was accepted at Ohio State. It’s a tough program, so my parents’ advice kept me going during those sometimes challenging times.
Lisa: What are some of your favorite activities outside of work and family?
Dr. Fairhurst: I enjoy hiking, kayaking, reading nonfiction adventure books and running.
Register today for my upcoming A Night of CINspiration!
I have got to say. I so admire people who have a dream and a passion, and absolutely do not quit in pursuing it.
Dr. Zeke Zekoff is one of those people. As a busy veterinarian, he has witnessed the tremendous gift of life and love given to animals who, for any number of reasons, have found themselves homeless only to be saved at the hands of caring people. Those people are the advocates, volunteers and staff of many area rescue organizations.
The problem is, there are just SO many animals in need and heart alone is not going to help those organizations flourish, or even maintain their level of sometimes very difficult, emotional and challenging work at nourishing, rehabilitating and finding new homes for those in their care.
Dr. Zekoff had a vision…to create another nonprofit that could assist those animal care and service organizations including dog and cat shelters and rescues with basic business services, education, food and emergency funding, and products.
That vision is United Pet Fund; and in five years they have supported the work of dozens of local member causes. They even hold a Pet Health Day in Over-the-Rhine once a year with a free preventative health clinic.
This week the culmination of five years of fundraising was celebrated with the grand opening of the 8,500 sq ft United Pet Fund Resource Center and warehouse. Dozens of animal advocates were there to celebrate such an important goal, and one that is going to allow for expanded services.
“I’ve always felt the need to give back to those who take care of homeless animals and use the gifts I was given that could most help them. United Pet Fund is a personal ministry to me,” Dr. Zekoff said. “This is what I will do to help this unrecognized army caring and finding homes for the animals the Lord has here now.”
He is excited about the future and wants to reach more organizations. “In five more years I would like to see United Pet Fund take on the role of “the” go-to animal support organization in the Tri-State and the State of Ohio. In 20 years, I’d like to have every major city with a UPF-type organization using the internet and major shippers to parcel out the blessings that businesses and the public donate.
“You never know when the big opportunities or supplies will arrive, but you have to be ready,” he said. “Now with the space a Resource Center provides, we can take our core mission to the next level and be a central source of distribution to really be impactful.”
Please visit my pet blog, My Sidekick and Me, to read about a new nonprofit called Pets In Need of Greater Cincinnati. In partnership with the University of Cincinnati’s veterinary program, the organization is dedicated to providing basic veterinary care for income-qualified individuals who cannot afford to take their pets to private veterinarians (with a limit of three pets per household).
And that is why it is beyond hurt to see a family’s anguish when their financial challenges mean facing the reality that they simply cannot afford the expenses of a pet.
I love the idea of the Cincinnati Pet Food Pantry that has helped thousands feed their pet. Now there is nonprofit Pets In Need of Greater Cincinnati. In partnership with the University of Cincinnati’s veterinary program, the organization is dedicated to providing basic veterinary care for income-qualified individuals who cannot afford to take their pets to private veterinarians (with a limit of three pets per household).
“Through Pets In Need, we are helping animals that might otherwise wind up in already over-crowded shelters because their families can’t afford to give them the care they need. And we are helping pet owners who want to do the right thing for their pets, but who may have to balance that with the need to feed and clothe their children, pay the rent and keep the lights burning at home. Pets In Need is dedicated to ensuring that it’s a choice no one in Greater Cincinnati ever will have to make again,” said Carol A. Sanger, president.
Beginning in February 2013, Pets In Need will offer regularly scheduled pet wellness clinics at its Lockland location (520 W. Wyoming Ave.; Cincinnati, OH 45215), where dogs and cats will be seen by licensed veterinarians and professional veterinary staff.
At a minimum, each animal will receive a routine health check-up, get their annual rabies and booster shots, and take home flea and tick medications, all at deeply discounted prices. Vouchers for low-cost spay/neuter also will be provided to PIN clients, and eligibility for follow-up care at Pets In Need will be contingent on having any unaltered animal spayed or neutered prior to their next visit. In addition, dental clinics will be offered several times a year as part of the PIN wellness program.
Sunday, November 4 from 2 to 5 pm
520 W Wyoming Ave
Cincinnati, Ohio 45215
Anderson’s House Vets for House Pets is hosting a 10th anniversary party this Saturday, October 6, from 11 am to 4 pm and you are invited.
There will be free food, prizes, music, games for kids and dogs, and a tour that includes several educational work stations. You could win free boarding, Fit Club, free products, food from some of our favorite local restaurants, and more.
They are located at 8240 Beechmont Ave; Cincinnati, Ohio 45255.