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The High Deserts Social Network Blog…

Couple cares for animals and people (Article in the AV Press)

By: Amber Hoffman

Rosamond- It’s not all about the animals at veterinarians Debbie Spencer and Chris Biggerstaff’s joint practice – the couple have a passion for people, too.

“Sometimes you’re helping the people more than the animals,” Spencer said. “Helping people through their animals can be extremely rewarding. Both of us have really grown to appreciate helping people.”

Married 21 years, the couple have owned Southern Kern Veterinary Services in Rosamond for more than 20 years and Quartz Hill Veterinary Clinic since 2006. Together they have more than 46 years of experience in veterinary medicine.

“If you ever read the veterinary oath it says our commitment is to society,” Biggerstaff said. “Our practice philosophy is to help people through their animals; that’s the real goal.”

Every student who graduates from veterinary school takes a pledge to use his or her knowledge and skills “for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health…”

Biggerstaff said they sometimes help owners come to terms with the death of a pet or ease the worry of an elderly person with a sick companion animal.

“We have learned a lot of counseling,” Spencer said. “Helping people no matter the outcome is very rewarding.”

Raised on a farm in Missouri, Spencer said even at an early age she wanted to be a veterinarian.

“Since I was born I knew that was what I wanted to do,” she said. “I grew up in a rural setting, and my parents encourage me to stick with it. I’ve been around beef cattle, horses, dogs and cats. My grandmother had a farm with goats and pigs. I was always around all different kinds of animals and enjoyed interacting with them.”

For Biggerstaff it was more than just a love of living creatures that led him to become a veterinarian – it was enthusiasm for repairing things.

“I had a passion for the animals and I liked fixing things,” he said. “It’s really rewarding when you can fix something and make it better for somebody.”

Biggerstaff said his desire to fix things led him to a special interest in orthopedic surgery.

The couple met while at the University of Missouri’s Columbia College of Veterinary Medicine. Spencer and Biggerstaff graduated together in 1988 and moved to Rosamond to start their careers.

“I followed him here,” Spencer said. “It was a shock – desert compared to rolling green hills in Missouri. I had never seen mountain valleys like that before.”

Biggerstaff, who grew up in Alturas in far northeastern California, said they picked Rosamond because the Antelope Valley was experiencing a population boom and his beloved grandmother, Dolly Buck, lived in Rosamond.

“I spent all my holidays and vacations with my grandma in Rosamond,” Biggerstaff said. “It was Christmas 1984 and I mailed my application to the University of Missouri from the Rosamond post office. It was meant to be.”

The couple opened Southern Kern Veterinary Services in April 1990 as a part-time business while each worked at different veterinary clinics. Within a year, Biggerstaff was working at the Rosamond clinic full time.

“We were able to do it slowly; we both had other jobs, too,” Spencer said.

Although veterinary school didn’t prepare the couple for the business side of being veterinarians, the couple credit their parents for instilling an old-fashioned work ethic, common sense, compassion for people, financial understanding and good communication skills. The couple said they also turned to Buck, who passed away in 1995, for advice when they opened their first business.

“I asked her what she thought-if I should venture out on my own. She said absolutely,” Biggerstaff said.

Spencer and Biggerstaff took over the Quartz Hill clinic in 2004 when another veterinary husband-and-wife team, Dave Fly and Bonnie Snyder, wanted to move out of state and were looking to sell their practice. Fly and Snyder invited Spencer and Biggerstaff to lunch and asked them if they were interested in purchasing the business.

“We signed the contract on a napkin,”Spencer said, adding they still have the napkin.

The Quartz Hill and Rosamond clinic provide vaccinations, dental exams, microchipping, orthopedic exams, surgery, spaying and neutering, pet insurance, emergency services, pest prevention and more. The Rosamond clinic also boards animals.

When the couple purchased the Quartz Hill business, Spencer joined her husband. Previously she had worked 16 years at another clinic.

The couple said working together has been a blessing.

“We each have our own niche,” Spencer said. “He does the surgeries, and I would rather be in the exam room and managing. It’s awesome to have an immediate second opinion.”

The couple’s two children, 16-year-old Ray and 13-year-old Katie, help their parents at the clinics. Ray helps with supply shopping and Katie helps with maintaining the website and cleaning.

Biggerstaff said his goal is to expand the orthopedic surgical unit.

“I would like to grow the surgical part of the business,” Biggerstaff said. “A lot of people get referred to Los Angeles, from their regular veterinarians, we can take care of the more challenging cases. We can take care of them in-house, no need for a pet owner to have to drive to Los Angeles.”

Despite the troubled economy, Biggerstaff said one thing people don’t skimp on is their pets.

“Pets are a priority for a lot of people,” he said. “People sacrifice a vacation or other things for the love of their pets.”

Southern Kern Veterinary Services is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday and is closed on Sunday. For details, call (661) 256-8121.

Quartz Hill Veterinary Clinic is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday and closed on Sunday. For details, call (661) 943-7896.

 

January 27, 2011 - Posted by | AV Best Veterinary, Lancaster Veterinary, Palmdale Veterinary, Quartz Hill Veterinary, Rosamond Veterinary | , , , ,

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