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Sheperd bids farewell to his flock and smock PDF Print E-mail
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Written by JOHN MORTON   
Thursday, 03 August 2017 15:36

Longtime Saukville veterinarian said yes to most any animal, large or small, but never no to his loyal clients


The stories of veterinarian Paul Sheperd make the stories of Doctor Doolittle sound like amateur hour.
Sheperd has amazing tales of having to reach under some, well, amazing tails.
And while he was never called a snake, he certainly did get calls about snakes.
And no, he wasn’t a rat of a guy, but he sure was a hamster guy.
On July 26, the Saukville resident retired after 30 years as the veterinarian who simply wouldn’t say no.
“I never turned down an emergency call in the middle of the night,” said Sheperd, 63, whose Saukville Veterinary Clinic stood at 303 W. Dekora St. the past 12 years. “I just couldn’t do that to my customers. They were so loyal to me so it was important for me to be the same to them.
“Many a time I realized I had just worked 14 straight hours, missed dinner, and now how am I going to do this? But I just did. It wasn’t uncommon to have 24-hour days.”
Countless stories remind him of the type of over-the-top dedication required in a role like his. Early on in his career, while working in a small Saukville branch of a Cedarburg clinic, among his clients were those owning large animals.
The situations that arose were something else.
“I had to give several C-sections to cows with two-headed calves, and the heads often pointed out in the opposite direction, so you can imagine what that was like,” Sheperd said.
Then there was the late-night call during a sub-zero blizzard that had him on the scene of a heifer’s difficult birth in the middle of a pasture.
“She had thrown her womb out, all the way from her tail to the ground, and it had frozen to the ground,” Sheperd said. “The farmer said, ‘She’s expensive. You’ve got to save her,’ so I stripped down to my waist and tried to warm up her insides with my body heat. I wasn’t anywhere near any water.
“Well, it took a couple of hours to get it all back inside of her. She did manage to live about three days, but I couldn’t save her.”
About 15 years into his career, Sheperd  left his Cedarburg colleagues and started his Saukville operation. No longer interested in large animals, but not wanting to limit his practice to dogs and cats, he took on the category of “exotics.”
And what a category it was.
“It only represented about 1% of my business, but it sure brought some adventures,” Sheperd said. “There were a couple of farms out here that had lots of exotics — ostriches, rheas, ewes, llamas, zebras, monkeys, you name it. They kept me busy and I saw all of them because no one else wanted to look at them.”
One ostrich mishap in particular was a doozy.
“Someone who raised them took one and put it with three others that were already a group. Well, the male one sliced up the newcomer something fierce,” Sheperd said. “It was 9 feet tall and I couldn’t knock it over on its side, so my technician had to pin it up against the wall and I used a step ladder to go all around it, putting in sutures as I went.”
Reptiles were also on the list.
“I once performed a C-section on a python,” Sheperd said. “I pulled 17 eggs out.”
No task was too large for Sheperd, nor too small.
“I got a call from a lady who said her son’s hamster had a broken leg,” he said. “They brought him in and he was in bad shape. I knew it would be best to euthanize it, but I felt bad and said I’d amputate the leg to save the little guy.
 “Turns out he lived three more years on three legs. The mother was so amazed she ended up bringing all of her pets in to me.”
Building off that strong reputation, two years after arriving in Saukville as a one-man show Sheperd built the current building near the same site. The original clinic now serves as a pet groomer.
“I promised the girl who worked for me we’d get a better building, so I had no choice,” Sheperd said. “Thankfully, the business would eventually be there to support it.”
Eventually, the venture grew to a four-vet operation and was named Business of the Year in 2012 by the Saukville Area Chamber of Commerce. Last September, VCA, a national chain of veterinary clinics, bought the business and kept Sheperd on until he hung up his smock.
“I still own the property and the building, so I’ve still got a key,” Sheperd said.
In retirement, he plans to take it easy and slow — a bit of travel, some fishing, some projects around the house.
“Nothing too wild,” he said with a laugh.
Been there, done that.

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