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McNab, Slayton Veterinary Clinic devoted to animal care

SLAYTON -- The Slayton Veterinary Medical Center often houses a few dogs at a time. The employees don't mind -- they all love animals, of course, and even sick pups make for good company.

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Dr. Connie McNab (left) and Nicki McKenzie work with a dog. (Karl Evers-Hillstrom / Daily Globe)

SLAYTON - The Slayton Veterinary Medical Center often houses a few dogs at a time. The employees don’t mind - they all love animals, of course, and even sick pups make for good company.

Connie McNab, doctor of veterinary medicine, runs the clinic with an upbeat demeanor. She and her team of five employees work together to serve pet owners in Slayton and surrounding towns.

“Behind every good veterinarian there’s a good team,” McNab said. “You bounce ideas off of your colleagues, and they have good ideas to help you.”

The Slayton clinic is a branch of the Veterinary Medical Center, based in Worthington. The medical center also has locations in Adrian and Sheldon, Iowa.  

McNab grew up in Kansas on a beef and dairy farm. Caring for cows every day inspired her to go the direction of being a veterinarian.

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“Back when I was on the farm, I knew I wanted to care for either animals or people,” McNab said. “Providing health for people or animals, you need to be compassionate and caring, and that's the driving force of taking care of animals, small or large.”

McNab earned her doctorate of veterinary medicine from Kansas State University, and in 1988 she moved to the Minnesota community of Springfield for her first job in the field.

She worked in Springfield for five years before moving to a clinic in Windom. In 1996, the Windom clinic acquired a location in Slayton, where McNab has worked ever since.

McNab will mark her 30th year as a veterinarian next year, and she doesn’t regret any of it.

“Every day I enjoy getting up and going to work,” she said. “I think when you have found that inner peace, your calling, you need to do that as long as you can.”

As the farming industry has changed, veterinary clinics have had to adapt. Farms have become larger and have thus started to change how they use veterinarians in their operation. More veterinary activity takes place on the farm rather than in the clinic.

“Some are doing things like their own castrating and dehorning, which we used to do,” McNab said. “We have people farrowing their own pigs and things like that. So, we do more troubleshooting in those barns now, along with educating and teaching our producers about the
right way to do things.”

To make up for the loss of revenue, the clinic has implemented grooming as a focus. What used to be the autopsy room for pigs has been transformed into a grooming parlor, where dogs have their hair trimmed.

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“People have hobbies with their animals and are taking better care of them, which is nice to see,” McNab said. “We’ve really seen an increase in the need for grooming.”

Expectations of livestock producers and pet owners has significantly changed over the last 20 years.

With taking better care of animals, owners are also more active in taking their pets in to have vaccinations or undergo other preemptive measures such as home again devices, wellness exams and new medications that help to prevent disease rather than focus on treating the problems once they occur.

“We try to do more preventative care versus treatment,” McNab said. “We make sure they don’t get sick instead of having to work with them once they do get sick.”

The clinic will work with nearly any animal. Recently, McNab has seen an influx of goats. The most exotic animal she had to treat was a snake.

In earning a veterinary doctorate, vets are given a general education on most animals, but not enough to work with rare animals like snakes hands-on.

“I ended up calling exotic specialists to help us through it,” McNab said. “Luckily, there’s an amazing network of specialists we have access to.”

Dogs and farm animals such as cows and bulls make up the large majority of the animals at the clinic. McNab owns two horses, a dog and four cats herself, and of course, loves working with cows.

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“It’s very rewarding when you deliver a live baby calf or new puppies for an owner,” McNab said. “Being able to see a young child that’s enjoying the puppy - it’s such a great feeling.”

McNab has enjoyed her time in Slayton, calling it a “great place to raise a family.” She’s tried to bring her attitude of kindness and understanding to more than just people’s pets.

“When you live in a smaller community, you need to be open-minded and have that spirit of compassion and care, and that goes for people and animals,” McNab said.

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From left, front row: Kim Ruppert, Nicki McKenzie and Connie McNab. Back row: Jen Reith, Taylor Daniels and Anthony Conrad. (Karl Evers-Hillstrom / Daily Globe)

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