Dr. Judson Pierce
RENO, NV - The parking spaces outside the modest offices on West 2nd Street are empty and inside the examination room of the Reno Animal Hospital is strangely quiet.
The long daily parade of pets and their anxious owners has finally come to an end after 48 years.
At age 80, Dr. Judson Pierce is retiring. He had hoped to sell his practice, but the prospective buyer has been unable to gain financing. So, he's closing the place forever.
Pierce has been the veterinary equivalent of the old country doctor. A one man practice dispensing common sense and medical care in equal doses. He brought to his practice his education at Oklahoma State and in years hosting a weekly radio show, he sharpened some natural instincts, learning to ask the right questions and listen.
"I think I've had a bit of a gift because 90 percent of the time I'll know before I run into any tests what we'll be looking for."
That diagnostic gift came with a natural empathy for pet and owner. These days many in his line of business demand money up front, Pierce has been known for not turning anyone away.
"A lot of times if you help people it turns out to be not a big deal or if it is, if they can they'll find a way to pay something on their bill."
Few would follow his path today. A one-man practice makes vacations, even days off difficult if not impossible.
"It's going to be very strange not to be working because I've been down here seven days a week, birthdays, Christmas, any day you can name," says the vet who was known for weekend follow up phone calls checking on his four-legged patients.
"My wife's been in various trips around the world with friends and relatives and I've never had a vacation other than a veterinary meeting or a funeral since I've been here."
At age 80, the people's vet may finally find some time for himself.