The History of Country Veterinary Hospital

January 7, 2020

Our founder and former owner, Dr. Richard Hough recounts the story of how it all began

When the first hospital was opened July 1960, it occupied a rehabbed woodshed. Water was brought to this facility in a one gallon jug. Office hours were held in the evening after farm calls were completed. The patients seen were approximately one third pet dogs and cats, one third farm dogs, and one third hunting dogs. The community here in Western Howard County was rural. Mount Airy was very small and had only one stoplight.

The first veterinary hospital was located on the farm where I grew up and worked. My home was a new trailer located behind the woodshed. My wife was a school teacher and my mother was our receptionist the first year. Our telephone number was 549W. The telephone system was staffed by telephone company operators who occasionally took our calls when my mother wasn't available. My wife retired from school teaching the second year and became our receptionist, lab technician, assistant surgeon and bookkeeper.

After the first year we moved to the second Country Veterinary Hospital, which was a remodeled chicken house. The nesting boxes were replaced with kennels for our patients. Post-surgical patients recovered in our living quarters in the trailer. They frequently would, upon recovery, get in bed with us. The below picture was recorded long after we had moved to our new facility. Being a veterinarian in this early rural community was exciting. Our patients included fawns caught and lacerated in farm machinery, injured foxes, and numerous other creatures.

The construction of the present Country Veterinary Hospital began in 1964 and was completed in 1965. We were very lucky in that we were welcomed and supported by the community with one minor exception. The then owner of the Longview Bar, which was located two city blocks west of the hospital had a concern. He presented his concern at the zoning hearing which was required for the construction of the veterinary hospital. His concern was that there would be disease here in this facility. I presented the idea that he saw more disease in his facility on Saturday night that I would see any year.

The community was most supportive and after a brief period of laughter, our request was approved and the small animal facility was constructed and completed. The practice identity changed from one of several hundred cattle herds, to very large thoroughbred horse breeding farms. As a community changed so did the practice. There were, at one time five veterinarians serving the Country Veterinary Hospital, treating horses and small animals.

My family and I lived above the hospital from 1965 until 1985. We had many adventures in those years, ranging from police officers bringing injured animals to our door front for treatment, to individuals asking for treatment. The small animal hospital was added and included one of the first equine surgeries and hospitals in the area in the early 1970s. Our lives and our inclusion in the history of this facility have given us great pride and appreciation for our good fortune and being a part of the community."