January 26, 2022

Vet takes over practice

Bob Ellis/staff photographer

Dr. Rebecca Wagner checks the heartbeat of Zephyr at Countryside Veterinary Hospital on Tuesday in Dryden. Wagner, a Homer High School graduate, recently purchased the business.

DRYDEN — For 43 years the Countryside Veterinary Hospital was run under a one-doctor practice with Dr. Robert Jacobson at the helm, but with Jacobson’s recent retirement a new doctor has taken over the animal care.

Dr. Rebecca Wagner, a Homer native, has taken over for him, returning to her home area to fulfill her dream of running her own practice.

For the past 10 years, Wagner has worked as a veterinarian at the Buffalo Small Animal Hospital. She said she always planned on purchasing her own practice one day and when she saw Jacobson’s advertisement looking for someone to take over his small animal practice, she jumped at the opportunity to place an offer.

“She was the first one to make an offer and it was a very nice offer,” Jacobson said, not wanting to reveal the amount.

Wagner officially took over the practice Nov. 30, taking on the thousands of active clients Jacobson had accumulated through his long career.

“I always had good support from my client base,” Jacobson said. “That is what kept me going as long as I have.”

Now 74 years old, Jacobson said he felt he could not devote 100 percent to all of his patients anymore. Retiring was not in imminent plan, but two years ago in May 2014 he said he had hip surgery that did not go well. There was a lengthy recovery period and he turned his practice into a part-time operation.

Now with Wagner in charge of the Countryside Veterinary Hospital, at 136 North St., the practice will be back to full-time and potentially see some upgrades.

“I have my own skills and new ideas I can bring and implement,” Wagner said. “Maybe make the practice more tech savvy.”

Her passion for helping animals began in second-grade and never faded.

“I had a love for animals,” Wagner said. “Animals can’t tell you what is wrong. I enjoy the science of it.”

She graduated from Wells College in Aurora with an undergraduate degree in biological and chemical sciences. Then she got an applied animal science degree in veterinary technology from Bel-Rea Institute in Denver, Colorado. She began working as a veterinary technician in Colorado before taking part in the University of Tennessee’s veterinary medicine program.

After graduating, she decided to move closer to home and began working at the veterinary practice in Buffalo. From Buffalo to Dryden, she said she is still in transition as her husband and children still live in Buffalo. But she is excited to be back closer to her roots.

“It seemed meant to be,” Wagner said.

Jacobson said he plans to assist Wagner with any help she needs. But so far, Wagner said her first few weeks of owning the practice have gone well.

“It has been crazy,” she said. “The transition is going well. The customers have been welcoming.”