With a careful hand and stern focus, Charles Stirling leaned over a surgery table to gently insert a thermometer into a sick dog recovering from knee surgery.
Since his animal hospital opened in 1974, procedures like this have become second nature.
As a third-generation veterinarian, Stirling’s clinic treats domesticated cats and dogs for a myriad of afflictions and conditions. He estimated the Mount Pleasant Animal Hospital serves 60 percent dogs and 40 percent cats.
Besides his family legacy, Stirling was drawn to treating animals for a lifestyle of compassion toward man’s best friends and their feline counterparts.
“We might be working on a rectum one day and a mouth the next,” Stirling said. “It’s different every day. I like the life, I love pets. People who like pets are good people.”
Over the years, the flourishing clinic grew to host three practicing vets at the Isabella Road location.When Stirling initially came to Mount Pleasant, there was a clear need for animal treatment and education.
“It was just me and two other (vets) when I first came here,” he said. “Now, (patients) can get info that they could not get before. It keeps us on our toes. We have better techniques and drugs, but it’s harder to make a living.”
That business now sees about 40 animals a day, an average of 15 per doctor. Spring is the busiest time for the practice, Stirling said, as owners begin to let their pets outside.
“There are more accident cases (in spring),” he said. “It’s a little bit seasonal. Underground fencing has made a huge difference.”
As a 1969 graduate from Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Stirling is grateful to be close to his alma mater, just 65 miles south of Mount Pleasant.
“If there is something we need to know that we don’t, they’re always able to help us out with diagnosis,” he said. “We also send cases to them when we need to.”
Another Spartan, and 2008 graduate from MSU’s vet school, Martha Grant has worked alongside Stirling for 15 years. Beginning as a kennel assistant while studying engineering, she soon discovered that treating the afflicted faunae was her true calling.
“They’re such great companions,” she said of the animals. “Most animals can always put a smile on your face. We have some really good clients. It’s great to watch the pets grow.”
Along with his team of dedicated vets, Stirling’s practice is often augmented by his wife Laurel Nordfjord. A former Clare Elementary School teacher, Nordfjord worked with Stirling for seven to eight years, she said, before teaching.
She now fills in when the practice is understaffed.
“It’s fun to be around the animals,” she said. “And to help the people. I really enjoy it when I come in.”