News Large-Animal Veterinarians Serve Needs of Rural Communities

Large-Animal Veterinarians Serve Needs of Rural Communities

Large-Animal Veterinarians Serve Needs of Rural Communities
July 2, 2024 |

By Maggie Edwards 

Five decades of practicing veterinary medicine provided Dr. Perry Mobley the tools to serve his rural community — primarily with a Porta-Vet toolbox in the bed of his truck while he zigzags the back roads of Henry County.

“The joy of helping people and their animals is why I do what I do,” said Mobley, 75. “My focus is herd health and preventive medicine. I communicate with my clients and get them excited about raising quality cattle. That pushes them to be successful.”

Mobley graduated from Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine (AUCVM) in 1974. After operating his own small- and large-animal clinic, Mobley stepped away in 1988 to focus on his large-animal mobile vet service and the family farm. He and wife Charlotte have two children and several grandchildren. 

 “I’m probably one of the few people in the world who gets to wake up every morning and do what they love to do,” said Mobley, who raises chickens, cattle and row crops. “I was blessed to have a dream to be a vet. My granddaddy loved livestock and educated me as much as he could. I came to love animals like he did.”

Henry County’s Dr. Perry Mobley has served the community as a large-animal veterinarian for 50 years. Additionally, Mobley raises poultry and cattle and grows peanuts and corn. 

Living the dream hasn’t always been easy, Mobley said. 

“It’s not a hard, hard life, but it is hectic and demanding,” said Mobley, noting his hours are 24/7, 365 days a year. “It’s a life of sacrifice and giving of yourself to help others when it might not be comfortable or timely.” 

Every day at work looks different, Mobley said while reflecting on the past 50 years. 

“Veterinary medicine has changed so much since I began,” Mobley said. “I see a decrease of people who are willing to do what folks like me have done.” 

Of the 82,704 clinical veterinarians in the U.S., only 3.6% specialize in food-animal practice, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. 

Though that large-animal veterinarian number is small, there are doctors making big strides to provide service in rural areas. 

Take Cherokee County’s Dr. Isaac Jones. For five years, he’s prioritized livestock and companion animal care. From bison and zebras to cats and cattle, Jones meets community needs. 

“I grew up around cattle,” said Jones, who was raised on a dairy. “I want to give back to the industry that helped raise me.” 

That mindset pushed Jones to create Seven Arrows Livestock Services, a mobile vet unit that practices in Alabama and Georgia. Traveling up to 50 miles for a farm call, Jones’ truck is equipped with gloves, medications and medical instruments.

The 2019 AUCVM graduate has worked at two rural clinics near his hometown in Centre. In addition to his business, Jones performs surgeries and exams part time. Ready to embark on a new journey, Jones plans to add a clinic on his family farm. 

“We are turning the old dairy barn into a general vet practice,” said Jones, 31. “The dairy has been in my mother’s family for generations. After we switched to all beef cattle in 2011, the barn sat empty. I’m proud to continue my heritage in agriculture and preserve this history.” 

The endeavor gives Jones and his wife, Taylor, flexible hours to manage their newly built poultry houses and raise a family. (They’re expecting their first child this summer.) Taylor is also a veterinarian in a neighboring county. 

“Large-animal vet med and farming go hand-in-hand,” said Jones, the Cherokee County Young Farmers Committee chairman. “The cattle and chicken houses we have are providing a food source. On the vet side, I am helping others with animal health to hopefully improve their bottom line and offer a food source, too.” 

Cherokee County’s Dr. Isaac Jones works part time in a nearby clinic while also running a mobile vet unit and raising poultry. Jones plans to open a general practice by turning his family’s old dairy barn into an on-farm clinic.

Like Mobley, Jones agreed the lifestyle is time consuming but worthwhile. Jones said work-life balance can be hard to find.

“Some days are quiet, and some aren’t,” Jones said. “I could work all day and then get home and someone calls with a cow in labor. Those things can’t wait. You sacrifice your home life and mental wellness for clients and animals. It’s challenging but pays off.” 

That’s primarily thanks to the rewarding feeling of helping make a customer happy, Mobley said. 

“The big thing is relationships,” Mobley said. “I have so many wonderful friends who have put their trust in me to help. That’s what I cherish so much about what I’ve done through the years.”

The knowledge and skills Mobley and Jones possess are instrumental to agriculture, too. 

“It’s a blessing to help farmers,” Jones said. “There is already enough work and need for large-animal vets. If we don’t, who will?” 

View Related Articles