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The Milk House

The road to becoming a veterinarian PDF Print E-mail
Features - Consultants
Written by Kelsey Holter   
Thursday, 24 February 2011 14:41

Twenty-three years ago, one late afternoon in Abbeville, Alabama, seven-year-old Chance Armstrong ran out of options.

After a week of suffering, his newborn calf’s health had worsened. Anxious, worried and not knowing what to do, he picked up the phone and made an emergency call.

A short time later, relief swept through the barn as Dr. Perry Mobley, the local veterinarian, arrived.

With drooping ears and no strength to get up, the calf had stopped nursing from its mother, a Limousin show cow named Maggie.

Day turned to night and anxiety turned to gloom as the calf was diagnosed with failure of passive transfer, a condition that Dr. Mobley was unable to heal.

The four-hour ordeal was a turning point in Armstrong’s life and eventually helped him realize his lifelong career goal.

“I realized that I wanted to bring other people the same feelings of relief and comfort that Dr. Mobley brought us that day,” Armstrong says. “I realized I wanted to become a veterinarian.”

After that fateful night, Armstrong continued to help his grandfather run the family Limousin operation. But his passion for veterinary medicine never diminished, and he carried it with him to the end of high school and through the beginning of college.

“He is smart and has tremendous work ethic,” Dr. Mobley says. “I know what his character is, and I respect him a tremendous amount.”

0411pd_holter_2Getting into veterinary school wasn’t easy and staying there for four years was almost impossible.

While other college students were up all night for other reasons, Armstrong was up trying to save animals in practicum and study for his next exam.

“If it wasn’t for coffee and jelly beans, I’m not sure I would have made it through,” Armstrong says with a laugh. “There was never a time when I doubted my decision, even with all of the sleepless nights.”

During his time in school, Armstrong worked with the most qualified large-animal veterinarians that Auburn had to offer.

“They really took Chance under their wing and gave him a lot of attention, which has made him one of the most qualified veterinarians coming out of college I have ever seen,” Dr. Mobley says.

0411pd_holter_1Upon graduating, Armstrong moved to Okeechobee, Florida, to practice at the Okeechobee Veterinary Hospital.

With no plans of leaving any time soon, he sees this as ample opportunity to learn more before owning his own practice someday.

Not long after moving to Florida, Armstrong found himself in a situation mirroring his night with Maggie’s calf. He got an emergency call around midnight, telling him of a horse with colic.

When Armstrong arrived on the scene, the mare’s heart rate had quickened, signaling a severe case.

The owner of the horse was a little girl, frightened and worried, reminding Armstrong of himself at her age.

Although it was difficult, Armstrong had to remind the little girl of the serious situation at hand. After working on the horse for what seemed like hours, Armstrong was able to save the mare.

“The letter I received from that little girl, and the elation she had for what I did for her, is why I do this every day,” Armstrong says. “Bringing that feeling of relief is all I want to do for somebody, since Dr. Mobley did that for me.”

0411pd_holter_3Growing up on a Limousin operation, Armstrong’s ambitions are naturally concerning bovine medicine, and with the large number of surrounding dairies and beef ranches in the area, he is able to practice medicine on large animals frequently.

He hopes to own his own practice someday, specializing in bovine medicine.

But for right now, he is happy where he is. “I don’t plan on leaving here any time soon,” Armstrong says. “I just want to learn as much as I can, and one day, I can branch off on my own.”

Armstrong says he owes his cattle knowledge to his grandfather, but the courage and passion to pursue his dreams in veterinary medicine to his lifelong friend, mentor and large- animal veterinarian, Dr. Mobley.  PD

TOP RIGHT: Even at seven years old, Chance Armstrong knew he wanted to pursue a career as a veterinarian.

TOP LEFT: Chance Armstrong works on a injured bucking bull in Elgin, Texas, during his second year of vet school on a summer externship. Armstrong says the bull was bucking at a PBR event when he injured a claw on a bucking chute and that the bull is now in a breeding program for the owner.

MIDDLE RIGHT: Armstrong has a strong network of fellow veterinarians and those in vet school. He's pictured here with longtime friend Daniel Weldon, who is currently in his second year of veterinary school at Auburn University. In the photo, the pair were working calves at Weldon's family's farm near Crawford, Alabama.

MIDDLE LEFT: Armstrong poses with Dr. Lisa Willis of Mid Texas Veterinary Associates in Gustine, Texas. He says Dr. Willis is an Auburn grad and an excellent veterinarian, friend and mentor. All photos courtesy of Chance Armstrong.


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