Ernsts open New Horizons Veterinary Service
By Sandy Bond
New Horizons Veterinary Service is a new horizon for husband and wife Don and Megan Ernst and their daughter Evie, 5, and son Sam, 2.
“Our emphasis is on compassionate care for animals,” Megan said, recalling her dad’s words. “Our dairy cattle were our livelihood. It only made sense to treat them with respect.”
Their philosophy for minimizing stress in animals is one advocated by Dr. Tom Noffsinger, senior partner at Twin Forks Clinic, Benkelman, Neb., and one that is embraced by New Horizons. It may be a philosophy that is on the horizon for area producers.
“Our philosophy toward animal care may be a little different,” Megan said. “A stressed animal is a non-productive animal,” Don said.
“In our care of animals, we try to reduce the level of stress to the minimum,” Megan said. “We don’t yell and we don’t routinely use a cattle prod unless it is absolutely necessary.”
Megan and Don have plans for treating orthopedics including cranial cruciate surgery. The cranial cruciate ligament in dogs is known as the anterior cruciate ligament in humans or ACL. It’s one of the ligaments in the knee that connects the thighbone to the shinbone. The rupture of the ligament in dogs is often caused by running and jumping. The surgery is a commonly done by veterinary surgeons. Dr. Don has performed many cruciate and orthopedic surgeries, but is not board certified in orthopedics.
After receiving their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the Iowa State University at Ames, and working for other clinics they have realized their dream of establishing their own large and small animal clinic and striking off on their own. And in the process, they have rediscovered their small town roots.
The clinic, recently built by Megan and Don with the help of Bob and MaryAnn Ernst, is located five and a half miles north of Glenham. The clinic has state-of-the-art equipment, from and operating table for dogs and cats in the surgical suite, hydraulic chutes for cattle, X-ray equipment, and an autoclave for sterilizing surgical equipment. And if you can’t make it to the clinic, a fully equipped mobile facility will come to the farm to treat large animals.
The son of Robert and MaryAnn Ernst, Don, and his sisters, Carol and Joanne grew up on the family farm in rural Glenham, where the family raised cattle and sheep. Carol is a veterinarian at Lake Andes.
After Don graduated from Selby Area High School in 1996, he received his bachelor’s degree in biology from South Dakota State University at Brookings in 2001. While attending the Iowa State University at Ames, he met Megan Wonderlich, another veterinary student. The daughter of Chris and Nancy Wonderlich, Megan and her two sisters, Elizabeth and Kristen, grew up on the family dairy farm located in the tiny town of Waterville, in the northeast corner of Iowa, where they milked 90 head of Holstein cattle. The girls were very active in 4-H, where Megan showed cattle and horses.
After graduating from Waukon High School in 1998, she received her bachelor’s degree from Iowa State with a major in animal science. She and Don received their DVM in 2005.
Don’s first assignment was at the Britton Veterinary Clinic and Megan at the Webster Veterinary Clinic. They were both employed by the Webster Veterinary Clinic for four years before accepting positions with the Ashley (N.D.) Veterinary Clinic for the last two years.
“This was our dream to move closer to Don’s parents, open a clinic for large and small animals, and be our own boss,” Megan said.
New Horizons has the ability to order a full line of vaccines and antibiotics, they said. To keep costs low, any antibiotics and vaccines that they may not have on hand, can be ordered for overnight delivery.
“Our passion, our hobby is our job,” Megan said.
They have moved into Bob and MaryAnn’s farmhouse and Bob and MaryAnn have moved right next door to the clinic. Their family shares their home with Amarillo, a golden retriever and Clyde, a border collie, and three cats, Omen, Muffy, and Scruffy. They hope to acquire several horses so they can ride as a family.
Potential clients may view pictures of the large and small animal facilities on Facebook. In addition to being open from Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., the clinic is also open Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon. All hours are by appointment only.