By Aesculight Digital Media Manager, Chris Smith
When Dr. Bill Howard was a young boy growing up in Houston, TX in the 1960’s, he spent a long night sitting up with his sick dog and a veterinarian as the beloved pet died of heartworm disease. Though it was a terrible thing to experience, this was a defining moment in Dr. Howard’s life and led to a growing interest in a career as a veterinarian. Dr. Howard learned the value of hard work at the young age of six as he labored on his family cattle ranch. He eventually took this great work ethic and applied it to his studies as he attended Texas A&M and earned a Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Science & Biomedical Science and a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine.
Dr. Howard’s dedication to his career led to completing a three year lab animal residency after which, he served as a captain in the US Army in Great Lakes, IL for one tour. He has been practicing veterinary medicine since 1994 and has been in the Akron, IN area since 2006. He owns the Akron Veterinary Clinic along with his wife Tammy and is proud to call that area home!
Dr. Howard was introduced to veterinary laser surgery during his time in vet school at Texas A&M. He initially felt that the concept was a novel idea for veterinarians with deep pockets, a belief he held on to for many years. According to his wife Tammy who is the clinic director for their practice, the doc was initially a tough sell on the idea but after she attended a CE conference in 2008, she decided that they needed one and set about convincing Dr. Howard to get on board with the idea.
Tammy states, “He (Dr. Howard) was a belligerent vet (presumably in both senses of the word) and husband who did not want to change. It took me two years to convince him to purchase a (CO2 veterinary laser)!”
Dr. Howard counters, “I was never convinced that the laser offered a big difference in how patients responded to surgery. As I heard more veterinarians that I held in high regard speak of the benefits of laser surgery I became more intrigued with the idea. I actually saw demonstrations as early as 2003 but I was still not convinced that lasers offered a big advantage in healing. A combination of all the information I gathered over a period of time finally convinced me.”
Since Tammy was in charge of the budget for the clinic, she arranged for two demonstrations for the doctor. She also negotiated a price and told the doctor, “We can do this!” She says that they haven’t ever regretted the purchase for a second. Tammy states that their Aesculight CO2 veterinary surgical laser is, “a work hog and makes the patient’s and Doc’s lives far better than the scalpel ever did.”
Dr Howard and Tammy say that choosing to purchase their laser was, “a very positive investment for both their patients and for business purposes. We use it nearly every day we do surgery. It is an option generally accepted by clients and in addition to being a positive business investment, it also offers a humane advantage for the patients.”
The laser has had a great impact on the success of the clinic. Dr. Howard and Tammy stated, “It’s a success in each and every surgery from the difficult tumor removals … to the routine neuters and spays. It decreases healing time and complications and reduces the number of bandages… For new laser clients we frequently get a call 2-4 days later with an exclamation along the lines of “Wow…Fifi is scampering around like nothing happened! Thank you Doc!”
Recently, Dr. Howard was able to remove a tumor from a miniature dachshund named “Rusty”. He stated, “The tumor was huge! It was approximately a 6″ x 6″ by 4” deep multiple lipoma on the right lateral thorax.” Doctor Howard jokes that he, “removed another dachshund from this dog!” The tumor was completely excised thanks to the ability to control bleeding due to the use of laser and “Rusty” recovered very quickly with no complications. There has been no re-growth to date!
Tammy and Dr. Howard feel that the greatest benefit of owning and using the Aesculight CO2 veterinary surgical laser is having the ability to remove difficult tumor/cancer growths and improve recovery time. They stated, “It is an awesome advertising tool!” and Dr. Howard’s advice to any veterinarian pondering whether or not it is worth the investment is, Do it!” He’s obviously come a long way in the years since Tammy twisted his arm to buy the machine.
In his spare time, Dr. Howard likes to spend time with Tammy. He is an avid sportsman and spends a fair amount of time reloading ammunition for his guns. Since you can take the boy out of Texas and off the ranch but you can’t take the ranch and Texas out of the man, he enjoys working on their farm. He also enjoys reading and traveling with Tammy.
Dr Howard and his wife Tammy can be reached at the Akron Veterinary Clinic serving the greater Akron, IN area