YORK — Dr. Ashley Isbell always wanted to be a veterinarian.
In elementary school, she was inspired by a vet who talked to her third-grade class. In middle school, she attended an N.C. State University veterinarian camp.
“Everything I have done through school was to become a vet,” said Isbell, 29. “I’m just one of those people; I always knew. It was always my plan.”
Isbell, a 2003 graduate of Clover High School, studied veterinary science as an undergraduate at Clemson University and in vet school at the University of Georgia.
She recently opened her own practice, York Veterinary Services, at 889 U.S. 321 Bypass in York. The practice offers a full range of veterinary services, including the care of small and large animals and exotic pets, and boarding.
Her patients include the usual smattering of dogs, cats and horses, but also two bobcats; some snakes, lizards and other reptiles; raccoons; some goats; alpacas; rabbits; and birds.
“Anything that can walk in the door I’ll see here at the clinic,” said Isbell. She also can make site visits to care for large animals, such as horses, and for special cases.
Isbell said she sees a need for veterinary services for exotic animals, such as reptiles, birds and others. She said she’s had experience in that area, including a stint at the Greenville Zoo while studying at Clemson.
“I know how to take care of an elephant,” she said.
Each species is different, but Isbell is up for the challenge. She likes exotic animals.
“I would love to own a tiger,” she said. “There are not a whole lot of exotic vets, and I’ve always been interested in that.”
Isbell, who lives in Clover, finished her veterinary medicine degree at the University of Georgia in 2011. She started working at Clover Vet with Dr. Gretchen Love.
Isbell later moved to Carolina Place Animal Hospital in Richburg, with Dr. Robert Chappell, where she worked for more than two years. During that time, she also ran her own mobile vet practice in the Clover and Lake Wylie areas.
Isbell said the mobile vet practice has been incorporated into her York practice.
One of her goals, she said, has always been to own her own veterinary medicine practice, but she didn’t realize she’d be able to achieve that so soon.
She purchased the U.S. 321 building, where another vet practice closed about a year ago, and had it completely renovated. She and her staff of six, which includes her mother, Gina Isbell, and sister Karlee Isbell, as well as her fiance, Donny Goforth, did much of the work themselves.
Isbell said she enjoys helping people learn how to take care of their animals. “I love educating clients about animals and what they need,” she said.
She also works with community groups.
“I’ve always done a lot of working with Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, elementary school classes, teaching them about being a vet. I bring my great Dane with me, and they love it.”
She acknowledged that her job can sometimes be challenging, because sick animals can’t explain their symptoms.
“Being a vet is like solving puzzles every day,” she said. “It’s a good thing I’m good at solving puzzles, because they can’t tell you what’s wrong. You have to piece together everything.”
Her love of animals is evident in her own large stable of pets. Isbell’s pets include three great Danes, two Labs and a border collie, three cats at her home and one at the clinic, two horses and two goats.
Most of the pets were acquired during her practice, she said.
One of her cats was brought to her by a man who found the animal sliced open in a fight with another animal. She treated the cat, then took him in, she said.
“That’s how I get all my animals,” Isbell said, laughing. “There’s always that one case that just screams to me, ‘This is my dog, this is my cat.’ ”
Jennifer Becknell • 803-329-4077