Veterinarian Dr. D.C. Smith Continues His Work at River Trail Animal Hospital & Pet Lodge
The last 46 years has brought sweeping change to veterinary science and the treatment of pets.
But for all the evolution, one aspect has remained constant — Dr. D.C. Smith.
Since 1970, this Tulsa vet has treated thousands of animals in need, as well as the owners who view Dr. Smith’s patients as parts of their families.
“As a vet, you not only have to have love for the animal, you have to love people,” Dr. Smith said. “Helping out people by taking care of their pets is what it’s all about.”
Today, Dr. Smith is one of the seven veterinarians at River Trail Animal Hospital & Pet Lodge at 12630 S. Memorial Drive, and he’s still glad to welcome new generations of animal lovers.
Dr. Smith developed his empathy for animals at an early age, as he grew up on a farm in Cherokee, Oklahoma. He loved to help his dad take care of cows and pigs — even when things got a little messy. “When I was eight, my father woke me up in the middle of the night to help a sow have babies, since I had such small arms back then,” he said. “My dad took such good care of them, each sow had their own little hut.”
Dr. Smith decided he wanted to be a veterinarian at a very young age. He got his degree from Oklahoma State University and undertook an internship from Colorado State University. Though he also does general practitioner work, Dr. Smith’s special interest is in pet surgery and eye disorders. He’s been a frequent speaker on canine disk disease and ophthalmology, and was one of the founders of the Animal Emergency Center, which provides 24-hour care. Dr. Smith was also one of the two Oklahoma delegates to the American Veterinary Medicine Association for 20 years.
Though the honor he’s most proud of is the Dr. D.C. Smith Endowment Scholarship, which is awarded to two veterinary students at OSU each year.
The scholarship was founded by Jon and Dee Dee Stuart, whose Bernese Mountain Dog Millie was a longtime patient of Dr. Smith’s. The two established the scholarship after they were impressed by the hip replacement surgery Millie received at OSU.
Over his 46 years in practice, Dr. Smith has kept up with sweeping changes in veterinary medicine. For instance, he’s glad to see the arrival of ultrasound imagers and endoscopes — the same type used on humans — in order to make it easier to diagnose problems. “The newer equipment means that pets we once had to do exploratory surgery on no longer need it,” he said. Dr. Smith said that vets are also seeing less issues with traumatic injuries than he did when he began work in 1970. Part of it is due to leash laws that have dramatically cut down on the number of dogs hit by cars, though it’s also due to many owners taking better care of their pets.
“Pets are even more important today to owners,” he said. “They’re a unique part of the family.” Dr. Smith said he believes many owners are being more prompt about bringing their pets in when they show worrying symptoms, such as a loss of appetite or a change in their coats. Still, he said he’s saddened that there’s still a significant number of dog owners who neglect their pets or leave them permanently chained up in their yards.
Though he loves animals, Dr. Smith said he’s also driven by the desire to help people. “Today, we emphasize the bond between pets and people,” he said. “We’ve really done a lot through the years to help people see the bond.” Dr. Smith has his own animal companion, a schnauzer named Zoe.