Heather Osnes

At Home in South Dakota

Among the countless number of cases Dr. Heather Osnes has seen, one stands out.

“I always love the cases we see when the patient comes in just completely a wreck, and the owners are just sure they won’t be taking the home, but we work our magic and the patients heal,” Osnes said.

The one such case that stands out occurred at the Oahe Veterinary Clinic in Fort Pierre, South Dakota, the clinic Osnes joined right after graduating from Iowa State. 

One of Osnes’ patients was a German Shepherd she had been seeing for a while. When the owner called to say the dog was in bad shape, Osnes knew things were serious.

“The owner had to leave town for 48 hours and he told me to treat his dog as if it were my dog and do anything that was needed to make him well,” Osnes recalled. “When he walked out of the door of the clinic, he basically told the dog ‘good-bye’ for what he thought was the last time.”

Over the next two days, Osnes treated the German Shepherd like it was her pet. The care he received seemed to work, as the dog’s condition improved. When the owner returned late on a Sunday, Osnes was there to discharge the dog to him.

“The owner literally walked into the front door, hit his knees and started sobbing as this 100-pound German Shepherd met him at the door with his tail wagging and kisses ready for his owner,” Osnes said. “These are the cases that make it worth it.”

Over the past decade Osnes has practiced at the Oahe Veterinary Clinic seeing cats, dogs, horses, sheep and cattle. She is now a co-owner of the vet clinic. Her days are typically split between working with small animals at the clinic and farm calls to cow/calf operations in the Fort Pierre area with a little bit of equine work thrown in as well.

It’s a life Osnes says she was planning since she was eight years old growing up on a South Dakota cattle ranch.

“I love the variety of my day,” she said. “There is little room in this profession to get bored. If I get bored with what I do, there is always more to learn.”

Fort Pierre and the Oahe Veterinary Clinic are now home for Osnes. She is married, with two young boys “who have grown up basically in the clinic with me.” 

“I beat the odds of only working at the first clinic out of vet school for only one year, it’s going on 11 years now here at Oahe,” Osnes said. “I love the area and I enjoy going to our ranchers’ places and working cattle.

“I feel this clinic is such a good fit for me, both personally and professionally.”