Business is good at Crazy Mountain Veterinary Service. “Really good,” says Katie Rein Peters, who has been on her own since May 21. Between her own business, working at her family’s Rein Anchor Ranch near Melville, taking call for Parks Vet Clinic, and getting married in June, Katie has had plenty to keep her occupied in her first two months.
“I do mostly horse and cattle work. Routine dog and cat stuff for friends and neighbors. And relief work for Catherine Parks and Bob Sager in Wilsall.” With the recent outbreak of rabies in a dog and lamb in the county (traced to skunks), Katie and Catherine held rabies clinics in Harlowton and Shawmut and vaccinated 140 animals.
Katie doesn’t have an office to tie her down but can be reached at her home phone (632-4327) or cellphone (350-0342). Her work days vary greatly and give her lots to do. “I love the freedom of not having to be in a building. I’m working for myself and have more flexible hours. When things are slow, I can do paperwork or ordering. Or, I can help out at the ranch.”
Prior to setting up her own business, Katie worked mostly with large animals for almost two years at the Harlowton Vet Clinic. Rein had attended the Melville School and was the only graduate of her eighth grade class. She was the valedictorian at Sweet Grass High School and received a Walmart Scholarship to attend Montana State University. After three years at Bozeman, Katie was accepted through the WICHE program to the Washington State University School of Veterinary Medicine in Pullman. Hundreds applied for 70 places in her vet school class. Rein completed her bachelor’s degree requirements while studying veterinary medicine.
Katie competed again to enter an internship in Large Animal Medicine and Surgery at Texas A & M University in College Station. She was one of two interns, three medical and three surgical residents in the program.
“I got to see a lot of hard cases and was on call half of my year in the program.” Katie rotated through seven different services for at least one month each: Orthopedic Surgery, Soft Tissue Surgery, Lameness, Internal Medicine, Emergency Medicine, Food Animals, Reproduction.
How was vet school? “I hated the first two years sitting in class all day. But, I liked the rest. I didn’t like being away from home. It was kind of tedious. There was a lot of studying.”
Did they teach anything about the business of veterinary medicine? “We had an elective class in Practice Management. Vets are notoriously bad business people. I learned that I have to take care of animals, but I also have to make a living. But, it’s hard to charge neighbors and friends who are most of my clients.”
Katie has almost paid off her vet school loan. Fortunately, the Walmart and other scholarships gave her a full ride for college. But now going into business for herself, Rein had to take out another loan for a new pickup and vet box. “But, I’m buying equipment as I need it. Not all at once.” She figures it will cost around $50,000 to get fully started.
Katie Rein had the good fortune to grow up in agriculture. “My parents are pretty business oriented. My grandfather owned several ranches and two car dealerships.” Katie has a married brother who works on the family ranch with their father. Her sister is also married and her husband is a rancher in Melville as well.
Katie Rein added Peters to her name on June 23 when she married Cody Peters. “I met him when I was in college.” Cody is employed by the Montana Department of Livestock in their Buffalo Program. “He chases buffalo back into the park.”
How is ag business, these days? “Cattle prices are okay. But, not as good as they were in recent years. We have had good hay crops.”
What is the best part of veterinary work? “The successes. Seeing animals healed. I recently injected (steroid) into a horse that was lame for two years. The animal was able to participate in ranch roping afterward.”
The hard part, these days, is being on call all the time. Nonetheless, Katie Rein Peters enjoys “being on my own doing a variety of things, changing chores,” and running her veterinary business in the Crazy Mountains.