On an average day at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in southern Utah you will find nearly 2,000 dogs, cats, and other animals who came from shelters and rescue groups around the country for special care they can only receive at Best Friends. The sanctuary has a dedicated group of veterinarians, trainers, and caregivers who provide for the special physical or behavioral needs of the animals who live there. One of those special people is OSU College of Veterinary Medicine alumna Tara Timpson (Class of 2003).
Timpson has worked at Best Friends for five years and, although she is the main large animal vet at the sanctuary, she works with many different species. Her rounds often include Catworld, Dogtown, the Bunny house, Wildfriends, and even an occasional visit to the Parrot Garden. “I love the variety of species and cases we get to see at Best Friends,” she says. Timpson also works three days a week performing spay/neuter surgeries, a critical component of the Best Friends mission to create a world with no more homeless pets and zero-kill animals shelters.
The success of Best Friends is based in their large grassroots network of animal lovers who work to place dogs and cats who were considered unadoptable into good homes. “I really enjoy being part of rescuing and re-homing sick and injured animals,” says Timpson, “and I like working with a group of committed and caring individuals who are trying to improve the lives of animals worldwide.”
The Best Friends sanctuary includes a variety of permanent residents who can’t be adopted and Timpson admits to becoming attached to many of them. One of her favorites is a young sheep named Lambert who came to the sanctuary as a very sick boy. “He had a horrendous infection with corynebacterium renale and the worst case of ulcerative posthitis I have ever seen,” she says. “I had to do surgery twice on Lambert to reconstruct his prepuce and amputate his urethral process. He had a terrible reaction to his injectable antibiotics and tried to die several times.” Thanks to Timpson’s expertise and dedication, Lambert is now an active part of the sanctuary tours. “He is a happy, obnoxious guy who loves to be walked by our visitors and volunteers,” she says. “He still needs special care but survived the ordeal amazingly well.”
Asked about her days in vet school, Timpson remembers many of her classes fondly. “I have lots of good memories of OSU. I loved RVP with Dr. Dennis Cundy and Dr. Rocky Crisman. Dr. Cundy taught me to pass a nasogastric tube and gave me a passion for equine dentistry that I still have today! Dr. Crisman gave me a love for small ruminant medicine and surgery — especially sheep. I loved my medicine and surgery rotations and I still use and think about things I learned from the amazing Dr. Jill Parker, the hilarious Dr. Mike Huber, and the late Dr. Ed Scott.”
Fellow alumni from the Class of 2003 may remember Timpson for her unique stethoscope. “I still have my gigantic ‘Cebrascope’ (my big, German stethoscope that I got from Dr. Cebra) and I think it is the best stethoscope I own despite the fact that I still get teased about how huge it is.”
In addition to a giant stethoscope, Timpson took many other memorable things from OSU. One is a mantra taught to her by Dr. John Schlipf that she uses in her medical cases more than any other: ‘The definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over but expecting a different result.’ She also continues to use lab techniques she honed in Clinical Pathology with Dr. Tornquist, and “I never anesthetize a horse, pig, sheep or goat without thinking of things I learned from Dr. Tom Riebold,” she says. “I feel lucky to have attended OSU-CVM and to have been influenced by all the great minds and clinicians I was fortunate enough to work with.”