Leitchfield's veterinary dream team
By Brindha Anantharaman

Stephanie Geary, a vet assistant practicing at the clinic, is pacifying and making sure a dog is calm while Dr. Nikki Poole is carefully drawing blood out of a vein to make sure its done with least discomfort.

When asked the reason she has been choosing Dr. Todd Ray as the veterinarian for her family of animals for more than 20 years, pet owner Susan Harrison says, "If they did another chapter of All Creatures Great and Small, he should be in it. He truly represents what good veterinary medicine is."

Dr. Ray has been practicing veterinary medicine for 28 years and owned Leitchfield Veterinary Clinic for the past 11 years, treating small and large animals. His clinic is the only one in Leitchfield, saving farmers hundreds of miles of travel and time by having the option of a rural veterinary clinic. Todd prefers to run the clinic at Leitchfield over big cities.

Drs. Nikki Poole and Brittany Brangers-Grimes are the two other vets at the clinic, and all are supported by a team of efficient assistants. Nikki has been practicing for the past 10 years and has treated animals from chickens to a giraffe. They all work with one goal: serving the rural community and its pets, providing quality affordable care.

The team has a sense of mission that is inspiring.

"They don’t call us the Leitchfield dream team for nothing," says receptionist Dreama Mudd, who says Todd is like a father figure to her, offering advice professionally and otherwise. He identified her rapport with people and appointed her as head receptionist.

Although Todd is more experienced than the other two, he says they learn from each other, and he treats them as equals. The clinic's philosophy is that listening to their clients is as important as the diagnostic tests in identifying the ailments. Together they find the best course of treatment.

"I don’t want to run in the room, stick a dog with a vaccine, and run out of the room," Todd says.

Getting to know the clients better is a very integral part of their relationship and why they keep coming back to him.

Pet owners know Todd keeps himself current in veterinary knowledge and equipment, and they trust him with their animals.

The clinic remained open during COVID-19, providing curbside treatments in spite of various challenges.

Todd and his associates also strive to accommodate every patient, even when their owners can’t afford the treatment, advising on the best options to find care.

During difficult days when animals have to be put down, the clinic's staff put their hearts at ease by knowing that they’re relieving an animal’s suffering. If they don’t see a clear reason, they refuse to euthanize pets even if the clients disagree.

"Sometimes you have to do what’s right in your heart than what the clients want.," Todd says. He copes by going home and playing with his own animals.

The vets also try to find homes for abandoned animals, often with relentless efforts.
Beyond the clinical work, Todd supports community organizations, attending fundraisers to support the high school's golf and cheerleading teams.

"Kindness goes a long way," he says. "My job is more than taking care of pets. Awards, recognition and wealth have never been my goal. A healthy animal walking away with their happy owner is my reward. Being a good person is more important than being recognized."
When asked about the best day of his career, Todd refers to the day 32 years ago when he got a call from Glenda Bufford at Auburn University, asking, "Would you like to come to Auburn College of Veterinary Medicine? We have a spot for you!"

Their lives are surrounded by animals. They find solace, energy and livelihood from the animals who are very comforting and giving.

Piper, a canine lodger at the Leitchfield Veterinary Clinic, which has been operated for the past 11 years by Dr. Todd Ray, enjoys its stay while its owners were away. There are three vets at the clinic, which plays a vital role in caring for the pets of Grayson County. Owners leave their pets at the clinic for lodging because they know they are given the best care possible.

Ruthie and Morris Johnson, who have been clients for over 15 years, patiently wait outside the Leitchfield Veterinary Clinic to pacify their dogs Hopper and Jumper before they enter the clinic.

The camaraderie of the team at the Leitchfield Veterinary clinic is so evident. They are called the Leitchfield Dream Team because they are a family and have each other’s back. Stephanie Geary just discovered that morning that her pet Guinea Pig is actually a male and they are sharing a funny moment here.

Mako the ferret always finds a way to crack up Dr. Nikki Poole with his super brazen and amusing character even after a really bad day. Nikki says all she needs is five minutes with her ferrets and she is as good as new.

Dr. Todd Ray and his staff check to see if they like the Halloween special “Blood Vampire” soap flavor. They are big on Halloween themes and pranks at the Leitchfield Veterinary Clinic.

Williiam H. Thomason former mayor of Leitchfield, brings his cat Thomas over to the clinic to get his health condition checked, after catching him back the previous day. The cat had ran away from home. He was so concerned about his cat, while the Vets give him a thorough check.

Dr. Nikki Poole feeds peanut butter to two dogs. Peanut butter is the secret to getting most dog patients distracted during treatments, especially before administering shots. Every exam room at the Leitchfield Veterinary Clinic has a peanut butter jar.

Bo the German Shepherd is fitted with an endotracheal tube, while being operated on to make sure anesthesia is safely administered to prevent any aspiration into the lungs and clear the airway.

Brenda Smith, a clinic customer since 1992, with her dog Cece. She believes the vets at the clinic do their best in treating fur babies. Most of the customers of the Leitchfield Veterinary Clinic are long-term customers.