John Bailey once performed a Caesarean section on a 15-foot boa constrictor.
He applied and cleaned an abscess on an elephant, surgically removed a welder’s leather glove from the intestinal tract of a Labrador retriever, and treated a tarantula for respiratory disease.
He has also operated on a goldfish. The beloved family pet had a tumor near its tail, and its owners asked Bailey if he could do something about it.
“I anesthetized it and had surgery on it,” said Bailey, owner of Cedar Pet Clinic in Lake Elmo. “Remember that goldfish are carp, so they stay out of the water for a long time. It was a very quick surgery. I removed the tumor, re-sutured it and put it back in the water.”
For 50 years, Bailey has been treating animals, reptiles and birds in the Twin Cities. Their practice includes dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, gerbils, hamsters, hedgehogs, turtles, rats and mice, chinchillas, ferrets, guinea pigs, pet chickens, ducks and geese, snakes, iguanas, chameleons, frogs and sugar gliders. Peacocks and pot-bellied pigs.
“Basically, if it will fit through the front door, we’ll work on it,” he said.
The work is not for the faint hearted.
Bailey, 74, of St. Paul has had a horse dislocated his shoulder; raised psittacosis, a rare infectious disease, from a parrot; And has been pawed by a tiger.
He has suffered multiple bites from dogs, cats, rats, hamsters and sometimes even guinea pigs.
“For all the bad news about ferrets, I have never been bitten by a ferret,” he said. “I have caught snakes sometimes. Once, I was trying to listen to the heartbeat of a 10-inch-long snake, and I held it near my ear, and it went out and grabbed my ear lobe and didn’t let go.
don’t know what day will bring
After five decades of treating animals, Bailey says he never gets bored.
“Many people who do the same thing all the time, if they only see dogs or dogs and cats, you can see very similar problems all day long,” he said. “For me, I never know what I’m going to see and what I’m going to do.”
For example, on Thursday mornings, they treated a Rottweiler, a Russian blue cat, and a cocktail. They also looked at a ferret that had skin cancer, performed oral surgery on a guinea pig named Boy, and examined an X-ray of a cat named Pepper, who had swallowed a whistle. He said that Pepper is very ill and will need surgery.
Treating a wide variety of animals means Bailey and his staff “must keep learning about those animals and adding to our knowledge,” he said. “It helps that we have the technology to deal with them. I can do a blood test on a parrot and find out about white blood cells and red blood cells and liver and kidney and general health function on a few drops of blood I can
In addition to treating tarantulas with respiratory problems, Bailey had to amputate the legs of the large, hairy creatures. “They wound up, and you can’t splice them back together, so you cut it close to the body,” he said.
It is not uncommon for them to work on mice and rats to remove cancerous tumors. “They are used for early cancer studies, so they are bred to be susceptible to cancer, and they are,” he said. “Mammary gland cancer is very common, and surgery at least gives you some time. It doesn’t always cure it, but that’s true for everything.”
His approach to animal care
Longtime client Diane Knoll stopped at the clinic Thursday afternoon with her family’s senior rescue dog, Dolly. Bailey deals with Dolly, a mix of miniature poodle, toy fox terrier and Australian cattle dog, and previously looked after the family’s Labradoodle, Lena. Lena died in 2015.
“He spent time with me discussing Doggy’s future with canine-cognitive issues and quality of life with her, as well as other health issues,” said Knoll, who lives in Lake Elmo. “That’s what I appreciate about the doctor: He takes the time to fully explain the issues—both good and uncomfortable—a pet owner needs to consider.”
Linda Stratig, an employee of client care at Cedar Pet Clinic, met Bailey in 1994 when she brought her late Great Dane/Labrador mix, Abigail Victoria, to care.
“I had a new puppy, and I was looking for a vet who had the same values as me – someone who would go the extra mile, always be honest and honest with me and take care of not only my pet, but me as a customer,” she said. “I have been a customer ever since.”
Stratig, who began working for the clinic in 2001, said Bailey was known for his “huge heart”. He really shows the love of people by taking care of his pets.”
Sue Walter, a certified veterinary technician, has worked for Baileys since 1987.
“I love the medicine that Dr. Bailey practices,” she said. “He really cares about his patients. He cares about the customers who bring patients. He cares about all of us.”
looking for pennies
Bailey, who grew up in Roseville, decided he wanted to become a veterinarian at the age of 14 after spending a night looking for his family pet Beagle Penny.
Penny had a habit of walking around the neighborhood and would often go to see Lynn Rundquist, a veterinary student at the University of Minnesota who lived in the neighborhood, he said. “Penny had an ear problem, and she knew that if she hurt, she should go see him, and he could help,” he said.
One night, Penny didn’t come home, and Bailey’s mother woke Bailey at around 11 p.m. and went outside to look for her. “She wasn’t in any of her usual poop, so I went back home, and my mother said, ‘Okay, you better check in with the doctor (Rundquist). He’s probably still studying. And see if he’s seen her,’ he said. “I go down there and here she is, sitting in a chair in the living room with a textbook on Penny’s back, and Penny was in a deep sleep .
“I just thought that if an animal could have that much trust in a person, that’s something I needed to do,” he said.
Bailey graduated from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Science in 1972. After working at a clinic in Egan for a year, he and a partner co-founded the Cedar Pet Clinic in South Minneapolis in 1973.
“When we established the clinic, we wrote a letter to all 100 clinics in the five-county area saying that if people had clients for birds, we would see them,” he said. “I think every vet in those clinics said, ‘Hmmm. If they look at birds, they’ll see anything, and that’s what happened.’ ,
he will do his job
Cedar Pet Clinic expanded to Lake Elmo in 1996 after Bailey and his wife, Margaret “Peg” Guilfoyle, who lived in Grant, decided it was time to find a practice closer to home.
“I used to leave at 7 in the morning and on a really, really good day, I would come home at 7 at night,” he said. “(Peg) was tired of not coming to my house.”
Guilfoyle found a building at Lake Elmo, near Lake Elmo, and Bailey began practicing two days a week in Minneapolis and two days a week at Elmo Lake. Cedar Pet Clinic moved to its current location on Stillwater Boulevard in 2006; Bailey sold his interest in the Minneapolis clinic in 2005, but remained in practice there until 2007.
The trademark of Lake Elmo Clinic is a collection of mailboxes in the shape of animals. The current mailbox is the size of a Beagle; The previous mailbox contains a cat, hen, rooster, macaw and golden retriever.
“A woman in Florida makes them for us,” said Maggie Bailey, Bailey’s daughter and practice manager at Cedars Pet Clinic. “It started in 2006, and then we became known for them. We’re crazy mailbox people.”
Retired mailboxes are “planted” in the daylight area next to the clinic. “We’ve got seven of them,” she said. “The cat is missing one ear. We have a chicken that has lost a feather. Let me put it this way: Mailboxes need veterinary care.”
John Bailey is a past president of the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association, and was named State Veteran of the Year in 2016. He was a regular lecturer at the University of Minnesota School of Veterinary Medicine for the Minnesota Medical Association and other organizations.
From 2001 to 2013, he was the medical director of the Wildlife Sanctuary in Sandstone. He is also a former kennel veterinarian for the Minnesota Horse and Hunt Club. For the past 45 years, he has provided free care for nursing-home companion animals.
Bailey, who owns a rescue gray tabby cat named Wheezy, works three days a week. He says that he has no intention of retiring.
“I still really enjoy what I’m doing,” he said. “I had a client a few years ago who was the third generation of the family I’d seen. I had another client who was the daughter of one of my favorite trainers at the University of Minnesota.
After decades of pet treatment, it’s hard not to engage, he said, “especially the ones I’ve seen 10, 12, 15, 18 years old.”
“And then there’s always the final journey,” he said. “I have to do it, and it gets tough. My personal attitude towards that is that when it stops bothering me to put an animal down, I will stop working.”