TAYLORVILLE — The outside entrance to the X-ray room at Countryside Veterinary Service features double doors.

“That’s so people can bring their horses or cattle in to be X-rayed,” explained Dr. Stacey Funderburk, one of three vets in the practice.

An adjacent area includes a cattle stall that looks narrow but is adequate to hold a bull while veterinarians examine and treat him, with a covered outdoor area for large-animal trailers so sick or injured animals and their humans won’t be exposed to the elements while they unload.

Countryside is one of a shrinking number of animal medical practices that deal with large animals such as cattle and horses, and Funderburk, known to client families as “Dr. Stacey,” said they treat everything from pocket pets (mice, hamsters, guinea pigs) up to camels.

Yes, camels. One client has camels, which are featured in a petting zoo and in churches’ Christmas pageants and live Nativity events. Funderburk also sees llamas, alpacas, goats, pigs — pretty much you-name-it. They only draw the line at birds, because that’s a specialty better suited to vets who are trained to treat “exotics.”

The practice offers 24-hour emergency availability, and it’s not unusual for one of the doctors to be called out at all hours to make a house call. Funderburk said in a recent week she had to do a late-night Caesarian section on a cat and deliver a calf whose mother needed assistance.

Countryside’s new location at the junction of Illinois 48 and 29 in Taylorville is much larger than its previous offices, with room for boarding, a hospital for sick animals that have to stay a few days, a lab capable of producing blood test results in as little as 20 minutes, a pharmacy, and a washer and dryer for the animals’ towels and blankets. There’s even a private room for the vets with a shower because sometimes calls get messy.

“We tried to think of everything,” she said. 

Vets include Dr. Wade Price and Dr. Marion Bliler. 

For an animal lover, some of the work can be upsetting, but Funderburk said a vet has to learn to look at such things as part of the job. It helps that innovations in animal medicine have enabled vets to treat and sometimes cure conditions that were once a death sentence.

Cancer, for example, still means the animal’s life is likely to be shortened, but chemotherapy and other drugs can prolong life and ease symptoms to give human and animal more time together. It’s also possible to do knee replacements now.

Josh and Amy Tucker of Morrisonville raise trophy time gun dogs and at any given time have 10 or 15 dogs they use for competitions and hunting. They’ve had some emergencies and some of the dogs have special dietary needs, and Josh Tucker said “Dr. Stacey” has always been there for them.

“We’ve had several vet emergencies that she’s helped us with, including an emergency gastric torsion, which kills most dogs within 40 minutes,” he said. “She’s a great vet. My wife, Amy, and I love her.”

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