On her first day of first grade at Farley Elementary School, little LaNita Flanary announced to teacher Linda Thompson that she was going to be a veterinarian, “and I know how to spell that!” she added for good measure. “Mrs. Thompson just loves to tell that story,” laughs LaNita, who became a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine some 20 years later, a job which she says is “all of what I expected and so much more.”
A lifelong animal lover, LaNita grew up on a small farm on Husbands Road with a menagerie of pets. Now a large farm on the line of Marshall and Graves Counties is home to LaNita and a larger menagerie of pets, each of which she considers part of her family. The animals that were her companions as a child and the animals that are her companions now—cattle, Nigerian dwarf goats, Netherland dwarf rabbits, tiny pot-bellied pigs, cats, three very special dogs she counts as her children, and an assortment of chickens, ducks, and geese—prompted LaNita to include the treatment of exotic animals in her practice.
“When I was 12, I saved my money and bought a three-day old calf I named Precious. Precious was my best friend; she heard about my boy troubles and listened to my 4-H and FFA speeches, she was there for everything. That experience taught me that pets don’t have to be “typical” animals. Someone may bring in an iguana they love just as much as someone else who loves their dog, and I want to be able to treat this beloved animal that is someone’s best friend.” Although exotic animals account for only5% of Dr. Flanary’s practice, with 80% of the clinic’s patients being dogs and 15% cats, LaNita believes she now cares for more exotic animals than any other vet in the area.
LaNita opened Flanary Veterinary Clinic as a young doctor in 1997. She had graduated as valedictorian from Reidland HighSchool in 1988, attended Murray State University, and was granted prestigious early acceptance to Auburn University Veterinary School. After graduating summa cum laude and completing her veterinary preceptorship (similar to an internship), LaNita worked for other doctors in the area for about two years before deciding to build a clinic of her own.
Today, she has a staff of eight, including Dr. Robert “Marty” Wynn, who is a native of the Heath area, four technicians and three assistants. And she considers Paducah Bank a partner in her success.
“I was 26 years old when I decided to build my clinic and was very concerned about finances. My CPA and I wrote a business plan and took it to Paducah Bank. They said, ‘How can we help you?’ They believed in me. They’ve been with me every step of the way.
“Tom Clayton has been wonderful to me, and that motivation Paducah Bank gave me by believing in me made me believe in myself. They have helped make my business a success.”
In 15 years of practice, LaNita has seen significant changes in the field of veterinary medicine. She says that in addition to a much greater ability to perform diagnostic tests on-site and important advances in medications and treatments, one of the biggest changes is with pet owners. “People have moved their pets from the backyard to the bedroom. Pets have become a more significant part of people’s lives and families,” she says, and adds that she takes her job of caring for these family members very seriously.
“I look at my own animals as my children. Animals bring unconditional love and happiness, and I get to keep animals healthy so that they can bring joy to people’s lives for years to come. One of the best compliments I ever received is when a man who has known me my whole life said about me, ‘This isn’t her job; this is her life.’”
Flanary Veterinary Clinic is located at 200 Eagle Nest Drive in Reidland. More information is available at www.flanaryvet.com.
There is NO TYPICAL DAY,” says Dr. Flanary. “You never know what the day will bring.” Some of her more unusual days have included treating a water dragon, a water tortoise, and a chinchilla which required a C-section, resulting in three healthy baby chinchillas.