MPW.65 / Trenton Vet, Interrupted by Sarah Priestap
Dr. Dale Alumbaugh visits with a Quarter Horse as he puts on a long plastic glove at a small farm in Hamilton, Mo., on Sept. 24, 2013. As a veterinarian based out of rural-centric Trenton, Mo., checking and caring for livestock takes up much of his time. SARAH PRIESTAP / MPW.65 Dr. Dale Alumbaugh visits with a Quarter Horse as he puts on a long plastic glove at a small farm in Hamilton, Mo., on Sept. 24, 2013. As a veterinarian based out of rural-centric Trenton, Mo., checking and caring for livestock takes up much of his time.
Alumbaugh is no stranger to dirty work. As owner JoAnne Durfee holds her cow at her farm in Hamilton, Mo., Alumbaugh checks the animal to see if she is pregnant, a delcate job requiring sensitive fingers to feel for the calf. He'll go through many gloves throughout the day, traveling to several to check herds of cows for pregnancies. SARAH PRIESTAP / MPW.65 Alumbaugh is no stranger to dirty work. As owner JoAnne Durfee holds her cow at her farm in Hamilton, Mo., Alumbaugh checks the animal to see if she is pregnant, a delcate job requiring sensitive fingers to feel for the calf. He'll go through many gloves throughout the day, traveling to several to check herds of cows for pregnancies.
Another day of lunch on the run for Dr. Alumbaugh, as he drives to check on more livestock on three farms north of Trenton. Spending mornings caring for small animals at his practice in Trenton, with the rest of the day dedicated to touring farms makes multitasking a necessity. "I've gotten pretty used to a hectic work day," said Alumbaugh, who has kept a similar schedule for 40 years, "But like anyone else, the stress catches up to me." SARAH PRIESTAP / MPW.65 Another day of lunch on the run for Dr. Alumbaugh, as he drives to check on more livestock on three farms north of Trenton. Spending mornings caring for small animals at his practice in Trenton, with the rest of the day dedicated to touring farms makes multitasking a necessity. "I've gotten pretty used to a hectic work day," said Alumbaugh, who has kept a similar schedule for 40 years, "But like anyone else, the stress catches up to me."
A late afternoon is spent vaccinating calves, using a chute to keep the animals from objecting. This strenuous work is part of the reason Alumbaugh is having trouble finding someone to take over his practice, his job requiring the brains of a vet, and strength of a farmer. SARAH PRIESTAP / MPW.65 A late afternoon is spent vaccinating calves, using a chute to keep the animals from objecting. This strenuous work is part of the reason Alumbaugh is having trouble finding someone to take over his practice, his job requiring the brains of a vet, and strength of a farmer.
Blood from polling, or removing the horns of young bulls, stains Dr. Alumbaugh's hands as he holds onto the bars of a cattle chute to care for his own herd of cattle outside of Trenton. Alumbaugh grew up on a dairy farm, and while he has assistants who aid in running his 600 acre farm, he hopes to transition from vet to full-time farmer in the near future. "I've always loved farming, but I think God meant for me to be a veterinarian first," he said, "I can stitch up a wound faster than I can tie up a fence." SARAH PRIESTAP / MPW.65 Blood from polling, or removing the horns of young bulls, stains Dr. Alumbaugh's hands as he holds onto the bars of a cattle chute to care for his own herd of cattle outside of Trenton. Alumbaugh grew up on a dairy farm, and while he has assistants who aid in running his 600 acre farm, he hopes to transition from vet to full-time farmer in the near future. "I've always loved farming, but I think God meant for me to be a veterinarian first," he said, "I can stitch up a wound faster than I can tie up a fence."
Joe Kemper, Dr. Alumbaugh's assistant, holds an old, blind dog steady as Dr. Alumbaugh euthanizes it at his office in Trenton. While he understands the necessity to help end the suffering of old animals in pain, he won't euthanize unwanted or stray animals, finding homes for them instead. SARAH PRIESTAP / MPW.65 Joe Kemper, Dr. Alumbaugh's assistant, holds an old, blind dog steady as Dr. Alumbaugh euthanizes it at his office in Trenton. While he understands the necessity to help end the suffering of old animals in pain, he won't euthanize unwanted or stray animals, finding homes for them instead.
Bending down to feel for broken bones, Alumbaugh cares for a young Beagle named Chris who had been hit by a car the previous night, a call that had kept him in the office later than usual. SARAH PRIESTAP / MPW.65 Bending down to feel for broken bones, Alumbaugh cares for a young Beagle named Chris who had been hit by a car the previous night, a call that had kept him in the office later than usual.
Jonas Hostettler, right, laughs after he found a puppy his Bernese Mountain dog had naturally given birth to as Dr. Alumbaugh performs a cesarian section to save seven puppies. The room was somber as he worked quickly to remove the puppies, but as the dogs were bundled into towels and began to breathe and then to whimper, Dr. Alumbaugh started to joke with his assistants and Hostettler. SARAH PRIESTAP / MPW.65 Jonas Hostettler, right, laughs after he found a puppy his Bernese Mountain dog had naturally given birth to as Dr. Alumbaugh performs a cesarian section to save seven puppies. The room was somber as he worked quickly to remove the puppies, but as the dogs were bundled into towels and began to breathe and then to whimper, Dr. Alumbaugh started to joke with his assistants and Hostettler.
While checking on his herds of horses and cattle, Dr. Alumbaugh stops to visit with one of his favorite horses, Shelley, at dusk. While Alumbaugh doesn't have much time for it, he is sometimes able to sneak off for a few hours on a Sunday and ride one of his horses. SARAH PRIESTAP / MPW.65 While checking on his herds of horses and cattle, Dr. Alumbaugh stops to visit with one of his favorite horses, Shelley, at dusk. While Alumbaugh doesn't have much time for it, he is sometimes able to sneak off for a few hours on a Sunday and ride one of his horses.
While unwinding after a long day,  Alumbaugh is interrupted by a customer needing advice about a sick cat, while his partner, Teresa Fellhaur, watches at the Southside Bar in Gallatin, Mo. "He is so good at answering that phone," said Teresa, who is used to the frequent interruptions, "Doctor is patient and good with all these people he meets. He has wanted to do this ever since he was a little boy, he told me, and you can tell he still enjoys it." SARAH PRIESTAP / MPW.65 While unwinding after a long day, Alumbaugh is interrupted by a customer needing advice about a sick cat, while his partner, Teresa Fellhaur, watches at the Southside Bar in Gallatin, Mo. "He is so good at answering that phone," said Teresa, who is used to the frequent interruptions, "Doctor is patient and good with all these people he meets. He has wanted to do this ever since he was a little boy, he told me, and you can tell he still enjoys it."
Well past dusk, Dr. Alumbaugh collects eggs in the small chicken coop adjacent to his house. "I'll do many of the other chores around here, " his partner Teresa said, "But he always loves to go and collect the eggs." SARAH PRIESTAP / MPW.65 Well past dusk, Dr. Alumbaugh collects eggs in the small chicken coop adjacent to his house. "I'll do many of the other chores around here, " his partner Teresa said, "But he always loves to go and collect the eggs."
Another phone call distracts Dr. Alumbaugh from his Thursday night football game, his rescued dogs settled around him. This time, however, the call was from a friend, just catching up. The Doctor was able to forgo a late night emergency call and instead, relax. SARAH PRIESTAP / MPW.65 Another phone call distracts Dr. Alumbaugh from his Thursday night football game, his rescued dogs settled around him. This time, however, the call was from a friend, just catching up. The Doctor was able to forgo a late night emergency call and instead, relax.
Photographer
Sarah Priestap Thetford, Vermont
Team Mac

Story Summary

Manure on his boots, blood on his hands, and a constantly ringing cell phone in his pocket, Dale Alumbaugh, 67, daily witnesses the breadth of the lives of animals from lap dogs to dairy cows in Grundy County, Missouri. A veterinarian in Trenton for more than forty years, Alumbaugh puts in twelve- to fourteen-hour days as a doctor for large and small animals, helping his partner, Teresa, care for their sizeable farm in the late evenings. Down-to-earth and laid back, his clients appreciate his personality and his soft heart, his clinic and home filled with stray animals he has come to call his own. Whether he is spaying a cat or is curled up on the couch with his dogs watching football, Alumbaugh never hesitates to answer his phone, often responding to emergency calls and giving free veterinary advice at all hours of the day and night.