Dr. Erle Case graduated from the University of Ontario Canada in 1909. He traveled to Savannah by steamship following an employment offer. That job fell through and the rest is Case family history. And there is tons of history.
In the early years, the Case practice was paid with chickens, provided treatments before the discovery of antibiotics and boasted the only degreed veterinarian in town. The facility now performs digital dental x-ray, laser surgery, endoscopy and laparoscopic surgery and the entire industry requires tough educational rigors. The front halls of Case Veterinary Hospital are a virtual animal medicine time machine. Walking through those halls with Carla brings the history alive. While she has no memory of her great grandfather, recollections passed on through the generations are very vivid. As she speaks of the various antique medical pieces, she could very well be showing you old family photos. When she gets to the picture of Grandpa Erle’s old animal ambulance with the stained glass windows, her face lights up with the warmth reserved for a grandmother’s quilt. Incidentally, those very stained glass windows hang on the wall in the hospital and Carla’s face often beams.
It is also not difficult to get Carla to talk about her family. She is anxious to share those stories she knows by heart. Some she has in her own memories while others have been passed to her by her father, Jerry Case. Jerry and Carla have worked together her whole life. Jerry started out making cotton balls and sterilizing equipment. Carla recalls making the same cotton balls from a large roll of cotton. She also recalls painting the lines in the parking lot, cleaning cages and helping with whatever chores needed to be done. “I didn’t pretend to be sick a lot in school,” says Carla. “If I didn’t go to school, I went to work with mom and dad. There was no lying around the house watching television.” Listening to his daughter tell stories and recite lineage seems to bring a sense of ease to Jerry. In the office that they share, Jerry tries to remain in the background while Carla begins the process of taking over the helm. “I am just so proud of her.”
Carla is continuing to push Case Veterinary Hospital to the forefront of veterinary medicine. By investing in continued education and training for not only herself but all the veterinarians she employs, Carla has positioned Case Veterinary Hospital as one of the only hospitals in the region to routinely offer endoscopic and laparoscopic procedures to its patients. This technology is comparable to what is expected in the human medical field, enabling less invasive procedures with faster recovery time and fewer complications.
While Jerry is fully aware of the changes in veterinary medicine through the years, watching his daughter brings it all into perspective. Case Veterinary Hospital has grown into a practice involving roughly five veterinarians, seven technicians, five kennel assistants and six administrative personnel. At home, Carla is the married mother of two. Like any good father, Jerry’s first concern is for the well-being of his daughter. “I hope she continues to find balance.” Carla has had the uncanny ability to always find that balance between being a veterinarian’s daughter, an up and coming veterinarian herself and her own passion for life. As a kid, Carla can remember the common practice of veterinarians to display actual hearts in jars of formaldehyde from dogs that had died of heartworms in order to educate clients about the disease while in the exam room. She would bring the displays from the hospital to her elementary school’s show and tell. The kids were amazed and her dad thought it was “pretty cool.” Her mother, Gail, was not quite as excited and even less so when Carla dropped one of the jars on the driveway.