Enterprise Animal Hospital, owned by Dr. Severin Knudsen, just welcomed a new veterinarian to its staff, Dr. Kala Grover. Grover is a native of Crane, in the midst of Oregon’s vast high desert Harney County ranching country. She started work at the Enterprise clinic on Monday, Jan. 20.
Grover’s father was a buckaroo in southeast Oregon, giving the young Grover a taste of livestock handling from the ground up. So she is no stranger to rural areas or livestock.
“I lived in bunkhouses on ranches all over the area there growing up,” she said. “I have a big cattle and horse background, obviously.”
As a young girl, Grover decided to make veterinary medicine her life’s career choice.
“I remember being about seven or eight years old and bumping around out in the pickup checking cows and telling my Dad, ‘I think I want to be a vet,’” she said. “He told me that was a terrible idea. He had dedicated his whole life to cows and horses, and he hasn’t had much sleep, and he hasn’t had much money.”
Grover said her father is very proud of her now and was trying to warn her of the long road involved. She said if she hadn’t become a vet she probably would have studied genetics or genomic research in college.
Grover persisted in her dreams. But she had her own ideas about how to achieve them. While classmates interested in the field attended Oregon State University, Grover chose Washington State University.
“Every single kid that I graduated with that went to college went to OSU, and I wanted to meet some different people,” she said. “I was also a little more excited about their animal science program.”
Grover majored in Animal Sciences and minored in Biotechnology. She graduated WSU in 2011. From there she went to Ross University, known for its international medical program in the West Indies. Then she joined World Vets, which gave her unique opportunities in doing vet work that included aiding in herd health, which included animals as diverse as goats, cattle and camels.
For more than two years, Grover lived on an island with a 30,000 population, which she found rewarding.
“It was a great vet school because older vets go there to retire, so I got to learn radiology from the guy who wrote the book and clinical pathology from the lady who wrote the book,” she said.
Grover eventually returned to Oregon State for her degree in veterinary medicine. She also did clinicals at the university hospital for the “hands on” portion of her doctorate degree.
In February, 2016, Grover took her first professional position at Newberg Veterinary Hospital as primary and solo large animal vet.
The practice had seven doctors and all of them had done large animal practice before and were done with it,” Grover said. “They just passed the reins over to me and said, ‘Good Luck.’”
Grover said to her surprise, she found herself falling in love with “goat” medicine as she’d never imagined herself as a goat specialist. She eventually became known as “The Portland Goat Doctor.”
These days, Grover finds her biggest focus is on equine care. She ventured out on her own from NVH, focusing on equine and camelids, such as alpacas and llamas and has worked extensively with camels as well.
In 2017, she suffered a major horse wreck that put her out of commission for some time. She was forced to close the doors of her business as she had no partner or associate vet to pick up the slack.
She pulled up stakes and returned to Harney County and worked as an associate there until accepting the Enterprise Animal Hospital job from Dr. Knudsen.
Grover obtained the Enterprise position after she placed an ad announcing a “mixed animal vet extraordinaire wants rural practice.”
“I had requested the Pacific Northwest, and he was the only person in the Pacific Northwest to get hold of me,” Grover said. “My husband, who is an avid hunter and packer, said I had gotten a call from Enterprise. He said, ‘That’s the job!’”
Now, Grover’s biggest focus is on equine care. But her interest isn’t limited to veterinary treatment.
“The history of man was built on the back of a horse,” she said. In her spare time Grover enjoys riding and horse-packing, camping and black powder shooting and hunting. Grover, her husband, Ryan Lisle, and son Merle, own six horses as well as three dogs, three chickens and two Nigerian dwarf goats, which are used for milk.
Dr. Knudsen said he’s glad to have Grover on board.
“I was looking for someone who would actually want to be here and fit in with the community and knew what they were getting into,” he said. “She knows what the rural lifestyle is about. She’s practiced in rural eastern Oregon and knows what being a rural vet is about and be able to fit into the community and the practice.”
Grover is enjoying her time in Wallowa County and looks forward to meeting new clients.
“I’m excited to be here where there’s a good horse population,” she said. “I hope that people give me a call with some of their challenging horse cases now that I’m in the county.”