Veterinarian retires after 33 years

By Jeanette Michalets - Special to the Enterprise

Sept. 18, 2014

Dr. Katrin Witz purchased the Oconomowoc Animal Hospital from Dr. Robert Lauridsen. Lauridsen has retired after practicing veterinary medicine for 33 years.
Jeanette Michalets/Special to the Enterprise

OCONOMOWOC — His clients are what Dr. Robert Lauridsen remembers most after 33 years practicing veterinary medicine in Oconomowoc.

“What stands out more than the individual animals are the clients,” Lauridsen said about his recent retirement. “I’ve taken care of clients’ pets, their children’s pets. I’ve seen my clients’ children grow up.”

He remembers one couple in particular who were attached to the German shepherd breed.

“I helped deliver 26 litters of German shepherd puppies,” he said. “We went through the whole alphabet, Litter A, Litter, B, Litter C ...”

Lauridsen sold his practice on Aug. 15 to Dr. Katrin Witz. Witz is a 2012 graduate of the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Dawn Miksic, who has been with the Oconomowoc Animal Hospital for 16 years, will continue to practice there.

After working for many years as a certified technician at busy small animal clinics in the area, Witz decided to attend veterinary school.

“This is what I was planning to do all my life,” Witz said. “There was never a question if I would do it, just a matter of time.”

She stresses that good communication with her clients and compassionate care of animals is what she is all about.

“I want to care for the entire life of the pet, she said. “I want to get to know my clients too, not just the pets. I want to give clients options and guide them to make the best decisions for them and their pets.”

While Witz was immersed in the new methods and practices during her schooling, Lauridsen has seen much change since he opened his clinic in 1981.

“I’ve seen the technology change,” he said. “Radiography. You developed the film in tanks and fluid. Then we went to a processor. We thought that was the ‘cat’s meow.’ Now about two-thirds of clinics have gone digital. We’ve gone digital, too.”

Lauridsen also remembers the days when he did not have an in-house laboratory and had to send samples to Oconomowoc Memorial Hospital for analysis. When he needed results quickly, he would run the samples over to the hospital himself, even as late as midnight. There were also no emergency clinics in the area during the early years of his practice. Lauridsen recalls receiving calls in the middle of the night and meeting clients at his office in emergency situations. Sometimes the clients would have to help the doctor perform procedures because there was no one else in the office to do so.

Today, the Oconomowoc Animal Hospital offers clients an in-house lab and digital radiography, and the veterinarians can refer clients to specialists such as orthopedic doctors. In earlier years, “we were expected to do everything,” Lauridsen said.

One example of “doing everything” that Lauridsen said he will never forget, was the time he and his staff performed a C-section on a wolf hybrid who delivered 19 puppies.

“We recruited everybody to help, all the staff. Each one was caring for about six pups,” he said.

While Witz is looking forward to meeting clients and their pets, Lauridsen is anticipating having more time for his wife, Cindy, his hobbies, and his pet dachshunds. He will be returning to the office from time to time to fill in when a doctor is on vacation or to do relief work.

Witz is looking forward to treating reptiles as well as cats and dogs and to working with her staff. After looking hard for a practice to buy, she is happy she found the Oconomowoc Animal Hospital.

“It’s the right fit,” she said. “A great team.”