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By Connie Leinbach
After many years without one, Ocracoke again has a veterinarian.
Dr. Laura Trent, who most recently hails from Archdale, opened for business in late January. She does not have an office, but is a mobile vet making house calls for all kinds of animals, large and small.
Trent moved back to the island last year with her 15-year-old daughter Jessica Franklin.
It was something she’s been wanting to do for a long time.
“I’ve be-bopped on the island since I was 11,” she said. “This place gets its hooks in you.” Islanders and visitors may call 252-923-3787 for appointments.
A native of Kingsport, Tenn., Trent has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree from the University of Tennessee. After working as a vet for a couple of years in Wilmington, she joined the U.S. Air Force and got a master’s degree in public health from Johns Hopkins University.
So, she calls herself “a double vet.”
Her military stint took her all over the world where she worked in public health and in bio-surveillance, which involved monitoring the Pacific Rim for flu epidemics.
After her husband died in 2006, she retired from the military in 2009.
As a single parent, she traveled the United States for a year and then worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture monitoring the breeding of dogs and cats in North Carolina.
But it was time to get back to her first love–caring for animals.
“A friend told me, ‘You’ve wanted to be a vet since you were nine.’”
After 22 years away from veterinary practice, she went back to that work fulltime, but disliked fulltime work.
“We love Ocracoke and my daughter wanted to come to high school here,” she said. “So, last summer we packed everything, including three cats and a dog, into a camper and got here two days before school started.”
The island population can’t support a full-time veterinary operation, so Trent is in the perfect situation to work as a vet part-time.
“I knew it would take someone like me for Ocracoke to have a veterinarian because of the part-time situation,” she said.
Part-time suits her fine, and she offers a fairly full range of services.
“My biggest limitation is budget,” she said. “I’m doing this on my own at this point.”
In addition to the typical family pets of cats and dogs, Trent has worked with horses, guinea pigs, hedge hogs and snakes.
“I like snakes,” she said during an interview while she examined one of Ashley Harrell’s two dogs in the Harrell’s kitchen.
This was Trent’s sixth appointment since she opened for business.
“I saw the photo (Ruth Fordon posted) on Facebook and said, ‘Yes!’” Harrell said. “I don’t have to spend an entire day going to the vet.”
When islanders need veterinary care, they have the choices of going to the Buxton office of Coastal Animal Hospital or to Roanoke Island Animal Clinic (RIAC) in Manteo. RIAC also makes a visit to the island on the third Wednesday of every month setting up shop in the Community Center for the day.
Nighttime and weekend emergencies are an issue for islanders, but Trent is here and will respond to emergencies.
“My being here is as much about service as anything else,” she said.