Four paws and two thumbs up

It was a sunny day when I made the short trip from Jacksonville to meet with the owners of Four Paws Veterinary Clinic that has recently opened in Winchester. Upon entering the business, I was kindly greeted by a tiny dog I came to know as “Gizmo” and the veterinarian, Dr. William Debold. As a dog owner myself, I was incredibly surprised at how welcoming the clinic felt. Where most clinics are lined with concrete walls and dull colors, Four Paws is filled with beautiful wooden and corrugated metal walls and brand new wooden laminate flooring throughout. The business is rustic and homey, as sunny as the day outside and truly a comforting feeling for any pet owner who considers their fur friend as a family member. Not long after arriving, I am greeted by Dr. Debold’s wife, Carol, a former resident of Winchester. It doesn’t take long to learn the beautiful design was a labor of love.

For over 22 years, Dr. Debold owned and operated a mixed animal clinic. In all, he has practiced veterinary medicine in five states for over 31 years, even taking care of horses and cattle belonging to country stars such as Randy Travis, Don Williams and Tanya Tucker, just to name a few. While his love for animals has never changed, a new love caught his eye. Married for over five years, Carol and William Debold’s story begins in Michigan, where his long-time clinic was located. After a few years, family needs called Carol Debold back to Winchester. Not content with the distance that laid between them, William Debold made the decision to sell his clinic and after some thought, begin his own to serve the community his wife so loves. In fact, when asking what the inspiration was for opening the clinic, William and Carol Debold both looked at each other and smiled. No words were needed to answer the question. Four Paws was in fact built by Carol Debold, completely decorated by her while William Debold was busy closing shop in Michigan. He did not see any of it until after it was completely done. The support these two have for each other is evident with every nail and board that holds the business together.

Open since March, Four Paws offers an array of clinic, as well as in-home services. For those unable to transport their pets due to age, difficulty or time constraints, Dr. Debold offers basic in-home services. A true lover of animals, he also provides canine and feline euthanasia in the comfort of your own home should that be a choice with which your family is faced. At the clinic, services include microchipping, routine vaccinations, wellness examinations, canine/feline illnesses and heartworm testing, as well as spay/neutering and other minor surgical procedures. While predominantly serving canines and felines, he did not rule out assisting those with small animals such as rabbits and hamsters if the need arose.

When asking Dr. Debold what one of his most rewarding experiences was as a veterinarian, he recalled saving the life of a bird dog. The animal had accidentally been shot during a hunting trip and was wounded severely through an artery in its shoulder. It took him over two hours just to stop the bleeding, and two weeks of around-the-clock care to nurse the dog back to health. But much like animals do, he bounced back fearless as ever and went right back to hunting alongside his owner. In a way, this story seemed somewhat reminiscent of the veterinarian himself. Selling his clinic in Michigan and moving to a smaller community was a big risk. When asked what his biggest hurdles have been throughout the years, he told of how originally it had been purchasing the equipment which sometimes costs astronomical amounts. At the current moment, the biggest hurdle is gaining cliental, which as many can imagine would be awfully hard to do in a new community. But much like the bird dog, Dr. Debold seems unafraid of the venture and instead is just excited to continue doing what he loves.

As my final question, I asked the Debolds what their hope is for the future of Four Paws. Their answer: “To serve the people and their pets. To bring back services to a community that has not had a veterinary clinic in quite some time.” As someone who lives in Jacksonville, I have more than a few options when it comes to veterinarians. I look forward to making another sunny drive to Winchester sometime in the near future, but this time with my dog in tow. You cannot put a distance too far on a compassionate and caring veterinarian, and Four Paws is worth every mile.

Dr. William Debold is located at 124 W. Jefferson St. in Winchester. To make an appointment for your furry family member, contact 217-320-9069.

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