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Dr. Andrew Spence: Veterinarian


Loann Bergh

Many men are called to duty of mankind. Others try to help animals. Dr. Spence was one of these other people. Dr. Spence was a well known veterinarian; People often said that he was the greatest that has ever been known.

Andrew Spence was born February 13, 1860 to Andrew and Robing Spence. He was born on the Isle of Birsay, Orkney Scotland. Isle of Birsay was twenty miles across. It is believed that he received his early education there. He was brought up in a strict Presbyterian faith.

Dr. Spence and a cousin came to Canada in 1881, against his parents wishes. He spent a number of years at Emerson, Manitoba. He attended the Ontario Veterinarian College. After he was through there, he went to Guelph College at Toronto where he received his diploma and degree as Doctor of Veterinary Surgery in 1892. in 1893 he received a certificate of Fellowship from the Ontario Veterinary Society for his "valuable contribution's in the field of Veterinary Medicine."

After Dr. Spence graduated, he returned to Emerson, Manitoba where he associated with Dr. McFadden in veterinarian medicine.

He moved to Hallock, Minnesota in 1897 where he opened his own office- and treated animals.

It was there that he met his wife, Minnie Pearson. They were married on February 6, 1902 in Hallock. They had four children---two daughters and two sons.

They used horses as the main means of transportation. Sometimes they would rent horses from the livery stables. Other times they rented carriages, cutters, sleighs, or covered rigs.

One of the diseases that he treated was glanders, a yearly scourge that was found in horses. This disease could be transmitted to man. He had to quarantine or destroy many of the horses.

Dr. Spence tested dairy cattle for tuberculosis in the state of Minnesota. He always kept up with the current news by subscribing to magazines and receiving material sent out by the state that concerned the field of Veterinarian medicine. "He was dedicated to his profession, making his calls day or night, fair weather or foul, in rain or snow.

He used standard medicines for prescriptions.Sometimes he used simple remedies and very effectively too. On one occasion he used castor oil to heal an immense sore on a bulldog. "That dog never forgot Dr. Spence."

He worked around the clock to save his horse "patients" during the Equine Encephalitis epidemic in 1940. The percentage of animals that were lost was very small compared to those in other areas. He was praised for his success in saving horses. He injected camphorated oil from individual sterile ampules into the jugular veins.The prescription of good care given by the doctor to the owners of the horses helped the animals to recover. He was on the road almost constantly for weeks and had little to eat and only a limited amount of sleep.

But Dr. Spence had a good sense of humor. He never lost his "dry wit." One time a dog grabbed hold of his pants, at the seat of them to be exact. Someone asked him if the dog's teeth broke the skin. They also wanted to know if he put anything on it. He quietly remarked, "I put my hand on it.'

One afternoon he asked a group of people to have lunch with him in a cafe. He told the waitress that he didn't know who was going to pay for the cold drinks or sandwiches. The waitress didn't realize that he was joking and she became very angry.

Dr. Spence was a very poor fee collector. He often said "I guess I'll go up to the corner or to the drugstore. Someone that owes me something might give me a few dollars today." He often took farm products for pay.

Early in his career Dr, Spence drove a Ford car. He purchased his first car in about 1914. later he won his second car in a "Kittson County" contest. He owned a Ford Sedan at the time he died.

Dr. Spence never retired from veterinarian medicine. He didn't think he could sit around doing nothing.

It was a sad day on January 12, 1943 when Dr . Andrew Spence died at the age of 83. No one ever knew him to have an enemy. People will always remember him for all the animals that he saved. He loved animals dearly, and did everything in his power to make them well. He loved people very much. He liked to be with people and people liked to be with him.


Winters, Bernis Mrs., Interview on January 14, 1970 at Hallock, Minn.