A Floyd County resident who dedicated 39 years to providing medical care to animals died this weekend.
Rudolph “Rudy” Ousley, owner of Ousley’s Veterinarian Clinic of Middle Creek, died after an extended illness on Dec. 14.
The clinic reported Ousley’s death on Facebook on Dec. 14.
“It is with deep sorrow and broken hears we are devastated to inform everyone of the worst news possible. We have lost one of (Floyd County’s) greatest,” the statement said.
Hundreds of people sent condolences online, describing Ousley as a “kind, gentle, loving doctor.”
Floyd County Animal Shelter Manager Jackie Brown called Ousley’s death a “sad loss for the animal community.”
The shelter works with two local veterinarians and Ousley has spayed and neutered cats and dogs from the animal shelter for more than three decades, Brown said.
Ousley was instrumental in the opening of the shelter 35 years ago, according to an article published in 1985 in the Floyd County Times. He was a sponsor of the Eastern Kentucky Wildlife Federation, an organization that, in 1985, worked to reopen the animal shelter after the Floyd County Humane Society, which previously operated the shelter, had dissolved.
Ousley earned a degree in Animal Science at the University of Kentucky and then went on to graduate from the Auburn University Veterinary School in 1980. He opened the clinic at its current location in the early 1980s.
Ousley was one of the first veterinarians in this region that provided services to both large and small animals.
Before Ousley became a vet in Floyd County, Dr. Joey Collins, veterinarian with the East Kentucky Animal Clinic in Pikeville and veterinarian Dr. Shawn Tussey of the Beaver Creek Veterinarian Hospital in Martin reported that Floyd County was served by Dr. Beecher Scutchfield, who was the last veterinarian who had been “grandfathered in” as a vet before state laws changed and required a college degree for the profession.
“He did blaze a path and presented here, especially here in the Eastern Kentucky area, and he was very instrumental with providing services and all,” Collins said. “He was a good man.”
Tussey said, “”You go back and look at when Dr. Ousley came to Floyd County, and there pretty much was nobody. There was a gentleman by the name of Dr. Scutchfield, who lived below the Martin hospital. Dr. Scutchfield had actually been grandfathered in as a veterinarian. He wasn’t actually trained. He was a pharmacist by trade, but he’d been grandfathered in as a veterinarian.”
The Beaver Creek Veterinary Hospital honored Ousley on social media with a “respect” hashtag, stating, “Simply put: The trails blazed by Dr. Ousley, and some other older vets around here, cleared the way for all of us to do what we do now.”
Tussey started working in the veterinarian field in 1994 and credits Ousley and other veterinarians who worked in the 1980s in Pikeville and West Liberty for laying the foundation for veterinarian care in Eastern Kentucky.
“Nobody was here. The economy was different, the world was different, and they worked hard and they paved the way so that us younger vets could come in and do what we do,” Tussey said. “If Dr. Ousley hadn’t done it and made the sacrifices that he did ... If it wasn’t for him, none of us could do what we do. I just respect that. How could you not respect that?”
Collins credits Dr. Ousley for helping him start his career.
“He was a mentor to me in that I rode on call with him when I was in college and he wrote a recommendation for me to vet school, and through the years we’ve always stayed real close, as far as relationship with each other and all,” Collins said.
He launched his practice in 1988 — eight years after Ousley started his practice. He said he was attending Prestonsburg Community College while working toward his degree and he’d work with Dr. Ousley on Friday evenings.
“We’d go out on large animal calls on Friday evenings and we’d usually stop by Jerry’s Restaurant, like everybody did, and eat there,” Collins said. “The biggest thing about working with him is that you had an influence from somebody that had been through the process, and that means more than anything, you know. That way you see that it is reachable.”
He said Dr. Ousley also wrote recommendations for several other veterinarians in Eastern Kentucky, including one in Morehead.
Collins called Ousley “a dear friend.” He said biggest lesson Ousley taught him was community service.
“You have a commitment, when you have a client-patient relationship, you have a commitment to service the people,” Collins said. “And it’s not just about you. It’s about the profession and it’s a community service. You can say you want to do this or that, but, a lot of times, you have to inconvenience yourself also. Everybody, when they come through the door, they’re worried about their pet and you have to keep that in your perimeter and try to do the best that you can and treat everybody the same.”
Dwight Slone, whose wife Karen heads the animal shelter board, praised Ousley for his work to help the shelter.
“He was a great guy. He was always willing to help people out,” Slone said. “Vet medicine, to him, he strived to help people out. The money didn’t mean everything to him. He was always, if people came in and they couldn’t afford anything, he would always work with them on that. That wasn’t the issue. It was always taking care of the animals and helping the people out that was more important to him.”
Slone said Ousley enjoyed line dancing years ago and he was a prankster.
“He was mischievous. He liked to play little jokes,” he said. “He always had, when he would get you on a joke, he always had this little sheepish grin about him.”
Ousley was appointed to the board of directors of the former First Commonwealth Bank in 1996 and he also served on the Floyd County Health Department’s Board of Health in the 1980s and 1990s. He was also a member of the Middle Creek Volunteer Fire Department’s taxing district board and the Eastern Kentucky Walking Horse Association.
Ousley leaves behind his wife Delores, stepchildren: Jackie Hall, Amy Lewis and Heather Johnson, as well as other family members and friends.
Visitation will be held all day on Wednesday at Hall Funeral Home and his funeral will be held Thursday, Dec. 19, at 1 p.m. at the funeral home. Ousley will be buried in the Willard Ousley Cemetery on Spurlock Creek in Prestonsburg.