April 21, 2014

Elyria
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The 3 Foxes: Three generations are providing veterinary care in Lorain County

CARLISLE TWP.  —  Three generations of Foxes are now caring for animals at the Fox Veterinary Clinic on LaGrange Road.

It all began with Charles “Doc” Fox, born 90 years ago this week.

After graduating from veterinary school from Ohio State University in 1939, Fox served as an egg and meat inspector during World War II. He set up practice in Elyria in 1947.

CHUCK HUMEL / CHRONICLE
Three generations of Foxes (from left): “Doc” Charles Fox; Bill Fox and Lisa Fox, who is pursuing her veterinary degree.

"It worked out great,” he said of his adopted hometown.

When he began practicing here, the workload was 80 percent farm animals and 20 percent pets.

A steady progression of cows, horses and sheep were his stock in trade, and Fox helped deliver thousands of animals into the world.

Once, he lost his wedding ring inside a cow and had to buy a replacement. Another time, he showed up at a farm to tend to some animals and a pet monkey made a fine mess of his gear after sneaking into his car.

“The monkey started throwing things right and left,” Fox said.

“I’d work on any warm-blooded animal,” hesaid. “I wouldn’t work on a lizard, snake or alligator.”

In 1976, his son, William, became a veterinarian after graduating from Ohio State, and his granddaughter, Lisa, is on track to graduate from Ohio State with a veterinary degree in 2009.

Lisa Fox, 23, said her grandfather is a big inspiration, especially because he still comes to the hospital every morning to do the books.

He doesn’t work on animals anymore, though. He retired at 68 after he had an operation to remove dead heart tissue and insert a pacemaker. He had two heart attacks five weeks apart.

“He’s pretty much the James Herriot of Elyria,” said Lisa Fox, referring to the author of “All Creatures Great and Small.”

“He and my dad are the reason I’m in vet school,” she said.

Herriot — the pen name of British veterinarian James Alfred Wight — wrote about the animals he treated on the Yorkshire countryside as well as their owners, who were sometimes very quirky.

With a twinkle in his eye, Doc Fox declined to disclose his own experiences with unusual pet owners.

His daughter Jewel was a little less guarded. She specifically recalls hearing stories in the 1950s of a former Elyria mayor and his spinster sister who kept numerous animals in their very grand — and very cluttered — home.

“Daddy was quite patient with them,” she said.

When her dad came home to supper, he sometimes was a bit odiferous, especially after working on farm animals or de-scenting skunks, she said.

Lisa Fox said her dad has some good stories too, like the time he had to find the longest needle in the clinic to give a penicillin shot to an elephant from a traveling circus.

William Fox also treated a much smaller patient that was quite unusual — a sugar glider squirrel that “a very good client” loved to tuck into the hood of her jacket and carry around. Eventually, the squirrel was euthanized after developing a tumor on its neck, he said.

The vet business has seen lots of changes over the years, many of which involve “new and more expensive toys,” William Fox said.
Fox Veterinary Clinic now provides chemotherapy for animals with cancer and has a state-of-the-art life monitoring system used during operations, he said.

All in all, it’s been a great ride, said Doc Fox, whose wife Doris, a registered nurse, died in 2004. When they were younger, they enjoyed raising standard bred horses that competed at Northfield Park.

“We won a little money,” he said.

In addition to William and Jewel, he has another daughter, Beth, and son, Noel, along with six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or cleise@chroniclet.com.