Chamber honors veterinarian in Barre as Business of the Year
BARRE – The Orleans County Chamber of Commerce has chosen a Barre couple with a lifelong love of animals as the Business of the Year.
George McKenna grew up on the family farm where and he and his wife Iva run Country Lane Veterinarian Services.
“We milked 35 cows and I didn’t like crop work or machinery repair very much, but I really enjoyed working with the cows,” George said, as he petted his youngest daughter Jenny’s new Bernese Mountain dog during an interview in his office.
The decision to become a veterinarian was probably made the day he and his dad were driving to Batavia for parts and they passed a large dairy farm.
“Dad said that farmer has got it made – one son is a veterinarian,” George said. “I thought, ‘That’s something I’d like to do.’”
He attended Canisius College for two years and applied to Cornell. He was placed on a waiting list. He would apply again and wasn’t accepted until his third try. He got his bachelor’s degree there after two years and then went to Auburn, Ala., where he graduated in 1988.
He and Iva have four grown daughters, all of whom have been involved in their business.
“A lecturer once said if you can fill one scrapbook with thank-you notes, then that’s an accomplishment,” George said. “I have more than 10. Our take on an animal hospital is all our clients are our friends. New clients are just friends we haven’t met yet.”
He and Iva consider their clients very special to them.
“We like to make sure everyone who comes through our door feels welcome, whether it’s a client or an employee,” George said.
A lot of young people who have come to work for the McKennas went on to become veterinarian technicians, and that makes both George and Iva proud.
Country Lane does a lot with service animals, having done fundraisers for them, and they care for the Sheriff’s dog. They also support local baseball and soccer teams.
The business employs six, including the McKenna’s daughter Kerri Richardson, who is their business manager.
George used to treat most animals, but he gave up horses 20 years ago, preferring to focus on small animals, such dogs, cats, cows and pigs.
Iva said they were honored and pleasantly surprised to learn they were being honored by the Chamber of Commerce.
The awards dinner will be Thursday night at White Birch Golf Course in Lyndonville.