Spaying a Grizzly Bear Is Probably the Most Unusual Procedure She Has Ever Done

Andrea Russell – Northside Animal Clinic


Dr. Andrea Russell grew up in Morgan, Utah, and has always dreamed of being a veterinarian. The amount of schooling required for it was a bit daunting and computer science was up and coming at the time.

She graduated from Utah State University with a bachelor’s degree in computer science but had a hard time finding work during the recession. It was when her uncle asked her when she was going to be a vet that she realized it was a good time to pursue that path. She took a couple of prerequisite classes and got into the program at Colorado State University.

A background in computer science and an accounting minor really helped with the business side of her work. It also gave her a lot of good jobs while attending vet school. “You can’t learn too much!” Veterinary work, however, is very engaging and by far her favorite type of work. “There’s always something new to learn,” she said.

Spaying a grizzly bear is probably the most unusual procedure she has ever done. “There was a guy who raised animals for movies and his other bear had gotten cancer so they were trying to train a new bear. We had to spay the bear for him. She wasn’t fully mature but she was probably 600 lbs.”

Dr. Russell worked in Cache Valley for 20 years and worked on a lot of cattle raised for dairy or beef. They can handle most everything unless your animal needs an MRI, a very small animal has a broken bone, or it’s an emergency when Northside Animal Clinic is closed. Dr. Russell enjoys surgery because you can go in and fix the problem. “It’s kind of like putting a puzzle together.” They can fix fractured bones, remove tumors, and do abdominal surgeries. She could probably write a book of all the random things she has removed from dogs’ stomachs. “One dog ate a guy’s CPAP mask. When I pulled it out I asked ‘were you missing this?’ He replied, ‘actually yes I was, I thought I left it at a hotel!’“

She handles pets gently and tries to help them feel comfortable. Dr. Russell explained how some animals love everyone and others have more selective preferences. “I think most of them really like me, but their personalities can be different, just like people.” But even the meanest cat that comes in regularly is no match for Dr. Russell’s animal-loving demeanor.

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