It’s not often that people are able to turn their passion into a career, but Dr. Robert Hancock, board-certified veterinary surgeon and director of South Paws Veterinary Specialists, is one of those fortunate few.
Dr. Hancock (who most know amicably as Dr. Bob) grew up in Algiers and attended Brother Martin High School. During his time there, he realized he wanted to be a veterinarian. However, his youth and lack of experience meant few opportunities were available to him. So he volunteered at the Westbank Pet Emergency Clinic as a student. This experience galvanized his interest in the field and eventually led to a job working at the Algiers Animal Clinic.
Dr. Bob’s passion for veterinary medicine intensified in vet school, where he experienced the specialty of small-animal surgery for the first time. His skill and expertise as a surgeon developed over 10 years of schooling. He graduated from the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2001; then he completed a one-year medicine and surgery internship at the University of Missouri, followed by a three-year surgical residency at Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.
“Only about 10 to 15 percent of veterinary students will go on for specialty training after veterinary school,” Dr. Bob says. “I was lucky enough to know that I wanted to focus on the surgical side of veterinary medicine after my very first clinical rotation in vet school.”
In April 2010, Dr. Bob founded South Paws Veterinary Specialists in Mandeville to provide advanced surgical care for small animals throughout the Gulf Coast. His team specializes in orthopedic, neurologic and soft-tissue procedures on a referral basis, providing around-the-clock care and monitoring for cats and dogs. Dr. Bob’s areas of specialization include orthopedics, skin reconstruction techniques, neurosurgery and pain management. He is well known across the Gulf Coast for his expertise in veterinary sports medicine and ACL stabilization.
One visit to Dr. Bob’s clinic will demonstrate how much advancement has been made in veterinary medicine. South Paws is the first veterinary office on the Northshore to offer in-house MRIs, providing a safe, minimally invasive way to diagnose issues like brain tumors, spinal-cord injuries and cancers. It is also one of the few clinics offering cement-less total hip replacement for dogs. The operating room at South Paws is outfitted with state-of-the-art anesthesia monitoring equipment, significant surgical instrumentation and even an endoscopy tower to perform laparoscopic surgeries.
South Paws is also a leader in small animal physical rehabilitation. Approximately 85 percent of all South Paws’ orthopedic patients will go through physical therapy at the hospital. “In the last 10 years, veterinary medicine has made huge strides in advancing physical therapy for animals,” Dr. Bob says. “Here at South Paws, we offer underwater treadmill, therapeutic ultrasound, cold laser and muscle stimulator services, much like you would find with physical therapists for people.”
While Dr. Bob’s focus is more on the surgical side, he also finds it very rewarding to oversee the rehabilitation process for many of his patients. “Being a part of the rehabilitation process allows me to monitor their progress and ensure that they have the most optimal outcome.”
Board certified by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons in 2006, Dr. Bob is a member of the Veterinary Orthopedic Society, the Society of Veterinary Soft Tissue Surgery and the American Canine Sports Medicine Association.
“I think what really sets us apart from a traditional clinic is that all we do is practice surgery and rehab for our patients,” says Dr. Bob, who was awarded Best Clinical Research by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons in 2005.
He designed South Paws Veterinary Specialists to be a “boutique-style” veterinary hospital that provides state-of-the-art surgical care; important communication and interaction with the owner; and compassionate, professional physical rehabilitation treatment in a “warm and inviting” environment.
“One of the most gratifying aspects of this profession is seeing owners and pets go away happy and healthy again, sometimes after very serious life-threatening conditions,” Dr. Bob says. “The incredible staff and doctors that I get to work with every day are so dedicated and caring.”
For the past five years, South Paws Veterinary Specialists has carried a five-star rating and has been voted the Northshore’s best veterinary hospital for the past four years. southpawsvetspecialists.com