Double Arrow Veterinary clinic has welcomed Montana native Dr. Maddie Comes as the newest veterinarian on staff.
She joined Dr. Robert Lee’s practice on May 31, and has hit the ground running seeing large and small animal patients while doing after hours emergencies.
During an interview with the Acantha she said, “So far Choteau has really fit well for me. Growing up in Lewistown, I always knew I wanted to come back to Montana after school and work at a rural mixed practice clinic. Teton County is a gorgeous area and I’m excited to be practicing in a town where production agriculture is such a big part of the community.”
Comes discovered her interest in animal science while growing up on her grandparents’ cattle ranch in the Lewistown area, where her parents still live. She said, “I feel very fortunate to have grown up in a community like Lewistown surrounded by animal agriculture. I see a lot of similarities between the Lewistown and Choteau communities and I’m looking forward to making it home.”
She still remembers veterinarians coming to the ranch during her childhood,
“I thought they [the vets] were larger than life and I knew it was something I wanted to do,” she said. A career in veterinary medicine was a way she could give back to the industry that she cherishes.
She attended public schools in Lewistown where she was active in FFA. She credits her high school ag teacher for her continued interest in animal sciences and veterinary medicine.
She then attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins, majoring in animal science. While at CSU she was a member of the meat judging, livestock judging and meat animal evaluation teams.
During her year on the meat judging team, she traveled to different processing plants all over the country to grade and judge cattle, hog and sheep carcasses based on muscle, fat thickness and marbling.
While on the livestock judging team, she traveled to stock shows all over the Midwest, Texas and Colorado, judging market and breeding classes of livestock. Comes said her team was able to visit seed-stock producers from around the U.S. and learn about the genotypic and phenotypic components of livestock they feel are valuable in meat animal agriculture.
As a senior, she was on the meat animal evaluation team, where they first assessed the live animal from a feedlot perspective and then evaluated the same animals’ carcass composition on the rail.
Through her participation on judging teams, she gained valuable insight into raising healthy, productive animals and the process that takes an animal from ranch to feedlot to harvest to grocery store. “It was a unique experience that allowed me to tie all the levels of production ag together” she said.
During her undergraduate years at Colorado State, Comes spent summers working for Horizon Veterinary Clinic in Lewistown, under the mentorship of Dr. Greg Carlson. She credits Carlson with encouraging her to complete her veterinary medicine degree. “He’s the reason I went through with being a vet,” she said, explaining that he gave her real-world experience while teaching her about compassionate and professional care.
As a senior year at Colorado State, she worked with a nonprofit small animal veterinary clinic in Fort Collins that specialized in providing veterinary care for the pets of low-income and senior citizen clients. “It was a beneficial program that allowed all people access to veterinary care without the big city prices,” she said.
She completed her bachelor’s degree in 2018 and then was accepted at Washington State University’s veterinary school through the Washington-Idaho-Montana Utah (WIMU) regional student exchange program, which allowed her to do her first year of veterinary school at Montana State University in Bozeman before completing the final three years at Washington State University in Pullman.
During her first three months on the job, Comes said, she has found the clients and the people in Choteau to be very welcoming. “Everyone I’ve met has been beyond friendly,” she said.
Providing medical services to everything from kittens to Quarter Horses brings a lot of variety to her day. Each season of the year brings something different.
When she started veterinary school, she said, “I knew I wanted to work with both large and small animals. Mixed practice has always been incredibly appealing to me because I enjoy doing something different every day.”
Comes said animal reproduction is a facet of veterinary medicine she really enjoys. She credits that interest to her ranching background and professors at WSU.
“Canine reproduction is vastly different than equine or bovine reproduction, but the results are always incredibly rewarding no matter the species,” she said.
This summer, she said, she has enjoyed seeing small animal patients, but is really looking forward to moving into fall where she will stay busy pregnancy testing cattle.
Comes said Dr. Lee has been a fantastic mentor for her, particularly as she treats large animals, and has enjoyed working with the Double Arrow staff and meeting new clients. “Overall, it has been fantastic and I am looking forward to continuing to meet more of the community,” she said.
Comes is welcoming new clients and can be reached at the clinic at 406-466-5333. Double Arrow is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is closed on weekends and during the lunch hour from noon to 1 p.m.
She is also providing after-hours emergency services on weeknights and weekends. She said that people can call the clinic phone number after hours and on weekends for medical emergencies.
Others on the Double Arrow team with Dr. Lee and Dr. Comes are: Addie Lohman, vet tech; Lea Yeager, vet tech and receptionist; Terri Boom and Susan Snyder, receptionists; Beth Ann Hodgskiss, office manager; Adelena Long, vet assistant and building maintenance; and Jim Salmond, who has been a member of the Double Arrow staff for almost 20 years working one afternoon a week doing laundry, cardboard recycling and other important tasks.