Dr. Thomas Householder, center, has been studying veterinary medicine since he was old enough to see over the table. That’s his dad, also a vet, and Householder’s cousin, Susan Householder.

“There is a way of holding horses — grab an ear and it subdues them. Some vets get killed in the line of duty; they get kicked to the head. Cows can be dangerous, especially a bull,” said Dr. Thomas Householder DVM, owner and operator of Key West Vets and Pets. “I got cornered by a 2,000-pound bull. The farmer said, ‘I’ll be right back.’ I didn’t move and made it out alive.”

Householder comes from a long line of distinguished veterinarians. As a child, he helped his veterinarian father and mother. His sister is also a vet. He started out in large animal veterinary care — horses, goats and cows — before turning his attention to domesticated pets. And his love of animals is passionate; in town he works with the SPCA and collaborates with the Xena Fund.

“I have done all the procedures so many times I can probably do them with my eyes closed,” said Householder. “There were more than 60,000 clients in the data bank when I retired from my practice in Miami. I probably performed 10,000-plus surgeries.”

He’s still performing them at his new practice — Vets and Pets on White Street across from Fausto’s, which opened in February. He has done everything from C-sections, to remove foreign bodies, to treat lacerations for animals hit by cars, to repair damage caused by dog fights. At his Key West office he works on small, medium and large dogs, cats and pocket pets (rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and gerbils). Recently his office just purchased a high-technology X-ray machine that gets detailed digital images in just minutes.

“Key West pet owners take very good care of their animals,” said Householder.

And, yet, pets still need medical care.

I have been seeing animals with ear infections. Others are in desperate need for a teeth cleaning, some have allergies and skin problems and lot of animals are not on heartworm pills,” he said. “And there are heartworms in Key West.”

For established patients, he will take calls 24/7 for immediate care. His office manager Peggy said Householder genuinely loves animals.

“He cares for the animals tremendously and treats every patient as if it is his own pet. He will take them home to stay on his boat. He won’t sleep until the animal is diagnosed and on a path to recovery,” she said while looking at the doctor.

“It saddens me to see animals with health problems,” said Householder.

Aside from his career he is a family man and loves being on the water.

“I am a big scuba diver. I love wreck dives. I also like to ride my motorcycle, I raised four children as a single dad, I was a Boy Scout leader 15 years, there are 13 Eagle Scouts in my family and I am working on captains license,” said Householder. “I also have two dogs and live on a 39-foot sailboat.”


Poison for pets:

Chocolate, raisins, and grapes are all poisonous to dogs. Most tropical plants are toxic for dogs and cats if they eat them.

— Dr. Thomas Householder


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