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By Susan Brown, DVM

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Susan Brown, DVM

I graduated from Purdue University Veterinary School in 1976. I was always interested in practicing exotic animal medicine, but didn't learn much about these animals in veterinary school because this subject wasn't popular at the time. I was the caretaker of a number of unusual pets during my childhood, through veterinary school and continuing to the present including; rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, chinchillas, gerbils, hamsters, mice, rats, lizards, snakes, turtles, tortoises, parrots, doves, ducks, hedgehogs, and invertebrates along with the more common dogs and cats.  

In 1980 I started practicing strictly exotic-animal veterinary medicine and in 1985 I founded the Midwest Bird & Exotic Animal Hospital (MB&EAH) in Westchester, Illinois, devoted entirely to the care of exotic pets. This was the first all-exotic animal veterinary hospital in the country and I felt strongly that our profession needed to provide the same quality of care for these special animals as it did for dogs and cats.

My partner was Richard Nye, who was well known in the avian veterinary community and who eventually became my husband. We grew from a small staff of one full time and two part time doctors and a support staff of three to a staff of three full time and two part time veterinarians and a support staff of 20. We sold the MB&EAH in October of 2004 as we were ready to retire from managing a busy, active practice and work at a more leisurely pace.

In 2007 I started the Rosehaven Exotic Animal Veterinary Services, which is a consulting service aimed primarily at helping shelters and animal control facilities manage exotic pets, including rabbit spay and neuters prior to adoptions. I am also currently interested in helping pet owners with behavioral problems in exotic pets and am working towards increased knowledge in this area.

In 1986 I co-founded the Greater Chicago Ferret Association (GCFA) and served as their medical director from 1986 to 1997. I have also served as the medical director for the Chicago Chapter of the House Rabbit Society (HRS) from 1990 to the present. I am currently the Health Director for HRS National and I serve on their board.  I have lectured extensively since 1987 to veterinarians and to the general public, both in the United States and in Europe, particularly on the veterinary care of rabbit and ferrets. I have written numerous veterinary and non-veterinary articles in a variety of magazines and have published chapters in a number of veterinary texts as well as co-authoring two veterinary books on small mammals. I received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Purdue University Veterinary School in 1998.

I have greatly enjoyed taking care of these special animals and being an advocate in the veterinary profession to improve the quality of the care we give, and I am a firm believer in the power of education. I believe that the more thoroughly educated a person is about the animal for which they are providing care, the higher the quality of life for that animal. In addition, the bond between human and animal is greatly enhanced through deeper understanding of the species. Some of the articles included in this Small Mammal Series were originally written for rabbit or ferret club publications. These groups have kindly allowed me to print them here because they also believe in the power of education. We will make every attempt to keep this information as current as possible. Please remember that the ultimate responsibility for education lies with the person who is caring for the pet. This is an ongoing process for the life of the pet and involves collecting information from different sources. This area provides you with one such access to information.


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