Angels' celebration to honor vet's 60 years working with animals

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Diane Less,

co-founder of Angels for Animals, has a special way of referring to veterinarian Dr. Richard Nokes – “He’s like our St. Francis,” she said.

The 86-year-old is celebrating his 60th year of working in the field, and shows no signs of stopping. He still treats about 30 pets a day at Angels for Animals.

Angels will have a party to honor him Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. at the shelter’s Andrews Hall. The public is invited.

Less emphasizes it’s not a retirement party.

“We want to congratulate Richard,” she said. “He is so experienced that he can just look at an animal and know what’s wrong.”

Instead of gifts, Nokes requests donations be made to the Angels Wing Fund in his name.

Nokes graduated from Michigan State University in 1958, which he contends has the best veterinary program in the country.

He has worked most of his life in Ohio in about 20 settings treating animals, including the Akron Zoo and his private practice.

Nokes found something special with Angels for Animals, where he has worked the past seven years.

“It’s the highlight of my career,” he said. “The mission statement of the corporation is to lessen suffering of animals ... the spay and neuter program is very helpful in accomplishing this endgame of eliminating suffering.”

He appreciates that every animal adopted is checked for diseases, vaccinated, spayed or neutered and microchipped.

While most veterinary-school graduates want to treat dogs and cats so they can avoid people, Nokes said “one of the joys of working here ... meeting the owners and helping them take better of their pets.”

There has been drastic progress in the veterinarian field since Nokes started six decades ago.

“We didn’t have certain dog vaccines, any cat vaccines, we didn’t have sterile syringes, we didn’t have the rate of antibiotics we now have, we didn’t even have sterile saline in the bottles,” he said.

“Surgery has changed, it’s a lot safer now,” he added.

Less said Nokes remains “on top of his stuff” and describes him as a rock star.

“We are really happy to have him here. He’s had a long and successful career,” she said.

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