The History of Veterinary Practice in Norton KS

Compiled May 2009

First known veterinarian in Norton, KS: Dr. Goodman

Second veterinarian in Norton, KS: Dr. Dave Manley

Veterinary practice location: 501 N. Norton

Dr. Manley left Norton to accept a government position in April 1947.

1947 – Veterinary practice bought by Dr. George William Atkinson. Dr. Atkinson grew up in Hutchinson, KS where he attended high school and studied pre-medicine at Hutchinson Junior College. He had 1 brother, who was also a veterinarian and practiced in St. Louis, MO. He attended Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine graduating in January 1943. In March of 1943, he joined the United States Army. He practiced veterinary medicine in India and Burma. In June 1946, he started private practice at McPherson. In 1947, he came to Norton to look at Dr. Dave Manley’s practice and bought it during the visit. He later said the only regret he had was he did not discuss the matter with his wife, Esther. Dr. Atkinson practiced in the basement of 501 N. Norton until 1952.

1952 – In 1952 he purchased 12 acres, originally the Litner Property, which was located northwest of Norton and on U.S. Highway 36. In 1952, in the middle of a wheat field, he built the first practice in the state of Kansas and southwest Nebraska that had truck-in capabilities. The Norton Veterinary Clinic’s new address was 801 W Holme St. It still continues to be located there.

1956 – Dr. George and Esther Atkinson built their home adjacent to the west of the veterinary practice. This home was bought in 2008 by Drs. Aaron & Sarah White.

1963 – Dr. Richard Wiltfong graduated from Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1961. Between 1961 and 1963 he was in the United States Air Force. In 1963, fresh out of the service, he joined Dr. George Atkinson, buying ½ of the practice. Dr. Wiltfong was born and raised in the Norton area, so returned home to practice. Dr. Richard Wiltfong had 2 brothers; all 3 were veterinarians who graduated from KSUCVM.

1975 – The 1952 building was updated with a surgical suite in an addition on the north side of the building.

Approximately 1985 — Dr. George Atkinson sold his ½ of the Norton Veterinary Practice to his son, Dr. Edward Atkinson. After 1 year, Edward sold his part of the practice back to his father. Shortly after, Dr. George Atkinson sold his ½ of the practice to Dr. Steve Graf. After a brief time, Dr. Graf sold his part of the practice back to Dr. George Atkinson. Dr. Atkinson and Dr. Wiltfong worked together for approximately 25 years.

1992 – Dr. Atkinson and Dr. Wiltfong sold the practice to Dr. Fred Beeman. Dr. Beeman hired Dr. Maloley. After Dr. Maloley left, Dr. Beeman hired Dr. Dodd. The business was later sold to local investors Bill Steinmetz and Ronnie Fisher. Shortly thereafter, in 2003, the business was sold to Drs. Mark Olson and Travis Hissong of Countryside Veterinary Clinic, Oberlin, KS.

January 24, 2005 – Present — The practice was bought by Drs. Aaron & Sarah White and renamed it Norton Animal Health Center, Ltd. In 2006, the boarding facilities were renovated with new sheltered dog runs and a large exercise yard. The practice is a mixed animal practice: 50% small animal and 50% large animal.

Norton Animal Health Center’s mission states:

“Compassionate, quality care of our patients and owners

based on a solid moral foundation, achieved through the gifts

endowed to us by our Creator.”