After more than 50 years as a veterinarian in Burbank, there's nothing small about Martin Small's contribution to Burbank's animal shelter.
“I have never done anything more satisfying than what I've done since I've been here,” he said.
After spending the last several years working full time to establish the shelter's medical program, Small, 82, is now an on-call surgeon.
Before he set foot in the shelter in 2004, cats suffered from contagious respiratory diseases and dogs were prone to kennel cough and parvovirus. Many animals were routinely put to sleep.
Small initially vaccinated every animal that entered the shelter and taught the staff to remain sterile when moving from room to room. Euthanasia rates dropped drastically. Impressed with the turnaround, city officials carved out a medical budget for the shelter that's still in effect today, supporting two part-time vets.
Growing up in South Los Angeles, Small said he knew by middle school that he wanted to become a veterinarian. After serving in the Army during the Korean War, he studied at UC Davis before settling in Burbank with his wife, Judy. They raised four children, and he operated his veterinary practice from 1960 to 2000.