O'Fallon Progress

New O’Fallon veterinarian returns to old stomping ground to begin career

O’Fallon native Dr. Samantha Renth is the latest addition to the Four Paws Animal Hospital team at 2006 W. Highway 50.
O’Fallon native Dr. Samantha Renth is the latest addition to the Four Paws Animal Hospital team at 2006 W. Highway 50.

With about 10 years of higher education under her belt, O’Fallon Township High School alumnae Samantha Renth can finally say she’s a medical doctor. But not the kind humans visit for medical advice or treatment, rather the kind furry, feathery and scaly friends are taken to.

Now back at Four Paws Animal Hospital after fulfilling her externship for her veterinarian degree last year, Renth said she is glad to be home and embarking upon a new chapter of her life in her hometown of O’Fallon.

Renth is fresh out of veterinarian medical school as a May 2016 graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Veterinary Medicine. She earned her undergraduate degree in biology, and master of science in biology, at Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville.

Renth’s husband, Joshua, is a computer software developer for Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Mo., so coming back home was the best move for both of their careers, she said.

“I always had the drawback to the St. Louis area and my family is still here, and Joshua had been doing the commute for four years, and working from home here a few days a week, so home was already set up for us here to come back to, plus it was good for him not to have to commute anymore, so it was kind of a win-win for us both to settle here after school,” Renth said.

This is the couple’s ninth year together. They tied the knot in Las Vegas, Nev. in 2014.

“We met at Best Buy in Fairview Heights where we both worked years ago. So Best Buy is where our love story begins, I like to say,” Renth said.

Although the couple don’t have children (the human kind, anyway), Renth said their Dachshund, Charlie, is enough for them right now, but down the line she hopes they will have children of their own.

“Charlie was my birthday present from my parents when I turned 17, and he’s made it through all of my graduations since high school all the way through medical school,” she said.

Becoming a veterinarian was a career Renth said she knew she wanted to go into before she really understood what it was really all about.

“I was just talking to my mom about this actually. She said I’ve been talking about being a veterinarian since I was about 3 years old,” Renth said.

Throughout childhood, it became more apparent that even though it would be a long road ahead, Renth said she never was able to quiet the intuitive voice inside driving her to become an animal doctor.

“Even if there was a period where I wanted to explore something else, I was never able to shake it. It was something I was meant to do, ultimately, since a young age, and I’ve always just felt very connected to animals too,” Renth said.

That’s what I love about my job is making sure the animal’s quality of life is high, and they are enjoying their owners and vice versa — it just seems like a great way to make a difference.

Samantha Renth, an O’Fallon native and vet at Four Paws Animal Hospital

A decade of hitting the books wasn’t enough for Renth who has many goals in mind.

For starters, Renth has been working on her canine rehabilitation certification via an online program through the University of Tennessee.

Touching on it in her medical schooling wasn’t enough to satiate Renth’s desire to learn more, she said.

“It’s essentially comparable to physical therapy in humans, and that is something that is very near and dear to my heart,” Renth said.

Renth was introduced to canine rehab in 2012 with one of her rotations as a first-year student in medical school.

“I just loved seeing the benefits of it. Sometimes with medicine it’s hard to quantify exactly what you’re doing. You know you’re doing good, and you know you’re making a difference, but to see the progression is a whole other story,” Renth said.

She said she remembers working with a dog who couldn’t really walk and was having a hard time adapting in the beginning of the week she was tasked with working with him, and “by the end of the week the progression just amazed me, and the work you can do with them to get them back to a functioning level and ultimately improving their quality of life, which is really what veterinary medicine is all about.”

“That’s what I love about my job is making sure the animal’s quality of life is high, and they are enjoying their owners and vice versa — it just seems like a great way to make a difference,” she said.

Scheduled to take her examination in Knoxville, Tenn., at the University of Tennessee in December, Renth said her love of reading mystery fiction has been put on the back burner temporarily.

“Taking it one day at a time and learning to juggle being a veterinarian is my primary focus — I want to be the best I can be for my patients,” Renth said.

In the future, Renth hopes to buy into a practice or even own her own practice some day.

“We will see though, that’s way down the line. Right now, I love being an associate at Four Paws. My co-workers, other vets and the technicians here are so helpful and patient with me as I’m learning the ropes. And, the clientele are all great. I’ve only been a doctor for a few months officially, and I’ve already learned so much, I can’t imagine what is in store for me — I really like it and think I’m in a great practice and a good situation,” Renth said.

In graduate school, Renth said she loved being a teaching assistant instructing human anatomy and physiology labs and other comparative sciences.

“I loved teaching. It was the first time I’d ever done it in my life, and it was not planned, but now my favorite job being a veterinarian I love the teaching aspects. For example, teaching clients the best ways to raise their ‘furry children’ if you will, and explaining to them what they can do to help, and I truly love being able to have the opportunity to do that,” Renth said. “We have to be their advocate and so education plays a very important role in my line of work, but of course being with the animals all day long is absolutely the best too.”

With her father being a retired U.S. Air Force member, Renth said her family of four was rooted in the metro-east. With one sibling, her older sister Erika, 31, Renth said she couldn’t be happier being back on her old stomping ground in O’Fallon.

“It’s interesting driving around town, I wouldn’t have thought I’d be a veterinarian at Four Paws necessarily, so it’s an interesting reminder to me that you never know what life has in store for us. I would love to start volunteering again, locally, and being an active philanthropist because when you’ve achieved your dreams it’s important to give back to the community and pay it forward to empower others or inspire them to go after their dreams because that’s a big part of how I got here — it takes a village,” she said.

Renth is a member of three associations — the Illinois Veterinarian, American Veterinary and the Greater St. Louis Veterinary Associations. She loves to read books, but enjoys being outdoors with Charlie and her husband, whether it’s at a park or cycling.

“I’m definitely a fair weather bird, so if it’s nice, I’m out in it, or at least try to be,” Renth said.

Q: Do you have words to live by?

A: “If you try, you risk failure. If you don’t, you ensure it.”

Q: Whom do you most admire?

A: “My parents. I would not have been able to achieve my dreams without their unconditional love and support over the years.”

Q: If you could spend time with a famous person, past or present, whom would it be?

A: “Martin Luther King Jr.”

Q: What is the last book that you read?

A: “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.”

Q: What do you do for fun and relaxation?

A: “Spend time with my amazing husband, Josh, my Dachshund, Charlie and of course my family and friends.”

Q: What is the usual state of your desktop?

A: “I like to keep it pretty tidy. I am not a big fan of clutter.”

Q: What did you want to do career wise when you were growing up?

A: “I always wanted to be a veterinarian since I was about 3 years old. The dream never went away over the years and here I am now.”

Q: What do you think is your most outstanding characteristic?

A: “I would have to say my determination. I don’t like to give up, and I give 110 percent in everything I do.”

Q: What irritates you most?

A: “I wouldn’t necessarily call it an irritation, but I definitely like to give everything I am doing all the time and patience it deserves. Sometimes life gets in the way, and it is hard to do that.”

Q: What type of music do you listen to?

A: “A little of everything, but my favorite genres are probably alternative rock and pop.”

Q: What do you like most about your job?

A: “I truly enjoy the client education aspect of being a vet. I also enjoy working with the amazing team here at Four Paws, and of course, being around animals all day everyday.”

Q: If you were independently wealthy, what would you be doing?

A: “I would buy a lot of land and own many animals. Definitely dogs and cats but also goats, chickens, and horses as well.”

Q: When they make a movie of your life, who would play you?

A: “I would say Kerry Washington. I really enjoy her work in the TV show “Scandal,” which I have been binge watching as of late.”

Q: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what would you have with you?

A: “I would want a good book for sure. Reading is one of my favorite past-times.”

Robyn L. Kirsch: 618-239-2690, @BND_RobynKirsch