They say it’s a dog’s life, and Dr. Joseph Leveque, DVM, has seen a lot of them during his career, along with cats and many other animals. The Parker-based veterinarian is celebrating 60 years of practice.
Leveque is currently the veterinarian for the Town of Parker/La Paz County Animal Shelter and the Animal Relief Fund. He has had many roles in his career, including being a teacher. He was a “veterinarian to the stars” in Las Vegas in the 1960s and ‘70s. He was a boxing and wrestling judge. He was even a licensed private investigator in Nevada. He’s recognized worldwide as an expert in the use of Vitamin C in animals.
Growing up on a farm in Wisconsin, Leveque said he always wanted to be a vet. After graduating at the top of his class in 1950 at Oxford High School in Oxford, Wis., Leveque turned down a full scholarship at the University of Wisconsin to work his way through the University of Illinois because they had a veterinary school.
When he applied to the school, he learned he was one of more than 300 who had already applied. He knew the school only accepted 40 new students each year.
“I wrote it off as so many had applied,” he said. To his surprise, he was accepted.
After earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine in 1958, he was hired by a practice in Las Vegas, Nev. He started his own practice in 1960.
“This was the first one there with a surgical area and labs,” he said. “We also had a kennel and a dog training center.”
Leveque was Medical Director for the Las Vegas City Police Canine Corps and a reserve Police Officer for 15 years. He also founded the first canine security company in Las Vegas.
Being a top veterinarian in Las Vegas, Leveque got to meet many entertainers who brought their pets to him. Liza Minelli was known for taking in stray dogs, and she often consulted with Leveque about them.
Leveque said Red Skelton was one of the nicest people he ever met. The same was true with Don Rickles. He was the complete opposite of his nasty, insult comic on-stage persona.
Other entertainers and celebrities who brought their pets to Leveque included Elizabeth Taylor, Redd Fox, Della Reese, Bobby Darin, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Wayne Newton, Eddie Fisher, Sarah Vaughn, Sammy Davis Jr., boxer Rocky Marciano, and Robert Goulet.
In 1980, Leveque sold his practice in Las Vegas and moved to Crystal Springs, Miss. and set up a new practice there.
“Las Vegas was getting to be too big,” he said. “With six kids, we wanted to go to a small town.”
In 1987, Leveque returned to Las Vegas and set up a new practice in an architect’s old office. In 1996, he retired and spent a year volunteering in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where he mentored and taught two Mexican veterinarians.
His research work with Vitamin C led to the publication of a paper, “Vitamin C – Massive Dose Theories for Domesticated Pets.” He demonstrated that Vitamin C in intravenous usage was not toxic to pets. This lead to his participation in a panel discussion at the International Society of Cancer that included two-time Nobel Prize winner Dr. Linus Pauling.
“I’m the only one to do IV studies on Vitamin C,” Leveque said.
In 1997, a friend of his invited him to visit Parker, and he decided to stay. He was soon hired by Arizona Western College as a professor of biological sciences. He also found himself doing relief work for two local veterinarians, Dr. Peg Morrison and Dr. Stuart Proesch. He also was doing relief work for four veterinary hospitals in Bullhead City.
“I was busier when I retired than I was when I was working,” he said.
Leveque is currently the only licensed veterinarian in La Paz County. He has been working with the Animal Relief Fund for 20 years, and he is Chairman of the ARF Board. He does mostly vaccinations now through the clinics ARF holds. He is also licensed to do vaccinations from his home. He noted that, without these services, pet owners would have to travel to Lake Havasu City or Blythe, Calif. for vaccinations.
Among ARF’s services to the community are the spay and neuter facility they opened in 2016. Surgeries are performed once a month, and they save pet owners the time and cost of going out of town to have these procedures done. The cost of the facility was $20,000.
ARF is currently looking to build a surgical facility that will cost an estimated $100,000. They recently opened a thrift store near the intersection of State Route 95 and Riverside Drive to raise money for this facility.
Leveque said he’s had a good life. He said he was proud of his six children. While none of them chose to be veterinarians, three became MDs, one is an environmental engineer, and two are retired from the Las Vegas Police Department.
“I’ve had a good trip through life,” he said. “It’s been humbling, but also very satisfying.”