PEMBROKE — Dr. David Brooks set up shop in Pembroke in 1978 — and never left.
“Oh Lord, I’m an old man,” the 59-year-old says with a laugh.
Now in his 34th year of practicing veterinary medicine, Brooks has received a Distinguished Veterinarian Award from the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association — an annual award presented for lifetime achievement to one veterinarian out of the 4,000 in the state.
Brooks says he is “humbled and surprised” by the recognition.
“It lets me know that my peers are thinking I’m trying to not only help animals, but trying to help the community,” he said. “That’s what it’s about, helping each other.”
The only time Brooks left Pembroke was in 1972, to study veterinary medicine at Tuskegee University in Alabama. He returned to his hometown and operated his practice, Pembroke Veterinary Hospital, out of a converted mobile home on N.C. 711 for four years before moving to the current Prospect Road location in 1982.
“You do the job because you got the need to do it and the heart to do it, not because you think someone is going to recognize you someday,” Brooks said.
As well as serving as a primary care provider for household pets, Brooks’ practice also has a mobile unit for large farm animals. He has treated a wide variety of animals — from horses, hogs and Bull Mastiffs to “little rascals” like hedgehogs and flying squirrels.
“You’d be amazed what some of the college students bring in,” he said. “You name it, we see it.”
Bill Smith, director of the county Health Department, said in the 24 years he has known Brooks, he has been a “catalyst” in the county’s spaying and neutering efforts, and that the award is “most deserved.”
“Dr. Brooks probably has the smallest of the practices, but he has always been a leader in everything we tried to do from an education standpoint,” Smith said. “He actually chastises us if we’re not taking a leadership role in any of these animal control issues.”
Brooks was the first American Indian appointed to serve on North Carolina’s Veterinary Medical License Board, and served for two five-year terms from 1992 to 2002. In March, he was honored as a Distinguished Alumnus by the Tuskegee Veterinary Medical Alumni Association.
Brooks is a member of the America Veterinary Medical Association, North Carolina Association of Minority Veterinarians, Twin State Veterinary Medical Association, and the Robeson County Veterinary Association.
Brooks founded the Dr. Ellis Hall Scholarship for Native Americans at Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine in 2005 and also supports the Peter Brooks Memorial Scholarship Fund at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke and The Old Main Native American Indian Veterinary Scholarship at N.C. State University.