Two or three days each week, the Purple Cat Mobile Vet Clinic makes its way to a County Humane Society near you if you live between Ashland and Eau Claire.
Inside the vehicle that's pulling the 7 X 14-foot trailer is the veterinarian, Dr. Angie Ruppel, the owner and founder of the mobile service unit.
Dr. Angie grew up in Watertown, Wisconsin, the sixth daughter of 8 children. She and all of her sisters before her were always encouraged to become a nurse, a teacher or to marry a pastor. As it turned out, only one of them became a teacher, and no one married a pastor or became a nurse.
And then there was Angie.
She and her father were very close, and sadly he died young just when she was starting to make her life plans in earnest. She began her college days at Bethany College in Minnesota to get her gen-eds out of the way, and because deep in her heart she wanted to be a vet, she applied to vet school.
Because there is a lack of vet schools, she knew there would be a waiting period before there was room for her, and she was willing to wait.
After getting her two year Associate's Degree in Minnesota, she applied at the UW Madison and attended for a year. So far, her future was pretty predictable. Especially when an acceptance letter came from UW Madison School of Veterinary Medicine saying she had been accepted.
Totally out of character, she put off vet school for a year because she had taken advantage of an opportunity that might have surprised people who knew her; she had signed up to spend a year in Zimbabwe in southern Africa, touring the country. Zimbabwe is a land with eighty percent poverty due to ninety-five percent unemployment.
It was an experience she will never forget.
She met her husband, Robert, at UW Madison where he was in the Engineering program. After four years of school, she graduated in 2003 and worked in Milwaukee for four years and in 2007, they married and moved to Robert's home town of Cumberland.
The same year, Angie got a job with the Northern Lakes Veterinary Clinic which has offices in both Cumberland and Shell Lake, working three days a week. "Living in a small Wisconsin town is where I belong," she says, "I love knowing my neighbors and my clients and seeing them at the grocery store."
She and Robert have four children, two boys and two girls and an English Setter and a few indoor/outdoor working cats.
She's always had a passion for cats because so many are homeless, starving and diseased. On May 16, 2017, after a tornado ravaged northwest Wisconsin with the longest damage path since modern records began, there was a glut of feral cats without food or shelter in a mobile home park that suffered a great deal of damage in the tornado.
Here to the Rescue (HTTR), an outreach program who does TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return), worked with Dr. Angie in the aftermath and thirty-four cats received treatment in Barron County, and new homes were found for them.
The Ruppel's began constructing their mobile vet clinic that same year. By 2018, the unit was ready to go. Originally an ice shack, all the carpeting was removed from the walls, and new washable walls and flooring were installed. New aluminum cabinets were purchased and installed, and within six months the unit was ready to be insured, and the service began.
Dr. Angie works mainly through county humane societies where cats are checked in during the surgery morning, and they are ready to go by that late afternoon.
For outdoor cats that are feral or farm or colony cats, the cost is $55 for a package which includes sterilization, pain medication, vaccinations, and ear tipping. The vaccinations that are included are the rabies vaccine and distemper/ upper respiratory virus inoculation. Ear tipping is when, during surgery, a tiny bit of the tip of one ear is cut showing this cat is 'fixed.'
If no ear tipping is wanted, the cost then goes to $45 for a male and $65 for a female and vaccinations are an additional $10 each.
Dr. Angie does not do house calls unless it's a farm and multiple cats need her services.
She's already done over 2000 cats and as she says, “We'll never run out of cats, especially with the breeding season upon us now that spring is on the way.”
For more information, there is a Purple Cat Facebook page and a website, purplecatvet.com where contact information is given for many counties.