It has been more than two years since Newcomerstown had a veterinarian operating within the village. The last time was when Dr. J. Phillip "Phil" Mozena, DVM, operated his own veterinary clinic for over 45 years before his retirement and untimely death in 2009.

Luckily, for animal lovers, that has changed.

Sara Marie Bliss, DVM, a 2003 graduate of Newcomerstown High School, has returned home to operate Bliss Veterinary Services LLC at 488 E. Canal St., Newcomerstown.

"I'm hoping to be able to fill a gap," Dr. Bliss said about offering both small and large animal services at her veterinary clinic in the village.

On June 10, Dr. Bliss graduated from The Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Bliss spent 28 months on St. Kitts Island in the Caribbean.

But, it was during the time that her family's 150-foot by 120-foot horse barn on Stocker Ridge Road was being built that she met her husband, Timothy David Sparks.

"I came to see the barn and I've never left," Sparks said, who is a native of northwestern Ohio, and was in Newcomerstown visiting family when he wondered what was happening at the barn's site.

Sparks traveled with Dr. Bliss as she continued her studies on St. Kitts Island. There, he was employed by the university during that time as a grounds and herd manager.

From there, Dr. Bliss and Sparks spent a year in Columbus for Dr. Bliss to complete her clinical year of veterinary medicine at The Ohio State University.

The journey was a long and tiresome road for the couple as they experienced many hardships during their time on the island, one such hardship was the loss of Dr. Bliss's mother, Jane Ellen Bliss, to breast cancer on March 5, 2009.

"She's been the driving force," Dr. Bliss said about her mother's determination for her to become a veterinarian. "This is what her ultimate goal was. Everything we do is always dedicated to her."

Dr. Bliss, who is also a five-year 4-H advisor for the Heals Down 4-H Club, credits faith, love and family support by being able to finish her seventh semester at Ross in the top third of her class.

In September, Dr. Bliss and Sparks will welcome the birth of the couple's first child.

Together, the couple hopes to develop lasting relationships with the residents of Newcomerstown and the surrounding areas. Besides, boarding, training and showing horses, they also operate a 27-head crossbred cow/calf operation and supply market club calves for county and state fairs.

Her life goal has been to become a veterinarian and with this goal finally accomplished, she is setting out in the world dedicating her work to her patients and her supportive family.

Dr. Bliss will be seeing both large and companion animal patients. Bliss Veterinary LLC is now taking large animal calls by appointment and offers a 24-hour emergency service.

"I'll travel wherever I'm needed," Dr. Bliss said in regards to helping animals in need. She plans on covering a 120-mile radius of Newcomerstown with her services.

To schedule a large animal farm call appointment or for a clinic appointment (once it is officially open), call Dr. Bliss at (330) 663-1935.

Dr. Bliss will see patients including horses, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, llamas, and alpacas during her operating hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Emergency calls are considered after 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and after 5 p.m. Friday until 8 a.m. Monday.

The Bliss Veterinary Services small animal clinic will celebrate its grand opening on Monday, Aug. 1 with an open house/grand opening celebration. Refreshments and door prizes will be available.