About UsSterner Veterinary Clinic

Driven by passion and guided by knowledge, Sterner Veterinary Clinic is dedicated to offering compassionate and quality care, enriching the lives of our animal patients.

Mission Statement

As Veterinary Professionals, our work is inspired by our passion for animals and is guided by knowledge. We strive to provide both quality medicine and compassionate care that will enhance the quality of life and the longevity of all our patients. We will work with each client and be mindful of their emotions and expectations. We are committed to encouraging responsible ownership and promoting preventative health care. Our goal at Sterner Veterinary Clinic is to treat every client and patient as we would treat our families; with respect, honesty, and compassion.
Sterner Veterinary Clinic Building
Sterner Veterinary Clinic Building
Vet Clinic Lobby

Core Values

Accountability – providing quality care to patients every step of the way
Positive Environment – Support and encourage other team members to do their best
Profitable Growth – Reduce waste, schedule appropriately, REACT in a timely manner, limit invoicing errors / on-account issues
Respect – Management, doctors and staff, our clients, the Clinic, and its property
Integrity – Be honest! If you or someone on your shift makes a mistake or has an issue arise, be sure to tell the appropriate team member
Community Service – Encourage teammates to participate in community service events
Organization – Treatment logs, flow sheets, invoices, the flow of patient care
Teamwork! Delegate appropriately, share the work, and help where needed


Dr. Sterner was born June 25th, 1914, in Imlay City. In 1930, he graduated at 16 years of age from Imlay City High School. After taking a preparatory short course at MSU, he came to Ionia as a milk tester for the Dairy Herd Improvement Association (DHIA).

He returned to MSU as a full-time student in 1939. During World War II, students in the College of Veterinary Medicine attended school full-time, allowing him to graduate as a doctor of veterinary medicine in December of 1943.

He and his wife, Roberta, started Sterner Veterinary Clinic on December 13th, 1943. Dr. Sterner practiced in the Ionia County area for more than 50 years and played a crucial role in the well-being of many dairy herds and the success of their owners. He was known throughout the United States and abroad for his work on the diseases of cattle. This work brought recognition from both practicing and academic veterinarians.

He maintained close ties with MSU throughout his practice, serving for many years as an adjunct clinical professor of veterinary medicine. Hundreds of veterinary students from the U.S. and around the world spent time working with Doc Sterner.

In Ionia County, he served as both cattle doctor and adviser to many dairy farmers. He had a deep belief in continuing education and innovation and passed along his insights and recommendations to scores of clients. He encouraged them to try new ways of doing things, and for many, that led to success. He was an early advocate of using computers to maintain herd records, ration records, and similar information to improve management and profitability.

After his son Keith returned to Ionia and joined his father’s practice, Dr. and Mrs. Sterner began to travel widely. They visited the British Isles, Russia, New Zealand and Australia, Scandinavia, China, Africa, Egypt, Brazil, Mexico, and most of the United States. An offshoot of the Sterners’ travels was their joint slide presentations, which numbered in the hundreds. Doc’s wit and humor were rarely absent in his slides and comments about the “livestock” of other nations.

For many years, a common sight was Doc driving his car briskly, from client to client, with the Rev. Hubert H. Callahan riding shotgun. Both were devoted photographers—birds, animals, landscapes, buildings, human beings, and much more— capturing images throughout the Ionia County area during all seasons.

After a short illness, he died on June 23rd, 1997, just two days before his 83rd birthday.