Judith A. Bell, DVM, PhD
Veterinarian, Author, Internationally recognized expert on ferrets
Dr. Judi Bell graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph, Canada in 1971, and for 2 years worked in a primarily equine (horse) practice in Ottawa, Ontario. She then joined a large practice in Peterborough, Ontario, where she treated food producing animals, horses, and small animals, worked occasionally as track veterinarian at a standardbred racetrack, did meat inspection in small abattoirs, taught animal husbandry courses at a community college, and judged competitive trail rides. In her free time, she rode her horses, both for relaxation and competitively, and drove and showed Shetland and Hackney ponies.
In 1978, Judi returned to the Ontario Veterinary College for a Master's degree, studying transmissible gastroenteritis, a contagious disease of baby pigs. For 5 years, starting in 1980, Judi had her own large animal practice in the Peterborough area, and performed surgery two days a week at a small animal hospital.
In 1985, she entered a PhD program in the Veterinary Science Department of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studying a bacterial intestinal disease of mink and ferrets. While there, she and her graduate committee advisor, Dr. Dean Manning, maintained a colony of approximately 100 breeding ferrets, learning a great deal about reproduction and nutrition, raising the world's only germfree ferrets, publishing articles in several scientific journals, but best of all, falling in love with ferrets. Homes were found for all the breeders in the colony when the research was completed. Judi has had ferrets in her home since 1986, as many as 13 at a time. After receiving her doctorate, she became staff veterinarian for a commercial ferretry in New York State for 7 years, surrounded by thousands of ferrets and in contact with ferret owners, breeders, and researchers across the world. In those years, she gave many presentations on ferret husbandry and diseases at local, national, and international meetings of veterinarians, researchers, and ferret clubs; consulted with state officials in several states, testifying on behalf of ferrets to hasten their legalization as pets; and wrote The Pet Ferret Owner's Manual in 1995.
She returned to Canada in 1997, with six old ferrets, three cats, an aged Arab mare and a Hackney pony. Until recently, she raised germfree pigs at the University of Guelph. Judi is Associate Editor of the Journal of Swine Health and Production, does freelance medical writing and editing, consults with owners of breeding and research ferrets, and continues to contribute articles on ferrets to textbooks such as Ferrets, Rabbits, and Rodents: Clinical Medicine and Surgery (Saunders, 2nd edition). The six little ferrets that came from New York now lie beneath the pines at the edge of a field where Judi rides her horse, but two lively young ones are making their marks on her home and her heart.