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Meet Dr. Sally J. Foote, DMV

While growing up in the Chicago suburb, Wilmette and overcoming her fear of dogs, Dr. Sally J. Foote found she loved science, people, and animals. Veterinary medicine was the way to put it all together and she never thought of anything else. After 2 years of hard work at Purdue University, Dr. Foote was accepted at the University Of Illinois College Of Veterinary Medicine. Departing her friends in the Boilermaker Band was not easy, but four fun, frantic and furry years later she graduated with the class of 1984 with her DVM and began practice at Meisner Holley animal hospital, Rodgers Park Chicago. A few years later, she joined Uptown Animal Hospital in Andersonville Chicago. In 1988, Dr. Foote and her husband decided to head south to small town life in Tuscola, Illinois, near the University of Illinois. There she purchased Okaw Veterinary Clinic from retiring veterinarian Dr. Robert R. Smith.

During the 20 + years in practice, Dr. Foote developed her expertise in small animal behavior. Dr. Foote saw first-hand how behavior problems often led to the rehoming or worse, euthanasia of beloved pets. These heartbreaking cases convinced Dr. Foote to offer more behavior consultation services to clients and to utilize the staff in helping clients. Dr. Foote and her staff take a proactive approach to preventing behavior problems through history taking, educational seminars, and membership in the Animal Behavior Network. Low stressful handling and rewarding during the veterinary exam is the standard of care at Okaw Veterinary Clinic. Dr. Foote saw the need to develop a way to document what brought out the best behavior in each patient to insure that each patient had the best possible experience, and to insure consistency in the staff. This was how the Bella Behavior Label System (pat. pend.) was born.

Dr. Foote presented “Documentation and Scoring System of Food and Praise Drive as Positive Reinforcer to the Veterinary Visit” at the July 2010 American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior meeting in Atlanta, Georgia ( The Bella Behavior Label System grew out of this presentation to meet the need for an efficient, easy way for veterinary staff to learn how to be unified in handling pets during veterinary exams.

Dr. Sally J. Foote continues to practice general small animal medicine with special services in animal behavior in Tuscola, Illinois. When she is not writing, presenting or promoting gentler veterinary exams, Dr. Foote can be found hiking in the nearby state parks, ballroom dancing with her husband Tom Wold, girl talking with her daughter Glenda, or traveling to visit far flung friends and family.