July 17, 2019

Angel Fire Small Animal Hospital Says “I Know Jo, Do You?”

By Jo Mixon

Susan S. Gaffney D.V.M

This week my visit was at the Angel Fire Small Animal Hospital with Dr. Susan Gaffney and her staff of professionals. The first thing that stood out to me was that it’s a happy place! Cheerful, fun, and extremely devoted to the care of the animal patients they tend. As I followed Dr. Gaffney around we talked about her work, her background, and her family; and I witnessed her wash her hands over and over, “thousands of times a day,” she said. Dr. Gaffney runs the Angel Fire Small Animal Hospital with one full time employee (Hospital Manager Marcy Archer), and three part-time employees (Vet Tech Holli Faulker, CVT-RVT, and Vet Assistants Tonda Dale and LaKeisha Sayer). And most important are the resident cats, CEO (Cat Executive Officer) Blinky and his sidekick Ted.

Dr. Gaffney graduated from Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1986. She was licensed to practice in Oklahoma and Colorado because she and her family were planning to move to a resort town in Colorado. But after they had vacationed a few times in Angel Fire and discovered the people to be so friendly, she got her New Mexico License; and they reset their priorities. So in 1996 with a ten-month-old and a three-year-old, she and husband Tim made the move to Angel Fire. Until February of 1997, she made house calls and also worked three 24-hour shifts each week at the Santa Fe Emergency clinic. Her philosophy as a veterinarian is to educate her clients to equip them in preventative health care, and to give her clients all possible options from conservative to aggressive when their pets are sick.

While I was in the office, a client came in to have an ID chip placed in his pet’s ear. Dr. Gaffney is a huge advocate for pet identification. She told me a story of a man whose pet had gone missing. He received a phone call from a Vet in another state asking if this was still his dog. The man said yes and the Vet held his pet so that he could go pick him up! Pet ID chips cost $55, and take about ten minutes to insert.

We also talked about the importance of learning how to keep your pet safe in the mountain forest area we share with a variety of wildlife. She says it is routine to treat small pets who have almost become a lunch for predators, or who have been sprayed with porcupine quills. Then she told me heartbreaking stories of people who did not put their small animals on leashes when they went out to potty or for a walk only to have them snatched away by a coyote right in front of their horrified eyes! Educating pet owners in safety is very important. So if I may without lecturing say, please beware and take care that your little animals are not allowed out on their own or far from your body – and always on a leash – when they are outside!

I asked what had been the strangest occurrence she’d had in the hospital. She said she once had to surgically remove a zygomatic salivary gland (upper cheek) from a dog because it kept producing a stone. She had fixed it three times but it continued to happen, causing the dog’s face to swell uncomfortably. So she removed the gland. It never happened again. Then I asked for the funniest thing she had seen in the office. She says hands down when people teach their dogs to talk! I looked at her in disbelief and she assured me there is a dog owner in Angel Fire who has taught her German Sheppard to say “I Love You”.

Dr. Gaffney told me she has tended to bald eagles, fawns, hummingbirds, owls, turtles, crows, and more. She supports the Española Wildlife Center, which has volunteers who come from the center to pick up her often-odd assortment of fauna. And we discussed that the Angel Fire Small Animal Hospital is not an animal shelter. They can scan an animal that you have found for a chip, but Angel Fire Small Animal Hospital doesn’t have room to shelter them. Gaffney notes she wouldn’t have room for her patients if she also sheltered stray animals.

Dr. Gaffney does, however, offer pet boarding. She expanded her services in 2000 by opening a boarding facility located at her residence in Taos Pines. There are nine indoor dog runs and two four-unit kitty condos. For more information and a complete listing of fees, office hours, and pet boarding, please call 575-377-3165 or visit www.angelfirevet.com.

You can be sure your pets will be in capable hands with Dr. Susan Gaffney!

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