Author Archives: Mel Timmins

Featured Doc – Dr. Mike Kiedrowski

Dinosaurs completely fascinated Dr. Mike Kiedrowski as a young boy and he dreamed of devoting his life to the study of these “Great Lizards.” You can only imagine his utter devastation when he found out, at age seven, that dinosaurs were dead. After overcoming the devastating news) Dr. Kiedrowski emerged with a new vision: to study the current reptiles and amphibians of today as a herpetologist or to become a veterinarian. Those two aspirations led him to become the first “reptile and amphibian nut” veterinarian in the Greater Phoenix area, with an interest in exotic pets as well.

In college at Northern Arizona University, Dr. Kiedrowski was pursuing five majors: zoology, chemistry, physics, math, and business, still deciding whether to pursue herpetology or veterinary practice. When he was accepted to the veterinary program at Colorado State University at Fort Collins his senior year, the decision became clear and he followed the path to becoming a veterinarian. His love for reptiles remained strong, however, and Dr. Kiedrowski continually sought out ways to incorporate herpetology into his studies and practice.

In his early days of marriage, Dr. Kiedrowski and his wife (who shares his love for reptiles) traveled around the country doing reptile shows. With over 180 adult snakes, three dozen turtles and tortoises, and a separate building for breeding mice and insects to feed their diverse tetrapods, the couple had an incredible array of animals. In a single season Dr. Kiedrowski hatched out over 1,500 reptiles. Dr. Kiedrowski’s favorite creature is the San Esteban Island Chuckwalla, or Sauromalus varius (which means flat, speckled lizard). Dr. Kiedrowski became enamored with the largest member of the chuckwalla species through a professor at Colorado State who was researching this highly endangered San Esteban Island dweller. Due to their endangered status, it took him over ten years to find one for sale legally. Before long, Dr. Kiedrowski had become one of the most successful private breeders in the world, working with the Population Management Plan in the United States for this calico-colored vegetarian lizard and distributing them to zoos around the country.

With two children, ages eleven and fourteen, there is less time to roam the country educating people on reptiles. Their home still boasts a reptile room that houses sixty snakes, two dozen lizards, and a dozen turtles and tortoises but the family spends more time outside boating, waterskiing, camping, and hiking with their three golden retrievers. Twice a year, the Kiedrowski’s host a massive airsoft party at their home, setting up an elaborate course with 120+ barricades, bunkers and other obstacles. Over 150 friends and family members rotate through their home for the multi-week event, perfecting their aim and having the time of their life. “I hope to have about 85 years on this planet and I intend to enjoy every minute of them,” affirmed Dr. Kiedrowski.

Outside of airsoft challenges and reptilian care, Dr. Kiedrowski enjoys playing the thrill of a good pinball game. Since playing in tournaments in his younger years, he now plays primarily at home one of the thirteen machines he has collected over the years. His favorite is the American-made, one-player 1976 Gottlieb El Dorado–a highly challenging edition with an asymmetrical playfield that relies on both the angle of the playfield and the speed of the ball curving around a corner to take out your goals. With non-resettable targets, this frustrating yet captivating game takes a few minutes to learn and a lifetime to master.

Dr. Kiedrowski’s passion for life and love for animals is evident in everything that he does. Working closely with Arizona Game and Fish, the local parks department, and zoos as well as pet owners of every kind means he never knows what is going to come through his door each day, from Gila monsters, alligators, toads, and lizards, to dogs, cats, and even ravens and hawks. “Every day brings something different,” shared Dr. Kiedrowski. “The most rewarding thing is helping animals that truly give unconditional love to their owners, dedicating each day to giving animals and their human companions a better life–what more could you ask for?”

Featured Doc – Dr. Mark Ketcham

Dr. Mark Ketcham launched the Fletcher Heights Animal Hospital in the year 2000, fulfilling his lifelong dream of owning his own veterinary practice. Awarded his Bachelor of Science degree from Arizona State University, Dr. Ketcham received his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Illinois and went on to practice as a veterinarian in central Phoenix for several years before opening his own practice. Fueled by a passion for helping animals, Dr. Ketcham enjoys providing people with the information and advice they need to prevent illnesses, treat health issues, and make informed choices about their pets.

Interested in science, medicine, and animals from a young age, Dr. Ketcham’s love for veterinary medicine was a natural blend of all three interests. “I was always bringing home injured animals,” Dr. Ketcham remembers, “from birds and turtles to injured seagulls and turtles.” Driven to find help for these creatures, Dr. Ketcham grew quite connected to the area wildlife rehabilitators and veterinarians, frequently seeking their help with the animals he rescued. When not rescuing animals, Dr. Ketcham spent his boyhood days on the beaches of Long Island, boating on the Great South Bay, listening to summer concerts at Jones Beach, and fishing, crabbing and catching Blue crabs.

Growing up, Dr. Ketcham had quite a number of pets in addition to the animals he rescued. Aside from an assortment of fish and the rabbits that he bred and raised, Dr. Ketcham’s favorite animal was a rescue shepherd mix named Poppy. He can still recall those kindergarten memories of his mother leading him through the house to surprise him with Poppy – rescued by Dr. Ketcham’s grandfather from roadside abandonment. “We spent hours together exploring Long Island where I grew up,” Dr. Ketcham recalls, thinking back on the many memories the two shared during Poppy’s fifteen years.

Today the Ketcham’s home is still full of pets. His wife, Greta (who is also a veterinarian), and their two daughters have a sixteen-year-old domestic shorthair tabby named Pippi and a black standard poodle named Zuch Noir. Earlier this spring, after researching the best exotic pet for their family, the Ketcham’s brought home five dwarf female rats, all from the same litter. “The girls love them! Rats are very friendly, social animals,” shares Dr. Ketcham, “they do best when you have more than one together.”

Aside from caring for and playing with their beloved pets, the Ketcham family spends much of their time outdoors. With both daughters on the competitive swim team, many evenings and weekends are dedicated to swimming practices and meets. During the off-season, the family enjoys vacationing in Southern California, visiting family in Chicago, and visiting Flagstaff, where four-mile hikes and visits to Sedona round out their days. Dr. Ketcham, an avid Star Trek fan in his youth, also loves watching movies with his family, with Pirates of the Caribbean topping the recent favorites list.

Dr. Ketcham relishes staying up on the latest trends in veterinary medicine, frequently attending professional scientific conventions and continuing education programs. Keeping pace with expanding medical knowledge, Dr. Ketcham’s practice has enhanced their focus on dental health, offering modern advanced digital dental care. “Dental health is one area that the public isn’t widely aware of,” informs Dr. Ketcham, “yet proper dental care is an integral piece of a pet’s overall health.”

One of the things that excites Dr. Ketcham is how cutting-edge technology has transformed the services available at Fletcher Heights Animal Hospital. “Stem cell therapy is one of the most exciting things we’ve seen,” reveals Dr. Ketcham, explaining the process of collecting fat cells and reinjecting the isolated stem cells into damaged areas within an animal’s body. “These basic primordial cells have the ability to transform into specialized cells enabling the body to regenerate and repair itself.”

Dr. Ketcham grew up wrestling and playing football – from PeeWee league to Varsity. Facing those sporting challenges has given Dr. Ketcham a special appreciation for his coworkers at Fletcher Heights. “I work with a highly skilled group of nurses and technicians here,” he shares. “Each of us has a critical part to play and together we make an outstanding team.”

A Heroic Effort

dobson-ranch-az-pet-vet2On Thanksgiving, Frank Russo and Sonny, the 3 year-old Labrador Retriever he rescued two years earlier, were out for their regular neighborhood walk. Suddenly, Sonny ran into the street. Reacting quickly, Frank ran to catch him but it was too late—Sonny was hit by a car and the driver took off without even stopping. Sonny lay in the street whimpering quietly, puzzled by his pain and inability to walk.

Being a holiday, Frank wasn’t sure what his options for veterinary care would be. He knew, however, that paying for expensive treatment wasn’t feasible with his family’s limited budget. On top of that, Frank’s wife was in the hospital recovering from her own serious accident, one that resulted in most of her bones being broken and a devastating prognosis of never being able to walk again.

As a Vietnam veteran, Frank has faced his share of hardships. Disabled during the war, Frank was heartbroken by the thought of losing his faithful companion to a physical injury. Due to the location of the break, right next to Sonny’s hip, it was going to cost more than $5,000 to reconstruct and surgically restore his leg. A successful amputation of that severity would cost around $3,000. Feeling at a loss for options, Frank felt he had to put Sonny down.

Knowing what a difficult time this was for Frank, the veterinarians reached out to Freedom Tails Animal Rescue in Maricopa County to see what options they could provide to help Frank and Sonny. They responded immediately, creating an online fundraiser using social media sites like Facebook and YouCaring.com, and pointing him towards AZPetVet and their family of hospitals for the surgery due to their generous military discount and no-interest payment arrangements.

dobson-ranch-az-pet-vetThe partnership was a huge success. Donations have been pouring in from around the country, raising $6,107 to date—more than enough funds to fully pay for the series of intensive surgeries required to completely reconstruct Sonny’s leg. Today, thanks to the generosity of strangers and the skillful AZPetVet doctors, Sonny has a new lease on life and Frank has his buddy back by his side.

With 17 locations across the Phoenix Metro area and 24/7 availability, Arizona Pet Vet is your choice for comprehensive animal care. Our no interest, no credit check payment plans ensure that you never have to postpone treatment for your loved one. Click “Find Us” at the top of our page to find the location nearest you.

Read more about Sonny and Frank’s Story