Growing up with what he calls, “a menagerie in my room,” Dr. Scott Barnard knew early on that he wanted to be a veterinarian. Fond of everything from pocket pets like ferrets, mice, rabbits, and hamsters, to cats and dogs, Dr. Barnard’s eagerness to gain hands-on experience led him to volunteer at his local Ohio humane society at the age of 12. Two years later they gave him his first real job, assisting veterinarians and shelter staff in caring for homeless animals, and he has been caring for four-legged patients ever since.
His desire to help animals was greatly intensified through his shelter experience. During the early days of Parvo, when there was little information available about how to treat and help infected animals, he witnessed the widespread devastation caused by the disease. “Twenty-five percent of the animals who came to the shelter were dying,” Dr. Barnard remembered. Watching the veterinary community rally together to save animals’ lives fueled his passion for becoming a veterinarian.
With only 25 veterinary colleges in the country at the time he was in school, it was easier to become a doctor than to become a veterinarian. Determined to learn as much as possible about animal care, Dr. Barnard studied everything from pediatrics and senior animal care to surgeries and acupuncture. “I believe that the more I learn, the more I can help my clients and patients,” he shared.
After more than 20 years’ practicing veterinary medicine, Dr. Barnard’s drive to stay on the cusp of care remains strong. His Dobson Ranch practice has expanded to include many alternative options like acupuncture, stem cell therapy, and cold laser therapy. Cold laser can be used for a variety of ailments including chronic pain, wounds, and muscle strains. “One of the most exciting developments has been with laser treatment,” he explained. “My own dog, Sid has experienced dramatic healing from a chronic licking ailment through cold laser therapy. I’ve seen amazing results.”
As a busy father of four—two grown sons and two teens with busy softball and baseball schedules—Dr. Barnard understands how demanding it can be to make time for veterinary appointments and good pet care. That’s why Dobson Ranch offers flexible appointment scheduling with appointments available every day of the week including Sunday. He tailors treatment and care options to each of his client’s needs, taking time to review the benefits and options of each recommended procedure or care regimen.
“My goal is to give my clients and their pets the best care possible, explain their options and treat their pet in the style that best suits their needs,” stated Dr. Barnard. “I want every person who visits us to leave with a better understanding of what is going on with their pet’s health and to feel like they have gained something truly valuable from their time here.”
“Always do your best and everything else will follow.” That’s the advice that Dr. Amanda Simonson was given when she first started practicing veterinary medicine and has been following successfully ever since. As one of two veterinarians at Norterra Animal Hospital in North Phoenix, Dr. Simonson’s practice is guided by her desire to give her patients the best possible care, treating them the same as she would her own pets. “Education and communication are the keys to empowering clients to make informed decisions about their pet’s care,” she stated.
For as long as she can remember, Dr. Simonson has had a profound desire to help people. After completing an undergraduate degree at Northern Arizona University (NAU) in psychology, she was preparing to start work towards her PhD. That all changed the afternoon one of her horses became ill. Waiting anxiously, Amanda found comfort in the thought that the veterinarian would soon arrive and take care of everything. As she thought about the significance of the veterinarian’s role in helping heal the horse that she cherished, she had the realization that she could have that same impact on others, helping both people and the animals they hold so dear. She declined the offer to complete her PhD and started down the path to becoming a veterinarian, studying at Colorado State University.
“I love the connection between families and their pets,” she stated. Growing up, Dr. Simonson was surrounded by dogs, horses, and even a baby pig for a short season, “My mom wasn’t real thrilled about that,” she laughed. Now she has a golden retriever and a black lab as well as a horse named Jerry. She loves trail riding in the desert. Whenever possible, she and her husband Dan, two-step children Kailey and Jake, and 1 year old son Lucas spend their free time hiking and engaging in water sports like jet skiing and boating.
Dr. Simonson practiced for almost 10 years at an Arizona Pet Vet sister hospital prior to helping open Norterra Animal Hospital, the newest addition in the Arizona Pet Vet family. “It was exciting to be a part of the space planning and design,” she shared.
A critical part of that design was the creation of a calm, comfortable space for her acupuncture practice. “Acupuncture is a great way to help animals, both in conjunction with traditional medicine or as a sole therapy,” Dr. Simonson explained. Scientific studies have shown that it decreases inflammation and triggers the release of a natural pain control response. “It’s amazing to study the scientific research about what happens in the brain and nervous system when you employ acupuncture,” continued Dr. Simonson, describing her golden retriever, Maggie and the relief she’s experienced through acupuncture therapy.
Looking forward, Dr. Simonson hopes to see the field of veterinary acupuncture expand as more and more clients become educated on its benefits. She’s also excited about the recent advancements in technology, especially in the area of digital dental x-rays. “With a majority of tooth disease hiding under the gums, we have a whole new window into what is going on now,” she explained.
“Being a veterinarian is a fantastic career with amazing experiences,” Dr. Simonson concluded. “I can think of nothing that would give me greater satisfaction than making a difference in the lives of my patients and their families.”
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?”
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.”