Best of Moffat County 2018: Fixing critters takes teamwork |

Best of Moffat County 2018: Fixing critters takes teamwork

Dr. Wayne Davis and his dog, Gracie.
Sasha Nelson/staff
Craig Veterinary HospitalDescription: Caring for domestic and exotic animals both large and small.Hours of Operation: By appointment 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to noon Saturday; 24-hour emergency hotlineAddress: 73 Commerce St, CraigPhone: 970-824-9629; emergency hotline 970-326-7113

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Wayne Davis leads a team of six at the Craig Veterinary Hospital, and readers voted Davis the best veterinarian in Moffat County, an honor he attributed to his team.

During his career of 31 years, Davis has cared for animals large and small, domestic and exotic. He once worked on a Bengal tiger in a zoo, a sun bear and an elephant at a carnival.

“I like a mix. It’s all interesting,” Davis said. “

Veterinary Technician Brandy Burd has worked at the veterinary hospital for three years and said that alpaca and bearded dragons were some of the strangest animals she’s worked on so far.

Veterinary Technician Kaylee Springer is the newest member of the team and has worked at the clinic for about a year. She recently helped Veterinary Technician Faith Jones work on a hedgehog.

“I really love working on babies,” Jones said.

She started volunteering at the clinic when she was 12 and has worked there for 13 years.

“Raising orphans and giving them that chance is really rewarding to me,” she said, adding that she also takes pride in assisting with the complicated surgeries.

“To me, what’s kind of neat about this practice is that we are far enough away that we do a number of surgeries that, on the Front Range, a specialist would be doing,” Davis said.

For example, the team has performed five open-heart surgeries to correct congenital abnormalities in dogs and tackled orthopedic and soft tissue surgeries.

Diana Richards has worked as a veterinary technician at the hospital for 18 years. She said the best part of her job is, “when an animal comes in all broken, and you send it home knowing that it is going to be OK. “

Davis hadn’t planned on becoming a veterinarian but was drawn to the work and the idea of fixing animals.

“I had a job in college at a vet clinic, a part-time job, (and) one of the things I found incredibly interesting was being able to fix things. … I saw them put together horses that were all cut up. I thought, ‘Wow! That is so cool, being able to fix that,’” he said.

Everyone at the clinic likes animals, but they also like people.

“Some people said they want to be a vet because they don’t like people, but every animal has an owner. If you don’t like people, it’s the wrong business to get into,” Davis said.

The wide-variety of animal patients brings a wide variety of people into the clinic.

“They range from the rancher to people who gather a kitten from the street and tote it in,” said receptionist Jacque Duzik, who has worked at the clinic for 11 years. “Wayne is really service-oriented. We do everything we can to help people.”

One of the challenges of the job is riding an emotional roller coaster.

“I feel a bond to my clients, which adds to the stress, a lot of times. It’s not just caring about the animals; it’s also about caring for the people,” Davis said.

Jones says she handles the stress with chocolate.

“You have to be compassionate and listen. That’s what people want: (for) you to listen to them and help,” Richards said.

The work changes people.

“I think you get used to it after a while. At the end, you are trying to do what’s best for the animal and the clients,” Burd said.

It also helps to have a team that celebrates and grieves together.

“We have a good team here,” Richards said.

Through the course of a year, they may work on packs of dogs, flocks of birds and herds of domestic animals, but they work with an extended family of people.

“It’s nice to go to work with someone where it feels like family,” Springer said. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.”