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Vet Flett stops trying to be all things to all people – or pets

Greg Masse
Staff Writer

Dr. Marguerite Flett’s business has gone to the dogs. And cats, rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters.

On May 1, Flett formed Gentle Friends Veterinary Clinic, separating herself from the other two vets at Glenwood Veterinary Clinic. Since then, she’s been specializing in small animal care, while Drs. Doug Coffman and Dennis Luedke handle larger animals.

The three vets still work out of Glenwood Veterinary Clinic, at 2514 Grand Ave., but each has formed their own business. And rather than trying to treat all types of animals, Flett decided to specialize in small mammals.

“We recognized that we couldn’t be all things to all people,” Flett said.

Pet wellness

Flett graduated from Colorado State University’s veterinarian program, which is among the best in the country. A native of Colorado, she started her career in Helena, Mont., eventually moving back to her home state and settling in Glenwood Springs.

“Glenwood is a great town. People love their animals and really take care of them,” she said. “I feel really fortunate to be here and I want to stay here.”

The most common treatment given to her customers’ animals is the once-a-year wellness exam and shots.

“People think of it as coming in for shots, but we call it a wellness exam,” Flett said.

She also spays and neuters a lot of animals.

“The next most common after that is dentistry and tooth maintenance,” she said.

Dental health is extremely important for animals. Sore teeth can affect an animal’s appetite and poorly maintained choppers can lead to bacterial infections. To aid in dental health, Flett suggests brushing your pet’s teeth and getting them yearly cleanings. It is so important, Flett said, that February is National Pet Dental Health Month (not to be confused with National Pet Week in May).

And when necessary, Flett does make house calls.

“I did two house calls (Friday),” she said. “I have a little kit with common things I use.”

The clinic is more than just a clinic, it actually has full hospital capabilities.

“We do major and minor surgeries,” she said. “That’s where we are really lucky.”

They also feature technologies such as endoscopy – a fiber optic camera used to search for foreign bodies or infections in an animal’s body – and an ultrasound machine to detect pregnancy or abdominal diseases.

Another important aspect of Flett’s business is certified veterinary technician Rose Caulfield.

“Because she’s there, she can do lab procedures the same day,” Flett said.

There are also two veterinary assistants to handle animals, give Flett and Caulfield a hand and help clean up around the clinic.

Gentle Friends is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and on every third Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon.

“Then I’m on call every night and during the week for emergencies and every third weekend.”

She shares those duties with doctors from Alpine Animal Hospital in Carbondale.

“All the veterinarians in this valley work very hard and provide great services,” she said.

Rangeland security

Another ailment Flett treats is heartworm. Although the mosquito-borne disease is not found in Glenwood Springs, it is extremely common in Grand

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Junction and somewhat common on the Front Range. So she highly recommends giving your pet preventatives if the furry friend is ever taken out of the valley.

There are treatments for an animal that comes down with heartworm, but the best approach, Flett said, is prevention.

And while on the subject of mosquito-borne illnesses, the virus that’s had everyone concerned in recent weeks is the West Nile Virus. Although it does not cause a reaction in dogs or cats, many animal owners are concerned and have been calling Flett’s clinic for advice and information.

The virus affects horses, wild birds and people, she said.

“In horses, you’ll see weakness, usually in the hind quarters,” she said. “It causes an encephalitis.”

The disease affects the animal’s neurologic system, so other symptoms are stumbling, staggering and loss of balance.

The West Nile scare isn’t the first such panic to grip animal owners. About three summers ago, there was a vesicular stomatitis virus going around. The disease causes blisters on the mouths and feet of horses and cows.

“There were quarantines in some parts of the state that year,” she said.

And believe it or not, all these viruses are monitored to some extent by the government as part of the heightened security since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“We get updates from the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association,” Flett said. “I’m actually a board member. I get a lot of firsthand information that way.”

Philosophy of caring

“Our philosophy is we give compassionate, comprehensive care,” Flett said.

That care has led to a full plate of satisfied patients that keep her busy throughout the year.

“I have a lot of contacts with specialists in the state. We try to do anything the animals need.”

In addition, the clinic provides some products that can be bought off the shelf.

“We have a limited number of products people might not be able to get at Petsmart,” she said. “We don’t have a lot of room for retail, but what I have, I like it to be really good stuff.”

And while plans are not finalized yet, Flett is looking into relocating her portion of the clinic. But don’t worry, she’ll be staying in Glenwood Springs.

To reach Dr. Marguerite Flett, call Gentle Friends Veterinary Clinic at 945-5401.


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