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activities and once you get involved in the community you start to find out how wonderful it is, and how great the people are, and it kept me here,” Martinez said, adding that he joined the Gilroy chapter of Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and Gilroy Rotary, in addition to serving on the Board of Directors of Bonfante Gardens. Seven years later, in 1988, Martinez and Dr. Dennis Harrigan became co-owners of the Gilroy Veterinary Hospital. Since then the establishment has remained a staple of professional care and compassion to pet owners all throughout the South County area. Donna Pray, Gilroy resident for 41 years and an avid dog lover, first came to Gilroy Veterinary Hospital 20 years ago after hearing great things about the hospital and Dr. Martinez. “We made the switch and have been very happy,” Pray said. “He’s always been very professional and yet he’s very friendly, more like an uncle to our dogs.” Ron Habit, husband of Addie, couldn’t agree more. “He’s a great guy, down to earth… he’s got a really great personality I think, not only for the pets, but for the pet owners,” Ron said. “We’re just grateful for his practice and his dedication to the community,” Addie added. Martinez realized he had a special bond with animals at an early age. “I just felt like I knew how they felt and I could watch how they reacted to things,” Martinez said, adding, “They were like little people instead of just animals.” The Martinez household is a busy one with an ever-changing assortment of pets including, dogs, cats, and on occasion, cows and horses. At one point the couple owned four dogs, but currently they have only one, Reggie, a Bichon/Poodle cross, who most certainly receives an abundant amount of love and attention from his owners. “He’s such an endearing dog because he always wants to be with us,” Martinez said. “He just loves attention and goes wherever we go.” Martinez has always included an assortment of pets in his family, even as a child growing up in Napa he never let city life restrict his collection of animals. That collection included pigeons and a duck he named John, who Martinez hatched from an incubator. “All my animals have always had human names, he just looked like a John to me,” Martinez explained, adding that John would happily accompany him on his frequent fishing trips to the local pond. “I had a little orange crate and I took him in my car,” Martinez said. “I put him out in the water as I fished and when I was ready to go, I’d walk towards the car and he would come back [with me].” As much as Martinez loves his chosen profession he admits one of the most challenging aspects of his career is when economics becomes a factor in determining the type of care a sick or injured animal receives. “I try to do what I can to help anybody with their pet within their budget,” Martinez said. “But that’s sometimes hard for me because I want to do what I need to do to find out what’s wrong, which means testing. If I had my dream job, veterinary wise, it would be treating all animals for whatever they need without worrying about the money. That’s how it should be for people and animals.” Without the proper testing sick animals won’t receive the care they need, and unfortunately, the cost of veterinary care continues to increase. Martinez explained that last year an x-ray machine for the hospital cost $120,000. But he is also quick to add that a great benefit of the in-house equipment is a quick turn-around on test results. “I feel much more comfortable being able to give some answers right away,” Martinez said. The numerous advancements taking place in veterinary care have enabled veterinarians the needed tools to help them do what they do best; to save more lives, which is always the ultimate goal for Martinez. “With the diagnostic testing, we can get up in the ninety-something percent range,” Martinez said. “We save quite a few more animals because of it.” Although his work history consists of experience at only two animal hospitals, one of which he owns, Martinez has gained a great deal of additional veterinary knowledge through his participation twice a month in a veterinarian program called Relief Work, which involves filling in at animal hospitals and clinics when their regular practitioners go on leave. “I like that; it teaches me a lot, going to another hospital and learning their style and how they treat things and how the staff works,” Martinez said. “It’s wonderful to learn and to grow, and a lot of times it’s younger veterinarians so I get to share my perspective and their new knowledge.” Of course, the most rewarding aspect of his job is the ability to provide animals with the care they need. “When you have an animal with severe injuries or medical issues and then I provide lifesaving care that helps the owners get their dog or cat back, and it’s healed. . .the smile on their faces and the connection they have with their pet…that’s a wonderful feeling,” Martinez said. “That I can deliver a healthy dog or cat back to their owners, that’s always most rewarding.” Gilroy Veterinary Hospital Hours Monday-Friday, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm, Saturday, 8:00 am–12:00 pm. Contact Dr. Martinez at 408-842-9348 Or go to: gilroyvet.com. GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN february/march 2019 gmhtoday.com 49