Many friends, colleagues, and clients from the local community and around Tulare County gathered to pay their respects to the family of Dr. Fred Dietrich on Thursday at the Animal Hospital on Olive St. in Porterville, where his family held a small and intimate memorial gathering with refreshments, pictures of Dr. Dietrich, so people could reminisce together.
Dr. Dietrich died on Saturday at the age of 75.
Mrs. Charlotte Dietrich, Dr. Dietrich’s children, and family met and spoke with friends, Dr. D’s colleagues and her family.
Everyone from Porterville Animal Control was at the memorial, and many others from local animal service groups. The gathering was a veritable who’s-who in the animal caregiving world.
Many of the practicing veterinarians who worked with Dr. Dietrich were present, and a few shared stories. Jolene Huckabay from Henderson Veterinary Hospital spoke about how Dr. Dietrich wrote the recommendation to the University of California Davis Veterinary School to accept Jeffery Sheer, as a veterinarian student after he worked with Dietrich during and after high school.
“They had a very close friendship, Dr. D. and Dr. Sheer, and they consulted together and did a lot of ‘horse trading.’ Dr. Sheer admired him greatly and learned a lot from him. He worked with Dr. D. at the Animal Hospital before he went to U.C. Davis.”
“Dr. Dietrich was extremely friendly, and so loving and caring of the animals, and his clients,” said Frances Hammond-Hovey, from Springville.
Beverly Janoko and her family had all their animals taken care of by Dr. “D.” She said, “Dr. D sent the nicest condolence card when our beloved poodle-mix passed away. That meant so much to me.”
“Dr. Dietrich would show up to all the veterinary meetings,” said Dr. Richard Heers, from Tulare, “He never missed a meeting.”
Dr. Ron Humason, from Visalia, said with a lot of feeling, “He was a star amongst the veterinary community. He loved to work on eyes, and helped develop state of the art eye care for animals. And a great colleague. We worked together for three years to get the emergency clinic started in Visalia. Dr. Dietrich was always there for me and the community. He did it all. He attended all the continuing education for better animal care, his practice, consulting. We are really going to miss him.”
Dr. Gerald Haggard, from Exeter Veterinary Hospital, said, “He was a mentor of mine when I started my career.”
Kathy Guinn, of Hope for Porterville Pets, and Cat House on the Kings, said, “I’m going to miss Dr. Dietrich more than I thought I would. We went to him for all our pets, so we had a personal relationship, and then it developed into a professional relationship with the TNR program fixing cats in the community. He always made sure the little babies (kittens) that had medical problems had special care. He didn’t do it for the money. And he never charged what he should. Because he had such a huge heart. Compassionate, not just for animals, but also for people. He was passionate about veterans causes.
I could talk to you all day and tell you how grateful I am to have been part of his life — he was a giant in the community.”
Janice Castle, from Bank of Sierra remembered Dr. Fred Dietrich, and said, “Dr. D was one of the most caring and compassionate individuals I have ever met. Years ago I raised English Bulldogs, I remember one evening, Dr. D arriving at my home on his motorcycle. When I answered my door, he produced a new born English Bulldog pup from inside his leather jacket. He told me, ‘Jan, this little guy is a fighter, take good care of him.’ He had the biggest smile on his face as he turned back to his motorcycle. What kind of vet does that? One with a big heart – one just like Dr. D. We will miss his sense of humor and his good-hearted nature. How blessed we are to have had him in our lives.”
“May you RIP Dr. Fred Dietrich, Thank you so much for your love and passion and many years of commitment to all the animals . Thank you so much for your guidance and mentorship in my Career as animal control supervisor, you will truly be missed.” said Augie Gonzales, Porterville Animal Control.
Judy Lansford remembered the Animal Hospital in 1971 or 1972, when a man she knew, Gerarld, worked for Dr. Payne, taking care of the animals. Dr. Dietrich came to the hospital and they met him. He invited them over to his apartment and cooked dinner for them.
“I’ve known Dr. Dietrich since the 70’s, and am a vet technician. I worked for him for 12 year,” said Janet Lasure, “It’s hard to put into words. Dr. D is irreplaceable. He’s been a part of the community for so many years. He mentored most of the veterinarians in the community, and he cared about his patients and his clients.
This clinic was his life. He looked forward to coming here. All of the pets, and the clients were part of his family. You don’t see that anymore.”