(Editor’s note: The story on Dr. Dietrich that appeared in 50 Plus in Monday’s Recorder was cut off half way through and then appeared as a different article. This is the entire article on Dr. Dietrich.)
Fred J. Dietrich has been practicing medicine since he was 28 years old, and he’s now 75 and one of the most experienced veterinarians in Tulare County, if not the whole Central Valley.
Sitting in his office at the Animal Hospital in Porterville, which he purchased from Dr. Dove in 1977, Dietrich said he got his veterinarian degree from U.C. Davis, which has been now voted the best veterinary school in the world. When he attended Davis, he said it was a small conservative town, unlike today where it’s essentially a bedroom community for San Francisco.
“There has been a veterinary hospital at this location on W. Olive Avenue since 1943,” said Dietrich. “It’s 76 years old. Dr. Robert Dove established the hospital out of his garage. During World War II you had a choice to either be a military veterinarian or go to a rural area to help with meat production. So that’s how our animal hospital started.”
Dove worked for the government, but did small animals as well as large. The post office address was, “One-and-half miles west of Main Street, or addressed to Dr. Dove.”
“It was just agriculture out here,” said Dietrich. He started his practice in 1972 and moved to Porterville, where he met his wife, Charolotte, and they married in 1973. They had three children, four grandchildren, and a great-grand child on the way.
“We are looking forward to that,” said Dietrich, with a smile.
For Dietrich, staying in business for so long is a simple matter, because every day he goes to work and enjoys what he does.
“The main thing, is I love what I do, and I do not intend to retire. I love my patients and their families and owners,” said Dr. Dietrich.
The practice of veterinary medicine has changed as much if not more so than human medicine, he said. “The type of equipment, computerization, and medications now are something that we had no hint of using 48 years ago. It was limited then, but the veterinary medical board now requires continuing medical education to keep current.
“We have in-house diagnostic laboratory equipment, a complete pharmacy, and great improvements in anesthesia safety.
“I have noticed the increase in the importance of the human animal bond. The bond between older people and their pets, and younger people and their pets.
“Families are treating their pets like members of the family.
“There is a very close bond.
“In my 48 years of practice I am approaching 80,000 animal surgeries. I’ve done 2000 spay and neuter surgeries myself.
But I could not do what I do without my staff. They are wonderful people. And they love people and animals, and it’s a pleasure working with them.”
Barbara Andersen has been working with Dietrich for 10-and-half years, and loves it. She’s a Air Force veteran and said the doctor strongly supports veterans.
Nurse technician Rosa Villanueva has been at the hospital for four-and-a-half years, and said she went to the College of Sequoia veterinary technician program, which is now closed.
“I love my job,” she said, “and there is nothing else I could see myself doing.”
Villanueva and Lenares both work weekends at Porterville Spay and Neuter mobile Clinic that’s run by Shannon Corbit.
“We keep Dr. Dietrich busy, and then we are very busy during weekends with spay and neuter clinic.”
Nurse technician Nora Lenares said she has been with the doctor for one-and-a-half years and, “I love it.” After receiving instructions from the doctor, Lenares and Villaneuva both helped clean out the inflamed ears of a little dog named Cujo, “The Killer” after they anesthesized him. When done his ears were all clean and didn’t look sore any more.
Villanueva said, “Veterinary technician school teaches you some things, but there’s nothing like “hands-on” experience. “Dr. Dietrich has so much to teach, with so much experience, he has seen it all.”
Augie Gonzalez, Director of Porterville Animal Control and Shelter said Dietrich is a “genuine veterinarian” who has served Porterville and surrounding community for all these years.
“He has one of the kindest hearts and compassion for animals. And he is a great partner to the Porterville Animal Shelter. One of the things I enjoy about Dr. Dietrich is when I go to see him, ‘He’ll shake my hand, and put the other hand on my shoulder, look me straight in the eye, and say, ‘Augie, You guys are doing a wonderful job keeping up the good work, Buddy.’
“We love him.”
“He’s a wonderful colleague,” said Dr. Charles Albers, of Sierra Veterinary Center, talking about Dr. Dietrich.
“He’s always been more than generous with his knowledge, advice, and experience. He’s the senior veterinarian of us all, and our little town is lucky to have him. Any of us (the veterinarians in town), can call him and say, ‘have you ever done this, or have you ever seen this.”