By The Weekender
Brandy Fay cries every day at work. She wouldn’t have it any other way.
Fay is the owner/veterinarian at Newaukum Valley Veterinary Services on Northwest State Avenue in Chehalis. She also has a second office — River Bend Pet Center on Hamilton Road in Chehalis. She offers immunizations, dental work, surgeries, nail trims, prescriptions, spay and neutering, and microchipping. The office on Hamilton offers boarding, doggy day care, a private dog park, veterinary care, positive reinforcement dog training and a puppy socialization class from 4-5 p.m. every Sunday.
She cries when she increases the quality or saves the life of a pet. She also cries when she puts them down.
She is a Chehalis product through and through, part of the Hamilton family that first came to the basin in 1904. She graduated from W.F. West High School and Centralia College, then earned her degree in veterinary services from Washington State University.
She grew up around cattle and a family dairy operation. She was all set to become a dairy veterinarian in Yakima, but just six months before graduation, she decided she was too sensitive to emotionally survive the often harsh business of tending to cows and other large animals.
So she did two of her “never going to do” moves, becoming a pet veterinarian and moving back home. She also had “never going to do” moves of getting married and having children. Today she is married with two kids. She’s 0-4 in “never going to do” as she is comfortably living right across the street from her parents.
On her lobby wall at the State Avenue office hangs a sign she handmade: “Veterinarian: The Other Family Doctor.” It sums up her approach. She is one of those doctors that takes a keen interest in the lives of her patients.
“They always talk about your ‘why?’ I think it’s a beautiful thing — I know my ‘why.’ I know why I get up in the morning — to make a difference in the lives of my patients and clients,” she said, dressed in her blue doctor’s outfit in her lobby on State Avenue last week.
At age 5 Fay was given her first pet — a Holstein heifer from her grandfather. The heifer stumbled into a ground nest of bees and was stung multiple times and started having breathing problems. A veterinarian was summoned, gave the cow an injection and in about 10 minutes the cow was fine. She named her Bee.
“I loved Bee,” she said, adding that was her first experience with a veterinarian. “It was right then and there I decided I wanted to be a veterinarian.”
Another experience in her youth, this time with the family dog Duke, a blonde lab, has shaped her life as well. Duke had to be put down. It was not pleasant. Duke was shaking and scared during his final moments.
“It was a bad end of life,” she said of Duke. “It was scary for him. He was shaking. … I remember telling myself if there was any way I could save somebody from having their final moments with their animal being in an environment they weren’t familiar or scared, I would make the effort to go to them instead of them coming to me.”
She tears up as she recounts going to Ocean Shores with a client and a dog that had to be euthanized. The dog loved the surf and the sand dunes.
“It was so peaceful,” she said. “I’ve learned to appreciate the procedure because it’s the greatest gift you can give.”
This past year Linda Brooks had to put her dog down. She did it at Fay’s office on State Avenue.
“I just appreciate they take good care of dogs, you can tell when people are pet people,” Brooks said. “They were really good to us and gave us our space. This is a good place.”
Fay worked for 11 years for Dr. Mark Giffey, and took over operations after he retired last summer.
Along with a heart for her patients, she has a heart for this community. She received about $200,000 in scholarships to attend school, creating in her a drive to give back.
“I live by the philosophy (that)I’m going to keep investing in the community that invested in me,” she said.
One example is The Bambi Fund, a tax deductible organization she formed to offer free services to the community, from healing animals that are abused or injured, for elderly clients that are on a budget and can’t afford medical care for their pet, to medical treatment and support for area police K-9s. It is named after her close friend Bambi Forsman who died from cancer before she could fulfill her dream of opening up a dog rescue operation.
Megan Tierney is the COO for the two veterinary centers operations. She said in all her years working for veterinarians, two doctors stand out as being completely dedicated to serving clients and making any personal sacrifices to do so. One is Fay. She said Fay will regularly work long hours and come in to the office in the middle of the night for an emergency.
“There are things she misses out on because this is her calling and she gives 110 percent,” Tierney said. “I don’t think she’s capable of doing anything less.”
At age 37, Fay has many decades left doing a job that makes her weep.
“Sometimes they are happy tears,” she said. “Right now, the concept of me never doing this doesn’t cross my mind.”
If You Want to Donate to The Bambi Fund:
Your tax deductible contributions will allow for free veterinary services for animals in need. To donate go to bit.ly/BambiFund.
River Bend Pet Center
Located between exit 72 and 74 off I-5 but nestled between heritage family farms in the Newaukum Valley, River Bend Pet Center provides boarding for both dogs and cats, force-free obedience training, fear-free puppy socialization classes, day-play for dogs and a private pay-to-play dog park. It is located at 311 E Hamilton Road, Chehalis. Info: 360.748.3121.
Newaukum Valley Veterinary Services
Newaukum Valley Veterinary Services offers traditional veterinary services with a focus on giving the patients and clients the most calming, professional services obtainable. It is located at 1214 NW State Ave., Chehalis. Info: 360.748.3121.