Lone vet likes small-town feel of Ketchikan clinic

In this Sept. 20, 2012 photo, Monica Mangis poses with a patient at the Ketchikan Veterinary Clinic in Ketchikan, Alaska. The Ketchikan Veterinary Clinic's only veterinarian said being in small community is a great opportunity for her. (AP Photo/Ketchikan Daily News, Nick Bowman)

KETCHIKAN — Monica Mangis was a student in the spring of 2010 and performing surgery that fall.

The Ketchikan Veterinary Clinic’s only veterinarian said being in small community is a great opportunity for her.

“Most starting vets only get to do the basic — vaccinations, spays and neuters,” said Mangis, a 2010 graduate of Washington State University. “Up here we’re everything to everybody. You get to do a lot of surgeries; you get to see a lot of specialty cases.”

Business Manager Lorraine Johnson said Mangis has handled being the only vet at the clinic, which comes with a lot of on-call nights, well.

“I think she does very well,” Johnson said. “She worked first with Dr. (Dan) Walton. He did a lot of the ACL surgeries. I think she’s been mentored by some of the best.”

While in veterinary school, Mangis participated in trips to Honduras to deliver rabies vaccines to villages’ pet populations along with performing spays and neuters. She’s taken a similar path in Ketchikan with clinic trips to Metlakatla to offer discount vaccinations and procedures.

“She was the one that really spearheaded the clinic going over to Metlakatla,” Johnson said. “She wants to do that again in the future.”

For now, the future stretches only five years forward — the length of Mangis’ agreement with the clinic. But she said she’s bought a house not far from Rotary Beach, and that staying long-term is a possibility.

In those five years she’s hoping to be certified in herbal medicines for animals.

“You end up with fewer side effects in general,” Mangis said. “It can be difficult to do with animals. They’re more picky with what they eat.”

She’s treating a dog with a liver condition with herbal medicines.

“These herbs help blood flow through the liver,” she said. “They help decrease the damage to the liver in a natural way ... it’s kind of cleansing for the liver.”

Mangis said her favorite task as a vet is performing surgeries, and her least favorite, of course, is when she has to euthanize animals.

The clinic partners with the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Animal Protection Department to euthanize stray animals. Mangis said euthanizing the dozens of stray cats seized several weeks ago was hard on everyone at the clinic.

“That’s the toughest thing to deal with,” she said. “There was no way they could have been rehabilitated. We had a couple of helpers. It was rough on everybody.”

When Mangis isn’t at the clinic she’s working on her house — she said she’s hoping new insulation will make this winter more cozy— or walking her 110-pound Great Pyrenees, Birch. She particularly likes the Settlers Cove trail. She also has two cats, Zane and Alfie, and an affinity for candle- and soap-crafting.

The Washington native grew up on a farm in Spokane, and said one of her favorite things about living in Ketchikan is being near the water.

“I never grew up next to the ocean — that was always my favorite thing to do,” Mangis said. “I love going and looking for sea shells. It’s been a lot of fun.”

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