LIHUE — A veterinary clinic in Princeville will celebrate its 18-month anniversary this month.
Gregg Townsley got a PhD from Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine — one of the top-ranked veterinary schools in the nation — in 1978. At just 23-years-old, he was one of the youngest people ever to graduate from the college’s advanced-degree program, something that takes most students the better part of a decade.
“I completed eight to ten years of school in five years,” he said. Dr. Gregg got a Bachelor’s Degree in biology and zoology — graduating with high honors, by the way — and finished with a PhD in veterinary medicine, specializing in small animal practice, at an age when many of his peers were still living in their parents’ basement.
In 2015, Dr. Gregg moved to Kauai. Last year he opened Aloha Veterinary Services of Kauai in Princeville, where he cares for everything from a dog’s fractured toenail to cat cancer surgery. He is particularly proud of the dental services at Aloha Veterinary, which he says are priced at a fraction of what his competitors offer and are performed using equipment that he modestly describes as, “really the best on the island.”
Dr. Gregg first came to the Kauai on vacation ten years ago and fell in love right away.
“I just loved the fact that this island has so much more aloha than the others,” he said in an interview Friday afternoon, a few minutes after he finished his exams for the day.
“I really enjoy the culture and the people,” he said. “It reminds me a lot of Lake Tahoe, you know, kind of rural and laid back.”
Dr. Gregg ended up on the north shore of Lake Tahoe — a cold water mountain lake on the border of California and Nevada — a couple years after college. He converted a Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall into a clinic he describes on his LinkedIn page as, “a state of the art veterinary hospital.”
The water of Lake Tahoe is clear and deep, and the fish get big. In 1974, a man caught a 37-pound Mackinaw Trout there. Dr. Gregg stayed for 15 years.
And after that, he spent another decade-and-a-half making house calls for sick pets in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he was owner and hospital director of Aaron’s Ark Mobile Veterinary Clinics. He drove his van-based dog and cat hospital from one appointment to the next, providing at home dentistry, chemotherapy, euthanasia, x-rays, ultrasounds, EKGs and full laboratory services to small animals in the surrounding area.
“We did all of the same services that any veterinary hospital offered,” he wrote on his online profile. “I also did lots of knee surgeries at a fraction of the cost that the specialists charged.”
Then, on an early December morning in 2011, while driving between patients, “I got T-boned at 50 miles an hour.”
“I was hit by a girl with drugs in her system,” Dr. Gregg said. “It turned my life upside down.”
The collision destroyed his van and the thousands of dollars of medical equipment in it, along with Dr. Gregg’s spine.
“I survived miraculously,” he said. “I’d have been dead if she would have hit me a second earlier.”
Six years of recuperation and a series of major spinal surgeries later, Dr. Gregg was finally able to return to his practice. By that time, he had moved to Kauai. He says the island “is a very healing place.”
July 11 will be the 18-month anniversary of Aloha Veterinary Services of Kauai. It is an outpatient veterinary clinic that provides local care, examinations, treatment, dentistry, minor surgery and prescription medication. The clinic has limited office hours Monday through Saturday by appointment only. But Dr. Gregg says he is pretty much always on call for a dog or a cat.
Also, he wanted to remind pet owners that, “Vaccines are very important.”
“This is the tropics. There are parasites everywhere,” he said. “It’s not like the cold. It’s not like the flu. These are diseases that can kill them.”