In Good Hands

By Tom Reardon, August 2019 Issue.

Dr. Darren Wright

and his wonderful staff at Kaibab Animal Hospital have the right idea about how

to help animals and the owners through what are often difficult and stressful

times. In a simple, unassuming office on North 68th Street in

Scottsdale, Dr. Wright has forged a safe haven for cats, dogs, kittens, and

puppies to get the care they need while their “parents” stay fully informed

about what is happening, why it’s happening and, most importantly, what options

are out there for their beloved pet.

When you walk through the door at Kaibab,

the first thing you notice is their motto in big letters above the receptionist

area: The Little Clinic With The Big Heart. Instantly welcoming, this motto

fits Kaibab to a T. The building is clean with well appointed rooms and the

perfect mix of pet-related art, information, and cozy charm. In short, when

visiting Kaibab, you’re going to feel comfortable, appreciated, and part of the

family. Dr. Wright has done an amazing job in creating a warm, nurturing space

which is appropriate for puppy or kitty’s first check-up or a loving pet’s

final moments.

Dr. Darren Wright

On the day we met to talk about his

practice, Dr. Wright has already performed four surgeries and was enjoying a

well-earned break in the middle of his day. A single dad to his mini-pinscher,

Luci, Dr. Wright is old enough to know better, but clearly young at heart. It

is obvious after meeting him that he is just a genuinely good dude (and what

would Miss Manners say about referring to a doctor as a “dude”?) and to hear

him talk about his work and his staff and the animals he cares for is

inspiring. For Dr. Wright, it’s all about making sure he is doing everything he

can to make his patients and their families heard, informed, and safe.

When did you know you

wanted to be a vet?

It was one of those

things that since I was a kid, I’ve always wanted to do, like most kids.

Thankfully, I just kind of stuck with it.

Lots of children

express interest in veterinary science due to their love of animals but struggle

with the idea of doing surgery on animals. What advice would you give to the

budding vets out there?

Yes, you love

animals and want to do the best for them. Some people, even friends who are

vets, don’t like surgery. We all have to learn it to get through medical school

and you have to do all the things and you have to be proficient in it. Once you

graduate, you have the option of kind of doing what you want, though. For

example, if you want to do just behavior and kind of be the doggy psychiatrist,

you can do that.

Many people think euthanasia is the hardest

thing we do, and some people think that it is almost all of what we do

(euthanize animals). Unfortunately, it is something we do a lot and it’s one of

the harder things to do in medicine, but I always look at it as it’s a very

kind tool. It’s a gift you can give them to take away pain, to take way

suffering, to give them the dignity that we just don’t get to do with people

honestly. I always go into every euthanasia hoping it’s my last one, but it’s

also a tool that I never want to be without because it is a valid treatment to

take away the pain.

It’s a fine line that

every vet has to walk, I’m sure, to broach this subject. How do you handle


Dr. Darren Wright

It is hard to

broach that subject. You have to read the actual client and say, “Okay, what

are they looking for?” And some people are looking for that comfort, that

validation saying, “I’m not doing the wrong thing or I’m not doing this too

early” or anything because there are a lot of cases where people wait too late.

I never want the animal to suffer, but as long as they’re comfortable, I’m

going to support the owner and whatever decision they want to make as long as

the animal is not being put in a bad position. I’m here as an advocate for the

animal itself. There are times where I’m like, “Look, this is not going to end

well. We can go and do these thousands of dollars of testing, but what am I

going to do with those results?”

My philosophy on it is you have to kind of

take their top three favorite things in life and as long as they can still do

two of them and are still having more good days than bad, then we’re probably

still doing okay. We can modify medications; we can change things. But when you

look in their (the animal’s) eyes and you see that they’re just not having fun

anymore, that’s when you’re saying, “Am I keeping you around for you or keeping

you around for me?” It’s a very hard personal decision.

What’s the best part

of your job?

Of course, it’s

just playing with the puppies and kittens. It’s a difficult job when you’ve got

to come in and get licked by dogs and cats and play with them all day. That’s

the best thing. I really enjoy working with my clients. I have a lot of fun

with them. I had one this morning where the owner was panicking because their

dog was coughing all night and she though her dog was dying of heart failure,

but we found that he was just having some allergies, so we got him the right

medication and I got to be the hero. It feels really good to do that.

Many members of the

gay community like to support gay-owned businesses. Do you feel some

responsibility to help foster this in the gay community here in the Phoenix


As a community we

have to lead and support each other and be out there, too, to help when there

is an issue. As a community, we always want to be accepted. If we’re gay, we’re

out there saying, “Hey, you need to accept me for who I am, love me for who I

am,” and everything’s great. But then you get inside of our world, and again,

we’re very cliquey and we isolate each other and that drives me nuts. Let’s

kind of all be happy together.

So, we want to force everybody outside of

community to accept our community, but within our community, we want to still

isolate ourselves. That’s something that I’d like to change, but I don’t know

how to change at this point other than just loving everybody. That’s something

I would like to try and help foster a change in that because it does drive me


What is something you

would like our readers to know about being a vet or veterinary science that

people don’t know enough about?

Something I think

that everybody needs to know that’s not really out there is the psychological

issues we have in veterinary medicine. This is something that I am a big

advocate for and something that I always try and talk about. A lot of people

don’t realize that veterinarians actually have the highest suicide rate of any

profession right now. People don’t realize it, I think, because they see us

here and we seem like we’re all just happy go lucky because of how they see us

here but just like any case of depression, you often don’t see it until it is

too late.

What would you like to

see pet owners do more of?


preventative care (for the pet) and getting your annual check-up. I recommend every

six months exams here. Pets are growing a lot older than we realize every year.

I have wellness plans that help cover the costs so they can come in and I can

listen to their heart (for example). Dentistry is huge, too.

If we can start with dental cleanings

early, we can keep the teeth in their head. They spent a lot time making those

teeth and if I can keep the teeth healthy, they’re going to be a lot healthier

in general throughout their life.

Do you have any pets

of your own?

I have a pet. A

little min-pin named Lucy. Her drag name is Diva Lucia Dunne-Wright. She

doesn’t realize she’s a dog.

What do you think she

thinks she is?

She thinks she’s my queen. Okay. She lives in the house and I pay the bills. I mean, I sleep on her bed, all these kinds of things. She comes to work with me every day and is fine with the other dogs, but I think if I have another dog in the house, she’d be mad, so I only have the one.

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