Best of the Boat: Best Vet — Steamboat Veterinary Hospital
November 14, 2017
It was the early '90s and snow was feet deep when veterinarian Mike Gotchey got the call from legendary local Mel Hitchens that his horse was paralyzed on Snake Island between town and the mountain.
"We were supposed to put him on a car hauler, but the driver took off," said Dr. Gotchey of Steamboat Veterinary Hospital.
No problem. Dr. Gotchey called in Ed MacArthur and his front loader.
"We plowed in to get the horse, knocked it out and put him in the bucket. I said 'Ed, can we go through town with this thing?'"
Somewhere out there are photos of Dr. Gotchey escorting a drowsy horse with four legs sticking out of a tractor bucket driving through downtown Steamboat.
"It was pretty comical…that was old time Steamboat for sure," says Dr. Gotchey, whose office was voted Best Vet in this year's Best of the Boat poling.
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Steamboat Veterinary Hospital has been around for 65 years, with Dr. Gotchey running it for the past 27.
"We're known as the blue collar hospital," Gotchey says. "If your dog comes in with diarrhea we're not going to immediately charge you $300 for a fecal, blood test. If he seems happy, doing okay, we're going to try medicine first. People here are working hard to make ends meet."
And don't let the old building with its old-fashioned client folders fool you. Newer vets like Dr. Natalia Stiff, who specializes in pet rehab, have joined Dr. Gotchey and partner Dr. Lee Meyring in recent years.
"We're the only mixed animal practice for small and large animals," explains Dr. Meyring, who often treats cows in a barn connected to the vet hospital on Lincoln Avenue. "A true diverse animal practice is becoming a thing of the past."
But it's the rapport that the doctors and their staff have with clients that make the practice attract old and new customers.
"It's a small town. Clients see us in a store and we'll ask them, 'How's Peaches?'" says Dr. Gotchey.
The attitude is reflected at the office.
"We all love our jobs," says assistant manager Amelia Carslon. "The whole feeling of the place is different. It gives a warmth."
Steamboat native Dr. Nate Daughenbaugh, raised on a ranch like Dr. Meyring and Dr. Gotchey, also treats animals of all kinds.
"Lee is a cow guy, I'm a horse guy, but really everyone does everything here," says Dr. Gotchey. "You can't say I'm on call only for horses or small animals."