History of caring for community continues at Yucca Veterinary

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Pet owners in Valencia County now have a new option when it comes to caring for their furry friends.

Owner and veterinarian Dr. Florian Sanchez, DVM, opened the doors of Yucca Veterinary Medical Center in Belen, with his wife, Stephanie, the clinic’s business manager, in October.

Clara Garcia-News-Bulletin photo: The staff at Yucca Veterinary Medical Center in Belen strives to give each customer and their pets personal and professional care. Pictured, from left, are Stephanie Sanchez, business manager; her husband, Dr. Roland Sanchez, DVM; Ruby Garcia, veterinarian technician; and Speedy, in front, the Sanchez’s dog.

The clinic offers a wide range of services, geared to both small and large animals, including wellness checks, spay and neutering, vaccinations, minor and major surgeries, dental cleanings, equine podiatry, in-house blood testing and more.

Although Sanchez, a 2004 Belen High School graduate, grew up on his family farm, he didn’t start out wanting to be a veterinarian. It was only when his brother, Roland, a local dentist, suggested veterinary medicine that Sanchez, who was between his freshman and sophomore years at Texas A&M at the time, decided to give it a try.

Majoring in animal science, Sanchez began living at and working for a veterinary clinic in Lockhart, Texas, under the direction of Dr. Steven Golla, DVM, who he says became his mentor.

“I fell in love with the lifestyle — the relationships you build with clients, the ability to have your family involved with you, the work ethic and the people,” Sanchez said of his time with the Texas clinic. “I really enjoyed the medicine part of it, getting to see the surgeries and working with a doctor who would always dig deeper to try and figure out a solution.”

After his time with Golla, Sanchez made up his mind and decided veterinary medicine was his calling. Even before graduating from Texas A&M, he was accepted early to Colorado State University, where he attended vet school, focusing on large animals.

“With all my electives in small animals, I was able to focus on dermatology, ophthalmology and orthopedic surgery on small animals,” he said.

When Sanchez graduated from the four-year program in 2011, he and his wife, Stephanie, moved back to Texas and worked for the same doctor who had become his mentor for the next two years.

But due to their love of Valencia County, Belen and a family tradition of caring for the community, they moved back home and opened Yucca Veterinary Medical Center — a long-time dream for both of them.

Sanchez’s father, Dr. Roland Sanchez and his older brother, Adolfo, have a family practice in Belen, and his brother, Roland, opened his own dentist office a couple of years ago in the Hub City. Sister, Jessica, also a medical physician, is finishing up her education.

“I’ve always known home is where I wanted to be, and seeing how my dad and brothers have contributed professional services to the area, I just wanted to be part of that,” Sanchez said. “We’re family with a lot of people who treat people like family.”

While treating small animals, such as cats and dogs, Sanchez said his passion is equine podiatry, a specialty that, he says, is much needed in Valencia County.

“Some people can call farriers … and yes, we do farrier work like trimming and shoeing, but the basis of everything I do is all about biomechanics of the foot and hooves.”

Sanchez explained that it is the horses that everyone has given up on after trying traditional techniques that are the ones he will spend time analyzing. He makes sure everything for the horse is addressed by adjusting different pressures and forces as needed, corrective shoes and sometimes lower-limb surgery.

What used to be an old doctor’s office, church and day care, Yucca Veterinary Medical Center houses two exam rooms, a full-surgery room, an isolation room, a treatment and prep room as well as a laboratory. Sanchez also has a portable digital x-ray machine that he can take out in the field to analyze and diagnose large animals on a client’s farm.

With a personal touch, Sanchez said he’s been able to get to know their clients and their animals while still “digging deep” to make sure they get the best care possible. And when he can’t figure out the problem, he said he has no problem referring his clients to someone who will be able to help.

While taking care of their clients is their No. 1 priority, helping the community is also important to the Sanchezes. When the clinic opened on Oct. 4, they offered a low-cost spay and neuter clinic and invited Father Steven Schultz, pastor at Our Lady of Belen Catholic Church, for St. Francis of Assisi Day, a day for pets to be “blessed.”

“All the profit we made that day went directly back to Our Lady of Belen,” Stephanie said. “It was such a success, which we didn’t expect, we are planning to do this every year.”

Stephanie said another way they plan on giving back to the community is to set up a scholarship fund to help FFA and 4-H students in Valencia County.

“We’re just excited to be back and helping our community,” Stephanie said. “We’ve been fortunate to be able to come home and open this clinic.”

Yucca Veterinary Medical Center, 1006 S. Main St., in Belen, is open Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For information, call 864-6001.


-- Email the author at cgarcia@news-bulletin.com.