El Dorado News-Times, Monday, July 29, 2013
Animal clinic staff supports health, charity causes
By Sherelle Black
(Editor’s Note: The following article is the 38th in a series on established El Dorado businesses that have been in operation for 40 years or more.)
It’s not every day that one finds a friend willing to put their life on the line for them without any hesitation. Recently, Goodwin’s Animal Clinic treated a terrier who was bitten by a rattlesnake near his eye. The dog was in the process of saving his owner’s 3-year-old son who had wandered out too far and had come across the snake. Once the dog heard the toddler yell "snake," he instantly ran out in front of the child, taking the venomous bite. This courageous act proves that the saying "A dog is a man’s best friend" is true. It is because of the staff at Goodwin’s Animal Clinic, who took the after-hours emergency call, that the dog was able to return to his young best friend.
When Goodwin’s Animal Clinic was established in 1946 by Dr. Don R. Goodwin, it became the first animal hospital in El Dorado. Upon his retirement in 1983, Dr. Charlie Jackson and Dr. Tom Johnson became the owners of the hospital. When Johnson retired in 2010, Drs. Daryl and Suzanne Parker joined Dr. Jackson as co-owners.
When the facility first opened, Goodwin treated both large and small animals. Although, Jackson and Johnson did treat some large animals when they first began to work at the clinic, the facility no longer treats large animals. Originally Dr. Goodwin treated all animals —small and large — and he typically went to farms to treat the large animals," Daryl Parker said.
"Before they built this (new) facility they transitioned to only treating small animals, just dogs and cats." In 2002, a new facility was built directly behind the original building to accommodate a larger clientele. "The old one was here since 1946, so by 2002 it was pretty worn out and the business had outgrown it,” Daryl Parker said. The facility is not the only thing that has expanded over the years due to the growth of the business. Donna Tomlin, who has worked for Goodwin’s for 32 years and has recently been promoted to receptionist, said she has seen the staff increase over the years in proportion to the amount of clients they receive. "We went from a staff of three (two doctors and Tomlin) to now having six full-time employees and four part-time employees," she said.
Suzanne Parker added that the clinic is perfect for a college student’s summer job or internship. "We have awesome college kids that work for us," Suzanne Parker said. "We have had three college kids that have worked for us that have gotten accepted into vet school, and that’s just within the last several years." Daryl Parker, who also worked at the clinic when he was in college, added that he is sometimes amazed that he ended up back at the hospital as a co-owner. "I didn’t know I was going to come back and work here," he said. "But I wanted to come back to South Arkansas.
I just didn’t know if there would be an opportunity available, but it worked out. When I graduated, I worked for USDA in El Dorado, and while I was working there a position came available here. So, I was fortunate to get this job here." What may be even more astonishing is Suzanne, Daryl’s wife, has been able to be a part of his journey since high school, and is now a co-owner of Goodwin’s. "We were high school sweethearts and we ended up going to vet school together," Suzanne Parker said. "We ended up returning to El Dorado because we’re from Hampton and we wanted to be close by. Back then we may not have pictured ending up here, but it’s the way God wanted us to go. God has blessed us in many ways." Parker said besides her clients and her love for animals, her staff does a very good job at making work pleasant. "We have a very good staff," she said. "To work every day with people that like being here makes things more enjoyable. We have a good time, but we work hard from the time we get here until the time we leave. We enjoy what we do."
Sara Higgins, a full-time employee of Goodwin’s for more than three years, said the facility is everything she could ask for in a job. "I love working with animals," she said. "It’s my dream job. I just love what I do — waking up and coming to see and meet new animals every day, and working with the people I work with makes everything worthwhile."
Alicia Geter, who has been an employee for seven and a half years, added, "It's a happy environment, we are all like family." Not only do the employees feel like family, Geter said they also consider their clients as part of their family as well. "A lot of the customers that come through here are like family," she said. "We see them and we know their name and we know their animal’s name." Suzanne Parker said it is a good feeling to know that they all have a connection with the clients they treat. "We try to provide high quality animal care with affordable prices," she said. "Donna, Alicia and Sara all know our clients so well and their pets as well, and you just can’t get that anywhere."
Of the six full-time employees, all of their families have been affected by serious illnesses that have caused them to take a special interest in raising money for the Arkansas Children’s Hospital. "We have all had a child in our family treated at Arkansas Children’s Hospital," Suzanne Parker said. "We thought it was very odd that we have few full-time employees, but every last one of our families has children with serious illnesses. So, we think it’s a worthy cause, and we kind of adopted that as our special cause because we all owe Children’s quite a bit." The children have been treated for things such as a broken neck, a serious birth defect and a cyst on the brain.
"We have been doing several fundraisers for the children’s hospital," she said. "The last fundraiser we did was we raffled off an Easter basket and we raised a little over $1,000. Right now we are doing a $5 raffl e for a four-night Caribbean cruise for two, and we are also doing bubble bath days on Thursdays where all the money raised from the baths for dogs goes to Children’s." The raffl e ends Aug. 10 and the last scheduled day for dog baths is Aug. 1.
Besides having a soft spot for Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the Parkers, who have four pets, said their animals hold a special place in their heart, especially their 14-year-old Labrador, whom they recently just lost. "He was very special," Suzanne Parker said. "We actually just started a memorial program with UCAPS (Union County Animal Protection Society) where we spay and neuter one animal a week in his memory, and also in the memory of our patients here at the clinic."
Although the Parkers may have lost one of their best friends, Suzanne Parker said it’s those kinds of situations, as with the terrier, that makes her love her job more. "When you hear of things like that it makes your heart melt," she said. "Makes you get goose bumps, and it makes me want to come in to work so that I can do those types of things."
At the clinic they offer services such as vaccinations, treating medical cases and sick patients, dental cleanings, general surgery, dog baths and boarding for dogs and cats. Goodwin’s Animal Clinic located at 1701 W. Hillsboro St.