Letters

Letters 07-21-2014

Disheartened

While observing Fox News, it was disheartening to see what their viewers were subjected to. It seems the Republicans’ far right wing extremists are conveying their idealistic visions against various nationalities, social diversities or political beliefs with an absence of emotion concerning women’s health issues, children’s rights, voter suppression, Seniors, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid...

Things That Matter

All of us in small towns and large not only have the right to speak on behalf of our neighbors and ourselves, we have the duty and responsibility to do so -- and 238 years ago, we made a clear Declaration to do just that...

An Anecdote Driven Mind

So, is Thomas Kachadurian now the Northern Express’ official resident ranter? His recent factfree, hard-hearted column suggests it. While others complain about the poor condition of Michigan’s roads and highways, he rants against those we employ to fix them...

No On Prop 1

Are we being conned? Are those urging us to say “yes” to supposedly ”revenue neutral” ballot proposal 1 on August 5 telling us all the pertinent facts? Proposal 1 would eliminate the personal property tax businesses pay to local governments, replacing its revenue with a share of Michigan’s 6 percent use tax paid by us all on out-of-state purchases, hotel accommodations, some equipment rentals, and telecommunications...

Fix VA Tragedy

The problems within the Veterans Administration identified under former President Bush continue to hinder the delivery of quality health care to the influx of physically wounded and emotionally damaged young men and women...

Women Take Note

I find an interesting link between the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby and the crisis on the southern border. Angry protesters shout at children to go home. These children are scared, tired, hungry and thirsty, sent to US prisons awaiting deportation to a country where they may very likely be killed...


Home · Articles · News · Features · A Passion for Pets
. . . .

A Passion for Pets

Mary Bevans Gillett - November 10th, 2005
Strolling into Cherrybend Animal Hospital in Traverse City, one is greeted by several friendly faces at the front desk. Some, though, wag tails and only stand 10 inches high.
“These are my surrogate children,” laughs Daniel S. Aja, D.V.M., introducing Gator and Beignet, two of the five dogs that accompany him and his wife, Rhonda, to work each day. Their two cats and horse stay home.
Dr. Aja’s love for animals is obvious and infectious. It began young and never waned. He’s now sharing his enthusiasm on a national stage as president of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).
The AAHA is the accrediting body for veterinary hospitals in North America, an international organization of close to 35,000 veterinary care providers who treat companion animals or pets. Members range from veterinarians to technicians to office staff. Using the slogan, “Healthy Practices, Healthy Pets,” the organization advocates for high standards, compassionate care, continuing education and responsible pet ownership. Dr. Aja was named national president last spring, after serving in several leadership roles during the past decade.

ON THE ROAD
“We’re the leading voice for animal hospitals and small companion animals,” Dr. Aja said, noting that only one in seven animal hospitals in the United States is accredited. Michigan has no requirements for reg-ular inspections or continuing professional education although 43 other states do. Accreditation requirements include regular one day site visits by an independent team who evaluate a facility and its staff to assure that industry standards are practiced.
As president of the AAHA, Dr. Aja finds himself on the road three to four times each month, speaking at symposiums, visiting veterinary schools, meeting with policy makers and advocating for animal care issues. The greatest challenges facing the field of veterinary medicine are economics, pricing, animal rights and animal welfare issues.
In addition to his AAHA duties, he is also involved with the American and Michigan Veterinary Medical Associations, the Michigan State University Veterinary Alumni Council and the Michigan Board of Veterinary Medicine.

PERPETUAL PEDIATRICIAN
Referring to his own pets as surrogate children, Dr. Aja likens being a veterinarian to that of a “perpetual pediatrician.” It was a career that he wanted to pursue since he was a child.
“We didn’t have any pets when I was younger,” he said, “but one day, my father was out of town on business… and my mom brought home a dog from the Humane Society.”
That was in elementary school. The next steps led to cleaning cages at Grand Traverse Animal Hospital as an adolescent to Michigan State University for college and veterinary school, earning his DVM in 1982. He then completed his training with an internship in small animal surgery and medicine at Louisiana State University and entered private practice in Hollywood, Florida before returning to Traverse City to open Cherrybend Animal Hospital in 1987.
A native of Traverse City, Dr. Aja was the third of four brothers. All graduated from Traverse City High School during the 1970s and pursued college and professional training, then returned to the region. Oldest brother, Joe, specializes in construction and building plans, while Mike is a radiation oncologist and Tom is a certified public accountant. Family was the draw back to Northern Michigan as well as an ongoing source of mutual support.
“We have a pretty tight family.” Dr. Aja said. “All the brothers left, we all came back.”
“My parents set a strong example,” he added. “They had a great work ethic. We appreciated the value of working hard and achieving our goals.”

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR
Dr. Aja’s wife, Rhonda, shares his passion for animals. They met over 20 years ago at Louisiana State University’s Veterinary School during Dr. Aja’s first week as an intern. Rhonda specializes in animal behavior medicine and modification while also serving as the hospital manager. She co-owns Cherrybend Animal Hospital with her husband and has been active in growing the business from its earliest stages to the current 6,000 square foot facility, with four vets and 30 staff. All share a common bond as animal lovers as well as professionals.
“We all love working with pets,” Dr. Aja said, commenting on the Cherrybend team of Rhonda, the staff and fellow vets, Drs. Leslie Littlefield, Dana Mavidonski and Jen Richmond. “You can’t train the heart.”


 
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