As a lifelong pet owner, Greer Gafford ’10 always had great affinity for animals. When she felt led to enter the field of veterinary medicine, University of Georgia fit all her college requirements.
Majoring in animal science, Dr. Gafford was a member of the pre-vet club, where students heard speakers from the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine every week. The relationship between the college and the undergraduates provided hands-on experience as well as networking opportunities. Between classes, work, and running both cross-country and track for the university, her schedule was full throughout college. During summers she typically trained for sports and worked at an animal hospital or clinic.
Dr. Gafford earned a B.S.A. in animal science in 2014 and entered veterinary school at St. George’s University in Grenada, West Indies, a U.S.-accredited program.
“I decided to take the leap and do something different. I didn’t know anyone,” she said. But she quickly made friends with other students and enjoyed snorkeling and island-hopping on school vacations.
Dr. Gafford returned to University of Georgia to complete her fourth-year clinical training at the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine and graduated cum laude from St. George’s in 2019. She was hired at the Animal Hospital of Sandy Springs, where she had worked during college.
“It’s great to be part of the community and I love the relationships I form with people and their pets. I like general practice instead of emergency care for that reason,” Dr. Gafford said.
As with many businesses, the animal hospital had to alter the way it delivers care during the pandemic. To limit exposure to families as well as the staff, the clinic schedules curbside dropoffs and pickups and communicates with pets’ families by phone. “It was hard getting used to that and not having the pet’s owner in the exam room but everyone has been very understanding,” she said.
And the work has been steady as many families adopted new pets while at home during quarantine. The Animal Hospital of Sandy Springs has a number of new dogs and cats as patients. “I love new pets and educating people about their care, and I love to see pets find homes,” Dr. Gafford said.
For families looking to adopt a pet, she recommends researching different breeds to determine which pet and breed fits the family and its lifestyle. Veterinarians can offer tips for behavior and training as well as healthcare.
In her work, Dr. Gafford often sees familiar faces as many HIES families bring their pets to her clinic. She enjoys catching up with former teachers as well as old friends about their days at HIES.
As an Alpha-Omega student and daughter of Tony and Robin, longtime Lower School Assistant at HIES, Dr. Gafford ran both cross-country and track and was inducted into the Holy Innocents’ Athletic Wall of Fame in 2018. She served as a peer counselor and completed the Program for Global Citizenship. She traveled to Japan as part of the exchange program between HIES and Asahigaoka High School. “I still talk to my exchange partners today!” she said.
Dr. Gafford enjoys running as time permits these days and is still close friends with her two best friends from HIES, Dr. Corinne Bicknese ’10, an anesthesiologist, and registered nurse Amanda Nelson ’10. “We were all Alpha-Omegas together and now we’re all in the medical field!” she said.
“My connections with HIES friends, teachers and mentors have been really important to me over the past 10 years,” Dr. Gafford said.
She advised current HIES students to keep up their relationships with teachers, coaches and friends no matter where they are led in the future, and to stay focused. “Stick with your passions, follow your heart and don’t give up on your goals,” she said.