John E. Hayes (DVM ’63) attended a pre-veterinary program at the University of Maryland prior to entering veterinary school at the University of Georgia. “Dr. John,” as he is affectionately known, is well known in his home state for providing creatures, both great and small, with compassionate veterinary care, regardless of an owner’s ability to pay for his services. He has lent his time and expertise to animals in need—in addition to lending his time to other causes—throughout his career in daily practice and his 10 very active years as a “retiree.”
His exceptional care of both animal- and human-kind, combined with his tremendous heart, were just two of the many reasons he was recognized by the CVM’s Alumni Association with a Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2013.
We talked to Dr. John about why giving to the UGA CVM, and to causes in general, are important to him and his wife, Barbara.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a lifelong veterinarian, and successfully owned/operated two different practices during my more than 50-year career. I graduated from the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine when I was 24, then worked for a couple of other veterinarians, got married and started a family. I opened my first practice, Squire Veterinary Clinic, in 1966 in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, where I did both small animal and large animal work, including a great deal of equine work for major thoroughbred breeders and foxhunters. I also provided 24/7 on-call veterinary services to the local animal control agency, as well as all the medical and spay-neuter work for the ASPCA, (local) Humane Society and a host of other animal welfare organizations across a six-county region in Southern Maryland.
In my personal life, my (first) wife, Terry, and I had four children and we operated a 110-acre farm, where we raised horses and a variety of crops. In 1985, I sold my practice to my protégé, Dr. Scott Anderson (a graduate of The Ohio State CVM), who started working for me when he was just 13. Shortly thereafter, I met and married my second wife, Barbara, and opened a second practice in Ruckersville, Virginia. Over the next 20 years, I worked on both small and large animals, but very few horses, as many of the owners in the region preferred to use only equine specialists. In 2006, I “retired” from daily practice.
Today, I spend the bulk of my time running a spay/neuter clinic and providing volunteer veterinary services for the Madison-Greene Humane Society, as well as helping several other local animal rescue groups.
To which fund do you donate and why? Do you do this as a couple, or as individuals?
Barbara and I, because we do everything together, donate to the College of Veterinary Medicine. We do this to help provide veterinary students the same opportunity that I had. I have always been grateful that I received such a fantastic education quite cheap (back then, it cost just $330 a year to attend veterinary school). Obviously, today’s veterinary students face a much heavier financial burden than we did, so I am simply trying to give back, hopefully by helping to improve the experience of students or by helping students come through with a little less debt to deal with and a little bit easier start in their professional life. Giving back in this way has always been extremely important to me.
Why did you choose to begin donating to the CVM? Do you donate to other causes?
I’ve been donating to the CVM since 1975. I have always felt quite lucky to be a practicing veterinarian. I believe it to be an honorable and important profession and I want to support others who are pursuing that profession. I usually make a larger donation when my class gets together every five years for a class reunion, but I especially remember donating when the CVM started a private fund to raise money to build the new Veterinary Medical Center (which opened in March 2015). It is a tremendous facility, and I think we are all quite proud of it.
I donate to a lot of other causes. The one closest to my heart, of course, is (local) Humane Society and animal rescue work. I donate funds and my time to the Madison-Greene Humane Society in Stanardsville, Virginia, which offers not just rescue facilities, adoption services and medical care for unwanted cats, but also provides medical and spay/neuter services for low-income pet-owners. I also provide medical services for other animal rescue groups in Central Virginia. Other causes that I donate to are my high school, St. John’s College High School, a private Catholic School in Washington, D.C., as well as the Lion’s Club. I am also a regular, long-time reader for Learning Ally (learningally.org), which provides audiobooks for the blind and dyslexic.
Donating money toward a cause is a deeply personal experience and often means something different to each individual who donates. Do you talk to your children, other family members and friends about giving? And did your parents talk to you about giving? If so, what do you say, share with others, about giving?
My parents and my grandmother on my mother’s side believed very strongly in giving back, and to them, giving back meant making the world a better place when you leave. My mother was a social worker and helping others was pretty organic to her, and my father was quite heavily involved in the Lion’s Club. So I learned at a very young age that you needed to be involved in civic organizations and other causes that make a difference. They instilled that philosophy in me and my brothers, and I have instilled it in my children. My children know how I feel, of course, and they are all extremely giving to causes they care about. They work hard in their individual careers, but they give a lot of their time and money back to the community and to the less fortunate. My youngest son, when he was in Rotary, donated a substantial amount of money to the relief efforts in Haiti after the earthquake and he continues to give. I recently held a fundraiser for the Madison-Greene Humane Society and its various services at my other son’s restaurant. He donated the space and all his profits to the cause; my other children and one of my brothers attended and gave money as well. And when I had my 70th birthday party, I asked that guests donate to my favorite causes, instead of bringing me silly presents that I didn’t need. We raised quite a bit of money from that. It was an excellent way to take money that was already going to be spent and re-channel it into a more meaningful direction—in this case, help for animals and the blind and dyslexic.
What would you tell others about the experience of giving to a cause?
It’s what you need to do. It’s part and parcel of giving back, looking behind you and saying, “I have done very well in my life and I have a little bit extra money (or a little bit of extra time) and so let me give some of that back to the folks behind me.”
Is there anything that you’d like to add that has not been asked?
You can give back in a variety of ways, and one of my favorite ways is giving of my time and expertise. I think it’s important to voluntarily offer my hard-earned experience, knowledge and skills as a veterinarian to the larger community. That is something I would like to see more veterinarians do. Not enough of them are willing to provide pro bono services to rescue and animal welfare organizations or provide significant discounts to low-income pet-owners, and I’d like to see more of them give back in that way because their services are invaluable. Clients and pet-owners look to us for not just medical care and surgery, but also for trust and reassurance. Animals today are more than ever a source of comfort and companionship for people, especially the elderly and those who live alone. I hope veterinarians never forget what a privilege it is to be a veterinarian and the esteem with which that profession is held within our society.