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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkVallarta Living | July 2007 

Veterinarian Without Borders
email this pageprint this pageemail usJulie Muhlstein - Everett Herald
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Children in the Mexican state of Nayarit, on the Pacific coast, hold puppies during a visit by Everett veterinarian Stephanie Garlichs. (Brian Bourque)
Everett veterinarian Stephanie Garlichs is one of those people who can't simply enjoy life. She has to change it - for the better.

"Life has meaning if you serve others," she said. "It just works for me."

When she and her husband, Jeffrey, travel to Mexico each year, Garlichs does more than chase away winter blues by basking on a beach. While most folks vacation to unshoulder the burdens of work, she puts her profession to use.

Before leaving the States, the 48-year-old veterinarian makes contact with agencies that help animals.

"I find that life and travel are more interesting when you engage with people," said Garlichs, whose trip to Mexico's Pacific coast last winter found her volunteering at a spay-neuter clinic.

"Dr. Garlichs is truly an inspiration," said Debbie Young, a client assistant at Northwest Animal Care Hospital, where Garlichs is one of five veterinarians.

This weekend, Young and other staff members at the Everett animal hospital will hold a fundraising event to support Garlichs' latest good-hearted effort, the Breast Cancer 3-Day walk.

"As many of us do, she has a sadly personal connection to this cause. She lost her beloved mother-in-law to this disease a year ago," Young said.

Garlichs will lead a team walking 60 miles Sept. 7-9 in the Seattle Breast Cancer 3-Day. They're stepping out in memory of Marie Ried of Gig Harbor, who was 82 when she died on Mother's Day in 2006.

"She'd had the disease about 10 years ago, had a lump removed, and everything was great. But at 82, it came back extensively," said Garlichs, who must raise $2,200 to participate in the walk that benefits Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the National Philanthropic Trust.

"She was all about goals and positive thinking," Garlichs said of her late mother-in-law. "She was still doing aerobics three days a week."

Her team will include her sister, Mary Michael Garlichs; her sister-in-law, Kathleen Ried-Stowe; and Kathleen's 20-year-old daughter, Rochelle.

"It's kind of a big event for us. None of us had ever walked 20 miles in a day, much less 20 miles a day for three days," Garlichs said. "It's amazing, though. Almost everyone I talk to has been affected by breast cancer."

Garlichs spends weekends taking 15-mile walks to get in shape for the event that starts at Bellevue Community College and ends at Seattle Center. After all that, she'll need a vacation. It won't be too leisurely.

"Annually, I go to Puerto Vallarta. I go to small towns north of there and work with one group or another based in Mexico," she said. With Friends of the Animals Inc., or Amigos de los Animales, Garlichs conducted a two-day cat sterilization clinic, treating 24 cats.

On her last trip, Garlichs took along Amberly Amero, a veterinary assistant from the Everett animal hospital.

"I started going as vacation, but I wanted to actually do something and not just take from the environment," Garlichs said. "Spaying and neutering happens to be something I can do."

Garlichs spent two years as a volunteer at a human health center in Ethiopia. She's been to Uzbekistan, Egypt, India and Bolivia for consulting work involving animals. She worked with Winrock International, a nonprofit program, teaching animal husbandry to women who raise cattle.

"Everywhere I go, people have animals," Garlichs said. In poor places, there aren't the means to pamper pets.

"They may treat them a little differently, depending on income," she said. "But the world over, you see little kids holding puppies and kittens."

Columnist Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460 or muhlsteinjulie@heraldnet.com.



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