Full-time Veterinarian on Molokai
Growing up as kid in Maryland, Dr. Stewart Morgan said he always liked animals. But in recent years, he’s taken that appreciation to a new level – advancing from owning a few guinea pigs to practicing medicine on cats, dogs, horses, cattle and many other animals that needed care.
Dr. Morgan recently brought that love of four-legged friends to Molokai, where he will serve as the Molokai Humane Society’s (MoHS) first-ever full-time veterinarian.
He visited the island for a two-week tryout in August, quickly realizing “how much a [full-time] vet was needed here,” he said.
“The first week was quite stressful,” he said, crediting Dr. Eileen Naaman for helping him learn the MoHS system while he was “inundated” with appointments and procedures. “The second week was still busy, but things seemed to feel like a little bit more of a routine.”
He decided he was interested in the position because of the urgency to fill it, as well as Molokai’s “beauty, culture and caring people,” he explained. He’s glad to escape the hustle and bustle of his previous home in Washington D.C., where he would sometimes face a two-hour commute, he said.
“It’s quiet – that’s one thing I like about [Molokai],” he said. “There’s no traffic jams.”
And while the job itself can be hectic, helping animals is his passion. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Haverford College and PhD in genetics from Stonybrook University, but decided to pursue veterinary medicine after working on basic science research so he could work directly with animals.
“I wanted to feel like I was making a difference … a tangible difference,” he said.
He received his doctorate in veterinary medicine from Cornell University in 2009. After working in public shelters and private practices in California, he transferred to the non-profit Washington Humane Society in Washington, D.C.
He also spent time in the capitol of the Cook Islands, Rarotonga, through the Esther Honey Foundation, which brings veterinarians from around the world to help animal populations.
On Molokai, his goals include reducing the island’s large feral cat population. That will take strategic planning, he said, including a large trap-neuter-release effort that humanely targets many cats at once.
“Just [spaying or neutering] a few at a time doesn’t really put a dent in the numbers,” he said.
He also wants to work with MoHS to expand youth education about animal care, and in the long term, help the organization toward financial self-sufficiency.
Having just arrived last week, his life is “still in transit,” he said. Two of his three pets – Bruce, a 4-year-old half-Pointer, half-Retriever mix, and Wakshlag, his 3-year-old cat – are on Molokai, but he’s looking forward to the arrival of Glenn, his 3-month-old Brittany puppy – and many more of his belongings from D.C.
He’s already seeing clients at MoHS and is eager to meet the Molokai community – pets and owners alike.
“There’s a lot to do. … We’re trying to move forward,” he said. “I’m here to help the people. That’s the main thing. I’d like to meet people, and I’m really open to hearing suggestions and talking to people.”