Bickie and Bill Coffey don’t just want the best for their own pets; they want the best for everyone’s pets.
That love of animals and the human-animal bond are why some clients at the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ (VMBS) Small Animal Teaching Hospital (SATH) have found their bills mysteriously paid.
It’s why the Coffeys will do whatever it takes for their pets to get care at Texas A&M, whether that’s flying them from Wyoming to Texas for emergency care or braving the worst ice storm in a generation.
And it’s why the Coffeys have not only been strong vocal supporters of a new small animal teaching hospital at Texas A&M but strong philanthropic supporters as well.
“After all Texas A&M’s Small Animal Teaching Hospital has done for our family, this is the least we can do,” Bickie said. “I’m ready to see this thing get built.”
A Convoy In The Cold
The Coffeys’ passion for their pets and the trust they have in the SATH clinicians and support staff are demonstrated in an experience Bickie had during the statewide freeze in February of 2020.
During the freeze, the Coffeys’ small Yorkshire Terrier, JoJo, was having vomiting episodes and needed to be seen by a veterinarian. When Bickie called the College Station Police Department’s non-emergency number to check on the road conditions, the officer told her that they were encouraging everyone to stay off of the roads.
“She was the nicest officer; she had such sympathy for my fur baby,” Bickie said. “She asked me how I would get to A&M, and when I told her down Wellborn, she said they had officers all along Wellborn who would keep an eye on me.”
The SATH ended up needing to keep JoJo overnight, and as Bickie was walking back to her car, one of the electrical workers coming into town asked her where she was headed. Since they were going the same direction, they allowed her to join the convoy of electrical workers on their way through town.
For the Coffeys, this experience was an especially powerful reminder that while much of the city was stuck at home, there was a place they could rely on to help their pets in a critical time of need. At all hours of the day or night, in the midst of a global pandemic and a historic ice storm, there were people who would stop at nothing to provide that care.
“I felt silly going out in the bad weather, to be honest, but JoJo needed that care,” she said. “It meant the world to me that Texas A&M was open and that the doctors and technicians were ready to help.”
That wasn’t the Coffeys’ first dramatic trip to the SATH.
A few years ago, their daughter Leigh called from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, saying that her veterinarian had recommended taking her cat to an animal hospital in Colorado. Instead of going to Colorado, though, she got on a flight to College Station and brought Gracie all the way to the SATH, where she received chemotherapy and surgery to remove a cancerous kidney.
“It was like she was a new cat,” Bickie said. “We were thinking she had 12 or 14 more months to live, but it’s been three years and this cat is still doing wonderfully. We take her in every three months and she’s still at the level she was when they removed the kidney.”
A Love For Others
The Coffeys have been bringing their animals to the SATH for more than a decade now, and in that time, they’ve seen their share of other clients going through the emotions of bringing in an injured or sick pet for help.
“I was there one time when these two girls whose dog had been hit by a car were sitting there calculating in their head how they were going to pay for treatment and what they were going to do,” Bickie said.
So, not for the first time, Bickie quietly told the billing department that she would cover whatever the two couldn’t pay that day.
“If you can, how could you not do that?” she said.
It’s that same love that has led them to become so passionate about building a new teaching hospital.
Having been inside the SATH, they’ve seen the need for more space as demand for services has increased over the years, and they know that with new facilities, the already high quality of care all animals receive will only improve.
“We’ve seen what they can do, and they’re incredible,” Bickie said. “But it’s how much they care that’s the difference.
“We’ve come in and the students have remembered us. They must see all kinds of clients, but they don’t just treat you and move on; they remember you and your animals, and they’re just so kind,” she said. “I love that place—they just care.”
Note: This story originally appeared in the Summer 2022 edition of CVMBS Today.
Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Director of VMBS Communications, Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences; firstname.lastname@example.org; 979-862-4216