Dr. Matt Goetz received his DVM from Oregon State University in 2010 and his Master of Business Administration from Arizona State University in 2018. Dr. Matt and his wife share their lives with a menagerie of animals that includes several cats, two dogs, and two guinea pigs. In his free time, he enjoys traveling with his wife to see their favorite music band perform as well as tinkering with technology to make a smart home.
Welcome to the Professionals and Animal Rescue podcast, where goal is to introduce you two amazing people helping animals and share how you can get involved with animal rescue. This’ll Podcast is probably sponsored by do bert dot com. Do Bert is a free website designed to connect volunteers with rescues and shelters and the only site that automates rescue relay transport. Now on with our show, Dr. Matthew Gets is the medical director for the Arizona Animal Welfare League and S P. C. A in Phoenix, Arizona. He received his D. V M from Oregon State University in 2010 and his master’s of business administration from Arizona State University in 2018. Dr. Goetz first became interested in animal welfare while serving on the board of directors for the Asheville Humane Society in Asheville, North Carolina. He serves on the advisory council for both the Arizona Veterinary Medical Association Board of directors as the shelter representative, as well as the Native America Humane Society. Hey, Dr Matt, Thanks for coming on. Excellent. Thanks for having me this morning. So give us a little bit about you. Like the history of you. Kind of how you got into this and your passion for animals. Yeah. So I’m one of those lucky people that kind of knew really early on that this is what I wanted to do and and granted. Back then, I wasn’t sure what working with animals was gonna look like in my future. But I definitely knew that that was the field I wanted to get into, and it all credits started. I was about 10 years old and I have a really vivid memory of this. My mother. It’s time yet for zoo camp that summer. And I was super excited cause I was like, Wow, I get to learn about all these really cool animals Kind of see him up close and personal on. That was something. Education’s always been really important to me. So I was super excited about that. And it’s kind of Ah, happy slash sad story, how it all kind of happen. So when I was 10 on Dhe, she signed me up Rizu camp, and I remember her dropping me off the first morning of zoo camp and being so excited and all through the week kind of every day I’d go in and get to see different things. And at the end of the week I came home and I went upstairs and I told my mom everything I’d learned that week and all the different cool things I’d seen. It just so happened to that my mom had actually been diagnosed with a very aggressive form of liver cancer that I had. I didn’t know what the time because I was a young child. And it just so happens that the last thing my mom did for me was take me to zoo camp that first Monday on it. Really, It really means a lot to me when I look back at it because she really wanted to kind of exposed me toe kind of learning about animals and kind of animal husbandry and all those different things. And then kind of at the end of the week on that Friday afternoon and I got home and I told her everything and and unfortunately I was the day that she told me like Hey, like I was really, you know, PSA bigger disease on. Unfortunately, I’m most likely pass away from it, and I remember being really, really upset. It kind of. But I’m looking back. And I’m like, Wow, like the last thing you did for me was was get me involved in working with the animals, and that’s kind of how everything started from there. Wow, that is a very vivid story. I mean, and it sounds. It’s funny because I was even thinking about zoo camp. I’ve never heard of a thing. Tell me, what is the zoo camp like? Zoo cam, basically, was everything from Hey, let’s learn about, you know, the giraffes and the elephants and where they come from. And what are their needs we got to learn about, you know, the importance of their ecosystems, you know, preserving the forests, the rainforest, the desert landscapes, all those different things that each one of those animals needed in order to survive on. Still be a part of this world I’ll never forget. There was this There was this parrot. He was, ah, huge macaw. And his name was Julio. And this will actually tie back in later in the podcast. But Julio was this very, very big bird, and I would sit there and we could go up and we could pet on and, uh, feed, you know, peanuts. too, and things like that. And I had never seen a parent like that up close and kind of how amazing this creature was. And it was just such a vivid memory in terms of that, because that was never been back close to a parent. And then later on that day, we got to go see the giraffes and everyone back close to giraffes. And it was really amazing to just kind of see these these beautiful creatures. Yeah, I can imagine. So you’re 10 years old, you’re getting this great experience and then that kind of fueled your passion that you felt inside for animals. It really did. And then I really started getting involved in the veterinary profession about I think I was about 18 years old when I really started getting involved. And it was just one of those things where you couldn’t really work in vet clinics unless you were an adult, which I totally understand from kind of the liability perspective. Um, and it was really interesting because I I was an okay student high school. But I wasn’t one of the best students in high school, and, uh, my college counselor actually told me in high school. He was like, You know, you shouldn’t even waste your time going to college. You’re not gonna make it inspiring. Have I was like that. That’s great. Um, so I was like, I’m going to prove you wrong in terms of that. And I definitely have, obviously, since then. But it’s when I started out when I was 18 I basically was a cattle cleaner. That’s why did my first summer, I volunteered at the clinic in our local community, and all summer long, all I did was basically clean kennels. Every now and again, I got to help do something cool, you know, helping surgery, things like that. And then at the end of the summer, my mentor, who I’m obviously still very close with Hey, give me $40 on And he was like, I want you to have some money to start school with in terms like gas money to get to school on Dhe. He’s He’s an older guy, you know, Hard work is definitely something he believes in. But he really exposed me a lot. And then kind of through undergrad, I would go back to my hometown over, you know, summer break, Christmas break things like that and work for him. And then So I’m not spending four years in Oregon on, and I met my wife, who’s also a shelter veterinarian. I met her my fourth year vet school, and then after that, we ended up moving to North Carolina. And that’s kind of where my career kind of florist from there in terms of actually becoming a veterinarian and one of things they mention it. I was saying the introduction about you, but you didn’t stop there, right? So vet school wasn’t enough. You said, you know, I also need to get an MBA. Yeah, so one thing I kind of noticed in early on in my career, Uh, and I was I worked in a small little private practice in Raleigh Durham, and we started there and then we kind of moved from Raleigh Durham Thio, Greenville, North Carolina on I continue to work in private practice. That was my wife started work in shelters, and we’ve kind of moved around the country since then. But about three or four years into my venerated career, I was like, Wow, there is a the disconnect between veterinarians and the business side of things, because when you go to vet school, you don’t really learn about a lot of practice management things like that, and it’s more commonly you learn about it now. But when I was in bed school, I think I had three or four hours of practice management and was basically what to do. So you don’t get sued. Uh, not really. Think about the business. But then when you get out of that school, people kind of look atyou is OK. You’re a veterinarian, but you also need toe. You know how to run a small business. But we actually haven’t given you the education to run a small business. So I really started noticing that kind of within the traditional battery setting. And then, especially as I started it, kind of getting more and more involved in animal welfare and with animal shelters that I really started to notice a big disconnect between everything else that goes on in animal shelters or, you know, the marketing that volunteers, operations, all those different things that veterinarians air never taught about. And I was like, I have got to go out and get the education, understand what else goes on in these shelters. And I also did it because my my overall long term career goal is to become an executive director for an animal welfare organization. Okay, because I think if we have people that are in place that understand the very side, the medicine side and also the business side, we can really have more successful organizations. Yeah, I absolutely agree with that. And it’s something I’ve said quite frequently, actually. Is that animal shelters? They are small businesses. They are organizations. They have a not for profit mission. Most of them, um but they are a business, and you have to operate like a business. And you gotta understand revenue and expenses and marketing and all the HR, like all those things that you learn about in business school. But as you pointed out, not necessarily invest cool. Exactly. And it’s one where I think a lot of ah lot of veterinarians get frustrate within shelters because, like, I don’t Why is marketing doing this? And why is this person doing this? And it’s like it’s we all gotta work together with this, you know, if we’re going toe, save all these animals We all need to understand kind of where each one of us is coming from. And I really I really, really enjoyed my MBA. I got from Arizona State University here in Phoenix on it was a two year program, and I I love going to my classes. I love working with my group members because none of them came from a veterinary background. They came from people from Amazon and and best Buy and military and things like that. And I really enjoyed learning about their profession and how what they were doing in their careers and kind of they loved asking me questions because they had never, you know, they taking their animals to see their bet. But they never really understood everything else. And it’s It’s actually really funny because two of the guys are now my clients. They come see me at our public veteran clinic at my organization. So and there’s actually other students in my class that are my clients now as well. So it was a really it was an enjoyable two year program. That’s really cool. Yeah, I think one of the things I always say I mean, I still work a day job for a Fortune 100 company and, um, Technologies, my background and I considered giving the gift to the animal welfare community that I’m contributing. Mike’s my skills, my experience, and and I do feel like I’ve got a lot that can be brought to the table because I have been trained in business and I find it’s a really like you’re talking. That’s a very good melding of skills is I don’t necessarily have the depth of knowledge is to shelter operations and animal care and all that. But I can bring the aspect from a different angle, right from technology, from podcast, from blogging from all these other things that a lot of these organizations don’t necessarily have. And so that’s what I enjoy doing to give back to the, you know, to the movement. Yeah, and I think what you do is phenomenal because it is. It is an area and animal welfare like we don’t have a lot of those those technology of experts that come work with us. So I I actually think it’s amazing what you do for our our animal welfare industry. Thanks. So tell me about now, you know, kind of fast forward. You are involved in all sorts of stuff. Tell us a little bit about what you do today. Yes, Um, my primary role today, I’m the medical director for the Arizona Animal Welfare in Phoenix, Arizona, and we’re a limited admission shelter. We do about 4000 adoptions a year and give or take. It’s about 50% dogs and 50% cats. Okay, Uh, and under me, I have our shelter clinic. So anything having to do medical wise with the shelter pets of whether they need spay, neuter or, uh, you know, looked at for doing certain, treating medical conditions, things of that nature. And then I also have our public low cost binary clinic, a cz well, and that’s something that is very near and dear to my heart. One reason why I decided to leave traditional private practice is I saw a lot of animals that the owners really wanted to be ableto to do things for their animals and take care of them. But they we had financial limitations. So I really think that by having his low cost veterinary clinics were able to keep the animals out of the shelter as Much as I love working in the shelter. I wish animal shelters, you know, didn’t have to exist. And maybe one day way won’t have tohave him. But so by doing the low cost public binary care, we can kind of keep those animals out of the shelter. The third part of my job is I have the foster department under me. So all the little puppies and kittens that are you know, we need Thio. Get them healthy, get him ready for adoption, get wait on him. You know, all those different things that go into the neo Nate’s. I really enjoyed that part as well. I’m I’m a cat person through and through. So kitten season is one of my favorite times of the year. You will find me walking around our campus always checking out the kittens. A couple weeks ago, we had to do a kind of an education piece on kitten season, and I had a blast with it because I had a little kitten in every pocket of my lab coat and I had a great time. So that’s my main role on then. I do a lot of the management stuff as well So you know, making sure we have a good flow of animals through the clinic that they’re all being taken care of, making sure my employees are being taken care of scheduling all those kind of traditional management roles on. But I do a lot of very outreach. That’s a huge passion of mine. Both my wife and I do a lot of outreach. I worked very closely. We have an organization here in Phoenix. It’s called Fix It Up Save, and it’s actually a collaboration of several of the other animal welfare organizations decided to kind of come together. We got funding from nine. A Mason Pulliam chair will trust as well as PetSmart charities to start this order. Kind of this umbrella organization that’s really helped to drive down the euthanasia rate in Maricopa County on increase adoptions and provide service is to the public. Actually, tomorrow morning, my wife and I are waking up very early in the morning to go do a free vaccine clinic in an area of Phoenix, and it’s gonna be her myself. Another veterinarian from one of the other animal organizations in town. My wife’s intern is gonna be with us. We go out and we do about 2 300 free vaccines in about a four hour period. So that’s a big say, like an assembly line. Pretty much to do that many. It is, it is. And it’s something that would we’re working with the with on. Obviously, we’re kind of targeting kind of lower income neighborhoods. But these people really appreciate it because they want to feel like they’re able to do something for their animal on, and they want to feel like they’re being able to take care of their animal. So these people, they will start lining up, probably at 56 a. M. In the morning and the clinic. We’ll probably start, give or take. We started about nine, but they will be there hours before on. We do vaccines and we do free microchips for him. And it’s it’s amazing to see kind of just what four hours of my time could do to make a difference in so many people’s lives. Yeah, that is amazing. And kudos to you both for doing that because I think that is something that we need to do more of an animal affairs to reach out and engage the community, and I really like what you talked about is that prevention? Keep the animals out of the shelter, right? I mean, we don’t There’s no purpose for the shelter if we can put programs in place and safety nets and help people that care for their animals keep them in their homes. So, like you’re talking about the different clinics and things like that, I mean, I’ve talked to people that have said there’s resource deserts in some of these areas. There’s not that clinics for 50 or 100 miles and you know, how can we develop programs that we can bring? The service is two people, so they can care for their pets because most of the time they don’t want us to run through them exactly. And that’s most people think. Oh my gosh, this person has to go give up their animal to the shelter because X y Z type of situation. And I’ll tell you, working in a eliminated admission shelter, we do take public intakes and allies people they do not want to give up their animals. They are in a situation, though, where you know they’re being. Unfortunately, they’re being evicted or you know, they have to then move in with a loved one who can’t have animals, and it’s heartbreaking, and a lot of people they do not. They love these animals. They don’t want to give them up. They also want to give them the best chance at a light as well. I do love it when we’re able to kind of step in. If somebody comes in and they’re like, Hey, I took my dog to see a veterinarian and it needs X Y Z done and I just can’t afford it. I think that’s kind of where the whole access to care is starting to come into play. I think a lot of organizations, especially the avian may hsus kind of the big animal welfare organizations are noticing. Hey, we gotta provide some way to get care to these people, to prevent them from having to give up these animals that they absolutely love, because at the end of the day, the best place for that animal is in that home is with that family. That that’s what they’ve always known is that home in that family. So I think really trying to work hard to keep those animals in the home is kind of the next frontier of shelters and bettering medicine. Yeah, I couldn’t agree with you more. And I’m glad that you mentioned programs like what HSUS has their pets for life program because they’re really community based. And they’re not trying to go in and lecture people on what they should be doing. They’re trying to go in and work with the community to provide. The service is that people are looking for because, as you pointed out, they want to care for these animals. And these animals are part of their family. And if it’s just a matter of providing the resource, is whatever it is they need or the education if they if they need that, that’s absolutely the next frontier is to proactively keep these animals out of the shelter. Exactly. So I’m curious what a typical week looks like for you. I mean, you talked about a lot of different things that you’re doing and that you’re managing, and I can clearly see both the the veterinarian and the MBA and you and the things that you’re managing. But what is a typical week look like? I never really have an end date. In my week, I am. There’s no one day that goes by that I’m not talking Thio. You know somebody at my shelter in terms of whether I’m physically they’re doing things or I’m at home and I got a call about any animal or I’m working with an organ, another organization. But generally, my my weeks are jam packed, the actual Monday through Friday. I start most days, you know, somewhere I’m 7 a.m. in the morning, give or take on. I work until the job’s done at the end of the day, and I still get to be involved in the actual veterinary care. I think sometimes a lot of people think, Oh, medical director, all he’s doing is kind of the more kind of like business and HR and things like that. But I’ll tell you a thing today, I still spent a significant amount of my like getting my veterinary degree, and I still want to be involved in the actual day to day care of those animals and providing care to home. Um, I spent about 60 to 70% of my day working directly with the animals. I don’t do so much of this surgery anymore. I have several veterinarians on staff and a lot of them really enjoy, You know, spay, neuter surgery, things like that. I’m actually a medicine nerd at the end of the day, so I really like to complicated medical cases. That is definitely something I enjoy a lot. I do. We do a lot of demonstrate. We definitely see a lot of animals that need a lot of dental work that come in. And that’s kind of typically kind of what my day is. And then, obviously another big part of it is, is doing the management, doing the scheduling, talking to my doctors, talk to my staff on then another Big part of it is doing, you know, kind of outreach things. I do a lot of media spots for for local media in terms of hey, you know, we got a lot of parvo going on right now or distemper or, you know, let’s talk about heartworm disease because it’s April. In its heart were month all those different kind of public education things, because again, I think the more we can kind of reach out and kind of get the good incorrect information out out to the public is very important. So I spent a lot of time working with our public public relations director and ideo. I spent a significant time in meetings. That’s unfortunate side of it, right? I am somebody I wish I could do all meetings by memo meetings. That is, that’s gotta buy philosophy on it. But I understand the need for meetings, but it’s it’s something that if I could find a way Thio work with the animals every single day and do that and work with the public and work with my fosters and spend the least amount of time in meetings that would be the most ideal situation on and then on the weekends by since my wife and I are both, you know, shelter veterinarians and like to kind of re really make an impact on our community. You will find us working with a fix it up, save doing vaccine clinics by wife, does a lot of spay neuter with the with picks it up, save and then we also, uh, one big area we really like to do is get out and work with communities that don’t really have that access to care. So we’ve been working on a program in New Mexico at one of the Native American Reservations, the Laguna Indian Reservation. We go out there two or three times a year to do a spade knew better to do wellness, to do vaccines, you know, client education, anything that we can d’oh and that program we’ve been doing for several years. My wife was actually one of the original veterinarians for it. That program is organized by the A V M A, and we’ve gotten a major funding from the Banfield Foundation. We’ve also gotten funding from PetSmart charities, and it’s a It’s a program that is very near and dear to my heart. So you know, after working up a long week, will get in the car on Friday night and drives in New Mexico and spend the weekend doing spay, neuter and vaccines and wellness, and then come back late Sunday night and start working in on Monday morning. Wow, it definitely sounds like you’re in a lot of things and and again, I mean spending your weekends helping out other communities as well. It’s just really, really cool, Thank you. I appreciate that. So one of the things I wanted to touch on is you mentioned that you’re responsible for your foster program and I have to say, I think you’re the first veterinarian that I’ve talked to that’s also responsible for the foster program. So maybe tell us a little bit about that. Why is that? And how does that work? Yeah, so at our organization, we again we do about 4000 adoptions a year, but about 1314 100 of those animals will actually go through our foster department. And considering the amount of animals that go through our foster department and a lot of the meeting, you know, veterinary care, they need to be looked at by a veterinarian. And it just kind of we kind of figured out within our organization. You know what? The vet is so highly involved in the foster department. Let’s move the Foster department out from under operations and put it under the bed in every department. And then that way I’m able to, you know, manage that staff managed the cases. I am in and out of our foster building constantly. We actually just renovated our foster building to be, you know, in in terms of our housing. And there were doing it where all the cats and the kittens have portal ized kennels. So they have one area to sleep in one area to have their food and then the litter box on the other side on really kind of create that kind of low stress housing. We actually are doing cat runs, so they’re gonna have indoor outdoor access, which is great for the kittens and for the adult cats kind of keep him. I think in terms of having that low stress housing really keeps him more healthy. And then we’re also we renovate it. So we’re gonna have puppy runs as well, because we have a lot of puppies that are coming through, especially from the really rural areas of Arizona that need again kind of need that extra care. I could go when I can look at these dogs. I know my staff that’s in there. I have a lot of that text that air in there, so they know kind of the basic medicine and what they need to do and when I need to get involved. So I really think again having that veterinary oversight is actually better for those animals at the end of the day, and that’s absolutely no dig at shelters. Have it under the operation side because I worked in those type of shelters. But I think it’s much more effective when the veterinarian is running that foster department because I’m the one that’s 80 90% involved in that department most of the time, Yeah, no, I think it’s a really interesting perspective, and I’m glad you’re sharing kind of the why behind it, because I think that’s how we I’ll get better. Right is hearing different perspectives, different things that have worked in different shelters and, you know, we learned from each other. So I appreciate you sharing all that well, Dr Matt has been really great to talk to you today, and we’re running out of time here. So I just wanted to say, Is there anything else that you wanted to mention before we wrap things up? Working with in your community is very important for animal welfare. I think kind of the mentality has been over the last several years, two decades, you know, we’ve had so much splintering within the animal welfare community where you know the mentality is not like, Oh, I don’t like how they do it. I’m gonna go out on my own thing and start this and start, Dad. And I think it’s almost detrimental in a way, especially now where we have so many organizations, which I think is a good thing. But it’s also I think, if we were to come together and work together and have common goals, we could really make a big difference in our community. And I think that’s where fix it up safe here in Phoenix is really making an impact because we’re coming together and were actually working together. And we’re appreciating Hey, you know, we do this well, this organization does this. Well, let’s let everybody do kind of what they’re good at. So we can really make an impact versus, like, I’m gonna take my toys and leave and go do my own thing on. And the only in the alley thing that loses out of the end of day when we have that mentality is the animals. You know, if you think about it when our egos get in the way, that doesn’t do anything to benefit the animals, so I think really come together. And working together is again kind of the next frontier within within shelters as well Is working together is really gonna have the biggest impact for for all these animals. Yeah, I I couldn’t agree with you more. I definitely think that being able to share I mean, now that we’re hopefully getting handle on these problems and we are really making a positive difference. And how do we continue to work together, mourn and support each other and help each other? And as you said, look for the next frontier. What’s what’s next? An animal sheltering and how do we evolved? And how do we pivot these organizations s so that we are focused on the animals again because it is easy to lose sight when you’re, you know, day in and day out, doing the same thing. So I definitely appreciate you saying that. And I’m really glad you came on the program today. It was really good to talk to you. Thank you. I really appreciate it. Thanks for tuning into today’s podcast. If you’re not already a member, join the air p A. To take advantage of all the resources we have to offer and don’t forget to sign up with do bert dot com. It’s free and helps automate the most difficult tasks in animal rescue.