By Zach Laird
MethuenLife Writer

After nearly a half-century of caring for countless “fur babies” and their families, Pleasant Valley Animal Hospital on Jackson Street permanently closed Jan. 19.

Dr. William Marcoux, 73, who operated as the main powerhouse of the veterinary hospital, has retired, marking the end of an era for both himself and the community. In a Jan. 9 Facebook post, the business noted that it could not find a vet to take over the hospital, so the decision was made to close.

Born in Melrose and seeing early on the impact that his father’s work as a physician had on his community, Marcoux’s compassion for both medicine and animals has roots that run deep, stretching all the way back to his childhood. He was young when he decided to mix these two elements of his life, never looking back.

“It started when I was a kid,” Marcoux reflected. “Our neighbors needed medicine for their dog’s eye, and they were having trouble applying it. My father was out on-call at the time. So I volunteered and went over to go help, and it made me realize that I could do it.

“I loved medicine and I loved animals,” Marcoux continued. “I never saw myself ever doing anything else.”

Ready to tackle the great challenge of life with a singular path in mind, he went on to attend the University of New Hampshire, where he pursued a major in Veterinary Studies. Marcoux then attended the Michigan State University veterinary program.

Marcoux’s wife of 49 years, Brenda, has been a central point of help since they first opened the hospital doors in 1975. She worked alongside him as a vet until her own retirement. Marcoux also credits the success of his practice to the several vets and numerous other staff members who circulated through the hospital over the years.

Having been a practicing veterinarian throughout his whole adult life, Marcoux had a front-row seat to the spectacle of technological and scientific progression that has occurred in the field of medicine. The days of doctors making house calls has long passed. Nowadays, Marcoux says, animal healthcare is specific.

“When I first started, things were a lot different than they are now. We did pretty much everything from check-ups to removing a spleen from a Great Dane. But as time and technology progressed, a lot of the heavier lifting’s now done by all sorts of specialists.

“While my father was a general practitioner,” Marcoux continued, “he would make house calls, do surgeries, deliver babies. And when I started practicing, we did all sorts of surgeries and tests. But the way that medicine has changed, there’s more people out there that are qualified to do these important procedures.”

The slow, downward trickle of technology and new tools that the veterinary world gets from human medicine has influenced the field in several ways, such as modern blood labs that increase the speed and efficiency of testing and analyzing samples. Another would be advancements in diagnostics, like the birth of the ultrasound and digital X-rays.

“No more dipping film into tanks filled with smelly chemicals,” Marcoux said. “Everything’s digital now.”

Every job has its highs and lows — but not every career has to deal with the intense emotional aspects of caring for sick, wounded or even dying animals. In order to properly balance the good moments with the bad, Marcoux created connections with his clients and colleagues that have lasted generations. The best option, he says, is to treat them like family.

“He was just a great boss,” said practice manager Kara Rossi, who spent 20 years working alongside Marcoux. “It’s like you become family to him when he takes you under his wing. He’s always helping you be better.”

Marcoux recalled once treating an ill diabetic cat that, after its healthy recovery, became the hospital mascot for both the clients and the staff: “(The cat) was overweight and losing its hair, which was rare for diabetic cats. We discovered a tumor on his abdomen, removed it and, after he recovered, he actually became our mascot for years. The clients all loved him and always asked about him. That always stood out to me.”

Marcoux’s compassion for animals runs so deep that once, when a client needed their dog’s spleen removed, he raced home and brought his own dog in to the hospital to help transfer blood before he performed the surgery.

“It’s the quality of life that I always say is most important when dealing with a sick pet,” Marcoux considered. “That’s never an easy conversation, but it’s what matters most.”

Once word of his retirement began to ripple across the city, it was obvious that Marcoux had become an integral part of the community, judging by the wide, unanimous feeling of loss that clients around Methuen seemed to share.

“My family and I have been going to Dr. Marcoux’s for about 42 years now,” Methuen’s Terry Romano told MethuenLife. “He’s always been there for us. When our dog Sambuca’s spleen ruptured, he performed emergency surgery. He’s treated all of our golden retrievers over the years.”

“I’ve been (Dr. Marcoux’s) client for 40 years, all the way back to when he’d see my childhood pet.”
Lisa Moquin of Methuen

“It feels like the end of an era knowing that he’s retiring,” said Lisa Moquin, another Methuen resident. “I’ve been his client for 40 years, all the way back to when he’d see my childhood pet. It’s sad to see him go, but it feels good knowing he’s moving on with life.”

The Pet Inn grooming salon, which shares the building with the animal hospital but is a separate business, is staying open “on a month-to-month basis until the sale of the building” while planning the next steps, they posted on social media.

Sad yet grateful pet owners react to the news

 In a Jan. 9 Facebook post, Pleasant Valley Animal Hospital shared the news that it would be permanently closing Jan. 19.

The statement read in part, “We are immensely grateful for our community, our clients, and their four-legged family members. Unfortunately, we were unable to secure another veterinarian to continue the legacy of compassionate care for animals in the Methuen community. As a result, after years of service, we will be closing our doors. Dr. Marcoux has been a figure of compassion for our patients and has dedicated his career to the well-being of your pets. Dr. Marcoux expresses his gratitude for the trust and support of the community and is proud to have been your family’s veterinarian for nearly 50 years.”

Heartfelt reaction poured in on social media, along with plenty of adorable pet photos. Animal owners shared their appreciation for Marcoux and his staff. Here is a sampling of the many comments from PVAH’s Facebook page.

Elise Boland: “… You took the best care of our boy Murray. We were new dog owners and you helped guide us from a puppy with his first tick until we had to make the difficult decision to say goodbye. You held our hands and helped us every step of the way. I feel you loved our dog as much as we did …”

Armen Derderian: “… we could not have had a better group of people taking care of our AJ (deceased), Ditto (deceased), and now our 11-month-old yellow lab, DJ … we are better people because of all of you. Why? Because you made us better dog owners.”

George Scione: “… Your dedication, compassion and care to those family members we love dearly is and will always be treasured. To the entire PVAH staff, we are grateful for your service and the love and caring you showed all the fur babies of the community. You’re all top notch and there is no doubt you will carry on the PVAH training and caring nature with you at your next locations.”

Carrie Emond: “… (For) 40 years Dr. Bill has been keeping my dogs healthy. I am indebted to you all. Grimm and Glory were lucky to have you. I will miss every face in that hospital.”

Robin Sullivan-Dowd: “Dr Marcoux all I can say is Onyx’s new Vet will have big shoes to fill. We wish you well in your retirement. Thank you for taking the best care of her and all our pets since 1980.”

Marie Rubio: “Dr. Marcoux, you are the best. I mean that sincerely and with all my heart. (My) animals loved you, my family loved you and trusted you, and you never let us down!!!!!!!!!!!”

Kathleen Lynch: “I have been a client since your start in the 70s. Your kindness and compassion have been extraordinary. There will never be another vet so dedicated.”