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By Mike Hazlip—
After more than five decades helping animals heal, a Citrus Heights veterinarian now says he is staying active as he turns a page in his career.
Dr. Dean Henricks began working as a veterinarian in Napa Valley after graduating college in 1969. Raised on a farm in Harrington, Kansas, Henricks was no stranger to animal care.
“I enjoyed working with the animals more than the field work,” Henricks said.
After graduation, a friend convinced Henricks to become board certified in California where he started working in St. Helena, just north of Napa. It wasn’t long before a local school teacher from Calistoga brought a puppy to the clinic.
Eventually, she started taking her students to the clinic for field trips. About a year later, Dean and Kathy Henricks were husband and wife.
Soon after, Henricks opened his first practice in Crescent City where he says he treated his most unusual patient. As the only veterinarian for miles around, Henricks said someone brought an injured bear cub to the clinic.
“He had been hit by a car and was pretty much out of it,” he said. “We were in a hurry to get done so we could get him out before he woke up. I didn’t want to be around him when he woke up.”
After his time in Crescent City, Henricks sold the practice and started working at a clinic in the Sacramento area in 1979. He eventually became the second owner of Citrus Heights Pet Hospital in 1997, just about the time the city incorporated.
One of the changes Henricks says he has seen over the years is the increasing specialization of veterinary medicine.
“Back when I started, you pretty much had to do everything,” he said. “Whereas now, in the Sacramento area, we’ve got board certified specialists in almost anything you can think of.”
Another change Henricks has seen is the role of pets in family life. He says families are spending increasingly greater amounts of money for the medical care of pets compared to previous years.
“The pets are the emotional value,” he said. A lot more is being done with them now, people get attached and don’t let them go.”
Along with the increasing sentimental value of pets, Henricks said he is seeing more service animals. While he understands the need for service animals, Henricks has concerns over what he sees as people taking advantage of emotional support animal policies by bringing untrained animals into places where animals are not typically allowed.
“I think we need to have some type of certification for that,” he said. “Especially as far as getting on planes, they can be quite a problem on a plane.”
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Henricks has been active in community organizations such as the Rotary Club. He and his wife hosted 13 exchange students over the years. He says he still gets Father’s Day cards from some of the youth he hosted who are now adults.
Last year, Henricks cut back his hours at the Citrus Heights Pet Hospital after his wife was diagnosed with cancer. Kathy Henricks died November 2021.
Kathy Henricks is remembered by her husband for always being supportive, and Henricks counts his family as his greatest success. Over their 51 years of marriage, the couple had two children, two grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
Henricks is semi-retired now, still helping with surgeries at Citrus Heights Pet Hospital when needed as he prepares to pass the practice on to Dr. Averi Brickson, who has significant future plans to take the clinic further, Henricks says.
Looking back, Henricks is grateful for the opportunities he has had, and his life work in animal medicine was honored when he became a Distinguished Life Member of the the California Veterinary Medical Association.
“I’ve had opportunities to do a lot in my life,” he says. “Raised a family, watched them grow, grand kids, great-grand kids. It can’t get any better.”
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