Over the years, Dr. Jean Corey gave shelter to animal after animal.
Sometimes it was because an owner died or was placed in a nursing home, sometimes people brought their animals in for care and just never came back, and most often people in the community brought animals in that they had found, hoping they could have a chance at something else.
Whether left in a box in front of the hospital door — sometimes with a bag of food, most times not — or left at the hospital by owners that couldn't pay the bill, Corey said she worked to find homes for them.
Fish, rabbits, birds and countless dogs and cats came to the hospital to stay, some for longer than others.
"Some of them weren't adoptable and some just hadn't found the right person to adopt them," she said.
When an early morning fire ravaged the Tucumcari Animal Hospital on May 21, Corey said 70 animals perished. Eleven of them belonged to other owners; the remainder were permanent residents of the hospital.
Each and every animal in the hospital had a story and most of them had been through hardships before coming there, said Corey, who took the time to share the stories of a few of the animals killed in the fire.
The unofficial greeter for more than 10 years, Blue would cozy up to pet owners in the waiting room and before long, he was curled up in their laps with their own pets sitting beside them. Originally coming to the Tucumcari Animal Hospital with two other cats whose owner couldn't keep them, he rejected the plan that he should live in the barn, and made his way inside the office. Even though he was one of many animals who called the hospital home, Blue was the only one given free reign of the place and was probably the best known by visitors and patients.
When the police brought Psycho to the hospital, the staff thought the limp and unresponsive calico cat must have been somebody's pet, but time told a different tale. It wasn't long before the cat recovered from her trauma of being stuck in an air conditioner — prompting the call to police — and it also wasn't long before it became very clear she was a wild cat. It took about six months to get to the point where Psycho would let people near her and even though she eventually overcame her fear of humans, her disposition of those first few months earned her a name that said it all.
Apollo and his cats
Surviving a crash on I-40 that killed their owners, Apollo and "Apollo's cats" came to the animal hospital shortly after and never left. With none of their owner's family able to take them in, the St Bernard adapted well to the hospital, which turned out to be a good place for him since he had congestive heart failure and needed ongoing medical care. In a short time, he had bonded so closely with one of the staff members that he learned to bark on command and bark quietly using an "inside voice." After spending almost a day trapped in a battered RV following the crash because no one knew they were there, Apollo's cats — there were two — also came to live at the hospital and eventually overcame their skittishness, no doubt a reaction to the traumatic crash.
She became attached to the staff at the hospital, but Holly never really warmed up to other people. Found in the dump right around Christmas time as a puppy, the white and black speckled heeler mix found a comfortable spot at the hospital where she was taken and enjoyed the next 10 years there with her new family.
Ming had a broken jaw that had already started to heal by the time his owner took him to the animal hospital for treatment. Dropping the blue Siamese off for care, the owner never returned and years later Ming still had a place at the hospital.
Last Halloween, an abandoned black kitten, later named Hallo, joined the family at the animal hospital.
Dove came to the hospital with a wing injury, but the bird had responded well to treatment and was on the verge of being released back into the wild, similar to a raven at the hospital that was recuperating from a broken wing.
The animal hospital took in a pair of Pleco "algae eaters" when their owners threatened to flush them if they couldn't find a home for them. Years later, they had grown to more than 10 inches and were happily enjoying the office fish tank.
Source: Dr. Jean Corey, Tucumcari Animal Hospital