August 2018 - In Loving Memory of Doug Herthel, DVM


August 11, 1946 — July 11, 2018

Doug Herthel lived an extraordinary life. Not simply due to the impact he made as a veterinarian, but more so because of the person he was. A thinker and a problem solver, Dr. Herthel had a brilliant mind and relentless passion for veterinary medicine, the patients he treated and the clients whose friendships he valued beyond measure. His life’s work was inspired by his endless curiosity, pursuit of science and deep love of the horse. His greatest source of joy and that which defined him, however, was the family he built alongside his treasured wife, Sue. He was a man of great compassion, with a generous spirit and thoughtful approach to the way he practiced medicine and treated those around him. In Doug’s presence, new and old friends felt appreciated and valued.

Dr. Herthel grew up in the Calabasas area of California’s south coast, and developed a love of horses at a young age with inspiration from his childhood veterinarian. It was his first horse, a strapping sorrel gelding named Big Boy, that sealed Dr. Herthel’s fate and drove him further down the path that would define his career. Doug attended UC Davis, where he earned his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine. It was there that he met his future wife, Sue, and began to build a storied career that would help to change the way veterinary medicine is practiced.

During his time at UC Davis, Doug was part of the team that conducted the first successful colic surgery, helping to take the odds of survival in cases requiring surgical intervention from 0% to above 90% today. Dr. Herthel completed veterinary school in 1972 and moved to Los Olivos, California with Sue to begin their veterinary practice. They were a team with a vision, practicing out of the back of their orange Chevy Vega. From there, the Herthels slowly built what is now known as Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center.

As their practice became more established, they broke ground on the first building of what is today’s Alamo Pintado Equine. They slowly built a team of veterinarians, technicians and staff members that have stood as the backbone of the hospital. They’re a family, still practicing alongside each other, staying true to the foundation of service and sound medicine built by Dr. Herthel. He approached challenges differently and always with a positive outlook, it was simply the way he was wired. When he recognized a disease or injury that was thought to be untreatable, he dove in with almost obsessive fervor.

Dr. Herthel’s mark will forever be seen in veterinary medicine, but getting him to talk openly about his achievements was near impossible. He was a humble man, always eager to give credit to the team he worked with and thought so highly of. Beyond his contribution to colic surgery and other innovations, Doug became the founding father of veterinary regenerative medicine, recognizing that the horse’s body, when given the right tools, can heal itself far better than any medical intervention. He worked tirelessly to develop this approach until its components were used as a mainstay in practices across the country, including his strong belief in the therapeutic capabilities of nutrition and the effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Dr. Herthel was the first person to utilize adult stem cell therapy in horses, broadening the view of what was thought to be scientifically possible. From Kentucky Derby winners to donkeys and beloved family horses, Doug gave his best to every patient. He never stood still, was never deterred by a challenge and always looked for a better way.

Doug lived a full and rich life, from adventures as President Reagan’s veterinarian to cherished days in his shared office at the clinic. He experienced much, met people who fascinated him, loved deeply, was passionate about his work in veterinary medicine and cared greatly for the people and horses he touched. His career was cut short by a diagnosis of Lewy Body Disease 17 months ago, a progressive and aggressive form of dementia. Doug was a brilliant problem solver and, in his honor, the Herthel family looks forward to supporting research focused on emerging treatment and, one day, a cure for Lewy Body Disease.

Our founder, grandfather, father, husband, mentor and veterinarian will be fiercely missed, never forgotten and celebrated as the extraordinary man he was. We celebrate his extraordinary life, legacy and contributions to veterinary medicine.

Tribute provided by Platinum Performance, the supplement company that evolved from Dr. Herthel’s work.