Kodiak’s only resident veterinarian will leave, but a new vet arrives in June

The only resident veterinarian in Kodiak has her last day at the local clinic Mar. 1. Pet parents need not worry though, as KMXT’s Brian Venua reports, the clinic will still be business as usual, as rotating vets will fill the gap until the next resident doctor arrives in June. 

Dr. Emily Iacobucci is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and is even certified in veterinary acupuncture. (Brian Venua/KMXT)

The Kodiak Veterinary Clinic is the only source of vet care on the island and Dr. Emily Iacobucci has worked as the veterinarian there for the last six years. 

“It’s definitely given me the great experience of making sure that I honor the trust that people put in me with these little creatures that they love very much,” she said. 

While the clinic often has traveling vets that rotate in and out, Iacobucci has been the only resident veterinarian for at least the last year. 

She said this was her first job out of vet school and that while she’s loved meeting and caring for the island’s animals, she’s ready to explore new opportunities. 

“It was a great place to come and learn and it’s a great community but it’s time for me to live somewhere else,” the vet said. 

Iacobucci says in the coming months she’s moving to Anchorage and opening her own business to provide remote veterinary care across Alaska. She said she plans to travel to villages that don’t have vet clinics like the one in Kodiak. 

“Living in Alaska and living in Kodiak, gives us an awareness of the lack of care in a lot of places,” Iacobucci said. “There aren’t enough veterinarians or veterinary staff anywhere in the country right now – it’s a whole systemic issue and it’s not going to get better anytime soon.” 

Iacobucci will be joined by veterinary technician and fellow Kodiak Veterinary Clinic alum, Hannah Laza. The team will provide basic medical treatments as they travel and give end-of-life consultations for animal owners. 

Nicole Sassin has worked alongside Iacobucci since before she was the hospital manager at the Kodiak Veterinary Clinic. (Brian Venua/KMXT)

“I’m going to miss having her as my co-manager too because she was really easy to talk to and we agree on a lot of things, like we think the same way,” said Nicole Sassin, the clinic’s hospital manager.

The clinic will have rotating relief vets to ensure quality care in the interim. But a familiar face will be returning in June – Dr. Melissa Smith previously cared the island’s animals for about 15 years. 

Sassin said she’s excited to have Smith back on the island as the full-time resident doctor. 

“It won’t be a hard transition of people having to meet and know a new doctor so that’s the plus side,” she said. “And for the staff too, because we all know how to work with her and what she likes and how she does things.”

She said she hopes it’s a pleasant announcement for the island’s pet parents too. 

“The pets will know her too so that may or may not be a good thing,” Sassin said. “But a lot of the time, they’ll get excited to see us, the staff members that they’ve bonded with, so it’ll be nice to see all the pets react when they see her.”

The clinic has nearly every week between when Iacobucci leaves and when Smith arrives covered except for one possible week in April. However Sassin says she hopes to find someone to fill that spot well in advance.

Updated Tuesday, Mar. 5, 2024.

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