25 years at Animal Hospital of North Asheville

By Amy Plankenhorn, DVM
Do you remember where you were in the summer of 1987? Ronald Reagan was still President, the Iran-Contra affair was breaking, and Michael Jackson was Bad. And three (young!) women were joining the staff of Animal Hospital of North Asheville. In June, Norma Morgan joined the client care team after having worked as a dental assistant. Two weeks later, Kelly Brown became part of the technician team having just graduated from tech school as a Registered Veterinary Technician. And finally, on July 1, I became the “new doctor” of the group, two weeks after graduating from veterinary school. 

Dr. Plankenhorn and Kelly

We came to AHNA at an exciting time; the practice was busy enough to be able to add more staff and another doctor. Although Kelly and I had our school training, we were inexperienced but enthusiastic. Traditionally, summer is the busiest time of year in veterinary practice, and in those days before we had the excellent types of flea products that are available now, summers were even more challenging. We had to learn a lot, and learn it quickly! Fortunately, we all had a lot of help and mentorship and were welcomed with open arms by coworkers and clients alike.
As the years have gone by, we’ve become some of the experienced members of the team. Some of our colleagues have come and gone, while many have been by our sides through all of our happy and sad times. Drs. Dave and Betsy Thompson, Dr. Warren Riggle, Mary, Lynne, and Carla were already here when we came. In fact, overall our staff of 44 each average almost 10 years of service here at AHNA. Norma, Kelly and I have seen the addition of ultrasound, endoscopy, laparoscopic surgery, advanced dental care, and new medications. Computers have changed our ability to get huge amounts of information, and have made our record keeping easier and more accurate. It’s still hard to believe that we’ve watched our coworkers’ kids go from birth to graduate school when WE haven’t gotten any older! What hasn’t changed over the years is the commitment to providing excellent medical care while putting the comfort and welfare of our patients first.
I asked Kelly and Norma their thoughts about our 25th anniversary at Animal Hospital of North Asheville. Kelly said, “I can’t believe they’ve kept me here all this time! Seriously, though, I love having been here long enough to know our patients through their entire lives. We see them start as puppies and kittens, on into old age.  It’s also been great to see how medicine has changed and how much more we can do.” 
Norma added, “I enjoy welcoming our clients into a place that feels like home, like they’re becoming our family members. It’s as if we’re the pets’ aunts and uncles that are here to help them, and support them in an environment that’s not ‘work’ but family. I also love making a difference for people and animals.”
I totally agree with both sentiments! I feel like my clients and my patients are my friends, and I love seeing what peoples’ pets mean to them. I also enjoy the constant variety of veterinary medicine and the opportunity to learn, laugh (and sometimes cry), and help my patients every day. You’d think after 25 years at the same job, things would seem routine, but each day is a challenge that I look forward to meeting. And I feel so fortunate to spend every day with caring, talented people who have become my Asheville family.
I wonder what will be happening in 2037……?


Smokey and I have been visiting your facility for 5 years and have always had the best of care and, more importantly, caring. My dear Dr. Amy and all the other staff treat us both as if we are royality and make sure that we both leave feeling much better than when we came in. I'm sure the Queen would be bringing her Corgis here if it weren't for the long commute!

Thank you Joyce! We love seeing Smokey at the hospital (but not too often...). LOL at your comment about the Queen - now THAT would be some pressure!

Happy 25th!!! Over the past 25 years, you all have become OUR family as well, and cared for our pet children in a most loving, caring, brilliant and professional manner. You cannot imagine the comfort we have, knowing you are always there for us. I cannot even imagine being a Pet Mom without an AHNA! Blessings & Hugs, Sophie Margaret & PommyMommy


We are so touched by your kind comment. Thank you so, so much! You and your pets are definitely family!

The AHNA Staff

Thank you for your kind comments, Linda! It's patients like Sophie Margaret that make it fun to come to work every day :-)

I had to notice that our favorite vet in the Universe, Dr. Amy Plankenhorn, wrote a very good
article about a 3-person 25th anniversary, well done, all of you!

We're so proud that George and I have been with you for our four years here in AVL, and know that we'll be around through the next 25...

Love all of you, but especially Dr. Amy and Cindy!

Kate Mulderig and George Burns, the most gorgeous and wonderful Bulldog in the world

Thank you for your wonderful comment, Kate! We will be sure to pass your message on to Dr. Plankenhorn.

After moving from a different regon, where over the course of 40 years I'd only had 2 vets (carefully chosen), I found myself with vets I felt were only marginal (or less than that). I ended up going to UT (Knoxville), and had wonderful service. But I wanted A VET - one that got to know me and my furry family. A friend who came from Asheville (to Cocke County, Tennessee) recommended AHNA. I asked for the vet's name and she said, "Oh, whoever we saw was OK". I still wanted A VET, so she asked a friend of hers that she said, " . . . almost has a zoo". That person said, "You have to see Dr. Plankenhorn". I remember making that first appointment. "Are you a client?" I was not. "Well, you could see Dr. __________ sooner". But, based on the referral I stuck to my guns and my family and I got to see Dr. Plankenhorn. I instantly knew I had "found OUR VET". But back then AHNA was not "into" clients necessarily seeing the same vet each time, so for awhile I had to be stubborn about appointments. Over the years AHNA and I have come to agree - having one vet is best - for the clients and for the animals. Other changes, like being more proactive about post operative meds has also been an AHNA change I have more than welcomed. I live 1-1/2 to 2 hours travel time away, but I have faithfully (and probably fruitlessly) recommended Dr. Amy Plankenhorn to anyone who would listen. I cannot begin to describe what a wonderful, knowledgeable and patient (with me for sure!) vet she is. I am fussy about doctors, and I would never knowingly take my furry family to a doctor I would not see myself. Dr. Plankenhorn is a special jewel in collection of gems at AHNA!!

Thanks so much for the fabulous Open House today! Or yesterday, I stay up too late. It was great, and y'all's new facility is awesome! I didn't bring little Daisy and Pip, because they would have been freaked out, but I brought some treats back for them. I really liked the new Bereavement Room, because that is in my future for the little elderly dogs in a few years.

I have to say, I have spent many hundreds of dollars on Gus (the big orange Tomcat who y'all helped me send to the tuna fields in the sky, after helping him to live a good life up until the right time to help him go) and also Daisy and Pip. But you get what you pay for. And I have never regretted a single penny spent with you guys. You are the best!

Please share with everybody there.


Madeleine Bains


Thank you so much for your kind comment! I will certainly be sure that everyone around the hospital gets your message!