Friend of the Family

Meet Dr. Randall R. Carpenter of Family Friends Veterinary Hospital and Pet Care Center. When you talk with him, you begin to see why the practice is aptly named. He is about family with all its members and once you’re there, you are a family friend too.

The practice itself has a warm, friendly vibe as you are greeted and offered a beverage while you wait with your furry family members for one of the wide variety of services ranging from traditional veterinary medicine with state- of-the-art equipment to total pet care and daycare. As you travel down the hall for consultation and services, the evidence is abundant that the individuals working there love animals. On one designated wall there are the “family” portraits, where all of the employees are pictured with their “family friends”. Special attention is given to seating areas, including a room they refer to as “comfort” with cushy furnishings for the humans and tile floors for their furry companions—just in case.

There is the treasure chest filled with an assortment of toys given out as parting gifts to the children, or maybe a good dog or cat. This is assuredly why the practice’s name Family Friends makes sense. The name is based on the concept of what the veterinary practice is all about: family and friends in all its forms.

Just as the Carpenter family members work together, there are 34 staff members who are a part of the practice’s family. And of course, there are the animals! You feel at home while Dr. Carpenter regales you with one of his wonderful stories not only about the animals that are in the practice’s care, but also stories from his own life. It is in these moments, much like when sitting with family or close friends that you being to know who Dr. Carpenter and his family are through the stories they tell.

For Dr. Carpenter, there has been a love for animals throughout his life, from the plethora of hamsters as a youngster to the breeding of Bernese Mountain Dogs which are his favorite breed. He currently has three Bernese dogs: Marzi, Poppi, and Maddie whom he brings to work with him. “The love of animals is innate—you’re born with it”, says Carpenter when asked what led him to veterinary medicine. “I volunteered at the local vet and later went on to study veterinary medicine at Michigan State. I was always wanting to be around animals. I just loved working with them.”

With a career spanning 37 years and counting, this legacy of caring for animals began in Charlotte, then moved to Greenville at Town and Country Animal Clinic before coming to Grand Rapids where he started this practice with his family four and a half years ago. Here he specializes in canine reproduction and with an emphasis on bulldog medicine and surgery. Dr. Carpenter asserts that all three of his children have had a love for animals. “When the children were little and I would have to go out on emergency calls, they would rather come with me on a call rather than stay home or play with their friends. I think that they actually enjoyed those trips more that hanging out with their buddies. I never had to ask them to come.”

Of the three children that he has, two work in the practice, Dr. Kathryn Sutphin and Dr. Ryan Carpenter, and their sister Kristine, works in veterinary pharmaceuticals. Each member of the Carpenter family has a special story connecting them to the animals that they care for. Dr. Kathryn Sutphen has had numerous animal stories that exemplify her love of animal and her desire to nurture them. Perhaps the most touching deals with her care of young bulldogs with cleft palates. This birth defect prevents the puppies from being able to nurse and ultimately survive.

When Dr. Sutphen was still in college, her father delivered a litter of bulldogs and one of the puppies was born with a cleft pallet. The owner didn’t want it and Dr. Carpenter couldn’t bring himself to euthanize it so he brought home to foster it until he could find a suitable home. Dr. Sutphen, then a college student, instantly connected with the pooch, naming it “Polar” and took on the task of caring for him, sustaining his health with two hour feedings until the puppy was 10 weeks old and strong enough to survive surgical repair. She was devastated to find upon her return from a spring break trip that a home had been found for Polar and since then has rehabilitated—and adopted—several more bulldogs.

The youngest member of the Carpenter family to work with Family Friends is Dr. Ryan Carpenter. His animal story starts at the age of nine when he began negotiations for his first pet. He was in the mood for a ferret and was working steadily towards wearing his parents down for one when he first came in contact with a Bernese Mountain Dog the deal was done. In fact, even Dr. Randall Carpenter fell in love with the breed and have had kept them as family pets ever since.

When asked why he is so passionate about his profession, Dr. Randall Carpenter concluded that “working with animals shows the importance of life. I have a passion for veterinary medicine… for all of it.”

Stop by and see his passion in action at Family Friends Veterinary Hospital and Pet Care Center. Then you’ll be a “family friend” too.

To learn more about Family Friends Veterinary Hospital and Pet Care Center, visit their website:

LIKE them on Facebook:!/familyfriendsvet?sk=info

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