This Clovis veterinarian traveled to rural communities to help low-income pet owners

Veterinarian Jonathan Psaila and his dog, Lexi.
Veterinarian Jonathan Psaila and his dog, Lexi. Special to The Bee

Jonathan Psaila’s love of animals began as a boy, caring for abandoned and injured creatures on his family’s rural Clovis farm. Among his numerous rescues: A red-tailed hawk hit by a car, a turtle, a pigeon, and a flock of chicks that his mother was surprised to find floating in one of their bathroom tubs. The experiences would lead him to his dream profession, working as a veterinarian.

But Dr. Psaila’s career was cut short on Aug. 3 when he died in Clovis at age 31. His family said the cause of death is still unknown.

He was the owner of Psaila Veterinary Services, a mobile veterinary clinic providing low-cost services that was founded in response to seeing pets euthanized or surrendered at shelters because their owners couldn’t afford veterinary treatment, says Jamie Anthony, a Future Farmers of America student-teacher when he was a student at Clovis High School. “His heart was so big, he didn’t want that to happen when it didn’t have to.”

He was doing everything he could to help anybody he could.

Kaylee Anthony, assistant for Psaila Veterinary Services

In FFA, he raised cattle and was a member of a natural resources management team that won the state championship and placed third in the nation in 2003. A Dr. Jon Psaila Scholarship Fund was created in his memory for Clovis FFA students interested in animal sciences and had raised more than $11,000 as of Wednesday afternoon via an online GoFundMe account.

As a veterinarian, Dr. Psaila regularly charged less than his reduced prices because he was always putting the well-being of pets and people first, recalls Kaylee Anthony, an assistant for Psaila Veterinary Services and Jamie Anthony’s daughter.

“He was so caring and generous and compassionate,” Kaylee Anthony says. “I don’t think that everybody appreciated that as much as they should have.”

Now that he’s gone, Anthony says, “I realized he was doing everything he could to help anybody he could.”

He was just a very affectionate and kind, loving person.

Dennis Psaila, father of Dr. Psaila

After high school, Dr. Psaila attended Fresno State for a year before transferring to Oklahoma State University, graduating from its Center for Veterinary Health Sciences in 2013. He practiced veterinary medicine in Elk City, Oklahoma for two years before moving back to Clovis in 2015 to start his mobile veterinary practice, primarily serving rural communities in Fresno County and the Central Coast.

His giving nature led him to collect and distribute pet food at no cost for low-income residents in partnership with Fresno County 4-H, and he recently volunteered at a career day in Coalinga where he helped children perform pretend surgeries on teddy bears that he stuffed with candy.

Veterinarian Jonathan Psaila, right, helps a child perform a pretend surgery on a stuffed animal that he filled with candy during a career day in Coalinga. PSAILA FAMILY Special to The Bee

Dr. Psaila was also chairman of the Mendota FFA Agricultural Advisory Committee and a member of the California Veterinary Medical Board. His family is currently in discussions about the future of Psaila Veterinary Services.

He was also an avid gardener who used “every inch” of his front and back yard to grow vegetables, although he didn’t like eating them, recalls his brother, Chris Psaila.

“He raised it just to give to people,” Psaila says. “He got a real thrill out of giving people things from his garden.”

His family remembers a loving son and brother with an infectious smile and laugh who was “a light in the lives of all who knew him.”

“Anybody that would come in contact with him was just automatically in love with him,” Chris Psaila says. “He was a really generous, kind guy, always putting everybody else before himself.”

Carmen George: 559-441-6386, @CarmenGeorge

Jonathan R. Psaila

Born: Dec. 19, 1985

Died: Aug. 3, 2017

Occupation: Veterinarian

Survivors: Parents Kellie and Dennis Psaila; brother Chris Psaila; grandparents Cora Chronister, and Josie and Chuck Psaila; and numerous extended family members.

Funeral service: 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 17 at CrossCity Christian Church (formerly Northside Christian Church), 2777 E. Nees Ave., Fresno, followed by a graveside service and reception.

Remembrances: Donations can be made to a scholarship online at gofundme.com/dr-jon-psaila-scholarship-fund in Dr. Psaila’s memory for Clovis FFA students interested in animal sciences.