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A stable presence

  • Sergio Gonzales stands with Hercules the horse

    A stable presence

    Sergio Gonzales cares and connects with patients, faculty, staff, and students through work as an animal care professional

    Hospital Crew Supervisor Sergio Gonzales stands with Hercules, one of many animals whose lives he has touched during his career at the College of Veterinary Medicine. 

For nearly 25 years, thousands of animals have counted on Sergio Gonzales as part of their care when staying at the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Large Animal Hospital and Piper Equine Hospital. 

Gonzales is the hospital crew supervisor, overseeing a group of a dozen or so University students who assist him with cleaning patient stalls, disinfecting stalls when patients are discharged, and keeping the hospitals orderly and clean. 

The relationships Gonzales builds with those students, as well as faculty, staff, and the animals themselves are the highlight of his work. 

Though now his crew solely cares for client-owned animals, his job once included caring for the College’s research and teaching animals, one of which stole his heart. For many years, Gonzales cared for Hercules, a Belgian draft horse who served as an equine blood donor for the hospital. A few years ago, Hercules passed while Gonzales was away in Guatemala

“That was hard to take,” he says. 

Growing up on a family farm in Guatemala, animals have always been part of Gonzales’ life and have shaped the path he has taken through it. Prior to arriving in the United States, Gonzales made a name for himself riding bulls. 

“I started riding steers at my family farm when I was a kid,” he says. “Once I was in high school, I started riding in small rodeos. When I went to college, I started to ride professionally in national championships.”

Gonzales has two national championships under his belt and also earned national and international accolades with his university team. After earning a degree in animal production and husbandry from the University Of San Carlos De Guatemala, he moved to the United States in 1986 and began working for CVM a decade later. 

His time on the farm and in bull riding has served him well in his position at the College, giving him the ability to read animals’ behavior and moods. It allows him to provide the best care possible to visiting patients. 

When he’s not spending time at work, Gonzales is enjoying the great outdoors. 

“My main hobby is going camping all around state parks in Minnesota and some national parks—also kayaking, fishing, and biking,” he says.

Sergio Gonzales spends his free time visiting and camping in state and national parks, including this trip to Mount Rushmore and Custer State Park in South Dakota.
Photo courtesy of Sergio Gonzales.