Dignified Pet Services presents 'People in the Neighborhood'
There are very few experiences that could completely prepare you to run a large, busy, 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital, but Ron Morgan has something on his resume that made him up for the challenge: he spent a few years in the late ‘80s doing PR for Tonya Harding.
"I think the entire experience was interesting in terms of trying to take a very young person who was developing into an Olympic-class athlete but had no experience related to being in that spotlight," Ron says of that period in his career.
At the time, he was actually working in Communications for Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Oregon, Harding's corporate sponsor. He and his boss were in charge of all of her personal appearances, and traveled with the young skater to national competitions. "I always hoped things would work out for her," Ron says. "While she was challenging, seeing the circumstances she came from and the talent she had made me hope that whatever happened she would lead a better life."
Giving sick and injured pets a better life in Portland and beyond is Ron's focus these days as CEO of DoveLewis 24-Hour Emergency and ICU Animal Hospital. But working in the veterinary and animal welfare field isn't something a young Ron ever saw himself doing.
"When I was a kid, I wanted to be a pilot," he says. "I had this dream of going to the Air Force Academy, but I found out I wasn't that great at math and science. Marketing, journalism and advertising is kind of where my brain went."
His family always had dogs, however, and Ron remembers vividly his devastation when one of his childhood fidos ingested plastic and died. It's from that perspective that he marvels at just how far veterinary treatment has come. "We see that type of situation these days, and very often that dog is saved."
Ron has been at the helm of non-profit DoveLewis nearly 11 years, and while watching the hospital become one of the top five animal ICUs in the country, he's overseen tremendous growth. When he came on board, DoveLewis was housed in a small corner clinic, and he counts the 2006 opening of DoveLewis's state-of-the-art facility in NW Portland as one of the best moments of his life.
"We achieved something that, probably for 20 years prior, couldn't get done," Ron says. "It was the first time I was actually involved in a building project of this scale, so I was really excited about that."
It's an accomplishment for Ron that’s trumped only by family, which includes wife Tracy, daughter Ashley, son Chris, and a pair of adorable pugs named Lucy and Bella. "Having a really great family life that balances out my work, and watching my kids grow and thrive — those are the things I'm most proud of," he says.
That commitment to family — and to Dove Lewis — is so strong that Ron had his left shoulder tattooed with a tribute to both. "It goes back to when we were doing a fundraiser years ago. The tattoo artists in town got together and during this one month, they donated a portion of their fees to DoveLewis for anyone who got an animal-inspired tattoo."
But his tat isn't of a dog or cat. At the time, the Morgans had recently returned from a trip to Hawaii where they swam with dolphins. "So it's of a mother dolphin with two younger dolphins swimming together to symbolize our family," Ron says.
When he's not putting skin in the game at fundraisers or directing traffic at DoveLewis, Ron is likely in one of two places: in the kitchen cooking or on the golf course. He finds both therapeutic, but since the culinary arts don't usually require special footwear, it’s golf shoes for the win.
"For me it symbolizes that I'm out doing something I enjoy, that I do mainly with my friends," he says. "That's really important time for me and those shoes are kind of symbolic of that."
It's lucky for the pets of Portland that playing golf is now the extent of Ron's involvement in sports — no more shepherding temperamental up-and-coming athletes. That said, he does have a long-shot fantasy of one day hitting the same hallowed greens as the pros. "Augusta National, where they play The Masters, that's like at the top of the list. You can always dream," he laughs.
About our Sponsor
Dignified Pet Services has served the Portland-area community for 13 years. In addition to their core business of cremation and memorial services, Dignified co-sponsors the beloved annual Service of Remembrance at The Old Church in downtown Portland, as well as serving as wonderful supporters and friends of pets and those working in animal welfare. Proprietors Michael, Randy and Avani live in Sherwood.
Michele Coppola is a Portland-based air personality for 99.5 The Wolf and copywriter for Entercom Radio. When she's not talking, writing, or pursuing quality couch time with husband Bryon and their dogs, Cindy and Lucy, she's also a proud volunteer for Fences for Fido and Family Dogs New Life Shelter.