Dr. Diane Shepherd – Mauian to be Hawaii’s Top Vet

April 12, 2012, 6:41 AM HST · Updated April 13, 5:15 AM
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dr. diane shepherd

Dr. Diane Shepherd of Kihei is president elect of the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association. Susan Halas photo.

Dr. Diane Shepherd is president-elect of the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association (HVMA) and will assume the post later this year.

Dr. Shepherd is a long-time Maui Meadows resident and also has her office in Kihei, where she has a special interest in cats and small animals. She has been practicing on Maui since 1987.

For eight years Dr. Shepherd was the staff veterinarian for the Maui Humane Society. She then went on to open the Shepherd Veterinary Clinic, her own private practice.

She sees her occupation as “our closest connection to the natural world,” and takes the responsibility “to relieve animal suffering” seriously. Some of the issues facing the HVMA, she said, are “pet overpopulation and animal contraception.”

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At home Dr. Shepherd and her daughter Vera, a junior at the Kihei Charter School, have four cats and a “token dog” named Matilda, a Yorkie – Dachshund cross. They also have eight free-range chickens, “so every day is an Easter egg hunt around here.”

Dr. Shepherd received her veterinary medicine degree from Washington State University and did her undergraduate work at Stanford. She grew up with globe-trotting parents and spent much of her childhood in South America, following her father Glen – a petroleum geologist – through a variety of assignments in Venezuela, Argentina and Peru.

“He took us to Machu Picchu when we were kids,” Dr. Shepherd recalled. “We were the only people there. You go now and there are thousands of visitors, but we had it all to ourselves.”

When she was 16 her father decided to get his PhD from the University of Hawaii and the family moved to the islands.  She attended Punahou School in Oahu and graduated in 1968. She recalled that the well-known Hawaii comedian Rap Reiplinger was her physics lab partner, and that even then was a very funny guy.

“He had us in stitches, always cracking jokes.”

Dr. Shepherd’s father introduced her early on to snorkeling and diving. She remembers her first adventure in the waters of Curacao, a Dutch colony off the coast of Venezuela, where she started snorkeling at the age of eight. Her interest in the sport continued as an adult and now she tries to get away frequently for scuba activities all over the world including in Fiji, Australia, Indonesia and Palau.

diane shepherd and jessie

Dr. Shepherd plays ball with one of her patients, Jessie a black lab mix. Susan Halas photo.

Active in Public Affairs

Locally, Dr. Shepherd has long been active and outspoken on public affairs. She was twice  a candidate for the South Maui seat on the Maui County Council, and though she did not win the seat, she won the most votes in that geographic area.

She also served three years of a four-year term on the Maui Planning Commission and called herself  “the token environmental appointee.” Shepherd eventually resigned the post saying, “Maui planning decisions are being driven by mainland money, and you can quote me.”

She gets love of music from her mother, Shirley Shepherd, the well-known Wailuku artist. Though she learned to play the piano as a youngster, by the time she was a teenager her skills “reached a permanent plateau.”  She is an opera fan and attends performances in Oahu and the mainland whenever possible.

In recent years she has been active in the Maui Classical Music Association, and is currently the president of the organization’s 11 member board. The group is preparing for its 31st season coming up in May.

The 2012 program includes “Blockbuster Beethoven” at the Makawao Union Church on May 4; the Schumanns and Brahms at the Keawalai Congregational Church in Makena on May 7; a Beethoven and Dvorak  in Hana on May  9; then back to Makena on May 11 with an offering titled “American Rhapsody.”

Guest artists this year are the Amermet String Quartet consisting of Misha Vitenson, Marcia Littley, Michael Klotz and Jason Calloway. Also on the bill are Daniel Gilbert – clarinet; Katherine Collier – piano; Donna Lee – piano and Yizhak Schotten – viola. Collier and Schotten are the event’s music directors.

Dr. Shepherd urged Mauians who are interested in classical music to visit the organization’s website and save the dates. Seating is limited, the largest of venues holds an audience of about 150. Admission is by donation with $25 suggested for adults and $10 for students.

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