Paying it Forward: Dr. Raymond Loretto (M.S, ’76; D.V.M., ’86)

Bison in the Pueblo of Pojoaque Bison/Ag Program
Dr. Loretto is one of a few veterinarians who work with bison herds for tribal communities in New Mexico, including the Pueblo of Pojoaque Bison/Ag Program.

By Ann Gill (M.A., ’76)

Dr. Raymond Loretto (M.S, ’76; D.V.M., ’86), a member of the Pueblo of Jemez, was one of the first Native Americans to earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at CSU. He carries that distinction proudly, and it has motivated him to inspire other Native youth to attend college.

Dr. Loretto examines a cat
Dr. Loretto examines a cat at his clinic.

Prior to his acceptance to the School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Loretto was instrumental in starting Native American Student Services (now the Native American Cultural Center) at CSU and became its first director. He worked to recruit Native students to the University, increased support for them, and helped strengthen classes about Native issues, partnering with deans, professors, and staff. To stay balanced and reduce stress, he ran a lot along Horsetooth Reservoir, including reaching his personal best in the Rawhide Marathon.

Dr. Loretto lives by the maxim, “It is not how you start but how you finish.” That proved true in vet school. There were not many individuals of color, and “people didn’t know how to accept me,” making his first year challenging. However, he accepted the challenges and earned his D.V.M. During the fall term of his senior year, he was accepted at the National Animal Disease Center in Ames, Iowa, to participate in swine research. His time there made clear that research was not what he wanted for a career.

His first two jobs following graduation were working for animal clinics near Albuquerque. He and his wife had returned to the Pueblo of Jemez, Dr. Loretto’s childhood home. The community learned that he was a veterinarian, and individuals with ailing animals began knocking on his door to request assistance, leading him to open his own practice. The Loretto Veterinary Clinic, a large- and small-animal clinic, is located in San Ysidro, N.M., just south of Pueblo of Jemez lands. In 1992, Veterinary Economics listed it as one of the best small clinics in the country. His practice is located in a rural area, providing needed veterinary medical services. Dr. Loretto is one of a few veterinarians who work with bison herds for tribal communities and bison ranches in New Mexico.

Dr. Loretto examines a horse.
Dr. Loretto’s practice specializes in large and small animals.

He also has served in many leadership and service roles, including two terms on the New Mexico Board of Veterinary Examiners, appointed by two governors. He was one of 19 veterinarians on the Secretary of Agriculture’s Foreign Animal and Poultry Disease Advisory Committee, which worked to eliminate foreign animal diseases in the U.S. In 2004, he was named to the University of New Mexico Hospital Board of Trustees, serving 14 years focusing exclusively on human medicine. He was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve on the Valles Caldera Board of Trustees, which manages 98,000 acres of public forest land. His biggest honor was serving as governor for his Pueblo in 2003 and again in 2015. In this capacity, he governed a community of about 2,500 tribal members and also provided leadership in all matters outside the Pueblo. He now serves on the Pueblo’s tribal council.

Dr. Loretto continues to live up to his maxim, and he credits CSU for strengthening this outlook on life.