Your Neighbor: Meet Carla Pelfrey

Published 12:05 am Thursday, February 17, 2022

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By Mandy Haggerson
For the Clemmons Courier

Carla Pelfrey grew up in Yadkinville amidst a family dedicated to service. The self-proclaimed animal lover had first-hand examples of why it was important to give back from a young age. “Growing up with a grandfather, dad, brother, and now my nephew as a firefighter, I was always proud and compelled to help serve my community,” Pelfrey said. “They had over 50 years of service together.”

Pelfrey’s close-knit family helped her cultivate her passion indirectly. “I knew pretty early on that I loved animals. I was fortunate that whenever I said I wanted an animal, my grandparents said, ‘yes’ when my parents said ‘no,’” Pelfrey said with a laugh. “My grandfather got me a pony, Spot, which I cherished. Spot was the meanest, sweetest pony that lived forever. They also got me rabbits. Of course, my parents obliged me with dogs as well, and I felt such a bond with them from an early age.”

With a childhood filled with animals, Pelfrey also was impacted during her youth by her neighbor. She met her future husband, Johnny Marion, who lived next door. “We got married right after high school,” Pelfrey said. “Not too long after we were married, we had our sons, Shannon (40) who goes by Johnny, and Kelly (38).” Pelfrey embraced motherhood. “My boys got the animal gene as well. We always had them around during their childhood. They also enjoyed playing sports, particularly baseball. I was the team mom, and it was some of the happiest memories of my life. On the weekends, we would get our families together and cook out and have the kids play together. Everyone loved everyone else’s children. It was a real special sense of community,” recalls Pelfrey. “I appreciated the metaphors that sports taught the children too. If you lose you have good sportsmanship and congratulate the other team. If you win, you’re gracious.”

Pelfrey’s faith and resilience was tested when her children were 15 and 17. Pelfrey’s husband was killed in an automobile accident. “Life for us was a big change. For the longest time I couldn’t talk about it because it was so painful,” she said. “Your faith and strength get you through it. Also, our family and friends were there for us.”

Pelfrey began to work in a vet’s office to help support her family. “I started working at Grandview and was trained on the job to be a vet tech. I worked there for about nine years and learned so much from Dr. Flynt,” Pelfrey said. “I did transition to another job at then Hanes Hosiery, but after five years I realized how much I missed working with animals. I got a position with one of Dr. Flynt’s former partners, Dr. Eubanks at Animal Hospital West. Dr. Eubanks ended up sending me to Forsyth Vet Hospital which he owned to work with Dr. Gillis. There wasn’t a single day that I didn’t enjoy working there. Dr. Gillis and I worked closely for 10 years together. The people and respect we had for each other while helping the animals were tremendous.”

When management changed at the practice, Pelfrey decided to find employment elsewhere. “I did animal relief work on my own. Basically, you’re a mobile vet tech and you work for yourself. I would travel to help patients all over from Mocksville, Elkin, and Clemmons. My relationships and patients in Clemmons ultimately had me settle there permanently with the Animal Hospital of Clemmons,” Pelfrey said.

Pelfrey embraced the change in work because it allowed her to experience new aspects of the job. “Dr. Pugh is a huge advocate for saving wildlife. We’ll get possums, hedgehogs, and other animals in that she helps. I’ve also learned the benefits of acupuncture for the animals. It’s never a dull day or moment. The team I work with really makes a difference and supports each other while doing so,” Pelfrey said. “The one thing I’ve noticed, is during COVID-19 we are seeing a lot more patients. A lot of people decided to become pet owners during this time, and it also has had people really take inventory of their pet’s needs.” Pelfrey appreciates working with a team that really cares for the pets. “It’s really important to convey to people the why behind what is recommended for the care of their pets. Dental work for instance just isn’t about having clean teeth. A poor dental regimen can result in organ problems, not wanting to eat, and can be painful,” she said.

Luckily, Pelfrey’s longtime boyfriend, Andrew, shares her passion for animals. “We actually met when I was working because he’s in residential and commercial maintenance. Andrew came into the office to help fix something. It was around the time my mom had suffered from a stroke. Andrew and I had been on a couple of dates, and because his home was closer to the hospital where she was staying, he offered to let me stay with him. He really helped me get through that tough time. She ended up passing from complications of pneumonia after suffering from a stroke. Before her passing, she had started speaking again after not being able to for three weeks. I am forever grateful for that time because we got to really express how much we loved one another. My mother was also a breast cancer survivor. She fought hard. That week we had her left on earth I consider a blessing and a miracle,” Pelfrey said.

Pelfrey tries to live her life appreciating blessings and miracles. “Being a Nana reminds me of that daily. I have seven grandbabies and one great-grandchild,” Pelfrey said. “Just the other day, my oldest grandchild, who is 21, texted me just to let me know he loved me. Those sentiments and relationships matter so much.”

Pelfrey had another reminder of how time can be fleeting when she lost her brother to COVID-19. “My oldest brother had been very cautious during COVID-19. He was retired and his wife worked from home. However, when he went on a trip to Myrtle Beach, he got COVID-19. It was devastating because we were very close. I couldn’t visit him the last few days of his life. I can still replay the last conversation we had. I miss his laughter daily,” she said.

Despite the loss and hardships that Pelfrey has experienced, she continues to focus on ways to make other lives better. “My family always valued service. I try and make someone smile every day. It’s a small thing to do that costs you nothing. The way I see it is, if I wake up every day and your toes are wiggling you have a purpose,” Pelfrey said.