If Kittitas County has a Dr. Doolittle, it would have to be Dr. Fred Newschwander. The longtime veterinarian has had a healing hand in most areas of animal health and welfare in the valley. If it has fur, fins, feathers, or skin, Dr.Fred has probably treated it.
For more than three decades, he was the consulting vet for CWU's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). That work resulted in Dr. Fred receiving the "Force of Nature" award at the CWU College of the Sciences annual banquet in May.
"Fred has made such a big contribution to Central," said Jason Irwin, professor of biological sciences. "He's been our consulting vet since 1983, I believe. And he's always here, he's alwaysing willing to help - he is like a force of nature."
CWU, Chimpanzees, and Other Fauna
Beginning in the 1980's, CWU housed group of chimpanzees as part of the human-chimpanzee communication project. Among other things, the primates needed veterinary care. Enter a fearless Dr. Fred.
"I met Dr. Roger Fouts, his family, and the chimps when they first arrived," Newschwander recalled. "Washoe, the matriarch of the colony, had a thing for shoes - she was really taken with my cowboy boots!"
So how does a domestic animal veterinarian become a doctor to primates?
"I read a LOT of books," Fred said with a laugh. "I also talked to the veterinarians at the Woodland Park Zoo, and consulted with Dr. Jim Mahoney, veterinarian at the Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates near New York City. I even met Jane Goodall once. I lived through the golden age of veterinary practice," he continued. "At that time, there wasn't so much specialization - you really had to know it all, and were expected to keep learning what you didn't know. You also had to have the confidence to approach people and ask for expert opinions."
Although Dr. Fred is no long the consulting vet for IACUC, he still volunteers with the committee.
"His roots are so deep in Central, he just knows how to get done whatever needs to be done," Irwin said. "And he's not afraid to speak up if he has a cancer. And he's just really good."
A Very Young "Alumnus"
While Dr. Fred didn’t graduate from CWU, he did spend his early education years under the tutelage of a young Amanda Hebeler at what was then known as the College Elementary School—now Hebeler Hall. His father, Dr. W.W. Newschwander, was a member of the science faculty.
Fred graduated as valedictorian from Ellensburg High School in 1961, and earned a degree in math- ematics at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, and a degree in chemistry from the University of Wash- ington He received his Doctor in Veterinary Medi- cine degree from the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine.
He ﬁrst opened Mt. Stuart Veterinary Hospital in Ellensburg in 1981; his step-daughter, Valerie Hed- rick (Dr. Val) now operates the clinic. He has volun- teered as a consulting veterinarian to many agen- cies including the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Ellensburg Police Department.