What People Say About Dr. Sue Chan & Phoenix Ranch

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Excerpts from Letters

In my three decades as a professional news photographer, I’ve seldom come across as gratifying, warm and generous a program as Dr. Sue Chan’s Phoenix Ranch in Vacaville. As anyone who has had a pet in the past, especially during childhood, can attest, we hold dear those memories of growing up around animals in our lives.” ~ Morgan Ong, Sacramento

I worked with Dr. Chan …(and)experienced her impart compassionate training techniques to a very diverse clientele. (She)taught the owner’s effective and responsible ways to manage the various issues at hand, while promoting health and over-all well being. She is an advocate for both animals and people, and in this setting I saw her advocate for the animals that could not advocate for themselves. Her ability to understand and relate to animals from a holistic approach, seeing the whole picture in regard to their physical, emotional, and mental well-being, served her to combine the needs of the patient with the abilities of the owner, and offering the occasional recommendations that were favorable to both of them. She teaches the owners’ ways to overcome obstacles, whether it is behavioral or physical in order to provide a healthy, safe, enjoyable, loving environment for both pet and person. ~ Karen O’Donnell

I have never experienced such a rewarding day as the day of our visit to Phoenix Ranch. After spending the past 19 years involved with the foster care system, level 14 group homes, mental health facilities and also being an adoptive parent to special needs children, I wish all of those children could have been exposed to your program. The experiences you present to them, the way you teach and interact with them is a priceless gift for their development…. The lessons Dr. Chan was able to teach the youth with her calm, kind manner will influence them the rest of their lives. The gifts of caring, humanity and knowledge that Dr. Chan shared that day were a priceless experience for the kids and adults in attendance. She has an ability to help others connect with animals and develop emotional feelings and connections that become vital to their lives. ~ Diane Howlett

The experience at Phoenix Ranch was unlike any other. The kids as well as our staff really enjoyed the unique opportunity to interact with the farm animals and some of the responsibilities that are entailed to running a farm. I enjoyed our tour guides also. They really made us feel as if we were apart of their community which allowed us all to feel very welcome. I encourage anyone who is found of animals, new experiences, and sense of community to go check out Phoenix Ranch-I loved it!" ~Tanika Baptiste, Progress Ranch Staff


I have known Sue for many years and worked with her on a job at the Solano County Animal Shelter. She is a strong woman and unshakable when it comes to getting a task done. She can take an unruly dog and use natural behavior techniques to modify it into positive behavior. What makes her unique in her field is that she also has a good handle on the psychology of people to teach understanding of the animal world. ~Jan Bell, RVT

A year behind me in veterinary school…her compassion for animals, people and their bond together is hard to match. She has always stood out as someone with a special calling. She could have taken other paths as a veterinarian, but her commitment to making a difference on a scale where she is intimately involved has made her who she is. ~ Dennis J. Wilson, D.V.M., M.P.V.M., Ph.D., Yuba City

 I know first-hand how valuable Sue and her ranch are for our society. Many years ago I had a stubborn German Shepherd. Sue showed me some techniques and the dog became a wonderful assistance dog. She also helped me with the loss of my dog who recently passed away. ~ Bill Elliott, volunteer, Children’s Hospital canine program.

Sue has hosted our residents at Phoenix Ranch on a regular basis to bond and interact with their adopted animals. In thirty years of caring for young children, rarely do I meet professionals whose primary responsibilities caring for animals can spill over into extra love that transforms children who have been deprived of their natural sources of affection. ~Russ Kusama, Executive Director, Progress Ranch Treatment Services for Children.

I think what is most appealing to children about your ranch is that it is a real life, hands-on, interactive experience that they can internalize and build upon. The first time a child holds a chick they may be a bit fearful about what will happen. The chick initially squirms or flaps it's wings, but when the child sits still they find the chick also settles. The child hears it's faint "peep" and realizes that they have a tiny living creature in the palm of their hands. They bring the downy ball up to their face to feel its softness. Some children become so trusted by their helpless charge that the chick falls asleep in their hands and somehow a bond has formed in the matter of a few minutes. Watching carefully, you will see the transition that the child makes from uncertainty, to awe, to pride. "I held a chick, Mom" is not a simple statement but a proclamation, and they face the experience with anticipation because the child didn't just experience something, they accomplished something. That is one way the love of animals begins. ~ Dee Leger-Garcia, parent & volunteer

"It is hard to find a place where you get to see and experience so many new things in such a short period of time. At Phoenix Ranch, the animals are not only wonderful with people, but they are friendly to each other as well. As these animals roam around freely, dogs can be seen sleeping with baby birds, birds can be seen interacting with cats, and pigs and horses can be seen doing tricks. Besides the animals here, the compassionate people, who come from many walks of life, offer a lot of their time to not only help animals, but people as well. Whether it’s through looking for homes for animals in need, offering fun pony rides for children, or teaching others how to properly handle and care for animals, the people at Phoenix Ranch have left many unforgettable impacts on both the lives of humans and animals. The people and animals at Phoenix Ranch serve as good examples in the way they teach us to be kind and caring to others, no matter how different they may be from us." Maian Ngo, UCD student volunteer