South City Remembers Donald Griffin, Beloved Veterinarian

A memorial gathering has be announced for Friday Oct. 19 in South San Francisco.

Donald Griffin died recently of what was reportedly a heart attack, though cause of death is still unconfirmed. Griffin was the veterinarian of Spruce Avenue Pet Hospital.

The hospital currently has a book for members of the community to sign or write in with memories or condolences. People are also welcome to leave letters in the book. The book will be given to the Griffin family. 

On Tuesday there were flowers, signs and messages in chalk on the pavement outside the hospital for Dr. Griffin, known to many as "Doc."

"He'd give you the shirt of his back, literally," said Angelo J. Rossi of Palo Alto who had known Griffin for 35 years. 

Rossi said Griffin was an avid bicyclist and a basketball player, as well as an "all around sportsman."

"He will be missed," Rossi said.

Griffin is survived by his three kids, Jhani, Taylor and Sam, and his wife, Maria, of Corte Madera. 

The hospital, at 135 Spruce Avenue in South City, will remain open during its regular hours, until further notice. 

Update: A memorial gathering will take place on Friday Oct. 19 from noon to 3 p.m. at Santo Cristo Hall at 41 Oak Ave. in South San Francisco. The event will be potluck style, and attendants are welcome to bring food. The public is also welcome to attend.

Here are a couple of comments to the Pet Hospital Patch listing about Dr. Griffin. Please leave memories and condolences in the comments section below: 

"Dr. Griffin is the best! A very kind, compassionate and informed vet who who truly loves pets and takes his time in exams, as well as explaining whatever you need to know about your pet and their problems." -Victoria

"Dr. Griffin to address calmly and compassionately....Dr. Griffin is honest, patient, caring, and knowledgeable.....No concern is too small or insignificant for." -Harry E. Smith

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Heather October 19, 2012 at 02:36 AM
Any person or animal that ever had an encounter with "Doc" Griffin was privileged. Our family knew him and his family as friends as well as knowing him as a veterinarian. He cared for our pets for almost 30 years and joined us for dinner with his family throughout the years. Your heartfelt memo states what all of us feel but would like to point out that his name is Donald GRIFFIN; not GRIFFITH.
Bill and Dale Faust October 19, 2012 at 03:04 AM
There's no one else that we would trust our beloved animals with but Doc. He always was so compassionate with them and to us. He felt our pain and always put us at ease. We drove from Novato to doc's hospital in San Bruno. Truly will miss him and our thoughts and prayers goes to his family. Bill and Dale Faust
Sandra Amat October 19, 2012 at 05:02 AM
Dr. Griffin was a real altruist, a person who devoted his life for the benefit of other beings. A true Bodhisattva. I feel so grateful to have met him. I feel so sad at the loss of such a kind person. I send my thoughts and prayers to his family. Warmly, Sandra Amat
Danny Robles October 19, 2012 at 11:17 AM
My heart sank to the bottom of my stomach when I got the call from Emily: "I'm sorry to tell you that Dr. Griffin passed away a few days ago. Memorial services will be tomorrow at Santo Cristo Hall." Tears streamed down my face because I knew what this community had lost. He was a pillar in this community and was one of South San Francisco and the Peninsula's finest veterinarians. I made cherished connections with passionate pre-vet and veterinary medicine students & other animal lovers while studying at the University of California at Davis. Thats how it was when I met Dr. Griffin- he immediately made me feel welcome with his genuine candor, love of animals and grasp of veterinary medicine. He lovingly took care of our ten yr old cat named "Kitty" who fell ill right after my Dad passed away from Lou Gherig's Disease in Feb. Kitty had inflammatory bowel disease and pancreatic cancer and had to be euthanized. Not long after, our ten year old Rottweiler, Roca began experiencing hip problems and months later became paralyzed from the lower torso and then incontinent. Unable to hold her bowels and urine, Dr. Griffin saw on the ex-ray that she had a progressive spine disorder. Our family chose the humane option of euthanizing her and Dr. Griffin gently helped us with that decision –and transition through her loss with a hug & sending us personal condolence cards. His care was excellent and he ran his clinic superbly. His absence will reverberate sorely in this town.
Susan and Steve Maionchi October 19, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Susan and Steve Maionchi (including Daisy, Bandit and Sage) My neighbor texted me on Tuesday to inform me of Dr. Griifin's sudden passing. Words will never be able to express our sadness we all feel in our community. We don't feel SSF will ever be the same. Dr. Griifin had such a special way with our wondeful animals and owners, too. We had such confidence in Dr.Griffin. He showed us such expertise, knowledge,kindness, generosity to our beloved pets and family. We wish him peace and extend our condolences and deep sympathy to his family. Doctor Griffin-RIP. We love you always.
Zen Ssf October 19, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Dr Griifin was the best Vet South City and the Peninsula was blessed with. Let us petition to have a plaque in his honor at SSF; maybe at the SSF Dog Park? Can someone take this on, or guide on what we should do to make that happen. Posted by Bubba's (Retriever + Chow) & Marshmallow's (Shitzu + Maltese) Dad in SSF.
Zen Ssf October 19, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Dr Griifin was the best Vet South City and the Peninsula was blessed with. Let us petition to have a plaque in his honor at SSF; maybe at the SSF Dog Park? Can someone take this on, or guide on what we should do to make that happen. Posted by Bubba's (Retriever + Chow) & Marshmallow's (Shitzu + Maltese) Dad in SSF.
Jane Stahl October 19, 2012 at 07:43 PM
That's a great idea. Contact the city clerk's office and they should be able to guide you on how to get this done.
Peter Carey October 19, 2012 at 09:42 PM
He was The Best. Period.
wolfone October 19, 2012 at 11:32 PM
I just found out today just hours too late for his memorial...I'm so upset. He was the best Vet around, and I would know b/c I did work for Vets before and he was the only Dr. I trusted with my Dogs when I left the Biz. I'm still in shock, my deepest condolences to Dr. Griffins Family and Staff...He was the Best Vet around! Marshmellow and I will miss him...It would be nice if SSF would put up a memorial to him. He was so beloved by us and our pets. I'm so sad to hear of his passing. Really a shock.
wolfone October 19, 2012 at 11:38 PM
I missed the memorial today :( I just found out from my Son and I have been bringing my dogs to Dr. Griffin for 20 yrs. I am devastated to hear of his passing.
wolfone October 19, 2012 at 11:41 PM
So True Lisa! I worked in the Vet biz and that is true! He was the only Vet I trusted with my dogs. So sad right now. Major loss, is so true.
wolfone October 19, 2012 at 11:45 PM
That is a wonderful idea! Marshmellow (White German Shepherd)Mom in SSF!
Raymond Honan October 20, 2012 at 02:52 AM
What can we say about Doc Griffin. He was a great man with our dog Benny. He loved him and took great care if him. When Benny got cancer Doc was right there. Took care of him right thru Xmas and New Years. He said that Benny was his patient and he would take care of him. We had to put Benny down in January 06 and Doc was right there with us crying just as we did. Very great man and we sure will miss him. Benny will see him at the Rainbow Bridge. Ray and Judy Honan
Tinkham Family October 20, 2012 at 05:23 AM
We are so sorry to hear of our community's great loss. Dr. Griffin was one extraordinary human being. There is a special place in heaven for the selfless, compassionate, generous, big-hearted soul that he was. We couldn't be more thankful for his tender care of both our family's pets (Sam, Theo, Cali, Red and Blue) and our family's emotions as we experienced the inevitable heartache that long-term pet ownership brings. Thank you, Dr. Griffin. May God reward you for being such a good and faithful servant to so many. Our world is a much better place because you were here.
wolfone October 20, 2012 at 04:42 PM
" Thank you again, Doc, and I picture you entering a nice,verdant place with many animals running to greet you" Me too! I see that and My Sandy, and Shadow running up to him!♥
Jason Nichols October 21, 2012 at 04:49 PM
wow ... I was driving by yesterday and noticed the signs. I am in complete shock! Doc G was a great guy ... He could be a tad forgetful at times but always compassionate. My family had been bringing their pets to him for years and my last dog Ebony was also a patient. There are not enough words to explain his great service and compassion. He will be missed by all who knew him. R.I.P Doc and thank you for the years of top notch service for our furry friends.
Tammy Mongelli October 21, 2012 at 09:41 PM
What a shock! I heard from a good friend yesterday. I am sad to say I missed the memorial service. Doc was a great vet. I had been taking my cats and dogs to him for about 25 years. When I moved to the south bay 8 years ago, I lost touch. As a Devon Rex breeder, he was always there for emergency c-sections, and difficult births. I hope all of the animals that have passed will greet Doc on the other side of Rainbow Bridge. My condolences to Doc's family, friends, and staff. You will be missed!!!
EDB October 25, 2012 at 02:41 AM
Just found out about Docs passing on Saturday and see that my post did not take. He was simply the best. Will miss his wicked sense of humor, his caring and compassion for our numerous pets - past and present. My condolences to his family. RIP Doc. Bellotti Family
vivian disano October 25, 2012 at 11:27 PM
My sister let me know of Dr.Griffins passing.Unfortunately, it was to late to pay our respects to our beloved " Dr.Dolittle".We will miss him dearly. It was clear that this man was very passionate about his work. He was so very kind seeing our dogs after hours,coming in on a Saturday with an aling back to put Brando to rest and so many other visits.... SO VERY KIND, beyond KIND & caring for our German Shepherds (MIssy,Champ,Buck,Tahoe,Brando,Gabby,Levi, Reno,Maxie & Diesel,) Our Thoughts and Prayers are with All Of you! GOD & St. Francis had a soldier here on earth in Dr. Griffen. Sincerely and with Much Respect, Miss Concha ( as he called me) Vivian & Ralph Disano
Mladen Vukic October 25, 2012 at 11:50 PM
So sad to hear this news. I didn't know him well but the few times he treated our doggie he was wonderful. My heart goes out to his family.
Shane Khan October 28, 2012 at 12:31 AM
To the Griffin family, our heartfelt condolences go out to you. Dr. Griffin was part of our family for over 20 years. We are very saddened to hear about his passing. <3 He had a big heart and was the best doctor in the world. He will be greatly missed. With love, the Khan family. <3
M J P October 28, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Heartfelt condolences to staff Doc's family and staff. We especially think about Sammy--our son having spent some play time with him. Doc was a wonderful person wrapped in a sometimes gruff package.
Marta Caceres November 20, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Dr. Griffin was an incredible, compassionate, caring Veterinarian. He sincerely cared about his patients and their respective families. He saved our cocker spaniel, Casey who was diagnosed as 'terminal' by another animal hospital. He was passionate about providing the best treatment possible for the animals he saw. We will miss him dearly and I know that we will never come across another Veterinarian as caring as he was. We will never forget Dr. Griffin. Our deepest condolences go out to his family and staff.
p.h November 22, 2012 at 05:54 AM
My deepest condolences to Dr. Griffin's family and staff. He was wonderful, honest, & intelligent! We'll miss him dearly.
Dwayne Frey January 05, 2013 at 04:50 PM
I was so saddened to learn of our loss of Dr Griffin. My first encounter with Dr Griffin was when my Lab Logan became very ill. I brought him to Dr Griffin after another vet said he had colon cancer and there was nothing more to be done for him. Dr' Griffin took things one step further by giving us medications that extended Loan's last days and making him more comfortable. He showed great wisdom and compassion in helping our family through the struggle of ending Logan's suffering when the time came to end his pain. Since my first encounter with Dr Griffin he has always been the one and only vet to care for all five of my pets. He will be missed. Our condolennces and sypathy are with all his family and friends.
Rosemarie and Devin Gujral January 15, 2013 at 09:10 PM
The only comment I can leave is that "I am in shock" Just found out that the world's best Veterinarian has died.. My condolences to his family. He will be missed forever. I know that whomever takes over will continue the excellent care that he gave to both pets and owner and will work well with his very efficient staff.
Tim Sweeney January 20, 2013 at 03:59 AM
I recently found out about Don`s passing. Don was one of my childhood to high school friends. I will always remember Don`s great sense of humor and his care for all living things. He is a lifer friend from Midland. To his family I send my deepest condolences. Godspeed Don!
The Montana's February 04, 2013 at 06:46 PM
With Dr. Griffin you knew your beloved family member was in the best possible hands when he or she was in the doctor's care. You just knew you could trust him, you knew he was honest, and you knew he wasn't doing it just for the money. Dr. Griffin was truly empathic. A rare quality for any human being and especially for a doctor. He knew how much you loved your boy or girl and was right there with you. His practice never turned into one of those assembly line practices that seem to be everywhere else. When my girl became very sick there were distinct possibilities that I would have to see him with no prior notice; he just told me, "don't worry about it, if you have to bring her in just come on in, don't bother calling, just bring her in and I'll see her no problem". My girl passed away several years ago and I haven't seen the doc in quite a while. I just found out today that he passed away and I guess deep down inside I just thought he was going to be around forever. We truly lost a great one. Bye doc. We love you.
Tom Pool March 17, 2013 at 11:49 AM
I just learned of Don's death when I tried to track him down. I was in the Army Veterinary Corps with Don 34 years ago at the Letterman Army Medical Center. Don was unforgettable - quick mind, quick athlete, and one of the funniest people I ever knew. We played basketball together at lunchtime, and he always made fun of my jump shot. I can still see his odd, rolling gait, and hear his non-stop trash talk on the court. I met Sylvia a few times, and they seemed like a great couple. I'm sorry that I did not try sooner to track down Don. I've often thought of him over the years, and it's hard to grasp that a spirit as energetic as Don's could be stilled so suddenly. It's a great sadness.


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