Sea Breeze vet retiring

Dr. Constance Breese is retiring this year, while Vineyarders are worried about a lack of animal care on-Island.

Sea Breeze Veterinary Services in Vineyard Haven. —Daniel Greenman

Updated, March 3

Dr. Constance Breese of Sea Breeze Veterinary Service in Vineyard Haven says that she will be retiring this spring, amounting to another blow to pet healthcare services on-Island.

Breese has had a forty-year career, and she says that while she has tried to find a replacement at her Vineyard clinic, she has been unable to do so. Sea Breeze will close as a result.

In an email to The Times, she said that she is targeting a May 1 retirement.

“My decision to retire has been considerably difficult to follow through on given the difficult situation at hand. I had decided last year that 2024 would be my last year in daily clinical practice,” she said in a statement to The Times. “My son may have said it best,’You’ve cared for the pets, horses and livestock of the Island for an amazing number of years all while holding the emotions of their owners in your hands as well.'”

The news comes as Dr. Steve Atwood’s Animal Health Care Associates (AHCA) is hoping to retain its lease at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport, which recently opened up the property to a public bidding process. AHCA has operated for 40 years.

Other Vineyard veterinarians, members of animal groups and pet owners say that access to animal health care on-Island has been declining particularly in recent years, and that losing AHCA would be a major blow. 

The Vineyard lacks a 24/7 emergency clinic for pets, and owners of small and large animals in crisis frequently have to travel off-Island for care.

Health care for large animals, such as horses and certain farm animals, is even harder to find on the Vineyard. AHCA and Sea Breeze care for larger animals, as does the Caring for Animals mobile veterinarian service, run by Dr. Dave Tuminaro.

Dr. Breese also recalled efforts to bolster and consolidate animal care on the Vineyard.

“All of the veterinarians of MV have worked cohesively and cooperatively to find long term solutions to many issues that have faced us over the years. Most importantly was the formation of the Island Veterinary Emergency Service,” she said.

She added that multiple veterinarians on-Island are aging, and have not been able to find replacements. “In recent years, we again worked cooperatively to seek end game strategies as several of us are now in our sixties. The people of MV should know that we have worked tirelessly but unsuccessfully to find veterinarians to take over the reins and move here to work.”

Dr. Breese also said that a past attempt to merge veterinary services on-Island was unsuccessful. “This effort included meeting with veterinary corporate buyers. Some of them showed interest in possibly consolidating the smaller practices along with the larger (AHCA and VVC) but ultimately no firm plans were made.”

While the longtime local veterinarian says her decision to retire was difficult to make, she is grateful for the support of the Vineyard community throughout her career.

“I have had forty years of hard work, heartfelt moments, pain, joy and have many stories to tell. The Island community supported me at some very key times in my years of practice and I am grateful. I’ve done what I can,” Dr. Breese told the Times.

This article was updated to reflect that Sea Breeze will be closing.


  1. Time to have a coordinated effort by islanders to encourage new vets.
    Is there a way to have ads nationwide ads and have home owners offer reasonable housing?

  2. Thank you Dr. Breese, From Red Cat, Lysander, Mrs. Cat, Fluffy Wuffy, Connor, Emma, Cookie, and Blackie. (And their Humans.)

  3. YES! Dana, I fully agree! I was thinking, an addition to your idea. Perhaps, as some business already do, like giving discounts to service members,.but perhaps, and the owners of Mocha Mott’s did this once, a discount to any Veterinarians! Many folks/buisnesses are often known to help out, like during the pandemic, discounts to ems/fire/police, etc, and perhaps nearly everyone could chip in. Even say, an electrician, a plumber, builder, anyone working on a veterinarian’s business, home,..maybe even a 10% discount on labor? Materials? Perhaps even clothing retail stores? Groceries? Something like, perhaps, 20% off for Veterinarians and maybe 10% off for their staff, which are equally important, Vet’ Techs’, even their administrators! Sort of to sooth any Veterinarians still here and their staff and any considering a move here, that they are considered very important and appreciated! And they will be given a slight more special treatment and consideration if they chose to practice here. A slight indictment and comfort. And I understand, that one could say we all need a break! As we all know, the prices of everything here are quite absurd, there are many reasons for this of corse,.. but are we slowly choking ourselves off from so many services from being here? As an emt I can say we too are short of help, but when ever there is any accident, any fires, folks hurt, we show up and can bring them to our hospital, 24/7, every single day of the year. But it’s getting kinda scary that if any of our furry ‘children’, any of our most loyal ‘besties’, our wagging tailed wingman, our sweetest fuzzy snuggle bugs get hurt,..swallow a poison, or even a simple check up,..we’re screwed! These folks, these veterinarians, AND their staff, (it’s really hard to do emergency surgery all by yourself! or run your daily practice AND send out bills, enter files, order stuff) these veterinarian businesses truly deserve to be acknowledge AND THANKS CONSTANTLY! For helping us keep our furry loved ones safe and healthy, because they mean soooooo much to our hearts health and happiness. Like Dana’s idea, but extended further, make the island known as Veterinarian Friendly!

  4. Great ideas Scott and Dana. Dr. Breese’s office right next to SBS is a perfect location. Compatible businesses. I bet Liz would like to rent/lease that location to another Veterinarian.
    Alas, there are no Equines, Felines or Canines in my life presently. Not wanting to take responsibility for a beloved other than Human species, without knowing proper care can be provided. There are probably others who feel the same way. The problem exists. My Sis in Beaufort, S.C. has many rescued Felines, and a Canine. Several Veterinarians there have retired, and younger Veterinarians have not taken up the vacancies. Extensive education and exceptional talent are needed to be a veterinarian, while the cost of the education and the cost of setting up a Veterinary Medical Facility are prohibitive. Let’s Animal Health Care will be able to renew their lease. Federal regulations require the lease for the location of Animal Health Care to go out to bid. According to Mr. Freeman, community need will be considered in the required process. The facility is already built to suit the needs of Animal Health Care. Perhaps a campaign which gives Mr. Freeman the information he needs to establish the community need for Animal Health Care would be how we the community could help the process. Please make your voices heard, speak up for the non-Human members of your family.

  5. Many years ago when we first moved here the hospital rented several houses for summer staff. They would come for several weeks or a month at a time. Is there a possibility that the Dukes County Commission could look into summer rental housing for veterinarians? Could they share facilities with existing practices?
    That would help relieve the demands and take the pressure off of the few remaining veterinarians who are already here.
    It is not in the County’s best interest to allow Steve Atwood’s practice to be disrupted.

    • For the record, the County Commissioner’s only role here is to appoint Airport Commissioners as terms expire. Airport Commissioners approve leases under state and FAA-prescribed guidelines.

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