Lenny and Squiggy, two strays who were rescued by a veterinarian and his wife, recover after receiving their last treatment for heartworm disease.

Lenny and Squiggy chill out in the “beach bungalow” of Gentle Care Animal Hospital in Raleigh, N.C., where the two strays received treatment for heartworm..

Lenny and Squiggy look right at home at their new forever home after they were rescued from a life of scrounging for scraps on Grand Turk Island.

Scavenging dogs at an island resort captivated the imagination of a North Carolina veterinarian who returned home with two unusual mementoes.

Dr. Darren Holman and his wife were introduced to potcakes— stray dogs named after their habit of foraging scraps of food caked in cooking pots–while vacationing in Grand Turk, the capital island of the Caribbean’s Turks and Caicos.

“Dr. Holman and his wife noticed two potcakes in particular who continuously congregated at the doorstep of their vacation house,” said Julie Papp, Hospital Manager at Gentle Care Animal Hospital, where Dr. Holman is the head veterinarian. “It didn’t take long before they fell in love with the dogs and made arrangements to fly them back to the states for medical testing and treatment for heartworm disease.”

At the hospital, the friendly pups—named Lenny and Squiggy—quickly became a popular fixture hanging out in their “beach bungalow,” an area the staff created to replicate their former home. 

While the long heartworm treatment was arduous, today the dogs are happy and healthy.

“They are doing great,” Ms. Papp told us. “Lenny and Squiggy are living happily together in their forever home, which is actually with two of our hospital’s employees!”

For more information on Gentle Care Animal Hospital in Raleigh, visit http://www.petrepair.com/

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Veterinary Clinic Spotlight

Arkansas Pet Hospital Looks to Help Pet Parents

Jonesboro Family Pet Hospital in Arkansas believes in the importance of maintaining its connection with pet parents both in person and online.

For an Arkansas veterinary practice, caring for patients doesn’t end when a pet sadly passes away.

One family wrote on Jonesboro Family Pet Hospital’s website, “I just wanted to thank you for everything you did for us when we lost Harley. The flowers you sent and the memorial you made in his memory was very nice and more than I ever expected.”

Like many clinics Jonesboro Family Pet Hospital has found that sympathetic gestures, as well as regular information about pet care, are an important part of building relationships with pet parents.

“It’s important that pet parents are updated on diseases, protocol, prevention, and end of life decisions,” said Toufic Diab, Hospital Administrator at the practice in Jonesboro, Ark. “For our clients, knowledge is power in order for them to make the best choices for their beloved pets.”

The staff hosts bi-monthly meetings with their five veterinarians to brainstorm ways to convey information to their clients. They email monthly newsletters to clients, featuring topics such as camping with your pets, five ways to protect your dog’s hearing, making the decision to say goodbye, and questions to ask when considering which pet health insurance to buy. The hospital also uses its Facebook page to share helpful pet information and tips.

Most recently, the pet hospital partnered with the local newspaper, Jonesboro Sun, to feature a Jonesboro veterinarian’s pet health column each week.

The efforts are all part of a campaign to give pet parents accurate information they can use.

“Our clients can find such a mix of misleading content online these days,” Mr. Diab said. “That is why we’re so dedicated to conveying the correct information to them and helping them during difficult times through a variety of touch points.”

In the next few months, the staff will begin a monthly education series, led by one of the hospital’s veterinarians. They’re also hosting a bereavement class every quarter to provide support and coping techniques to pet parents. 

Learn more about Jonesboro Family Pet Hospital.

Do you love your veterinarian? Tell us why!

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Veterinary Clinic Spotlight

The Kitty Clinic in Clinton Township, Mich.

The Kitty Clinic in Clinton Township, Mich., caters to cats.

Cat gets comfortable

Mindy gets comfortable as the clinic's "receptionist."

Clinic kitty Cricket greets all clients

Clinic kitty Cricket greets all clients who walk through the door.

 Cat hangs out in the back of the clinic.

RuPaul hangs out in the back of the clinic.

“With dogs, you can muzzle them if they get aggressive, but with cats, you need three or four people in the room to control this tiny thing,” says Dr. Tina Ruiz, a veterinarian at The Kitty Clinic, a veterinary hospital in Clinton Township, Mich. “Cats are not dogs, especially when it comes to handling them.”

Dr. Ruiz, who went to veterinary school knowing she wanted to work exclusively with felines, understands the benefits of providing medical and surgical care exclusively to kitty patients.

“Veterinary medicine has become extremely advanced, and cats are a unique species with different diseases than other animals,” Dr. Ruiz said. “Because we treat so many cats every day, we regularly see the same diseases. This allows us to diagnose our pet patients faster.”

Gaining Popularity
More cat-only veterinary practices have been opening their doors in the past few years to not only provide tailored medical attention to felines, but also to create a calming experience for patients and pet parents.
 
Cats can get very tense around dogs and other animals in a traditional veterinary office. This may result in a stressful—and unproductive—appointment.

“One of the benefits of a cat-only clinic is that our office is very calming,” Dr. Ruiz said. “There are no barking dogs here, just our sweet office kitties.”

The Kitty Clinic also accepts a lot of cat patients that are turned away by other veterinary practices because they were too aggressive.

“Even though cats are little, they can get so angry,” Dr. Ruiz said. “We still love them though.”

Fighting Misconceptions
The challenge of handling aggressive cats isn’t nearly as difficult for The Kitty Clinic as making sure cats get the veterinary care they need.

Although felines are increasingly popular as household pets and now outnumber dogs in the US by more than 10 million, according to the CATalyst Council, fewer cat parents take their felines to the veterinarian.

According to a recent study, one-third of pet parents haven’t taken their cat to the veterinarian within the past year because of “feline resistance.” That’s really a nice way of saying it’s because the cats just don’t like it.

In a bad economy, that outlook is impacting cat-only veterinary practices.

“Before the recession, the veterinary industry was moving in the direction of encouraging more practices to be cat only,” Dr. Ruiz said. “However, this is not the case anymore. Cat-only clinics have definitely been hurt the most.”

But despite the challenges, Dr. Ruiz expresses a true passion for what she does.

“At the end of the day, my favorite part is seeing the loving relationship between cats and their owners who visit our hospital,” Dr. Ruiz said. “We treat every kitty that comes in here like family.”

Learn more about The Kitty Clinic.

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Veterinary Clinic Spotlight

Instead of spotlighting a veterinary practice today, we’re shifting gears to showcase a group that works with animal hospitals to help shelter pets and pet parents in a very special way.

Mario, a three-tour Iraq War veteran from Colorado, retired from the Army after he was diagnosed with leukemia. His doctors told him he needed to take special care of himself as his treatments would suppress his immune system.

Pet Photo - Kona

Thanks to help from Pets for Patriots, Mario was able to get his dog, Kona, the surgery that he needed. Today, the pair is inseparable and enjoys snowshoeing in the mountains together.
Photograph provided courtesy of Pets for Patriots, Inc., all rights reserved.

So Mario decided to adopt a dog to keep him active.

“I went to the animal shelter and immediately fell in love with Kona, a Husky dog, even though he had some special needs,” Mario wrote in a blog post. “Kona had a leg injury, a respiratory infection and had been adopted a few times before, but was returned.”

That didn’t stop Mario from adopting the dog, although taking care of him was no easy feat. And when Mario found out Kona’s leg injury would cost him thousands of dollars to fix, he was worried.

Mario didn’t want to return his new friend to the shelter, so he sought help from Pets for Patriots, a not-for-profit group that connects shelter pets with US military veterans and provides access to veterinary care discounts. He shared his story on the group’s blog.

“The real benefits of our program start at adoption,” says Beth Zimmerman, founder and executive director for Pets for Patriots in Long Beach, N.Y. “By providing high quality veterinary care at a reduced cost from our member veterinary practices and giving direct financial assistance towards the purchase of pet food, supplies and other basics, we can minimize the chance that veterans return their new pet friend due to short-term financial hardship.”

Although some special exceptions were made in Mario’s situation since he didn’t adopt Kona from a member shelter, he was able to enroll in the program, visit a member veterinary practice and get treatment at a reduced cost for Kona.

Today, Kona is healthy and the pair enjoys daily runs and snowshoeing in the mountains.

Making Connections
The goal of Pets for Patriots is to reduce the adult pet population in shelters and enhance the lives of US military members and veterans.

“Think of us as a connector between the veteran, shelter and veterinarian,” Ms. Zimmerman says. “We support opportunities for our member Patriots to adopt an adult dog or cat (2 years old and up), a large dog (40 pounds or more) or a special needs pet. And we give veterans the resources to assure a lifetime of happiness together.”

Once a veteran becomes a member and completes an eligible adoption from a member shelter, he or she will receive an ongoing 10% discount on veterinary fees for the adopted pet. In addition, Pets for Patriots provides a gift card from a major pet retailer to help with pet food, supplies, toys and other basics.

“The most rewarding aspect of this program is that in the simple act of pet adoption, two lives are saved: The shelter animal who keeps getting passed up for adoption because they’re too old or too big and the veteran who gains a sense of renewed purpose out of life by helping a pet,” Ms. Zimmerman said.
 
Giving Back
Pets for Patriots recently added two veterinary practices in central Illinois—Beaumont Small Animal Clinic in Urbana and Country View Veterinary Clinic in Champaign—to its fold of member veterinary practices.

Siren was in the shelter for six months until Ben, an active duty Air Force veteran, recently adopted her. Ben told Pets of Patriots that Siren has already brought so much joy into his life.
Photograph provided courtesy of Pets for Patriots, Inc., all rights reserved.

According to a press release, the practices joined Pets for Patriots so they could give something back to those in the military who have given so much. All of the member veterinary practices, like the two in Illinois, must agree to extend a minimum 10% discount on all service fees for the life of the pet in exchange for the partnership.

Participating shelters have to meet certain guidelines. They are responsible for offering an incentive, such as an adoption fee discount, day-one essentials or discounted services with area groomers, sitters and boarders.

Joining Pets for Patriots is entirely free to veterans, who can enroll online.

A Bright Future
Ms. Zimmerman and her team are busy establishing partnerships around the US in areas that have large populations of military members and veterans. Her vision is for the organization to be national in three years, helping even more veterans and pets stay together, like Mario and Kona.

“If it weren’t for Pets for Patriots, I would have had to bring Kona back to the shelter,” Mario wrote. “Kona changed my life. He helps me stay active so I can maintain my health, and he also keeps me smiling and happy. We saved each other and because of that, there is nothing that can separate us.”

Learn more about Pets for Patriots.

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Veterinary Clinic Spotlight

Dr. Saria and team member, Deryl Gage, posing with a pet patient

Last September, Dr. Rebecca Saria was faced with a dilemma: She was told that her employer, a Connecticut-based veterinary practice, could no longer provide a 50% discount on medical care to animal shelters, a community service that she’d been involved with for years.

“Shelters can’t accept new animals until the existing ones are healthy and adoptable. It’s part of the cycle,” Dr. Saria, a graduate of Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine, told a local Internet radio/television show. “Un-owned pets need top quality medical care, too.”

Spurred on by her life’s mission to help animals, she quit her job and started Gold Coast Mobile Veterinary Service, a full-service mobile veterinary practice, so she could treat pet patients her way.

“Now, I can provide veterinary care discounts to shelters to help make animals more adoptable, plus utilize whatever method of medicine I see fit to treat the pet patient,” Dr. Saria says.

Dr. Saria cuddling with a pet patient

On the Road
Dr. Saria’s workspace is a used, mobile surgical van equipped with everything you’d find in a normal veterinary practice office, including diagnostic equipment, instruments, computers and a fax machine.

She and her two-person team travel to appointments in the Gold Coast region of Connecticut, which includes neighborhoods along the coast in Fairfield County from Greenwich to New Haven. However, if someone outside of this area really needs her help, she’ll pick up shop and travel there.

“Think of me as an ‘old-style veterinarian,’” Dr. Saria says. “But with a twist.”

And one with a busy schedule, too.

Dr. Saria standing in front of her mobile surgical unit
Photo courtesy of George Gombossy

Once a week, Dr. Saria and her team visit a local animal shelter and provide discounted services to pets in need. Every Wednesday, she holds office hours at Thomaston Feed & Grain, a local store that provides special food for ill pets to help them recover.

Gold Coast also recently partnered with Urban Impact, a neighborhood soup kitchen. On the first Tuesday of every month, the Gold Coast team offers free veterinary care for homeless families’ pets on a first come, first served basis. Services include general check-ups, antibiotic prescriptions and vaccines.

House Calls
Besides wanting to help shelter animals, Dr. Saria also founded a mobile practice so she could honor what she sees as one of the most critical aspects of veterinary care—the interaction between the veterinarian, the pet and the pet parent.

She said it’s important to examine pets in their relaxed home settings and understand their life, including the location of the food and water bowls, the type of bedding the pet sleeps on, temperatures in the home and even air quality. Through these observations, Dr. Saria is able to diagnose problems that may otherwise be missed.

Dr. Saria performing surgery in her mobile unit

For instance, a pet parent recently called Dr. Saria and said her Yorkie wasn’t eating well and was losing weight. The parent had taken her dog to the veterinarian for several rounds of blood work and all of the tests came back normal. Over the phone, Dr. Saria couldn’t get a sense of what might be wrong with the Yorkie either, so she decided to make a house visit.

The minute she stepped in the door, she saw that the little dog was stumbling around. Right away she connected this symptom to the Yorkie’s liver problem.

“Pets can be terrified to leave the comfort of their surroundings. With Gold Coast, I’m able to go into the home and personally connect with animals as a part of the family,” Dr. Saria says. “It’s truly a blessing to help pets this way.”

Dr. Saria and her team will sometimes even perform surgery at a client’s house. This way, pet parents can assist in the procedure and even be there when their animal wakes up to comfort them.

“With human medicine, we’ve figured out that the personal aspect of medical care is so important, so let’s do it with animals as well,” Dr. Saria said. “Veterinary medicine has moved away from that.”

Learn more about Gold Coast Mobile Veterinary Service.

To submit a story about a veterinary practice, email me!

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Veterinary Clinic Spotlight

Aguadale

Aquadale Veterinary Clinic—located near our pet insurance office in Northeast Ohio, and where many of our employees take their pets for care—has an interesting distinction as the oldest veterinary clinic in Stark County and also the one-time home of its founder.

Dr. Earl Lindsay built and opened the clinic in 1955 after he graduated from Ohio State University. He used one half of the structure as a veterinary practice to treat large and small animals, and the other half as a home for him and his wife, as well as their two children.

Dr. Lindsay owned the practice for more than 40 years before he retired in 1995. He passed away in 2009.

“I had the honor of meeting Dr. Lindsay when I was younger, and he actually saved my dog’s life,” said Tiffany Kelly, Veterinary Assistant at Aquadale Veterinary Clinic. “He was a great man and an amazing veterinarian.”

The community thought highly of his talents as well. Since Dr. Lindsay accepted patients on a first-come, first-served basis, pet parents would patiently wait to make sure he could see their animals.

Dr. Kim Takacs, one of Aquadale’s three doctors, purchased the practice in 1999. She remodeled the space by adding a large treatment area and expanding the treatment facilities into the other half of the building.

Dr. Lindsay’s passion for taking care of the community’s pets lives on with programs like “½ Off Vaccines on Mondays.” Customers who schedule their pet’s appointment on a Monday receive a 50% discount on vaccines.

“Our clients find it helpful, especially when they have multiple pets due for vaccines,” Ms. Kelly told us. “In this time of economic uncertainty, people unfortunately have to make the decision between getting vaccines for their pets and putting food on the table. We want to eliminate that issue.”

For more information on Aquadale Veterinary Clinic, visit http://aquadaleveterinaryclinic.com/

To submit a story about a veterinary practice, email me!

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Veterinary Clinic Spotlight

At least 100 animals will receive spay and neuter procedures, as well as vaccines, after a veterinarian raised $5,000 by promising to shave her head.

As we recently mentioned, Dr. Kelly Thompson of Hanson-Meekins Animal Hospital in Coos Bay, Ore., organized the “Shave a Vet, Save a Pet” event in December to support a local pet charity, Friends of Coos County Animal Shelter (FOCCAS). Since they met the goal, both Dr. Thompson and her husband shaved off their locks in front of a crowd at the FOCCAS adoption center in Pony Village Mall.

Dr. Thompson told a local television station that even if they didn’t raise $5,000, she and her husband were still going to shave their heads because, she said, “if people donate $3,000, they should get something.”

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Veterinary Clinic Spotlight

It’s no secret veterinary practice employees work long hours. That’s why Seventy First Animal Hospital in Fayetteville, N.C., throws an extra special seasonal gathering for its staff—one that’s fit for the entire family.

“This party is something for the kids to get excited about and a way for us to include them in the holiday celebrations,” said Faye Barnes, Client Relation Specialist for Seventy First Animal Hospital. “We’ve hosted this party for three years in a row, and we hope to continue our tradition for many more.”

This year, 15 children, ranging in age from one month to 12 years, attended the event. The families enjoyed a potluck dinner, games, special goodie bags and even a surprise visit from Santa.

For more information about Seventy First Animal Hospital, visit http://www.seventyfirstanhosp.vetsuite.com/Templates/contained.aspx

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Veterinary Clinic Spotlight

Dr. Kelly Thompson of Hanson-Meekins Animal Hospital and her husband have pledged to shave their heads if the community raises $5,000 for FOCCAS by mid-December

An Oregon veterinarian has promised to shave her head in exchange for some serious cash—$5,000 to be exact.

But it’s not on a dare. Dr. Kelly Thompson of Hanson-Meekins Animal Hospital in Coos Bay, Ore., is raising the funds for a local charitable group, Friends of Coos County Animal Shelter (FOCCAS), that provides support and medical services for animals in need.

Dr. Thompson regularly encounters pet parents who bring their pets into the animal hospital with curable conditions but can’t afford the necessary treatment. To help, Dr. Thompson suggests the pet parents relinquish their dogs or cats to her. She then transfers the animals to FOCCAS, a local group with which she’s formed a personal relationship. FOCCAS treats the pets and finds them a new home.

After Dr. Thompson recently sent more than 10 pets to FOCCAS for extensive surgeries, she wanted to raise some money for the organization to deal with this growing demand. So she came up with the “Shave a Vet, Save a Pet” fundraiser.

If they can raise $5,000 for FOCCAS by Dec. 18, Dr. Thompson and her husband will shave their heads during the group’s weekly adoption event at Pony Village Mall in North Bend, Ore. Whoever makes the largest donation gets to be the first to use the clippers shaving Dr. Thompson’s head.

While Dr. Thompson admits she’s not anxious to sport a bare head this winter, she said, “I can deal with being bald for a while if it means that I raise awareness about homeless pets and FOCCAS, which is a really good charity.”

Since Nov. 5, the community has donated more than $3,000. The funds will support FOCCAS’s spay and neuter procedures, vaccinations, medications and other veterinary care.

If you would like to donate to the “Shave a Vet, Save a Pet” fundraiser, visit http://www.hanson-meekins.com/shave_a_vet_save_a_pet

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Veterinary Clinic Spotlight

We told you recently about the growing demand for pet blood donations and the efforts many local veterinary practices are making to help. One practice, Far Country Animal Hospital in Palmer, Alaska, set up a local pet blood donation program as a major initiative for its region.

“Before we started our Canine Blood Bank Program, blood products had to be flown in from California, which sometimes meant life or death for the pet,” said Michael Whittington, a veterinarian at Far Country Animal Hospital. “During emergency situations, we’d bring in our own pets and do a spot transfusion, meaning the injured dog would be on one table and our donor dog would be on the next.”

While this worked as a last available option, the practice saw a need for an official program. To set up the program, a member of the veterinary team took the initiative and received advice from a veterinarian who had experience with blood banks in the past. With this direction, Far Country Animal Hospital was able to open its own Canine Blood Bank in 2009. 

Today, the hospital has a growing pool of pet parents who commit to bringing their pets in to donate blood every 2 or 3 months, allowing the practice to have a ready supply of blood products on hand at all times. In addition, the veterinary practice extended its hours until 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and around the clock over the weekend to accommodate as many pet patients as possible.

Far Country Animal Hospital also supplies products to other practices in Alaska for a reduced fee. These practices now have the option to receive their blood products much faster than before Far County’s program started.

To be eligible to donate blood, dogs must weigh at least 50 pounds, be in fine health, have a good temperament, be up-to-date on canine rabies and distemper-parvo vaccinations and not be taking any prescribed medications or have a history of pregnancy.

In return, the charitable canines’ parents can expect rewards such as $300 worth of yearly blood testing, one unit of blood or plasma for every unit donated should their dog ever need it and a “Canine Hero” blood donor bandana for their pooch. After the first year of donations, dogs receive a “Canine Hero” ID tag, which identifies them as an official donor.

To read more about Far Country Animal Hospital and its Canine Blood Bank program, visit http://farcountrypets.com/index.php

To submit a story about a veterinary practice, email me!

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Veterinary Clinic Spotlight

WELCOME,
PET PARENTS!

As we’re dedicated to making a difference for pets, we want to keep you informed about pet health topics and your ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan. Our blog will provide you with fresh, interesting and informative topics—from pet health tips and customer stories, to the latest industry news and a Pet Parent Q&A column. Most of all, we encourage you to share comments and join the discussion!

Meet the Author

Julia H.

Social Media Coordinator

Pet Parent to:

Lucy, an 8-year-old rescued Golden Retriever/Chow Chow mix

Blog Guidelines

While we’ll strive to present all viewpoints on this blog, comments will be reviewed before posting. Offensive or inappropriate language, off-topic remarks and comments containing personal policy information will not be featured.

Also, conditions discussed in this blog aren’t necessarily covered by every ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan. For full coverage terms, conditions and exclusions, please refer to your plan.

As always, if you have a question about your plan, call us at 1-866-204-6764.

*Note: While these testimonials may include examples of recent claims payouts, reimbursement is subject to the terms and conditions of your plan. Identifying information has been changed.