The quality of the people we put in our hospitals are really what brings clients back and creates loyalty, which is vital. For me, exceptional team members are positive people who are excellent communicators that believe strongly that good medicine trumps all.
Dr. Patricia Dettlinger, Medical Director of the VCA Sterling Veterinary Clinic (Sterling, MA)
While choosing a veterinarian may seem like an arbitrary one to some, the truth is, not all veterinary hospitals are equal. Some of the top complaints that clients have about their veterinary clinics include unfriendly staff, long wait times, and insensitive handling of delicate situations, like the euthanization of a pet.
As experienced pet owners know, once you’ve registered your pet at one clinic, it’s likely you will remain a customer there for the duration of your pet’s life, even if you’re not totally satisfied with the clinic. This may be due to the hassle and inconvenience of switching or a nagging sense of obligation to stay.
So, it’s important to consider some key questions before one settles on a vet clinic: for instance, does the clinic offer all the services your pet needs? Are its facilities and equipment up-to-date? Does it offer fair pricing? And what are customers saying about their experiences online?
In this series, we aim to identify clinics across the U.S. that stand out for their ability to make people and their pets feel like their veterinary team is an extension of family. We even got the chance to talk to the head of one of the top-rated clinics in central Massachusetts: Dr. Patricia Dettlinger from the VCA Sterling Veterinary Clinic.
Before we get into our list, let’s lay out the criteria we used in choosing our top picks in the region:
- Top-rated in Google: We factored in each clinic’s average rating out of five stars, as well as the number of times each facility had been rated/reviewed on Google’s review forum. All of the clinics listed have 40 or more reviews to ensure the average star-rating is based on a substantial sample size of customer reviews.
- Most responsive: We also made sure to research a clinic’s responsiveness and communication, which is essential when trying to seek help for a sick pet in a time-sensitive situation. All the clinics listed have good scores on response rates based on customers’ experiences.
- Friendly/helpful staff: Taking your pet to the vet can be a stressful experience, so a friendly, patient staff is a high priority for pet owners. The clinics we chose had glowing customer reviews in terms of demeanor and knowledgeability of the staff.
- Affordability: Healthcare for pets, like healthcare for people, can be expensive, but you should never feel like your vet is charging more than is necessary. Clinics with good reports from customers on pricing were prioritized when choosing the finalists on our list.
- Facility Attributes: Last but not least, the technological capabilities and facility maintenance are also very important factors that we took into account. The animal hospitals on this list have up-to-date technology and are kept well-maintained in terms of cleanliness.
So, if you live in New England and are looking for a quality veterinary center to call home, check out our list below to see the top clinics throughout the region/
VCA Sterling Animal Hospital (Sterling, MA)
Rating: 4.8/5 stars – 41 Google reviews
Dr. Patricia Dettlinger is a very active member of the veterinary science community in the Northeast. Her family has proudly owned and operated the Sterling Veterinary Clinic for more than 30 years, where she has served as the medical director for 20 years. About five years ago, Sterling Animal Hospital joined the VCA family. Then, in 2016, Dr. Dettlinger became the area medical director for VCA’s NE1/NE2 regions. She graduated from Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, where she is a clinical instructor in her spare time. She also currently serves on the advisory boards of both the Worcester Technical and Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical high schools’ veterinary science programs.
Growing up in a veterinary family, Dettlinger was always drawn to the profession, but she didn’t immediately follow in her father and brother’s footsteps. “I explored many other options, all the time still working in the field and at the clinic, and I kept coming back to it and finally decided it was the right career path for me,” she said.
Twenty years into her career, her main duties now include developing, implementing, and maintaining best practice standard operating procedures for VCA, including selecting cream-of-the-crop staff members to join the team.
“The quality of the people we put in our hospitals are really what brings clients back and creates loyalty, which is vital,” Dettlinger said. “For me, exceptional team members are positive people who are excellent communicators that believe strongly that good medicine trumps all.”
While Dettlinger says there is no doubt that she seeks out individuals with empathy for animals when choosing the clinic’s staff members, which is the first attribute people usually think of when imagining necessary personality traits of veterinarians, she says there’s another quality that is just as important: empathy for people. “If you’re interested in pursuing a career in the vet profession at any level, being a good communicator is vital,” she said. “It might sound trite to say, but you absolutely have to care as much for people as you do for animals.”
Prioritizing communication with clients is a huge aspect of running an exceptional animal hospital and one that Dettlinger thinks is overlooked by some clinics. This means everything from ensuring a fast responses to phone calls and emails, to making sure that all a client’s questions get answered during their actual visit.
Dettlinger’s thorough and selective approach to hiring seems to be paying off, as the clinic has a near perfect rating on Google Reviews (4.8 out of 5 stars)—dozens of clients have taken the time to write about their positive experiences at the clinic utilizing services like digital radiology, preventative care, home delivery for medications, and emergency services.
Sterling’s clients continuously mention that the clinic staff members make them feel like part of the family. One reviewer said they “can’t imagine going anywhere else.”
So, if you’re a resident of the central Massachusetts area, make sure to become a part of the VCA Sterling Animal Hospital.
Lyncourt Veterinary Hospital (Syracuse, NY)
Rating: 4.9/5 stars – 154 Google reviews
For residents of New York, we highly recommend Lyncourt Veterinary Hospital—a small veterinary clinic in Syracuse with a wide range of services and a stellar reputation. Its services include preventive and wellness care, vaccinations, dental care, surgery, advanced diagnostic procedures including digital x-raying and laser therapy.
“They feel like my neighborhood vet. Everyone is super friendly, from the front desk staff to the vet team. They’ve taken great care of my dog in the five years we’ve been going there, and answered every single one of my worried ‘dog mom’ questions,” one reviewer wrote.
The clinic is also quite active on Facebook, so you can feel a part of the community all the time and receive updates from the clinic’s staff, not to mention the added benefit of seeing photos of its furry clients in your feed.
South Bay Veterinary Clinic (Narragansett, RI)
Rating: 4.8/5 stars – 79 Google reviews
The South Bay Veterinary Clinic is our top choice in Rhode Island, about 30 miles outside of Providence. It offers wellness and sick visits, digital X-rays, in house diagnostics, and surgical procedures They treat dogs, cats, ferrets, pocket pets, birds, and exotic animals. During the summer, it’s also open to seasonal residents and vacationers.
One promising review details a client’s exceptional experience with the clinic’s staff. “Time and again I am blown away by the treatment and professionalism at South Bay. I recently suspected my dog had a UTI, and not only did they get me in the next day at a time that worked for me, but they also tested his urine while I waited for our appointment. When it turned out everything was fine, they were all so sweet and professional. There is nowhere else I will ever bring my dog.”
North Jersey Animal Hospital (Wayne, NJ)
Rating: 4.8/5 stars – 66 Google reviews
This animal hospital is a favorite of residents in northern New Jersey and New York, as it is just about 25 miles from Manhattan. Its in-house laboratory, pharmacy, radiology facilities, and intensive care unit make it well equipped to provide for the vast majority of pets’ medical needs.
“The doctors aren’t going to force any treatment, but educate you on the multitude of options and allow you to make the decisions if there’s something specifically wrong,” one reviewer wrote. “As for regular check ups and evaluations, I’ve always been able to ask them any questions I may have had, and I always got their full attention until I was happy, no matter how many questions or how long it took.”
Bonus: this clinic also has an adorable resident cat named George. You should read his story regardless of whether or not you live in Wayne.
Wolcott Veterinary Clinic (Wolcott, CT)
Rating: 4.8/5 stars – 138 Google reviews
The Wolcott Veterinary Clinic is a community favorite in central Connecticut offering wellness care, routine and advanced surgical and diagnostic services, full service dentistry, and a complete pharmacy. It also offers a convenient app on Google Play and in the Apple App Store that allows clients to book appointments any time of day, receive reminders, and access a nifty “pet organizer” feature.
“The way a practice should be: kind, caring and compassionate,” said one reviewer. “The animals come first. I refuse to go anywhere else.” We wouldn’t, either.
Brunswick Veterinary Clinic (Brunswick, ME)
Rating: 4.9/5 stars – 90 Google reviews
For pet-owners that live in mid-coast Maine, our top choice is the Brunswick Veterinary Clinic. It holds an impressive 4.9/5 star rating on Google. Since 1946, the clinic has provided comprehensive preventative and diagnostic care, from general wellness care to pet surgery and rehabilitation services.
“This vet clinic is one of the only things I miss about living in Brunswick,” one reviewer wrote. “The staff here is absolutely amazing, particularly Dr. Erica Parthum. She helped with my fatally ill kitty every step of the way, including emailing with me over weekends. She was kind, gentle, and considerate when we finally made the decision to have him put down, and she and the staff went above and beyond to make sure we got his clay paw print and his ashes.”
Now, that’s what we call going above and beyond.