Over 60 percent of pet owners consider their pets to be family members, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). When one considers that there are over 140 million pet cats and dogs in the US, that adds up to a serious need for quality medical care that the traditional healthcare system doesn’t address. And, much like with the human healthcare system, the quality of that care can depend on which medical facility one visits and the capabilities of the staff that work there.
Below, we’ve collected a short list of exemplary veterinary clinics in the southern US. In selecting veterinary clinics, we looked for the following characteristics:
- Comprehensive Services. These facilities do more than mom-and-pop clinics can. The clinics below treat the whole animal, whether that’s vets who specialize in oncology, nurses who know to ask clients the right questions, or groomers who get a canine looking their best.
- Exceptional Staff. The staff at these facilities go above and beyond. Using a wealth of experience, they provide helpful resources for pet owners, go the extra mile to make house calls, and even lend their spare time to community service projects.
- Industry Awards. Whether recognized by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) for their outstanding achievements as a practice, honored by DVM360 for their innovative design, or having their staff awarded as the best in their specialty, these veterinary facilities are doing things better than the rest.
Whether you’re looking for a quality clinic to take a family member to, or you’re just curious about where the bar of excellence is set in veterinary care, check out the facilities below.
Top Veterinary Clinics in the South
Charlotte Animal Referral & Emergency (CARE) – Charlotte, NC
Charlotte Animal Referral & Emergency is a state-of-the-art veterinary facility providing 24-7 emergency care. They have board-certified specialists in internal medicine, cardiology, neurology, surgery, oncology, and ophthalmology. The facility’s lab equipment can do ultrasonography, echocardiography, endoscopy, rapid-scan CT imaging, high-field MRI scans, and non-invasive surgical procedures. With 20 veterinarians on the payroll—each of them committed to using fear-free techniques and treating someone else’s pet as if it were their own—there’s very little that CARE can’t do.
“Perhaps our biggest challenge is finding qualified, experienced veterinary technicians,” says Jack Henderson, CARE’s chief operating officer. “Since opening in June 2015, we have grown rapidly. We have five new specialists starting in 2019. Those new doctors will need technicians to support them. We currently have openings for 13 technicians.”
Simply listing those job openings would have been the standard choice for most clinics, but CARE isn’t most clinics and they don’t settle for doing things the standard way. In 2017, they launched a veterinary technician internship program, which includes month-long rotations at CARE in surgery, internal medicine, emergency, neurology and three elective rotations of the intern’s choice (cardiology, oncology, ophthalmology, exotics, or large animal).
The program also offers additional rotations at other neighboring animal hospitals with different foci. Interns are scheduled in a variety of shifts which include days, overnights, weekends and holidays—and no matter where they land, participants receive pay and benefits throughout the internship. It’s been successful enough that in 2019 they’ve expanded the number of positions available to eight.
“As you might imagine, working in a specialty and emergency animal hospital is stressful,” Mr. Henderson says. “Our patients are not here for annual checkups and vaccines. We deal with a lot of very sick or injured animals. Compassion fatigue and burnout are threats to employee wellness.”
Compassion fatigue and burnout are a common denominator in the veterinary field, but, once again, CARE wasn’t satisfied with the status-quo. So they formed a team of wellness champions to meet regularly and implement programs that encourage employees to be mindful of their wellness. This includes sponsor events that can engage employees across departments and allow them to have fun.
“Last month they held an employee chili cook-off,” Mr. Henderson says. “This month they are hosting a waffle bar. Recently, we assigned each member of the operational team a diverse group of employees that cuts across departments and shifts to encourage engagement with employees outside normal shifts. The group then gathered for a teambuilding event (we went to an escape room venue) followed by some time to socialize as a group.”
When CARE isn’t focused on its staff and the animals that come in for treatment, they’re looking out for pet owners and animal lovers in the wider community. Their website has a monthly blog providing information across a wide spectrum of animal issues: mental health, signs and symptoms of physical illnesses, the importance of vaccinations, and the different types of ideal animal diet.
In 2017, CARE won the Merit Award for Design from DVM360, and it’s unlikely to be the last award they receive.
Brock Veterinary Clinic – Lamesa, TX
As any small pet owner can tell you, sometimes the best things come in tiny, inauspicious packages.
Located in a town with a population of less than 10,000, Brock Veterinary Clinic punches far above its weight class: their Facebook page boasts over 40,000 fans. One part of that has to do with Dr. Bo Brock, who—in addition to practicing equine medicine (he was voted equine practitioner of the year for the state of Texas in 2007)—writes blog posts for industry website DVM360 and he’s even self-published a best-selling humor book about his experiences working in what he calls “the middle of nowhere.” But another critical part of the clinic’s success has to do with its staff.
“We are very good at working with clients to find the best treatment option for them,” says Dr. Dominique Comeau, an intern at Brock Veterinary Clinic. “We listen to what clients want, and work hard to meet their expectations.”
But those expectations can run all across the spectrum at Brock Veterinary Clinic, and so can the clients and patients.
“We have a very varied client and patient population,” Dr. Comeau says. “Switching between small and large animal medicine many times throughout the day can be difficult, but it is our normal.”
Dr. Bo Brock has written about many of the varied experiences with clients and patients at his clinic, sometimes including stories about his interns that could be categorized as stranger than fiction. But whether describing efforts to repair a cow’s uterine prolapse or opining on the future of veterinary medicine, Dr. Brock is full of praise for his colleagues, staff, and students. And, according to Dr. Comeau, a little Southern hospitality really can go a long way.
“I think that communication is key to a positive work environment,” she says says. “Saying thank you and appreciating a job well done can work wonders to improve someone’s day.”
Animal Medical Center of the Village – Houston, TX
Animal Medical Center of the Village is a 21st century veterinary clinic. With four doctors and a wider support staff of 13, they’re committed to providing top-quality care and reinforcing the human-animal bond.
AMC is led by Dr. Dan Jordan, winner of the 2005 Veterinarian of the Year award from the Texas Medical Veterinary Association and the 2008 Nestle Purina Pet Care Award from the AAHA. For a medium-sized staff, they provided a list of services usually only found at a much larger clinic: wellness checks, vaccinations, dental care, diagnostics, surgery, laser therapy, behavioral consulting, and emergency care. Older pets, exotic pets, quirky cats—AMC takes them all.
One of the things that sets the AMC apart from the pack is their integration with the modern world, including an intuitive website that allows patients to not just book appointments and shop online, but also learn about hurricane preparedness from a pet owner’s point of view. Across their website and their mobile app, they have tips for pet owners that are specifically tailored to the particular climate of Houston and a repository of links and blog posts that can keep pet owners informed about how to keep their pets healthy and happy. They even have an easy-to-use telemedicine service that connects pet owners with caregivers from wherever they are—something the mainstream healthcare industry is only experimenting with today.
Even with such a forward-thinking approach, AMC hasn’t forgotten the virtues of old-fashioned community service. They sponsor the Houston Cat Club’s Cat Show (Dr. Jordan is a regular there) and sponsor West University’s Halloween Dash and Kids’ Fun Run. AMC also works with the Wildlife Center of Texas, helping to rehabilitate and return animals to the wild.
For all this and more, Animal Medical Center of the Village was a 2017 finalist for the AAHA’s Practice of the Year award.
Coral Springs Animal Hospital – Coral Springs, FL
Coral Springs Animal Hospital has grown massively since its humble start in 1977. What began as a practice with only one doctor and two employees is now staffed by 37 doctors and over 120 employees. Coral Springs Animal Hospital is now the largest privately-owned animal hospital in Florida and one of the largest in the entire United States, treating over 54,000 animals per year.
Coral Springs Animal Hospital is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with experienced veterinarians and veterinary nurses on-staff and on-call to consult on any number of specialized cases. They have departments for primary care, neutering and spaying, dentistry, urgent care, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, surgery, boarding, and even acupuncture and Chinese medicine.
As a regional referral center recognized for their strength and capabilities in diagnostics and surgery, they receive referrals from over 700 veterinarians in the regional area. And that trust is reciprocated in the public sector, as Coral Springs provides veterinary care for the canine units of over a dozen different police departments. Coral Springs also partners with the Animal Neglect and Abuse Division of the Broward Sheriff’s Office and is a major provider to pet owners who are the victims of domestic abuse.
The mission statement for Coral Springs can be taken from a quote in their Doctor’s Manual: “Veterinarians should consider first the welfare of the patient for the purpose of relieving suffering…. while causing a minimum of pain or fright. Benefit to the patient should transcend personal advantage or monetary gain in decisions concerning therapy.” Adherence to such a philosophy is part of the reason Coral Springs Animal Hospital won the AAHA’s practice of the year award in 2015.
Olathe Animal Hospital – Olathe, KS
For over three decades, Olathe Animal Hospital has been providing unsurpassed quality healthcare for pets in the state of Kansas. As an AAHA-accredited hospital, it adheres to strict standards of practice and undergoes scrutinizing comprehensive facility inspections—something few animal hospitals in Kansas can withstand. But Olathe Animal Hospital is committed to setting the bar high, acting as a full-service facility that can provide behavioral consultations, boarding, dentistry, nutritional advice, preventative healthcare, laboratory analysis, and surgery services for both small animals and exotic animals.
With four doctors and a wider support staff of 17, they’re nimble, capable, and focused on the concept of animal wellbeing—even after they’ve clocked out. All members of the staff at Olathe Animal Hospital are committed to not only being the premier animal care facility in Kansas City, but also to providing services to nonprofits in the wider metropolitan area. They donate their time and services to efforts like Operation Wildlife (OWL), a publically funded wildlife clinic, to provide medical and surgical care to hundreds of injured birds of prey so that they can return to the wild. They also donate services to classroom pets and Student Naturalist Animals (like snakes, lizards, turtles, and other exotic animals) in the greater metropolitan area’s school districts. The staff even makes time to participate in the school districts’ mentoring program and career days.
In 2001, Olathe Animal Hospital completed construction of a new 5,200-square-foot facility, which won the Veterinary Economics Merit Award for design excellence.