In the hilly and mountainous regions of Northern Arizona, it is not uncommon for pets to come into contact with wild animals such as javelina, coyotes, snakes or poisonous insects. Arizona’s extreme temperatures also can be dangerous to pets. All too often, pets are injured or become sick during the night or on weekends or holidays – times when the family veterinarian is not in the office.
Until recently, concerned pet owners would have to try to reach the veterinarian after hours or drive the animal to Phoenix for emergency care. But not anymore.
Open every night since September, on weekends and holidays too, the Prescott Area Pet Emergency Hospital (PAPEH) on Highway 69 between Prescott Valley and Prescott is ready to see you now, fully staffed with doctors and nurses throughout the night.
“If you’re concerned, we’re concerned,” said Dr. Scott Reed, veterinarian and founder of the Prescott Area Pet Emergency Hospital.
The new 3,000-square-foot hospital looks more like a spa for humans than a hospital for animals. It is modern, spotlessly clean and as comfortable for clients (pets) as it is for their human family members.
“Whether it’s a stomach ailment, broken toenail, caesarian-section birth, car accident, rattlesnake bite or porcupine encounter, our veterinarians see the pet right away and make it as comfortable and pain-free as possible,” said PAPEH technician Kay Lyons.
The hospital is fully equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including an X-ray machine, ultrasound equipment and lab.
“People want more advanced care for pets and answers quickly. They want to know how fast we can treat their pets and where the pets are kept. Within an hour we will have completed the examination, have results from lab work and X-rays, have a diagnosis, consulted with the family and begun treatment,” said Dr. Reed.
Vicki Leavitt of Prescott visited the hospital with her Jack Russell terrier, Zayus, this summer when he cut his front leg. “It was quite a laceration,” she said. “He probably jumped over some barbed wire while we were out running in the forest. He cut a vein and was covered in blood. I knew he needed stitches.”
She was particularly impressed with the speed at which the veterinarian saw Zayus and the care he received. “They were really good. The doctor was willing to try a local anesthetic and not just knock the dog out, which would have been easier and definitely more expensive. There were a lot of stitches, but the local anesthetic worked. The facility is also very nice. My kids were with me and they enjoyed looking through a book they keep in the lobby with pictures of all the patients.”
“If emergency surgery is needed, we get them straight in. We can do any kind of surgery except neurosurgery, which we would refer to specialists in Phoenix. We want people to know your pet is never alone [and] never out of our sight. There’s always a doctor or nurse monitoring your pet and family members can visit and stay as long as they’d like.”
Saying he doesn’t want the cost of medical care to be a barrier to treatment, the Pet Emergency Hospital strives to keep emergency medical care accessible and affordable. The examination and consultation is $87.
“The emergency room fee is the same no matter what time clients come in. Our staff is ready to see your case at 8 p.m. or 4 a.m.,” said Dr. Reed, who maintains an apartment on the premises for his staff to rest between shifts.
The emergency hospital does not perform routine procedures that a family veterinarian practice would provide such as spay or neuter surgeries or vaccinations.
“Typically, most communities this size [approximately 108,000 people in the Prescott, Prescott Valley, Dewey-Humbolt area] have an after-hours pet emergency hospital. The Quad Cities has had a void,” said Dr. Reed. He adds that 25 percent of the clients are from the Valley, either visiting the Prescott area or are second-homeowners. Additional cases come from Cottonwood, Camp Verde and surrounding areas.
PAPEH sees an average of 40 to 45 companion pet clients – dogs, cats, reptiles or birds – an evening.
“Ninety-five percent of those cases are emergencies and require urgent care,” said Dr. Reed. “Emergency medical care is the most challenging kind of veterinary care because you have to make decisions quickly.”
The Prescott area facility is the eleventh practice started by the Denver-based physician through his Veterinary Emergency Consulting Services business. Raised on a small farm in Oklahoma, Dr. Reed has always had an interest in the health of animals. With an undergraduate degree from Arizona State University and his veterinarian degree from Colorado State University, Dr. Reed has been practicing emergency medical care since 1995. He has started pet emergency hospitals in Colorado, Missouri and California.
His Prescott-area business model is a cooperative venture with area veterinarians. With buy-in from local vets, PAPEH is able to provide after-hours emergency and critical care, continuity in client care from medications to record keeping, and a break for the doctors who run weekday practices.
Dr. Tandra Gaul of Mile Hi Animal Hospital in Prescott says the Pet Emergency Hospital has improved her quality of life. “After putting in a long day at work, at least now I know I am done for the night. Once I go home, I’m not going to need to come back like I used to. It’s better for the patients, as well. We’re coming to work very well rested, not having been up half the night with a critical patient.”
The business research and project overview reveals the Prescott-area is similar to Pueblo, Colo., where Dr. Reed opened an after-hours emergency and critical care hospital in 2009. In fact, the demographics in the Prescott area are “35-40 percent stronger than Pueblo.”
The Pet Emergency Hospital has three full-time veterinarians and 11 full- and part-time staff members including nurses and experienced emergency technicians. And there is room to grow. The location has enough developable space for a 6,000-square-foot build-out.
Now that the Prescott Area Pet Emergency Hospital is established, Dr. Reed is exploring the Flagstaff and Kingman/Lake Havasu markets. QCBN