In a recent post entitled “Find The Best Vet for Your Pet” several criteria were outlined for helping you select the right animal hospital for your dog. The key considerations included items such as location, hours, cleanliness, accreditation, competence, communication and a range of other factors.
These are the same evaluation criteria that Checkbook –a non-profit organization that provides ratings for animal hospitals across the United States uses to determine their rankings. The organization determines their ratings based on surveys of area consumers.
With that in mind I wanted to share some of my own experience with the ratings. With 220 ratings, the VCA SouthPaws Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Center in Fairfax, VA is rated very highly. VCA is a well-established organization with over 1,000 neighborhood hospitals and over 6,000 Veterinarians. Founded in 1995 by three left-handed doctors, the SouthPaws Veterinary Specialists and Emergency Center is uniquely qualified to address major, life-threatening, challenging or difficult health problems in pets.
This is the hospital I took my dog to when he got seriously ill with cancer. My experience during this very difficult time supports the high rating. I really felt like my dog Hilo, got the best possible care from the time he entered the hospital as a seriously ill dog throughout all the treatments and visits to the day we had to come to grips with the fact that we had to let our companion peacefully leave this world.
Our experience with the SouthPaws animal hospital was very positive especially when it came to the criteria that were most important to us namely:
Showing Concern and Friendliness
From the first day we visited the hospital it was very clear that the staff cared for our dog. They took great care of him during the visits, chemo treatments, when providing advice and during the final stages of his life. We felt very assured that he was in good hands during this sad and difficult time. Hilo our dog even enjoyed visiting the hospital during his chemo treatments, he spent a lot of time with the staff as he got his treatment – it was clear they enjoyed his company and he enjoyed theirs.
The staff at VCA SouthPaws was incredible and we felt very lucky to get such good care. There are so many people who took such great care of Hilo, but I’d like to highlight a few.
Brock McGee, Staff Veterinarian – EMERGENCY & CRITICAL CARE
Dr. McGee was with us during all the most difficult times explaining our options and helping us make the best decisions. He was there when the journey began when we brought our dog into the animal hospital and there at the end when we sadly had to say good bye to our furry companion. After a long conversation with no real options left, we decided to let our dog escape the suffering and rest in peace. Dr. McGee made the last moments of our dog’s life as good as they could be for us. He also was very kind and sent us a personal card with his condolences – something we greatly appreciated.
Sarah Sheafor, Medical Director – RADIATION ONCOLOGY, ONCOLOGY
Dr. Sheafor was able to help us understand all our treatment options for Hilo and had the patience to answer a long list of questions. She was able to share her real-world experience in similar circumstances to help us determine our path forward. She provided a very clear understanding of the disease and how we could treat it and the outcome.
Brendan Boostrom, Veterinary Specialist – RADIATION ONCOLOGY, ONCOLOGY
Dr. Boostrom was also a huge help in the care for Hilo. He provided his insights into the best treatments for his case. He also answered all our questions to help us understand the situation so we could make the best decisions possible for our dog’s care.
During thevery difficult and challenging ordeal with our dog, the VCA staff did an excellent job of informing us of each stage and step along the way. This includes communicating his health after treatments, his long-term prognosis and the best treatment options. It is very clear that the staff are extremely passionate and caring and understand how to provide the best customer service to the pet parents.
Competence and Thoroughness
In our experience the staff were very skilled and experienced. We felt very confident with the care our dog was receiving. That is probably because the staff stay on top of the latest advances in veterinary medicine. Every VCA Veterinarian completes 30 hours of continuing education a year–more than twice the industry standard. The specialists that work at VCA have undergone two to four years of advanced training following the completion of their veterinary doctoral degree. They then complete rigorous qualification procedures and examinations in order to be called “specialists.”
VCA SouthPaws is a fully accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). This accreditation made us feel confident again that our dog would receive the best care possible. To become accredited, companion animal hospitals undergo regular comprehensive evaluations by AAHA veterinary experts who evaluate the practice on approximately 900 standards of veterinary care. Today, only 3,500 practice teams (12-15 % of all veterinary practices in the United States and Canada) have achieved AAHA accredited.
SouthPaws is equipped with the most advanced, state-of-the art technology, enabling the doctors to come up with faster and more accurate diagnoses and treatment protocols. Whether it is an endoscopy to evaluate a gastric ulcer; ultrasonography to look for liver shunts; total hip replacement surgery for dysplasia; combination chemotherapy for lymphoma; radiation therapy for soft tissue sarcomas; blood transfusions for anemia or a range of other treatments, SouthPaws has the medical equipment and expertise to provide the best pet care.
Overall, the ratings in this case hold true and we highly recommend VCA SouthPaws based on our experience.