I went to a ribbon cutting ceremony yesterday. I’ve never been invited to one before. What fun! It really didn’t matter much that I’m the new business owner’s sister. I arrived right on time to find local dignitaries, a karate class, some large dogs, and a very friendly press corps crammed into the reception area of the newest addition to the Schertz Chamber of Commerce: Gentle Care Pet Hospital. It is an emergency veterinary facility, offering around the clock care for pets. And it is a dream that my brother has held for more than twenty years, finally materialized.
Dr. Rob Gilmore and Dr. Michelle Zachry are both military veterans and veterinarians. Dr. Gilmore’s interest is in preventive care, while Dr. Zachry is an accomplished emergency care veterinarian. They have over 30 years of combined experience in the field. Dr. Gilmore worked as a small animal veterinarian before moving into public health for the Air Force; Dr. Zachry treated service dogs for the Army and has continued her gentle ways in the civilian arena.
So the VIPs from the community had some short speeches and presentations from the Chamber of Commerce and City Council before everybody lined up out front for photos and the actual ribbon cutting ceremony. When the woman in charge handed Dr. Rob the fancy gold scissors, he pretended to give the boy in front of him (my youngest son) a haircut. Don’t know if that will make it into Schertz Magazine….
And then it was time for tours. I followed the private tour for the mayor and councilman, trying to be as discreet as possible. While turning off my flash resulted in slightly blurry photos, I was able to catch the three men just as they are, without any stage presence. Dr. Gilmore designed the facility himself and was delighted to show it off; his attention to every detail was impressive.
Even though construction of the facility was still not fully complete, the reception area was bright and inviting and the appointment book was already filling up. Joan, the receptionist, was warm and personable, and Faith, the assistant, came running the instant one of my children rang the bell on the counter. I felt important, and knew that this is the way every customer would be treated. I didn’t get the technicians’ names, but the tone both doctors used when they said how lucky they were to have these two ladies on their staff also spoke of extreme competence.
Exam rooms had dutch doors to the reception areas and windows to the doctors’ work area. Nobody would feel isolated or forgotten, or wonder what was happening to his pet when it was taken into the back. You could watch your pet’s treatment while in the back office. There was even an area at the end of the reception room where windows opened onto the surgery room, so you could watch your animal’s surgery if desired.
And the surgery room was probably the most thoughtful part, in my opinion. The doctors have chosen special surgery tables that were designed for animals, not humans. Humans are flat when they lie down; animals are not. Instead of tying their legs out to hold them steady on the table in the usual way, animals will be cradled on a warming pad with soft towels in a folding table, merely tipped if necessary for access to the surgery site. Dr. Gilmore said that he rarely finds it necessary to tie an animal to this type of table. As anyone with large dogs is very aware, the worst thing that can happen to an animal is to stretch out the hips in a tied-down position. But any unusual stretching of legs, fore or hind, would just be one more discomfort in the wake of the surgery. These doctors have compassion for their patients.
And compassion hardly scratches the surface for post-op. There is a comfy chair in the kitty corner for the technicians to sit in and rock cats and small dogs while they wake up from surgery. Cats can hurt themselves while coming out of anesthesia, and it is traumatic for them to be out of control of their balance. By wrapping them in a warm towel and allowing them to wake up in friendly arms, they are reassured that they are safe while they wake up.
I was interested in the facilities for large dogs. I’ve watched too many of my beasties be crammed into cages too small to turn around. Drs. Rob and Michelle personally keep two rescued Great Danes, and have thought of their needs, too. Special runs in the back of the office allow them space to lie out flat, if desired, while they recuperate.
The whole office is designed in a circular format. From the doctor’s desk in the center, every aspect of the daily operations can be overseen. Isolation wards, oxygen cages, surgery, dental care, and the pharmacy areas are all within sight while communication between staff members is enhanced.
What a great place with warm, thoughtful people who obviously love the animals placed in their care. And I know how much these folks truly care about animals. Many years ago, Rob, while still a tech, resuscitated my beloved Labrador when she went into respiratory distress in his car. Dr. Michelle wowed my children once by telling of all the different types of animals she’s performed CPR on. Dr. Rob helped me when my Shepherd had food allergies, and Dr. Michelle was with us when my big Rott/Retriever finally reached his end several years ago. She used one of my baby slings for their Shih-Tzu last year who needed held around the clock. These folks care about animals; now they have the facility to share themselves with us.