On the heels of a successful opening of a facility in The Villages in July, Urgent Vet founder Dr. Jim Dobies was looking for another hot spot for a new clinic.
He found that quickly in Lakewood Ranch.
Urgent Vet, which features online check-in capability and specializes in after-hours care, opened its doors Oct, 7 in Schoolhouse Plaza on State Road 64 in Lakewood Ranch.
“Our model is all about convenience,” Dobies said. “We're looking for areas that have a very devoted clientele who treat their pet as a member of the family, but also want convenience for after-hours care. The community right next to Lakewood Ranch is ideal for that situation.”
Dobies said he had a traditional vet hospital and his clients wanted him to stay open longer, which was impossible because he was the only doctor at the hospital. Client feedback on nearby emergency clinics included long drives, longer waits and high costs.
Combine all those factors — along with the fact that Dobies got sick himself and had to go to an emergency clinic when his own doctor couldn’t see him that day — and it’s easy to see why he founded Urgent Vet. His clinic has grown to 14 locations in Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina and his clinics are open from 3-11 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends.
“I started to think about why urgent care doesn't exist in veterinary medicine the way that it does in human medicine,” he said. “It took about a year to develop the business plan. We're here to serve as a backstop and a safety net, for the private practice, to have somewhere they can send people when they're full for the day, or when stuff happens at night or on weekends or on holidays when they're closed.”
Pet owners can hop on Urgent Vet’s website (urgentvet.com) and click on Lakewood Ranch under the location tab. The site will be updated with wait times in real time and gives the ability to check in. Walk-ins are also welcome.
The Lakewood Ranch Urgent Vet features separated waiting areas and rooms that serve large dogs, small dogs and cats. All rooms have pheromones that are designed to help scared pets calm down. The cat care room features music that drowns out other noises from around the clinic.
Urgent Vet also features non-slip floors, a comfort room, a state-of-the-art digital X-ray machine and a large treatment room with a laboratory. There are surgical sterilization areas and pharmacy in the heart of each facility.
“We wanted to create an experience that was modern, that was up to date and leaned on technology,” Dobies said. “I mean, if we're going to do it, we want to do it in a way that leverages the latest stuff."
Dobies said the Lakewood Ranch staff will be headed by Dr. Megan Joyce, Practice Manager Janette Blanco and a team of doctors that will rotate. They will usually have between three and six personnel on staff for the full shift to help people and pets be seen in less than an hour.
Blanco said she moved to the area from Miami for the opportunity to work for a clinic that’s filling a quickly growing need in the community.
“The best thing that I love about this company is it's building a niche in the veterinary field that is not out there right now,” she said. “There's a lot of emergency facilities in this area that have a four to six hour wait, because things that are non-emergent are going there when they could come here, get relief and have their pet leave feeling good.”