Preventive care is philosophy behind PetVet Veterinarian, partner open doors WEST COUNTY -- Clarksville * Highland * Glenelg * Lisbon

April 01, 1993|By Mark Guidera | Mark Guidera,Staff Writer

Bryan Hall has encountered his share of "sewer breath" among the legions of dogs and other pets he's treated during his years as a veterinarian.

He used to grin and bear the odoriferous affliction. But he doesn't plan to let a case of pet halitosis stop him from speaking his mind at PetVet, the new veterinary hospital he and partner Bob Lovett opened last week in Clarksville.

While the good doctor is getting a nose full at the new clinic, the pet owner may get an earful -- specifically about preventive care.

Speaking his mind about a pet's current health status and offering owners tips for ensuring an improved quality of life for pets will be a key element of the new veterinary practice, the partners say.

"Pet owners need to know there are options for a pet's care and I plan to tell them as much about the options as possible," says Dr. Hall.

The doctor's advice for owners of pets with sewer breath: "A pet needs dentistry periodically just like people do. A good teeth cleaning can do wonders. It may sound gross, but that sewer breath is a sign of an infection; an infection that can lead to other health problems in the heart, liver or kidneys."

Dr. Hall says he plans to take 20 to 30 minutes with each pet and owner. A lot of that time will be spent talking to the owner about the pet and what its health care needs appear to be, and finding out what the "owner's expectations are for the pet."

Pet dentistry will be one of the options pitched to clients. PetVet also plans to offer care "programs" designed specifically to a pet's age and breed. For example, puppy owners would be able to place their new responsibility in the New Pet Program. Along with the routine series of inoculations, the pet would get routine physical and dental examinations, and the owner given guidance on proper training of the dog and how to establish a proper diet for the animal.

Similar age-specific programs will be offered for adult and aging pets.

When a pet dies or must be put to sleep, PetVet plans to offer clients resources for getting through the pain of the loss.

Pet owners who sign up for the care programs will receive discounts on their bills, the partners say.

PetVet also plans to offer free educational seminars on pets and their care at the new hospital, located on Route 108 just north of the Clarksville Post Office.

Some of the seminars being planned include "Reptiles as pets," "Selecting your dog," and "Health and welfare of cats." The partners hope to launch the seminars later this spring.

Dr. Hall says PetVet plans to specialize in health care for household pets, such as cats, dogs and some birds, as well as some "exotics", such as snakes and iguanas, and what he refers to as "pocket pets" -- namely gerbils, hamsters and guinea pigs.

Mr. Lovett says he spent about a year researching where to locate the business, what type of medicine to offer and start-up costs.

The two considered locating PetVet in either Anne Arundel, Frederick, northern Montgomery or Howard counties.

"We chose Howard because of the demographics. It's affluent enough to appreciate the type of medicine and services we offer," says Mr. Lovett. "We chose Clarksville because it's going to be right in the center of a lot of growth in the next couple of years."

Mr. Lovett says his research showed that pet ownership is directly related to household income, household size and home ownership.

"Howard County has a very high level of income and most county residents own their home. That indicated to me this should be a lucrative market for a veterinary practice, despite the fact that there are at least six or seven other practices in the area," says Mr. Lovett.

Before launching the PetVet enterprise with Mr. Lovett, a former salesman for defense contractors, Dr. Hall worked in an Anne Arundel County veterinary hospital.

While the work offered an interesting array of medicine, Dr. Hall longed for a practice that was more in step with his philosophy that pets should be considered members of an owner's family and medicine is best served when it has a preventive focus.

But the young veterinarian had always balked at the thought of starting his own practice because he lacked the interest and the knowledge of the business end of running a practice.

"I've seen a lot of very good veterinarians spend half their day doing the paperwork necessary to keep the business running. They missed out on practicing the medicine they were trained for. Veterinarians aren't trained at all to run a business. When I thought of running my own practice, I felt out of my league."

The good fortune of finding a crumpled piece of paper with the address and telephone number of an old college friend started Dr. Hall on the road to launching PetVet.

The address and phone number were those of Mr. Lovett's wife. She and Dr. Hall had served on the student government together at a university in Florida. Dr. Hall, who found the address and phone number one day after he had moved from Florida to Maryland, gave his college friend a call. Soon thereafter, Mr. Lovett began discussing with Dr. Hall the possibility of going into business together.

"I told him, 'Bryan, as long as you work for somebody else, you work for somebody who controls your work and your life,'" Mr. Lovett said.

"It's a good match," says Dr. Hall. "Bob loves the business end of this. I can just forget about that and get into the medicine end of it. We can each concentrate on what we're best at."

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