By Ashley Watson
This month, Vetri-Science features another local veterinary hospital as our clinic of the month. We heard about Fitzgerald Veterinary Hospital in Colchester, Vermont through Vetri-Science sales representative, Kaliche Hennessey. Kaliche has worked with Dr. Fitzgerald and his staff since she started at Vetri-Science in March of 2013.
“I recommended their clinic because Dr. Fitzgerald is always so pleasant to speak with, along with any of the staff members I have interacted with at Fitzgerald’s,” she told us, adding, “They are without a doubt one of my favorite clinics that I get to work with on a weekly basis.” Even when there was a mix up with one of their orders, Kaliche said that Dr. Fitzgerald’s staff was completely understanding and patient.
That compassionate attitude is reflected in their commitment to work with clients with financial constraints, as well as in their mission statement: “We love to see your pets happy and healthy and we do everything we can to keep them that way.” Even though Kaliche doesn’t have pets herself, she knows many people who take their pets to Fitzgerald’s because of the professionalism and friendliness of the staff.
In the 18 years that Fitzgerald Veterinary Hospital has been in business, their practice has grown to accommodate over 6,000 active clients who are seen by Dr. Andrew Fitzgerald, DVM, Dr. Jennifer Faul, DVM, and eight other staff members. Today, Fitzgerald’s offers standard vet services, dental services, and surgery. Their facility includes a pharmacy, an in-house lab, weekend boarding facilities, and a newly renovated space designed for a weekly puppy training class that is open to the public.
While Dr. Fitzgerald gave us a tour of the facility, we got more of an overview of the practice. Cats and dogs make up about 98% of the clientele, but Fitzgerald’s also sees the occasional rabbit, ferret, and other small mammals. They don’t typically see birds, but they do have one who lives there. When patients arrive at the clinic, they are greeted by Otto, a 12-year-old African Grey parrot. Otto was given to Dr. Fitzgerald by a pet store owner as payment for his services, and now Otto gets the stimulation that parrots need from the waiting room traffic.
We also had the pleasure of meeting some of the clients and their pets who were there for check-ups or surgery. Webster—an 8-year-old Corgi—was receiving a dental cleaning in the main exam room, so we had to rely on the staff for the scoop on the patient. Like many of Fitzgerald’s clients, Webster’s owners have been taking him to Fitzgerald’s since he was a puppy. And part of what makes this clinic unique is the puppy socialization class, in addition to the puppy and kitten packs that clients receive on their first visit with a new pet.
The puppy pack includes Heartguard, Frontline for dogs, coupons for selected products, an informational booklet with tips on grooming and house training, a folder with forms to help keep vaccine records current, tags, and a free pass to the puppy training class. The kitten pack doesn’t include the training pass, but it has essentially the same contents designed for cats. These comprehensive packs are a great incentive for new pet owners.
Adena Johnson works in New Product Development at Vetri-Science, and she is also a foster parent for cats and dogs. Adena brings all of her dogs there for the puppy training classes, which is offered every Friday at Fitzgerald’s. The large area in the back of the clinic where the training courses take place has its own entrance, and pet owners can drop off their puppies and pick them back up at the end of the day.
In the class, puppies learn how to interact with other dogs in a large play area, and they also learn basic commands. This class is ideal for anyone who has never owned a puppy. It also gives local volunteer high school students who are interested in veterinary science a chance to interact with many different breeds and dog personalities.
Although most of the patients at Fitzgerald’s are dogs, they do see a fair number of cats, including “Monkey,” a five-toed black cat who suffers from seizures. Monkey belongs to Christine, one of the vet techs, and he seemed to be perfectly happy and comfortable with me when I had the chance to hold him for a few minutes. The staff’s passion to help animals is also reflected in their commitment to offering quality pet supplements.
Dr. Fitzgerald has been practicing veterinary medicine for 25 years, and he has been recommending Vetri-Science products since he was introduced to our company at a conference in Florida 20 years ago. In fact, during our visit, he sent several clients home with our products, including Vetri-Lysine, Perio Support, and Glyco-Flex.
The vets at Fitzgerald’s also disperse meds from their in-house pharmacy. “About ninety percent of the prescriptions we give to clients come from our pharmacy, and the other ten percent of meds are scripted out to other pharmacies,” Dr. Fitzgerald told us. This makes it very convenient for clients who don’t need to give their pets regular medications.
Before we left, we got to meet Marilyn Cipolla who has been very satisfied with the services provided by Dr. Fitzgerald and his staff. She was there with her 6-year-old Papillion, Hawk, who was a little frightened but an excellent patient. Marilyn informed us that papillion is French term for butterfly, and these toy spaniels are aptly named for the butterfly shape made by the dog’s ears and markings on the face.
The staff at Fitzgerald Veterinary Hospital have no doubt seen many different breeds of dogs and cats over the years, but their experience and hard work is only part of what keeps happy customers returning. It is also their warm and friendly atmosphere. Perhaps Kaliche said it best, “They are in general an all-around nice group of people.”