The holidays can be an especially dangerous time for our pets, what with extra treats, decorations and toxic holiday plants they can digest causing obstructions, vomiting and even death in some cases. Even when owners try their best to limit their pets being exposed to something harmful, accidents can still happen. Thankfully, there is a top notch, state-of-the-art animal care facility right in our backyard that operates as both a 24-hour emergency critical care facility, as well as a specialty referral practice.
VCA Animal Care Center in Rohnert Park has been serving an area spanning from the Golden Gate to the Oregon border for over 40 years and considers themselves to be “a community resource committed to providing information and state of the art solutions to animal health care problems in a compassionate and friendly environment.” While Sonoma County has many excellent veterinarians, the Animal Care Center provides those services beyond the expertise or abilities of a regular veterinarian, as well as emergency services, 24/7. Every treatment done at the center is reported back to the pet’s regular veterinarian to ensure top level, streamlined care.
Beyond just emergency services however, the center employs almost twenty specialists in just about every facet of veterinary care. Being one of California’s most accomplished teams of veterinary professionals, the group includes board certified specialists in cardiology, surgery, neurology, dentistry, oncology, nutrition, dermatology and internal medicine. The facility offers state-of-the-art care including services such as orthopedic surgery, physical therapy, advanced oncology and even truly cutting-edge treatments such as stem cell therapy for pets. It is equipped with advanced diagnostic and therapeutic equipment, including equipment to perform MRI scans, CT scans, echocardiography and electrocardiography testing.
“In general most veterinary clinics and hospitals are general practice hospitals so they’re not going to have equipment like CT scans, or MRIs or some of the equipment that cardiologists would use to do things,” says Michael Magne, Senior Internist and Medical Director of the VCA Animal Care Center in Rohnert Park. “The medicine department for example is just in the process of upgrading our endoscopy equipment where we’ll be able to do endoscopy procedures that until this time have only been able to be done at UC Davis. There are two facets to it that makes it impractical for general practices to have. The equipment is really expensive and it also takes a very high level of expertise and practice to be able to use it in the way that you should. So a lot of that kind of equipment is limited to specialty practices for those two reasons.”
The center focuses on companion animals, which are predominantly dogs and cats, but can also include other small animals and pet birds. Sometimes they do have other animals come in as well – especially in an emergency situation.
“As an emergency clinic we do get occasional other animals that will be brought in,” says Magne. “We sometimes get injured wildlife that gets brought in. We then contact the appropriate wildlife rescue organization to have them come and take care of them. We’ll also sometimes get stray animals brought in. We also have a good relationship with Safari West. They will occasionally bring in some of their animals if they need special procedures. We’ve done MRIs, CT scans, various surgeries and endoscopies. We’ll provide care for those. We kind of consider those one of the fun things that happen – everybody gets really excited when they call us and say ‘we need to bring a tiger in!’”
VCA, the parent company that purchased the Animal Care Center in 2008, has a 501(c)3 non profit organization, VCA Charities, that aims to directly help pets in need. It does so through its 27 Pet Food Pantry locations in 18 states, providing over 1.5 million pet food meals to families who could not otherwise afford it. VCA Charities also provides free veterinary services, medication and funding annually to over 100 humane societies, animal rescues, animal shelters, and service dog organizations across the country. The Animal Care Center in Rohnert Park has been involved with VCA charities as well.
“We fundraise for different organizations every quarter,” says Tiffany Rovai, Hospital Manager for VCA Animal Care Center in Rohnert Park. “Clients can donate to VCA charities and their tax deductible donation would go to specific things. One of the campaigns was for the Sonoma Humane Society, the other two recently were for the hurricane relief and then most recently the fires and helping patients from the fires.”
Although the center itself does not offer community spay/neuter clinics, vaccinations, or micro chipping like various veterinarians and animal-related agencies provide, many of the doctors in the facility are involved in this kind of community outreach on their own time through organizations like the Redwood Empire Medical Organization and the county’s animal control department. In addition, many of the services provided to save wildlife in emergency situations are done gratis.
Overall, the center is the epitome of veterinary expertise and professionalism and above all, is staffed with specialists that are passionate about animals and care about them and their owners.
“I just love dogs and cats,” says Magne. “I’ve always said my whole life that the world would be a better place if more people were like dogs and the longer I work with dogs and cats the more I believe that!”