Ankle-biters, beak-squawkers, ball-chasers, fur babies and best friends; no matter the make or model of the animal, there is no greater love and loyalty than that of our pets. Sitting in the window or standing by the door, they’re the first to greet us and, most likely, the only ones to act as though they’ve missed us for decades.
Our frisky Fluffies and mischievous Fidos comfort us, accompany us, challenge our stamina and, at times, our strong will, just like the rest of the family; and we wouldn’t have it any other way. So when it comes to the health of our beloved tail-waggers and reptilian roommates, we seek trusted veterinary professionals who care about our pets just as much as we do, and who provide an environment away from home where they will continue to be treated like family.
Dr. Dan Pate and his team at West Rome Animal Clinic (2012 Shorter Ave.) couldn’t agree more. For 25 years, Dr. Pate has treated countless pets, both medicinally and lovingly. His staff of 16 plus three doctors have harmoniously adopted the motto of “more good years together,” striving to do their utmost to strengthen and maintain the quality and vitality of each pet’s life with his or her owners.
“To me, that’s got a good feel to it and that’s what we want. That’s what I want for my own animals,” Dr. Pate smiles, explaining that his Labradors, Lucy and Patty, accompany him to work every single day. “They are an integral part of our family.”
Using that same ideology with each animal he cares for, Dr. Pate is constantly guiding his practice toward learning, implementing, and preserving the skills and tools necessary to help his clients maintain the happiest and strongest bonds possible with their pets.
Just six months ago, with the help of Pinson’s Inc., Patterson Veterinary and Cevian Design Lab, the clinic underwent a complete transformation. From ground to gambrel, the practice has been rebuilt and fully rejuvenated, offering enhanced development and extended services that benefit the animals and their owners as well as the doctors and staff.
Beginning in the treatment areas, the new surgical suite features state-of-the-art equipment such as upgraded LED lights that make for a much cooler, more comfortable working environment for the doctors and staff (as opposed to the former lights that produced a great deal of heat).
“We now make our own oxygen,” Dr. Pate adds. “We’ve got scavenger systems (equipment used for preventing waste anesthetic gases from escaping into the air of an operating room), so it’s safer for our employees and safer for the animals.”
And when the animals wake up from surgery, Dr. Pate and his team try to add a personal touch to their care by taking pictures and sending them to the owners for a little piece of mind.
The upgrades to the facility have also allowed the staff at West Rome Animal Clinic to prioritize the division between healthy and unhealthy animals, providing the clinic with a separate isolation area that is roughly 10 times the size of the one in their previous building.
“When we clean [the isolation area], the waste is kept separate from the waste of the healthy animals,” explains Dr. Pate. “We’ve got fans that take the air out instead of going through the rest of the clinic, and we’ve got separate heating and air units so that air in one part of the clinic doesn’t infect air in another part of the clinic.”
Over in the boarding area, animals needing an extended stay have a couple new options as well.
“If they’re coming here, they have the option of a suite – color TV, memory foam beds and a separate room for the cats,” Dr. Pate smiles. “I put two windows in the cat room so they can look outside, and I put a nice bird-feeding station out there so the birds can fly in and the cats can watch them. So while you’re at the Hilton on vacation, you don’t have to worry about it; your animal has got it made here at the West Rome Animal Clinic.”
Outside the suites, Dr. Pate has created a boarding environment that is far from the “jail-like” feel many wary pet owners imagine. Raised floors in the kennels allow for comfortable, waste-free nights for dogs in their care, while glass doors provide a spacious feeling and the freedom to let eyes wander further than four walls. He also mentions the importance of the new sealed floors in the kennel runs; unsealed porous flooring, even when cleaned, allows for the possibility of disease to seep in over time.
As far as the interior, Practice Manager Maleah Landers immersed herself in the nine-month mission to dress and accessorize the new facility, and Dr. Pate happily handed over the reins.
“I knew I wanted the inside to be rich, homey and only clinical where it needed to be,” she explains.
The cool cream and sage green colors of the modernized craftsman exterior complement the natural elements of the interior. Rich wood floors stretch the length of the lobby, accentuating the locally acquired antique furniture upon which Landers displays products and information.
On the walls above large, golden teak wood chairs are framed portraits of cats and dogs set against a Berry College background that were taken by a local photographer.
“It’s not the old animal clinic concept that people are used to,” Dr. Pate says. “It’s modern, it’s updated and it’s got a great flow.”
While the structure may be brand new and the atmosphere aesthetically enhanced, Dr. Pate feels that it is important to know that walls are just walls; the proverbial heart of the practice is what’s inside. “You can have a nice building,” he says, “but it’s not the building that makes the practice. It’s the people who care about the animals.”
Working alongside Dr. Pate are his 16-year colleague, Dr. Susan Fitzpatrick, and Dr. Amber Coffman, a fairly new addition to the team. What began, for Landers, as a receptionist job in 1996 has grown into an 18-year career that now positions her as manager.
“I never get bored because it’s never the same,” Landers says. “I love working with the public, I love working the business aspect, and, of course, I love the animals. Where else are you going to get all of that together?”
The 19-member staff agrees that their employee standards are simple but important – treat people the way you want to be treated, do the right thing, and, at the end of the day, nothing holds any value above the care of the animals.
In line with their motto, WRAC focuses on educating pet owners about the importance of four essential preventative measures for animal health maintenance: parasite control, oral health, nutrition, and early detection of disease through regular exams and blood work. It shouldn’t surprise owners that the preservation of their pet’s health is not unlike their own.
“Sometimes people will come in and they’ll say to me, ‘Well it’s just a dog’ or ‘It’s just a cat,’ and I don’t know what that means,” Dr. Pate adds. “I have a hard time with that and the clients that are going to be happier here are the clients that have a bond with their pet or want to develop that bond. If you can help people with that, what a gift that is. And this new facility, it’s a building but it helps me do that better.”
WRAC had become a bit landlocked in its old 1960s facility; there just wasn’t much room for growth. Whether from curiosity of the new look or by recommendation, Dr. Pate has noticed an increase in clients since the rebuild. The new digs, however, did not change any dollar signs.
“That was one commitment that we made,” he says. “What I’ve always tried to do is charge a fair price and that’s what I continue to do. We did not up our prices when we came here. We have not upped our exam fees or boarding fees or what it costs to get a bath.”
Never waning from their mission to bring pets and pet parents “more good years together,” Dr. Pate and the WRAC team worked ardently through the entire construction of their new home.
“We actually built the new clinic right behind the old one, and then we tore down the old clinic and had, all of a sudden, a ton more parking,” Dr. Pate smiles. “This has been, for me, a dream for a long time. It’s just fun to come to work. I’ve always enjoyed what I do. I love being a veterinarian. I love helping people out. I enjoy animals and now I’m able to do it in this wonderful facility. I feel like I need somebody to pinch me because I really love what I do.”
Our little, wet-nosed trash-eaters and fuzzy meow monsters may not live forever, but to folks like Dr. Pate and his WRAC crew, they are most definitely family members, and they deserve for their years to be full, energetic, and healthy. Toss your fur babies a bone and make sure they get what they deserve – more good years.
Visit www.westromeanimalclinic.comor call 706-235-8861 to schedule an appointment or take a tour.