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The following article courtesy of Riverbend Books and may not be reproduced without permission.
Valley Animal Hospital
Step inside Valley Animal Hospital and its obvious this is a place where pets and their owners are treated like family. From the spacious lobby with coffee and cookies, to the friendly and efficient staff, to the knowledgeable and dedicated doctors, every effort is made to provide the best veterinary services in a comfortable and caring environment.
Founded in 1960 by Dr. Ralph Ayers, Valley Animal Hospital was one of the first multiple-veterinarian practices in Roanoke. In 1980 Dr. James Poage joined the team, bringing with him not only his knowledge of large and small domestics but of exotic animals as well. Today, Dr. Poage and four other veterinarians continue to promote their reputation as the “other family doctors.”
Valley Animal Hospital is able to provide to both domestic and exotic pets almost any veterinary service available, from simple check ups to state-of-the-art diagnostic and surgical procedures. The doctors also care for the needs of their human clients by providing time and money saving features such as the puppy/kitten wellness package, which offers six months of care at a discounted price, and an award winning Web site (www.valleyanimalhospital.com) full of valuable pet care information and downloadable preappointment forms.
Additionally, Poage recently oversaw a 2,700-square-foot renovation of the hospital, which included a new surgery suite, a new special procedures room, meeting rooms, additional boarding space, and an expanded lobby with cheery jungle decor and spacious intake and pick up areas. This addition also won a national design award.
Dr. Poage believes it’s important to balance growth with personalized attention, always maintaining a high staff-to-client ratio to give clients the individualized care they deserve and have come to expect.
“Our success is geared toward the finest veterinary medicine around,” he says, “but the greatest medicine in the world is not enough unless you have caring, compassionate people to attend to the clients and their pets.”
Because of that attention, many of Poage’s clients have been coming to the hospital for generations. Oretha Faulkner’s family is one of them. She and her daughter have brought their cats and dogs to VAH for over twenty years. They are impressed both with the high quality of care and the doctors’ tenacity in saving animals. “They try every thing in their power,” says Oretha. “They just don’t give up, and I like that.” When efforts failed and Oretha lost a beloved animal, she found the staff and doctors to be extremely sensitive. “They’re right there with you when you lose a pet. They really understand.”
They also understand the needs of the animal community outside the hospital. When Roanoke’s Mill Mountain Zoo acquired a Siberian tiger named Ruby fifteen years ago, it called upon Dr. Poage’s knowledge of exotics to help them out with their new charge. He has served as Ruby’s vet ever since, and VAH has subsequently become a friend of the zoo itself, donating generously to their annual fund raising drive and providing care to the animals at partial reimbursement. Additionally, the hospital works on behalf of several breed-specific dog adoption agencies to treat and place estranged pets, and they are actively involved in their own and other wildlife rescue efforts.
Poage’s vision for the future is to continue to do what they do best. “We will constantly strive to provide the best quality medical care for pets while caring for the emotional needs of our clients,” he says. “‘Where pets are family’ will always incorporate our vision.”
She may be fourteen years older and two hundred pounds heavier, but Ruby the Siberian Tiger still displays the same kittenish affection for Dr. James Poage as she did when she first arrived at Mill Mountain Zoo. This ability to bond with animals – even wild ones – is what makes Valley Animal Hospital such a special place.
Winner of Veterinary Economics magazine’s Best Hospital Makeover Design Award in 2002, the hospital’s waiting area helps animals and their caretakers feel relaxed and at home. The design, which is whimsical as well as functional, features towering skylights, and a jungle canopy sculpture.
Because all the high tech medicine in the world isn’t enough without caring, compassionate people, the hospital maintains a high staff-to-client ratio to ensure each animal receives unhurried and personalized care.
With a state-of-the-art surgery suite and technologies that include video endoscopy, ultrasound, an on-site lab, instant glaucoma testing, and laser surgery procedures, Valley Animal Hospital is able to provide almost every veterinary service available.
All Photos in his article by Alan S. Weiner
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