HUNTERSVILLE – As dusk darkened the sky in Huntersville, the bright lights of a new Huntersville business shown even brighter and highlighted the face of happy white Labrador in the window, looking out into the parking lot. UrgentVet, the first dedicated urgent care clinic for pets, could not have planned a better marketing tool to signal its soft opening – Halle, the lab, looked quite content and ready to welcome visitors.
UrgentVet, at 102 Statesville Road in the Huntersville Square shopping center near the Gilead Road exit off Interstate 77, opened its doors in early December with a staff of 10, including Kylie Holstein, the practice manager, who moved to the region with her dog Halle, specifically to open the local facility.
“We are open 7 days a week, 365 days a year,” she said. “We want to support local veterinary clinics by being available in those gap times of day to help pet owners in their times of need.”
UrgentVet founder Dr. Jim Dobies added the Huntersville facility – the organization’s 13th clinic – was a much-anticipated addition to UrgentVet’s coverage area.
“North Carolina has been home for UrgentVet for years, and we couldn’t be more excited about expanding our presence in the Charlotte area,” he said. “With the addition of this clinic, hundreds of thousands of people throughout the Charlotte region and neighboring suburbs will now have access to our after-hours vet services.”
Dobies graduated from Ohio State University and in an unusually short time, owned his own practice in Belmont,. Like the famous British veterinarian James Herriot of the British book, “All Things Great and Small” and others, Dobies saw himself as a veterinarian that was available 24/7 for his pet clients and their owners.
As a result of developing a substantial list of pet patients, his clinic reached a growth-related crossroads around the same time Dobies and his wife became parents for the third time.
Taking care of the newest child one day, Dobies suddenly felt ill. The emergency room line was hours long, so he went to a local urgent care clinic, got a shot and was almost immediately better.
“That was my lightbulb moment,” he said. “And I wondered why the concept couldn’t be applied to pet care.”
He and his wife developed a business plan and visited banks for potential financing.
“My projected hours were different and banks had a hard time understanding that,” Dobies explained.
When all the puzzle pieces came together, Dobies explained, the concept took off. Like an urgent care center for humans, the vision behind the UrgentVet concept is to provide trusted, after-hours acute care for dogs and cats.
UrgentVet clinics routinely treat vomiting, diarrhea, lacerations, wounds and skin and ear problems. Open from 3 to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and noon to 8 p.m. on holidays, a bill at an UrgentVet clinic is generally about 40 percent less that what a pet parent might pay for comparable services at a veterinary emergency room, while also helping keep ER services and personnel free to deal with more urgent cases.
No appointments are necessary and pet parents who check in online can request a text message when it is time to come in.
With more than 2,700 square feet, the clinic has six exam rooms – two for larger dogs, three for smaller dogs, one specifically for cats and one comfort room, and Holstein emphasized that all vets and support staff are ‘Fear Free Certified Professionals” skilled in caring for both the pet’s physical and emotional well-being.
All exam rooms have dimmable lighting for anxious animals, relaxing music to soothe the patients and each staff member applies sprayable pheromones for a calming effect on the animals. The facility is equipped with a state-of-the-art lift table for heavier pets, an in-house lab, X-ray and ultrasound equipment and more.
Both Dobies and Holstein stress that with all its clinics, UrgentVet aims to develop strong relationships with neighboring primary care veterinarians, a practice the new clinic staff has already started. After a pet’s visit, UrgentVet delivers lab work and X-rays with a referral letter to that pet’s veterinarian within 24 hours so that they can be informed and schedule a follow-up visit at their location.
“We’ve grown very fond of our friends and pet parents in Fort Mill and Belmont,” Dobies said. “And we can’t wait to develop those kinds of relationships with our new neighbors in Huntersville.”
And for the record, while “Dobies” is a nickname for Doberman Pinschers and “Holstein” is a type of cow, there is no requirement for staff to hold the name of an animal to be hired.
“For me,” Holstein said, “I was meant to do this.”