Imagine if your dog had a dire emergency at 3 in the morning. At first glance, it looks like a respiratory infection, but soon his muzzle swells to a point where he can barely breathe. Realization sets in. It will take at least 30 minutes to drive to North Naples, or even further, to Fort Myers for an emergency veterinary exam.
But now, residents in Naples have a new pet hospital that just opened to reach out to for emergency and specialty care. Veterinary doctors at Animal Specialty Hospital of Florida (ASH) have extra credentials in veterinary emergency, internal medicine, surgery, neurology and neurosurgery, physical rehabilitation, and oncology, because every second counts, no matter what level of distress a pet may be facing. The veterinarians at ASH are ready with compassionate care in treating pet emergencies and cases requiring specialized expertise.
Dr. Marc Havig, one of four founders of ASH, took time out of his hectic schedule of opening the first 24/7 emergency hospital in Collier County and the only referral center of its kind in Southwest Florida, to talk about his goals.
“Our primary goal is to partner with your family veterinarian and provide a service for the community of Southwest Florida,” he said.
When asked if ASH will also treat large animals like horses and cows, Havig said, “While we are trained to treat dogs, cats, birds, horses, exotic species, and livestock in vet school, we have since undergone species and specialty specific training to treat only dogs, cats, and some exotic species.”
Dr. Ashley Ayoob also doubled up her training to add to her veterinary vitae to treat pet emergencies and difficult internal medicine cases.
“Ashley is double board certified by the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, and the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, and there are probably less than 20 people in the world who have achieved that type of extensive training,” Havig said. “Another one of our specialists, Dr. Eric Carnes, is board certified by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine in neurology and Dr. Lisa DiBernardi, our oncologist, is certified by both the American College of Veterinary Medicine (Oncology) and the American College of Veterinary Radiology (Radiation Oncology). There is not a more comprehensive group of board certified specialists anywhere in Southwest Florida.”
Poised and ready to treat all pet traumas, ASH veterinarians have set up a state-of-the-art facility in their new location which opened on April 8, where 24-hour emergency and specialized care will be just minutes away for many. The high tech equipment at ASH includes both an MRI and a CT scanner, a rehabilitation unit, an intensive care unit, endoscopy and specialized equipment that allow minimally invasive surgery to be performed, and an ultrasonic aspirator used to perform brain surgery.
“The facility will be the only one of its kind south of the University of Florida Veterinary College in Gainesville,” Havig said.
Emergency and critical care services are provided on a walk-in basis. Some of the emergency animal services ASH will provide include:
• Trauma treatment (in case a dog or cat is hit by a car, especially if there’s fractured bones or infected wounds)
• vomiting and diarrhea
• toxicity from indigestion, topical exposure, or inhalation
• urinary blockage
• systemic infections
• respiratory difficulty
• limping and lameness
Additionally, referral appointments will be available in orthopedic surgery and sports medicine, general surgery, neurology and neurosurgery, internal medicine, oncology, and physical rehabilitation.
The new facility will be a community-oriented specialty practice, too.
“We’ve initiated conversation with Collier County Domestic Animal Services, the Humane Society, and several local rescue groups, as well as law enforcement canine units,” said Havig. “We are planning an open house for the public on Saturday, April 30 from 9 a.m. to noon. Please check our website, www.ashfl.com, for more information.”
At any given time, the hospital can accommodate up to 30 animals, and many intakes will be by referrals from local veterinarians. ASH is a referral and specialty hospital, so there will not be boarding, vaccines, flea treatment, microchips, or any routine service that is offered by a general veterinary practice.
“Thumbs up,” said Dr. David Randall, the owner and chief veterinarian at Big Cypress Animal Clinic, when he learned of the facility opening soon. “It’s great, especially in case of major traumas requiring specialists. It brings Naples into 2011. I have been practicing medicine for 26 years, and there were no ER’s here at first. So doctors had to take all of their emergency calls. Then about 15 years ago, a group of doctors got together to start one, which eventually moved to Pine Ridge Road. To have a 24-hour emergency hospital here, is exactly what pet owners need, and deserve.”