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Progress in pet care is pleasing

August 12, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

FUNKSTOWN - As the Animal Health Clinic of Funkstown enters its second decade of "treating pets like family," Dr. Virginia Scrivener says she is pleased with advances made not only in her office but countywide.

"For almost three years now, we have had a program called Shared Care in Washington County," Scrivener said. "Dr. Daniel Franklin came up with the idea where several veterinarians rotate weekends and holidays when there are emergency calls."

Pet owners come to the office of the veterinarian who is on call, Scrivener said.

While that has been a big step forward, Scrivener said there still is a gap during the week after office hours until most veterinary offices reopen.

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"Right now there is an 24-hour emergency animal clinic in Winchester, Va., but that is a long way to go," she said.

Scrivener said she would like to have a freestanding emergency animal clinic in Washington County that would be staffed during the hours when veterinarians' offices are closed.

"Already our docs cooperate really well here, but I believe the separate and distinct emergency clinic is the way to go," she said.

Such a clinic would be expensive to operate but Scrivener said she believes most pet "parents" would shoulder those costs gladly to ensure their pets would get prompt emergency care in the middle of the night.

"Since I started my practice here 10 years ago, I have noticed some trends in pet ownership," Scrivener said. "One of the biggest is the strength of the bond many people develop with their pets."

With people having fewer children, many are transferring some of their feelings toward their pets.

"They are demanding the same level of care as (for) humans in many instances," Scrivener said.

The most positive offshoot of this, Scrivener said, is that pet owners overall are more responsible, making sure inoculations are up to date and treating fleas, ticks and other pests aggressively.

While her practice handles mostly dogs and cats, Scrivener said a hamster, gerbil, ferret, bird or fish passes through her clinic at 26 E. Baltimore St. on occasion.

Setting up in a former people doctor's office in June 1993, Scrivener has experienced rapid growth in her practice, which led to a major addition in 1997 and a second renovation that is under way.

The first expansion project roughly doubled the clinic's size, enlarging the reception area and adding several examination rooms and an education room stocked with pamphlets, books and videos on pet health and care, Scrivener said.

With a total of three on staff at the beginning, Scrivener now has an associate, Dr. Rachel Wander, and is seeking another. The support staff now numbers more than 20.

A graduate of Boonsboro High School and Hagerstown Community College, Scrivener got her veterinary medical training at Ohio State University.

After practicing in York, Pa., for five years, she returned to her home county in 1993.

Believing strongly in education, Scrivener visits local schools to give presentations on veterinary medicine and invites 4-H and Scout troops into the clinic for tours.

In addition, Scrivener and her staff conduct quarterly seminars for their clients and the public on dental health, skin problems, ear care, senior pet wellness, toxicology and more.

For more information on the clinic, its services and hours, call 301-733-7579.

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