By Kathy Day
Longevity means a lot in the veterinary care industry, and Michele Drake, DVM, says the 20-year track record of The Drake Center speaks volumes about her business.
From 1992, when she purchased the business and was the lone vet with three employees, to today with six doctors and 30 employees, the center has been all about “unprecedented levels of care,” she said.
Their menu of services includes wellness care, hospitalization and emergency care, along with dentistry, surgery and acupuncture. They also provide behavioral education, laboratory and prescription services, and diet and nutrition education, as well as bathing and boarding, primarily for their client base since they don’t have a separate boarding facility. About 99 percent of the animals the Drake team sees are cats and dogs, although they also care for rabbits and “pocket pets” on occasion.
Citing their mission statement – “to provide the best medical and surgical care in a compassionate environment and to provide unsurpassed service for our clients” – Drake said they are known for “awesome patient care and customer service.”
With a front staff that is good at listening, they know when people come in fear and know how to soothe that feeling.
“They are fearful for their pet, or fearful it will misbehave or even fearful of being judged,” said the graduate of the University of Missouri at Columbia who also is certified in veterinary acupuncture. “We get that.”
For the senior citizen “who can’t handle giving five medications to her dog,” they can adjust the routine so she can handle it, or when a mom arrives with three children and the dog in tow, the staff will go out and help them get into the office and entertain the kids, Drake said.
“We hire people with the same philosophy of treating pets like family member,” she added.
And with a “high retention rate of capable and knowledgeable people,” The Drake Center staff has watched as their customers’ families grew and matured.
“Relationship building is key,” Drake noted. “We’re like the old-time family doctor.”
The staff can tailor medications and treatment plans based on what’s best for the family and also takes budget into consideration since Drake recognizes that specialized veterinary services can be costly.
When that type of care is called for, Drake and her associates will recommend specialists and stay involved in what needs to be done.
They may turn to an “integrative” approach that uses Western and Eastern techniques with pets, sometimes utilizing Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, which the center’s website says “is based on the concept of balance using acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage, food therapy and Qigong.”
Pain management is a particular strength of the center, according to Drake. “We want to make sure our patients don’t have pain.”
But sometimes they recognize there’s not much that can be done beyond keeping an animal comfortable. In one recent case, a woman came in with a dog with an upset stomach that turned out to be inoperable cancers, Drake said. When she heard the news, she asked the doctors to make sure her children had time to come home from college and say goodbye.
“The biggest thing we do here is our very special way of taking care of our clients,” she said. “We believe we are head and shoulders above others in this respect.”
Important to remember:
Dr. Drake says pets should be seen at least once a year. They age more quickly than humans so there are things we can catch if they get regular checkups.
She also says after age 8 or 9 they should be checked twice a year.
With all pets, if you see a change in their behavior or break in their routine, such as not greeting you at the door or not staying beside you while you’re working at the computer, have them checked.
Need to know:
The Drake Center for Veterinary Care:
195 N. El Camino Real
Encinitas, CA 92024
Mon.-Fri.: 7 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Sat.: 7 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sun: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
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