When Fido or Mittens gets sick on a Sunday, concerned pet owners in the Lodi area not only have worry about urgent care fees but also the cost of transportation to a clinic in Stockton.
Starting on Feb. 2, they will be able to stay close to home and have their pets treated at Oakwood Veterinary Hospital’s new urgent care clinic.
The vet office in Woodbridge has hired a new veterinarian to handle the extra urgent care hours, Dr. Ruth Smith said. The urgent care clinic will be open until 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday and from 8:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
“Right now, people have to go to Stockton, and it’s always nice if you can stay where you live,” Smith said.
The office will also let people call and schedule routine appointments in the evenings or on the weekend during the urgent care hours.
“Some people work out of town or their kids have sports during our current Saturday morning hours,” she said.
Smith opened her Woodbridge office in 1988. About 15 years ago, she joined with other area vets to open the Associated Veterinary Emergency Services urgent care clinic in Stockton. Recently, Smith decided to sell her shares and open a clinic locally.
“Lodi’s grown a lot since then. I think there is a need here and people will hopefully come in,” she said.
When someone visits the urgent care clinic, she said they will provide them with a copy of their records to take back to their regular vet. She hopes that by having one vet work the urgent care hours, people will be able to establish a relationship.
The new veterinarian, Barbara Shields, has worked at a variety of vet offices in Lodi and Stockton since 2002. She said Lodi has a small-town feel, and people are more comfortable having their animals treated locally.
“A lot of people I’ve talked to said that when their animals get sick on the weekend, they wait until Monday because they don’t want to take their animals down to Stockton, or they don’t think it’s enough of an emergency,” she said.
The veterinarian office works closely with People Assisting Lodi Shelter. While walking through the office, there are about five cats from People Assisting Lodi Shelter relaxing in makeshift cat beds. Smith said she often takes some of the older cats and tries to adopt them out.
PALS plans to use the urgent care hours when they have a rescued animal that needs immediate attention or when a foster animal needs medical help, Director Nancy Alumbaugh said.
Having a local urgent care clinic will save the nonprofit transportation costs and volunteer time, she said.
“If something goes wrong after hours, it’s really difficult. There’s been times when we’ve needed an emergency vet, and for us, it will be really great to have one locally,” she said.
The clinic will have an open house with refreshments from noon to 4 p.m. on Feb. 11.