Philadelphia veterinarians team up to provide emergency care for pets

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- "Just like the human side, our healthcare system is overwhelmed," said. Dr. Emily Dozeman. "Everyone got a dog, is at home more, and so our infrastructure got inundated, especially on the emergency side of things."

Dozeman always knew she wanted to work with animals since she was a child. That love blossomed into a career in emergency and critical care.

But the COVID-19 pandemic threw a monkey wrench in the veterinary field.

"There's a lot of hospitals, but due to a decrease in staffing and high caseloads, there just hasn't been enough support," she said.

It was a sentiment she shared with other industry professionals whom she trained and practiced with.

"So, a group of us got together, feeling burnt out. And we just needed to kind of rejuvenate," said Dozeman. "So, we decided to open up a hospital here and support the community."

Philadelphia Animal Speciality and Emergency (PASE) launched in June 2021 with about 10 staff members. Since then, it has grown to a team of roughly 100 including doctors, internal medicine specialists, surgeons, anesthesiologists, technicians and even students.

"It's quite remarkable," said Dozeman. "Sometimes, I can't even believe we did it."

Dozeman's team created a workspace with a positive, vibrant atmosphere. She hopes to include more students like Mary Cait Phalen into the workflow to cultivate the next generation of veterinarians.

"It is a really exciting place to be because they have a lot of new cutting-edge technology," said Phalen. "And it's really important to bring a lot of young energy, which I think this hospital really does have and excels at."

Many of the privately-owned hospital's directors actually work on the floor and live in the neighborhood. But their community-based approach to pet care is not limited to South Philadelphia.

"People are driving from Delaware, Jersey, three-plus hours to even get veterinary care," said Dr. Dozeman. "So, I think just being here, being staffed and available for those people is really important."

Still, Dozeman hopes that clients will be more understanding of the increase in caseload and the potential wait times that come along with it.

"The biggest thing that the veterinary community needs is an understanding that we are here and trying our best," she said.

Another way Dozeman hopes to engage the community is through a dog blood drive. Pet owners in the neighborhood can have their pets tested and potentially sign up to save the lives of other dogs.

"Hopefully, as we grow, we will then be able to create a blood bank where you can collect blood and save it," she said.

While they are currently operating within Washington Animal Hospital, PASE is continuing to grow. The 30,000 square foot space next door is currently under construction and will soon be home to their expanding emergency operation.

To learn more about PASE, visit their website.

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