BARKER ANIMAL HOSPITAL
After a year of treating patients and building relationships, new vet practice is still going strong
by Stacy Allen
The team at Barker Animal Hospital with Scooter the dog. From left: Rebecca Perkins, Dr. Sarah Barker, and Megan Rockwell
Barker Animal Hospital is turning a year old! Dr. Sarah Barker and her team are happy to announce that their practice has grown by leaps and bounds since last January. "It's been an incredible journey," Dr. Barker says.
That journey began with Dr. Barker volunteering at a local animal hospital when she was just 14 years old. She went on to graduate from Arizona State University with a degree in agribusiness, then earned a doctorate of veterinary medicine from Ross University, and performed her clinical studies at Texas A&M.
At last she opened up her 3,400 square foot practice in the new Greentree Commons Shopping Center on Kempsville Road in Chesapeake last winter. The gorgeous office boasts granite and stone, while adding soothing elements for sick pets and their stressed owners. The clean and modern space includes soft couches and a coffee and tea bar.
"This past year has been so much fun. We've really built relationships with these owners and their pets," Dr. Barker exclaims. Owning her own practice hasn't always been easy, but working with a great team - including assistants Megan Rockwell, Melissa Day, and Rebecca Perkins - has made the transition smoother. "My staff has worked hard to help grow our practice. It's paid off and we've recently added another assistant," she says.
Dr. Barker balances a straight-forward approach with a gentle bedside manner. She herself lost a beloved pet over the summer and knows dealing with a sick animal is difficult. "We try to make our patients feel as comfortable as possible. We know they're our clients' family members and we want to do everything we can to make their visit as painless as possible," she says passionately.
"This past year has been so much fun.
We've really built relationships
with these owners and their pets."
- Dr. Sarah Barker
That's why she bases her treatment on the Fear Free Initiative, an innovative movement developed by veterinarian Marty Becker. This initiative emphasizes treating pets' whole health - including their emotional well-being - and empowering their owners to do everything they can to encourage recovery after an illness or procedure. This makes the entire sick-visit process less stressful for everyone.
"I always include my clients as part of the healing process," Dr. Barker emphasizes. "This includes activities that owners can perform before and after vet visits. For example, if there are other animals at home, they may try to attack the injured pet when it comes back. We can teach our clients ways to reintegrate their sick pet back home. The Fear Free training has been invaluable for owners who now know how to limit their pet's pain and suffering through holistic practices designed to ease the stress of everything from the vet visit to the car ride home."
Another part of Dr. Barker's stress-free pet protocol includes preventative medicine. She has created a unique wellness plan to save her patients time and money. Members enjoy up to a 50 percent discount on preventative care, plus unlimited exams. Dr. Barker says, "It's been a joy to watch our new patients come in as puppies and grow over the last year. The wellness plan has helped many clients, with pets both young and old, budget for foreseeable preventative health care."
There are three different levels to the wellness program, tailored to meet the needs of animals at all stages of life. On Barker Animal Hospital's website pet owners will find a chart that determines their pet's "true" age and the plan that best suits them.
"Preventative health care is the key to
long and happy lives for our furry family members,
and our wellness plans make it easier for our clients
to keep up with those routine check-ups."
For example, clients could choose the Lilac or Green plan for pets up to nine months old, which includes exams, heartworm testing, deworming, and possibly spay and neutering.
"From what I've seen, knowing that they will not have an exam fee helps our clients make the decision to bring their pets to the office if they think he or she may be ill," Dr. Barker explains. "Preventative health care is the key to long and happy lives for our furry family members, and our wellness plans make it easier for our clients to keep up with those routine check-ups."
The hospital also offers unique services and flexible hours. "We know it's sometimes hard to bring pets to the vet on a work day. That's why we offer evening, Saturday, and Sunday hours," Dr. Barker explains. The clinic also offers many same-day appointments and emergency surgeries.
Those alternate hours come in handy. Recently, Dr. Barker had a distraught pet owner call on a Sunday morning. "Her pet had become very lethargic and didn't seem to want to do anything," Dr. Barker explains. "She brought in the dog not knowing what was wrong. We found a bleeding ovarian tumor and were able to remove it. Luckily we were able to help her and she's recovered and doing well!"
Margie Higginbotham is another satisfied client. Last March, one of her dogs had an eye that seemed inflamed. She'd never been to Dr. Barker before. "I couldn't believe it, but they told me to bring her in immediately. She examined the dog thoroughly, explaining to me each step of the way what she was doing and the things she was finding," Margie says.
"My dogs are like my kids. Knowing someone cared enough to see them right away on such short notice and gave us such great care meant so much." Dr. Barker also did dental work on Margie's dog, Maddie, who ended up having teeth pulled. "Dr. Barker even sent me pictures of her teeth so I could see what was done," Margie says. She's also a fan of Dr. Barker's unique Wellness Plan. "I like that you know what you are paying up front. I signed my dogs up for the plan that includes sick visits and dental. They are nine and 12 years old, so it's nice to know that we are covered as they get older."
It's those kinds of stories that drive Dr. Barker's passion. "I've always loved animals. From the time I was little, I knew I'd found my calling."
As her adventure continues, Dr. Barker continues her commitment to providing the best possible pet care available. She and her team would like to wish all their furry friends a fabulous new year!
Barker Animal Hospital
480 Kempsville Rd.
Chesapeake, VA 23320
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