How Do You Define Family?

How Do You Define Family?

by Susan Neuhalfen

How do you define family?

For the staff at the Corinth Veterinary Clinic, it can be anything or anyone two-legged, four-legged (or more), furry, scaly or anything in between.

For 15 years, Kim Jacobs has worked at Corinth Veterinary Clinic. She is a certified veterinary practice manager—not a common title, but she’s not a common person—who oversees staff, budget, payroll, human resources and sometimes clients. The motto at Corinth Veterinary Clinic has long been that they are pet owners serving pet owners.

“Our staff treats you with a compassion that you don’t find just anyplace,” said Jacobs. “From doctors to technicians and everyone on staff, we understand how important your pet is and we never take that for granted. We have pets, too. They are our furry family.”

In case you were wondering, technician is a fancy name for an animal nurse (Texas is looking to change that name in the near future). Diane, the lead technician, has been there for 11 years as has Pearl, the friendly receptionist. Katrina and Brionna have been there for 5 years. Anna and Sam would be the short timers at 2 years. Sue, Lindsey and Javon are the newest additions, they think they’ll stick around awhile. And even though Viki retired after 10 years with the clinic, she still comes back to fill in for vacations and maternity leaves. You get the picture. This family stays together.

They’ve had their share of incredible animals come through the door. Some come in for shots or blood work, some for emergencies. This is not just a doctor’s office for animals, they are also equipped to act as an emergency room and boarding facility.

“So if an animal gets bitten by a snake…” Kim gave as an example. “We’re ready to handle most emergencies.”

Speaking of snakes, this is one of the few clinics that treats reptiles and other exotic animals.

Dr. Carol Eddy, DVM, is the owner of Corinth Veterinary Clinic. Both she and the other full-time doctor on staff, Dr. Kristin Kerce, did their externships (meaning extra training) working with exotic animals. Dr. Eddy worked at a practice in Chicago that worked strictly with exotic animals. Dr. Kerce, not be outdone, did her externships at zoos. They’ve found this extra training has definitely come in handy with the number of exotic pets they see at the clinic.

“Thought it’s not common, we’ve seen 10-12 foot snakes,” said Dr. Eddy. “We’ve even seen an iguana that was about five foot in length.”

From dogs and cats to hamsters, snakes and, believe it or not, even chickens, Dr. Eddy’s “family” has grown all around since she purchased the practice in 2007. She had begun as an associate veterinarian there in 2003 and when the practice went up for sale, she felt like it was the perfect fit.

“I loved the area, the clients and my staff already,” said Dr. Eddy. “It was just the right thing for me.”

Her staff, right now, is all female. A unique group of hard working women who compliment each other.

Weekdays at the clinic start at 7am and end late, 6:30 on Mondays and Wednesdays and 5:30 Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. They put in extended hours at the clinic during the week so that their weekends may be spent with their own families. There are three emergency clinics in the area that handle the weekend emergencies. Dr. Eddy has made it clear from the beginning that there is nothing more important than family and she wouldn’t think of asking one of her employees to leave a sick child at home. Family always comes first.

“When you think about how many hours you spend at work versus being at home,” Dr Eddy began. “ We want our staff to want to be here.”

They grieve with family, too. Last Friday they had two birthdays in the office, but had to keep their celebrations to themselves as two animals had to be put down.

“I think about the time I had to euthanize my own dog,” said Kim. “We’ve been on both sides of the table.”

They pride themselves on taking as good care of their clients as they do the pets. Dr. Eddy praises her pet owners as they are very conscientious people with a deep love for animals. They have to rely on these same pet owners, along with their own physical exam capabilities, in order to give the pet the best treatment possible. That collaboration, according to Dr. Eddy, is key.

So does she have any crazy pet owners?

“You’re going to see a wide range of owners, but before you place judgment, you need to put yourself in that person’s shoes,” she points out. “I always say you’ve got to love that person on the other end of the leash.”

Dr. Eddy elaborates that she and her staff become somewhat detached from an animal sometimes because it is too trying for them emotionally. She went on to say that when you see a woman with a dog in a fur coat and diamond stud collar, that dog might have belonged to her mother and that’s the last connection she might have with her loved one. You never know. That’s her family and it’s not our place to judge.

When asked about adding onto family with a pet, Dr. Eddy had strong advice.

“Ask yourself what your expectations are for the dog and how will he or she fit into your lifestyle,” she said. “Most importantly, don’t make an impulse purchase. Do your research.”

When you do get that pet, make sure you take proper care of that animal, just as you do of yourself and if you’re looking for a good family veterinary practice, who treats all kinds of animals, you know exactly where to go.

“I feel fortunate that I love what I do,” said Dr. Eddy. “I have to say though, I would go crazy if I saw just one type of animal. I love the crazy variety.”

Just like family.

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