AVH is also accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), a prestigious certification earned by just fifteen percent of North American animal hospitals. The Deer Valley location, a beautiful state-of-the-art facility, won a national award for design excellence in 2012. Dr. Schutzman’s commitment to the Antioch community, however, goes far beyond his day-to-day care for people’s pets. He explains, “I believe that all businesses serving local families have a responsibility to give something back. Our success has made it possible for us to provide services that go beyond traditional veterinary care and, we hope, enrich the lives of those who live here.”
Over the years, the number of AVH’s community programs has grown, and today the practice has a dedicated staff member to coordinate the many aspects of its community outreach efforts. Marie St Pierre is AVH’s Community Service Coordinator; call her at 925-757-2800 for more information about the programs described in this article.
Animal Rescue Support
The Antioch area is fortunate to have a number of non-profit organizations dedicated to rescuing homeless animals and placing them in stable, loving environments. AVH currently partners with eleven of these organizations by providing low-cost spay and neuter services plus discounted exams and vaccinations. AVH vets examine dogs and cats of all ages throughout the year (with lots of kittens in the spring and early summer) and treats them for fleas, worms, and other conditions so that they are in excellent health, thereby giving them the best possible chance to be adopted. In many cases, these services provided at a discounted cost can make the difference in a family’s ability to adopt a new pet. AVH also helps encourage adoptions through the attractive “cat condos” in their hospital waiting rooms. The sight of adoption-ready kittens happily playing in the condos can be very hard for prospective owners to resist. Dr. Schutzman is proud of AVH’s animal rescue efforts. He says, “It is gratifying to know that we have had an impact on the number of animals who have found homes in our community.”
For senior members of the community, obtaining and affording veterinary care for their pets can be challenging. AVH offers seniors a ten percent discount on all services. In addition, AVH vets pay regular scheduled visits to senior living facilities, where they provide health exams, vaccinations, and lab work for resident cats and dogs. Dr. Rosemary Panduro explains, “We found that many of our senior citizens had trouble getting to us, since most of them don’t drive. So we basically bring the vet hospital to them. If a pet requires more than what we can do there, we are able to bring it back to the hospital for care.”
These visits sometimes lead to the discovery of diseases which otherwise might remain undiagnosed until it is too late for treatment. According to Dr. Panduro, everybody benefits. “This program enables us to keep these pets and their owners together for as long as possible. For me, that is very satisfying. Being a part of our senior outreach efforts has been a great way to give back to the community.”
In an effort to inspire the next generation of veterinary professionals, AVH vets visit classrooms at every level, from elementary to high school. Aided by their favorite furry companions, the vets explain what veterinarians do, how they benefit pets and the greater community, and the steps involved in becoming a member of the veterinary profession. Students of all ages enjoy interacting with the animals and learning more about the world of veterinary care. Dr. Jennifer Boyle said, “I really enjoy interacting with students interested in my profession and answering their questions. It is very rewarding to help future students who are excited about veterinary medicine.”
Antioch Veterinary expands its youth outreach through educational tours of its two hospitals. Organizations such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America, local schooland home-school groups, and special education students are just some of the young people who have taken advantage of this opportunity.
When he opened the Deer Valley Hospital in 2011, Dr. Schutzman launched a program designed to help young members of the community achieve their dream of a college education. Each year, AVH offers four $500 grants to local high school seniors. Applicants must submit an essay describing why they want to go to college, plus a four year high school transcript and two letters of recommendation. The winners are selected by an independent panel; they are chosen for their overall accomplishments and ability to express themselves in a clear and compelling way. Special consideration is given to those who have overcome adversity or faced unusual challenges.
Dr. Schutzman said, “I love being able to help the young people in our area in this way. Our past recipients have run the gamut from some who were straight-A students to others who struggled but ultimately discovered an identity and path to success that was uniquely their own. Many of our recipients have been the first in their families to go to college. To me, the value of education is it gives you choices. It is my hope that our grants program will help open the door to education, and choices, for these outstanding young people.”
Twenty-nine years is a long time, but Dr. Schutzman is not planning to retire anytime soon. “It has been a privilege to serve the people and pets of Antioch for so many years,” he reflects. “I hope Antioch Veterinary Hospital will be a presence in the community for many years to come.”