With a background that covers molecular biology, veterinary medicine and six years as co-owner of Star Meadow Animal Clinic in Farmington, Dr. Shannon Bertolino feels she has found her niche with Veterinary Emergency Center in Canton.
“I very much enjoyed the business aspect of Star Meadow and I love emergency medicine,” she said. “This was an opportunity to do both.”
The business opened at 135 Dowd Ave. in Canton last week and on nights and weekends will provide emergency care for pets, including cats, dogs and small "pocket" animals such as hamsters. It is capable of emergency surgeries, ultrasounds, transfusion medicine, oxygen therapy, radiology and more. On site are a pharmacy and lab for testing.
While there is an emergency vet hospital in Avon, Bertolino said they are few and far between and sees the potential to serve the Farmington Valley, Litchfield County and other areas. Bertolino and her husband live in Canton and the town is central to that target area.
“With an emergency situation, it’s good to be as close as possible,” she said. “It seems like a good place to be.”
In addition to emergencies, Bertolino is working with area veterinarians, including Roaring Brook in Canton and Winsted Hospital for Animals. The emergency center, for example, could provide overnight watch of animals who were treated at a daytime facility but need careful monitoring.
Bertolino is employing licensed veterinary nurses and veterinary nursing assistants. She has four part-time and four full-time employees.
In May, Shannon and her husband Vincent received Canton Zoning approval for the business. In July, the purchased the building at 135 Dowd Ave.
Since then, the couple has put much work into the building, inside and out, much of it done by Vincent Bertolino.
Gone from the outside is the fence many felt contributed to sightline issues at the intersection of Dowd Avenue and Canton Springs Road. The building was fixed up painted, the lot paved and an accessible ramp added.
The inside was configured fairly well for the business but some walls were added. Of course, the spaces were as converted into exam rooms, treatment room, surgery areas and others as needed.
The waiting room contains a kurig machine, television and comfortable chairs.
Some situations will be stressful and in a few cases extremely sad for clients and Bertolino said she at least wanted to avoid it being too clinical. An exam room also includes paintings and warm colors.
“I wanted to make this as comfortable as possible,” she said.
Bertolino also knows that in many cases, pet owners are not sure what constitutes a true emergency. The center’s web site contains many tips in that area. While, diagnosis can’t be done over the phone, Bertolino said people are also welcome to call to talk over a situation.
For now, Bertolino also wants people to know the business is open.
“That’s our big goal right now — trying to establish ourselves and letting people know we’re here.”
Veterinary Emergency Center