State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Veterinary Office That's Always Open 24/7

by on January 17, 2014 6:45 AM

When it comes to medical care for pets, Metzger Animal Hospital's decision to expand its hours will no doubt give pet lovers some piece of mind.

From now on, Metzger's will be open all day, all the time.

The business proudly boasts that it is the only veterinary hospital in all of Central Pennsylvania that never closes its doors.

Veterinarian Fred Metzger says, "We've always done our own emergencies but we haven't had a vet on premises 24 hours. ... As of last Monday we have a veterinarian that's in the hospital 24 hours a day 365 days a year."

Earlier this week, longtime client Ann Macrina stopped to have her dog Millie checked. Macrina is definitely a fan of Metzger's new round-the-clock hours. "I'm very happy about it," she says, "... especially since I live four miles down the road -- knowing that that if I have an emergency, a vet is here."

Metzger Animal Hospital does not charge an extra fee for emergencies. The idea is to encourage pet owners to bring their animals in as soon as a problem arises, instead of waiting until the next day.

The gleaming facility bustles with activity. During a recent visit, a medical team was performing surgery in one room. Across the hall a Great Dane was undergoing a CAT scan. In the rehab center a therapist was working with a Golden Retriever. All the while, a steady stream of clients were coming through the front door.

Metzger started out small but his business has become a very large operation. "We started in the summer of '92, myself and one technician," he says. "Now we have 10 doctors, we have 47 people that are working here."

The hospital offers a number of services that weren't available in our area until recently. Metzger says they're doing a lot of complicated orthopedic surgeries along with laparoscopic  surgery. "We have a fluoroscope which is like a moving x-ray," he continues. "We have our own chiropractor. We have a rehab center which includes an underwater treadmill. We have an oncologist now."

Metzger has also brought in a clinical pathologist who he says is an expert in blood testing.

"What I'm trying to do is, I want to make the Metzger Animal Hospital like the Mayo Clinic. A lot of people are being told to go to Philadelphia or Pittsburgh and a lot of the things we can do here."

Metzger says people who go to the big city clinics have to take time off from work and can't visit their pets while they're being treated. He believes that's stressful.

"Why are people traveling all over the place? Let's try to do as much as we can here. Most of the things that they're doing at the veterinary schools we can do here. And having us go 24 hours for me was kind of the final piece."

Metzger reports the hospital has been getting referrals from vets located up to two hours away. However, "It's been a challenge to get the word out in State College," he says.

"I think if you tell people that one option is to stay local, I think most people would choose that."

Millie's owner, Ann Macrina, agrees. "Over the past couple of years they have gone to a more comprehensive care -- they've added physical therapy for the dogs, they have a chiropractor," she says.

The decision to build his business in State College is rooted in family history. "I'm from here," says Metzger. "My grandfather had the first book store at Penn State, in 1910. He had the Metzger Book Store which is where Rapid Transit is now. That big black granite building is the Metzger Building.

"I went to Penn State, went through vet school. I came back here because I love State College."

Metzger credits his success to an emphasis on customer service. "We're all pet owners. ... I have two dogs and they're our kids," he says. And I think if you understand that you understand what people are going through [when their pets are sick]. We spend a lot of time on customer service and a lot of places don't.

"That's why we put our name on the sign. You can't hide from that."

The Metzger Animal Hospital is an enormous building and it may be getting even larger. "We did an expansion two years ago," says Metzger. "We went from five thousand to ten thousand square feet. I actually need more room. I wouldn't mind getting a few more thousand square feet. I think there are some cool things we could do. I'd like to have a bigger rehab center."

And the number of services may also expand. Metzger is looking into natural homeopathic therapy. "A lot of people want that," he explains. I'm always a believer that if people want [something] we can find it."

Even though Metzger is extremely busy he finds time to spends working with animals in need. "My other thing is helping the shelter animals. PAWS and Pets Come First and the rescues, that's really what we're all about. It gives me great pleasure to know we help them."

Lisa Bahr, the shelter supervisor at PAWS says Metzger Animal Hospital is always ready to help. "They are more than just available," she says. "They really support our mission and every animal who goes through their doors is an important patient and a life worth saving."

Asked how he got started, Metzger chuckles. He wasn't one of those kids who grew up dreaming of becoming a veterinarian. But that changed when he was around 14-years-old. "They had a greased pig contest where they grease this pig up and you catch it," he recalls. "I caught it and brought it home and then I raised it and I thought this is pretty cool, maybe I ought to think more about animals.

"I love it. It's such a fun job. ... It's never boring."

Steve Bauer was the Managing Editor of Steve and his wife Trina are longtime area residents. They reside in State College along with a wacky Golden Retriever named Izzy.
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