There has been a lot of discussion recently regarding my permit application at Coastal Animal Hospital. I would like to directly address some of the concerns that have been brought to my attention, and set the record straight regarding the reason for the permit, and what its effects will be.
First, the permit that I am applying for is the exact same designation that every non-emergency animal hospital in Encinitas currently has. There are 8 other animal hospitals; all of them have this permit, so we will only be obtaining the same abilities as every other animal hospital in Encinitas.
If the permit is granted, we will not make any changes to the interior or exterior of the hospital. We will have the same number of enclosures and the same design that we have had since we opened our doors. There will be no outdoor kennels, new windows, or any other changes that would increase noise in the neighborhood. I have consistently encouraged anyone with noise concerns to visit our hospital and experience the noise levels for themselves. Even when the loudest dogs are barking inside, the sound outside is barely audible from five feet away. In the nearly three years of operation, there has not been a single noise complaint to me or to law enforcement, and I have every intention of keeping it this way.
The purpose of the permit is to allow Coastal Animal Hospital to keep animals overnight on a short-term basis, for medical purposes only. Although the city regulation uses the generic term “kennel”, this permit will not allow us to operate as a kennel, a pet hotel, or any type of boarding facility where we house a large number of healthy animals whose owners are away. Even if we could keep animals on a long-term basis, we would not: Coastal Animal Hospital is a veterinary clinic, not a pet hotel, and our purpose will not change. We want to be able to keep animals overnight so we can provide an option for owners who cannot afford to transfer their patients to a 24 hour care facility. This is not about increasing profit, as some people have claimed. This is about providing the best and most suitable medical service we can to the animals we care for.
It seems that some community members are concerned about the practice of keeping animals overnight without any staff on site. I agree wholeheartedly that sick animals should be monitored throughout the night whenever possible, and I recommend transferring patients who need overnight care to a 24 hour care/specialty hospital. Without a doubt, around-the-clock care is the best option for some sick or injured animals. However, there are occasions where a sick pet needs this type of hospitalization, but the owner cannot afford it. It is in these instances where an unsupervised overnight stay at Coastal Animal Hospital is an alternative to prevent these animals from being sent home without the care they need, assuring continued sickness, pain, or general malaise.
When a sick animal needs 24 hour care, I have to consider the options and likely outcomes, and make sure I am doing the right thing for the animal. My first recommendation, and the best option for the animal, is hospitalization at a specialty facility (not at Coastal Animal Hospital), where the animal can be monitored 24 hours a day. If the owner declines this, then I must determine if the animal can be cared for at home and the possible consequences if the owner is unable to provide sufficient care at home. As a last option, I consider the animal’s temperament, and determine if a non-supervised overnight hospitalization is possible. If a specialty hospital and at-home care are not options, and if the animal would not be unduly stressed, only then, would Coastal Animal Hospital consider keeping an animal overnight. Any time this is being considered, an owner will be clearly informed that no one will be on the premises at night, and the choice is ultimately up to the owner. This is not new or different from what is the common practice around Encinitas, San Diego, or the entire country. This is standard practice in most animal hospitals. We are not developing a new system to decrease costs. That is not our goal. Our goal is to provide a last resort option for pets that need it, plain and simple.
In order to balance the economic realities of these situations with the welfare of the pets, we will use audio and video cameras to monitor the patients overnight, which will allow us to make sure the pets are safe and stress-free. If there is an issue, a staff member or I will be on call to come in and troubleshoot any problems. However, based on our doctors’ combined 15 years of experience as well as the experience of most animal hospitals across the country who also routinely have unsupervised overnight care, these animals do very well and are not unduly stressed, as some have claimed.
Finally, I would like to address some untrue and defamatory remarks made about me. A community member recently sent an email to local groups, stating “Apparently, Veterinarian Brian Evans thinks profit is more important than an animal’s well-being,” and city council candidate Graboi sent an email that said “Just knowing that our pets will be left unattended for a better financial return is unacceptable to me.” As an animal lover and someone who has dedicated his life to the care of animals, it saddens me to read such vitriol. I am and always will be fighting to decrease animal suffering. My actions show this.
Coastal is the first and only veterinary clinic in San Diego to offer laparoscopic spays, which have been proven as a less painful way to spay your dog. One of the reasons that no other clinic offers this is because it takes a huge investment in equipment and training. But we felt that decreasing pain was the right thing to do, so we made the investment after only being open for six months, and put animal well- being as our first priority. We also still offer house calls, because for the pets who need it — they really need it. When your senior dog can’t get into the car anymore or your cat is too frail or stressed for a car ride, this is the absolute best way to care for these animals, not to mention the peace that comes for the entire family when we can euthanize their beloved pet at their home. Although house calls typically are more expensive for an owner than coming in to the clinic, they are not as “profitable” for the clinic because of the travel time, disruption to regular clinic schedule, and in the time it takes our veterinarians to make one house call, we could see four or five appointments in the hospital. Why do we do this? Because for the pets and families that need it, we believe it is an invaluable service. We do not do it for increased profit.
Likewise, the decision to offer overnight hospitalization was not based on the desire to make more money. It was based on the desire to offer better care. These recent emails are an attempt to damage my reputation and portray me as a greedy business owner. Such comments are false, insulting, and show a general lack of understanding of who we are as a hospital. If the authors of these emails want more information about the permit we are seeking or our hospital in general, I welcome the opportunity to meet with them.
In all, I know that there are good intentions surrounding the debate that is currently occurring. We all love animals and want only the best for them. However, please know that as a veterinarian and animal lover, I have dedicated my life to helping animals in their time of need. Each day, I balance what is best for our pets and what is best for the people who own them — be it financial considerations, personal belief systems, or emotional attachments. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to this complicated arena of health. I am a Leucadia resident and love this area as much as anyone and want to see our community and its residents thrive. Do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns. Thank you for your time.
Brian Evans, DVM
Owner, Coastal Animal Hospital