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24-7 emergency pet care coming to Washington Ave

Veterinary technician Megan Fritschi examines a cat at the Washington Ave Animal Hospital in South Philadelphia, which will welcome PASE to perform 24-7 emergency care services until a new facility opens at 2100 Washington Avenue in 2022. Photo/Mark Zimmaro

Through its first six months, the Washington Ave Animal Hospital has been a busy hub for helping people’s pets. In just a few months, there will be even more four-legged foot traffic heading its way.

Located at 1920 Washington Ave., the relatively new clinic will be expanding its operations this summer to include a 24-7 emergency room at its location until an even larger facility is completed a few blocks away.

The new department called PASE (Philadelphia Animal Specialty and Emergency) will begin operating at Washington Ave Animal Hospital on June 14 and its hours will shift from its current 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to a 24-7 operation.

The department will eventually shift over to a brand new four-story, 64,000-square-foot facility at 21st and Washington once it is completed in about 18 months. At that point, the original building will revert to a regular family veterinary practice.

“The unique situation we are in right now is that we have some space to basically allow this new hospital to borrow from us and build a reputation and relationship with the community and local veterinarians in hopes that when our doors open and construction is finished, we can just move all of our equipment and all of our doctors and team to the new facility,” said Pete Lands, chief medical officer and managing partner at Washington Ave Animal Hospital. “It will be one of the most state-of-the-art facilities on the entire east coast.”

The current building is about 5,200 square feet and has nine examination rooms, a full intensive care unit, two surgery suites and a spacious lobby. It has added two board-certified criticalists, emergency doctors and emergency technicians to staff the hospital for the launch in June.

It has also added an internal medicine doctor who will be in-house most of the week to see more serious cases and chronic illnesses.

Veterinary Technician Jordan Powell prepares a dog for surgery at the Washington Ave Animal Hospital. Photo/Mark Zimmaro

The staff also includes an ophthalmologist, a part-time cardiologist and part-time anesthesiologists, and it will add more specialists over time, according to Lands.

“The short-term plan is launching PASE here at Washington Ave,” Lands said. “And we are building a state-of-the-art facility with all the bells and whistles. Anything and everything you would think about in a human hospital, for the most part, we will have here in our veterinary hospital.”

PASE will join the University of Pennsylvania’s Ryan Hospital at 3900 Spruce St. and Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Center’s BluePearl Pet Hospital at 1114 S. Front St. as the only 24-7 pet hospitals in the city.

Veterinary Technician Jermaine Smalls works behind the scenes at the Washington Ave Animal Hospital. Photo/Mark Zimmaro

“South Philly is underserved by veterinarians,” Lands said. “There just aren’t any veterinarians in this area. And we all know this is one of the fastest-growing ZIP codes in America. So we saw there was a void and that pets needed to be treated so we decided to build here. This has been my dream for many, many years. It just took a little bit of time to get the right team together to build a facility I knew was needed.”

Lands, a Linwood, New Jersey native, graduated from the University of Maryland and graduated cum laude from St. George’s University, before completing his fourth year of clinical at Ohio State University, earning his degree in veterinary medicine. He completed his internship at Red Bank Veterinary Hospital in Tinton Falls, New Jersey.

Lands has recently worked as the director of emergency and critical care at the Saint Francis Veterinary Center of South Jersey before opening his own practice in October. He has seen steady growth in his first six months and has expanded his staff to about 30 members.

“We’ve grown from a two-doctor practice all the way up to eight general practitioners in a matter of six months,” Lands said. “The growth has been real. I think we definitely found that pocket of Philadelphia where the community was underserved by veterinarians, and we were able to provide that service to them. We’ve been very busy, as have many vets been across America.”

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