ST. CHARLES – Opening her own veterinary practice was, as Vicki Petsche put it, a big jump.
But, she said, it allowed her to participate in the Fear Free movement, which aims to reduce the anxiety of doctor visits for pets.
Operating Loyal Companions in that way has “really been so rewarding,” Petsche said during a tour of the animal hospital and pet resort at 2312 W. Main St. in St. Charles.
Petsche, who has practiced in the area since 2000, began working with an architect familiar with the Fear Free movement in March 2015, she said. She said construction on the building, which formerly housed Sunshine Lighting, began the following December.
Loyal Companions opened in the spring and is filled with features with the pets’ comfort in mind, including a scale recessed in the floor, cages with horizontal bars and a walk-in tub for grooming purposes.
It offers services for cats and dogs – but don’t expect to see the two mingling.
As part of the Fear Free mission, Loyal Companions has separate entrances for dogs and cats. The felines even get their own red carpet entrance – literally.
The building was constructed so that cats will never have to see, hear or smell a dog, Petsche said.
Instead of beginning their visit in a waiting room, Petsche said the animals immediately go into an exam room. Every exam room has an exterior window and is equipped with music designed to help calm dogs and cats, she said.
Other features in the exam rooms include exam ottomans for the dogs and shelving for cats to jump on, along with a cubby for them to hide in.
Loyal Companions is “like grandma’s house” because treats are used to distract animals during their visit, Petsche said, adding that the snacks help her perform certain procedures without pets noticing.
A comfort room also is available for people dealing with the loss of a pet. Petsche said she wanted to make that space as homey, peaceful and quiet as possible.
Because the work can be emotionally charged, Petsche said she was adamant that Loyal Companions also have an outdoor serenity garden for staff in addition to the indoor staff lounge.
For information, visit www.loyal-companions.com.