A new clinic for pets; Willow Pet Hospital opening next month
Published 11:03 am Monday, April 18, 2016
Austin is about to welcome another veterinary clinic.
Drs. Mike and Sara Sasse will open Willow Pet Hospital at 504 12th Ave. NW around May 2 and should begin accepting appointments in late April. Mike said dogs and cats today are really like family, and they’re excited to help bring a high level of care to Austin.
“People treat them like family members and we want to provide the care for them as if they’re family members,” Mike said. “We take things really seriously as far as trying to get the diagnosis right.”
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After working at Banfield Pet Hospital in Rochester, Mike worked at Austin Vet Clinic for about six months and has since been doing relief work where he fills in for veterinarians when they’re sick or on maternity leave, which has taken him around the region, to the Twin Cities, and to Wisconsin and Iowa.
Mike and Sara have had a vision of working together for quite a while, and Mike remembered Austin.
“When I was here, I was impressed with this town,” he said.
When Mike worked at Austin Vet Clinic, he said he felt there was a need for another veterinarian based on Austin’s roughly 25,000 population.
The Sasses currently live in Kenyon but could eventually move to Austin.
Mike is also no stranger to running a business. He worked for an engineering firm in the Twin Cities before he ran his own home building and remodeling business. But then he hurt his back and had back surgery and then the housing bubble burst.
Mike decided to go back to school to become a veterinarian. He and Sara met while they were in school at the University of Minnesota. The Sasses graduated from veterinary medical school in 2013. Sara previously worked as a veterinary technician in the Two Harbors area for 13 years.
Mike said he’s more interested in the business side, and he also said he’s good at surgery.
Having been a technician for 13 years, Mike said Sara is very strong with her medicine skills and has a lot of experience.
Plus, Mike said he’s more of an extrovert while his wife is an introvert, which will make them a good team.
Mike is originally from the Twin Cities and his wife is from the North Shore area.
For many years, vets served like a Jack-of-all-trades, but Mike said there’s been an explosion in knowledge and technology that have made for more vets honing their skills to specialize on a specific area.
For the Sasses, that means they’re targeting small, household pets.
“We’re focused solely on small animals,” Mike said. “Cats and dogs are kind of our mainstay.”
The Sasses are investing in equipment and technology to serve the community with a modern practice, and they’ll have things like digital X-rays. Often when they do X-rays, they’re making serious, potentially costly decisions, like asking if surgery is necessary.
“We are really committed to practicing really high quality medicine,” Mike said. “We’re making some big investments financially into equipment and technology.”
That makes the quality of the X-ray extremely important, and Mike can email and share the digital X-rays to specialists for a second opinion.
“I think that’s another valuable thing,” he said.
They also have ultrasound equipment and can even do echocardiograms, which they can also share with specialists.
Mike and Sara are also interested in veterinary dentistry, which Mike said has evolved a lot over the last 10 to 20 years. A dog for example, largely lives through its mouth, so many dogs can lose their teeth in their old age.
“We’re trying to come up with some affordable solutions to taking care of their mouth throughout their life, and we’ve invested in a digital dental X-rays too,” Mike said.
Digital dental X-rays will help them identify diseases that may form beneath the gum line that aren’t easily spotted. They’ll also have a modern lab to run blood work to help get quicker results.
Mike also said modern technology and modern vet specialists can help out with complicated cases.
Plus, Mike said they’ll be cautious with using anesthesia on pets and noted they treat their surgeries much like surgeons would with humans as to not cause infections.
He’s also run into people who’ve had pets die under anesthesia, but he noted many such accidents are preventable, and he said they already plan to have someone monitoring the animal during surgery.
Mike also said they’ll try to promote some unique ways for customers to save on the big costs through some creative payment options.
The Sasses plan to start accepting appointments around April 25. Willow Pet Hospital can be reached at 507-396-8601 or people can visit www.willowpethospital.com.