Arizona veterinary practice gives free core vaccines


Is Ventana Animal Hospital in Tucson, Ariz., setting a new trend by administering free core vaccinations to patients who come in for twice-yearly veterinary exams?

Ventana Animal Hospital in Tucson Ariz., has started a preventive care program with an attractive incentive: Bring pets in for their twice-yearly exams and receive your pet’s core vaccinations for free-for life.

Hospital administrator Liane Ehrich, CVT-who helped design the plan with the doctors and team-says she’s trying to reward pet owners who provide excellent healthcare and set the hospital apart in a crowded Tucson market.

To join the program, clients pay a one-time, nonrefundable enrollment fee of $29 per pet. Then, as long as the pet is seen every six months, which includes a 30-day grace period, pets receive core vaccinations for free, beginning after the initial round of puppy shots are completed, through the end of the pet’s life. Core vaccinations for dogs include coverage for rabies, canine distemper, adenovirus types 1 and 2, parvovirus and parainfluenza. Vaccinations for cats cover feline viral rhinotracheaitis, calicivirus, panleukopenia and Rabies.

If a pet misses an appointment, owners can pay the enrollment fee again to rejoin the program or pay for their vaccinations at the time of service. The exam fee for the twice-yearly visit and any other recommendations-such as heartworm preventives-are not covered and payment is due as normal at time of service.

Veterinarians at the hospital use these appointments to educate clients about preventive care and its importance at all stages of an animal’s life.

“We take a look at what has changed in the past six months, which could be nothing,” says Ventana associate Dr. Michele Estheimer. “But we explain that as pets age, symptoms can change very quickly and we’re dealing with a shorter time frame this way.”

In the month since the program has launched, Dr. Estheimer says client reaction to the program has been overwhelming: “Clients are very excited about it. We had kind of already set up that twice-a-year idea already, so this is just a bonus.”

Clients and non-clients alike have been calling the hospital to ask for more on the free-vaccination program, whose details team members have posted on the hospital’s Facebook page and blog and in a brochure given at the hospital.

The staff technicians are also behind the new plan, according to the conversation when patients come in. “We really believe in preventive care and we’re going to put our money where our mouth is,” Ehrich says.

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