We had it all wrong. In 2001, Leslie and I opened Advanced Animal Care of Mount Pleasant. The very name was chosen to emphasize that our practice was progressive, on the technological forefront of our field. We wanted to be the practice that was doing the newest and best veterinary medicine; we wanted to be the brightest doctors and have the coolest toys. Who wouldn’t want that for their pet and in our area, there certainly are many who understand the value of that kind of service and they can afford it. Who wouldn’t say that trying to be the best in your field is an admirable and good way to practice medicine? Let’s be the best we can be!
We failed to see our folly. For many years that approach benefited us in developing a good reputation within the veterinary and pet owning community. We grew, we prospered and we did provide good medicine in a time when access to specialty care was limited. This was a time when veterinarians had to be “everything” for our clients. We had to provide general medicine, internal medicine, dermatology, radiology, surgery, neurology, oncology, etc. and so on. When the standard of care has a low bar, it is not hard to stand out and be special.
Out of necessity, we provided that care and did a good job. The problem is that just about anyone can be the best for a while, but eventually someone or something will come knock you off the top of the hill. That can be a pretty hard fall. As our practice grew and the demand of our time, resources and expertise grew, our ability to continue to deliver all that we promised, to ourselves, our clients and more importantly to our patients, began to falter. As we continued to find ways to finance the necessary investment in equipment and education to remain on the top of the heap, we also struggled with our ability to manage the demand of our time and ability to remain educated to the level required in the multitude of fields of medicine in order to be an “advanced” veterinary practice.
Additionally, the world of veterinary medicine has changed dramatically in the last 15 years. We have quite literally seen pets move from the backyard and into the bed! The relationship our clients have with their pets has changed from one of property, utility and social status to a close personal relationship, in practically the blink of an eye. As the relationship changed, so did the demand for services and care. The expense of care has become less of a concern and the demand for more specialized and better medicine has grown, resulting in the multitude of specialty private practices we have today. The playing field shifted and the level of standard care went right along with it. We no longer were the best or the brightest when it came to medical technology, knowledge or skill.
So, what we have learned through our years of experience in the veterinary medical care world is that people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. We had it all wrong, because we had our purpose in all the wrong places. We have come to realize that the medicine and all its amazing technology, knowledge and service that it can provide to extend life and to alleviate pain is not our purpose, but rather it is a means to our purpose. No matter how hard we try, no matter how much we really care, there will always be someone else, some other practice that can do it better or have the better cool tool. If we try to “compete”, we will always fall short and compromise our true mission.
Leslie and I believe that when we took our veterinary oath, it was not a promise that we would make our patients better or that we would do every thing in our power to have our patients live longer. No. We took an oath that we will do everything we can with the gifts and talents that we have to alleviate pain and suffering of animals to the best of our abilities. The medicine we provide and its outcome is not our goal or responsibility, but rather it is a means for us to fulfill our oath. We have dedicated our lives and our family’s livelihood to this objective and everything we do balances upon that foundation. There are so many great veterinarians that provide excellent care to their patients in our area. We are also blessed to have many board certified specialists providing the additional and specialized medical and surgical care needed. As much as we desire to be the best in everything we do, it is impossible to compete with that. The folly comes when you fail to see that and continue to try to be something you are not.
What we didn’t get wrong is our desire to be the best. The desire to provide the best veterinary medicine we can and to be advanced and progressive in our thinking and delivery of that care is still what we do, but it is no longer our mission. Our mission is to be a positive influence in the lives of as many animals as we can and to do everything we can to enhance and support the relationship of animals and people. We will do this in our practice by emphasizing preventative and wellness care, behavioral clinical medicine and its impact on the human-animal relationship, and education of our clients and our community. We will accomplish this in our community by serving those who are less fortunate than us. We continue to support numerous organizations such as Grateful Golden Rescue, Pet Helpers, and Charleston Animal Society along with the numerous other individual and private animal welfare advocates. In addition, we are happy to announce the development of our own organization, East Cooper Pet Relief, dedicated to providing veterinary care and support to those in our community who are unable to provide that needed care due to financial, physical and transportation barriers.
On the surface, from the outside, nothing has changed. We still are Advanced Animal Care of Mount Pleasant, located at the North end of Mount Pleasant. We still are the same doctors and support staff since 2001 that you have gotten to know, coming in every day with the goal of doing the very best we can for our clients and our patients. But, it’s the inside, our heart, that is so different and that makes all the difference. We are the practice that gets to know you and your family and are here to simply help people to care for their companions from adoption to hospice and to give the support people need to make their life and their companion’s life the most fulfilled and complete life possible.
We look forward to getting to know you!
David & Leslie Steele