416 Johnny Mercer Blvd.
His wife, Debra, and children Helen, 21, and Joseph, 3
Two rescue dogs. An all-white Italian greyhound named Charlie and a brown-and-white pit bull named Daryl
“I grew up on Isle of Hope ... All my college was in Athens at the University of Georgia. I went to the University of Georgia Veterinary School and graduated in 1999.
After veterinary school, I thought I would do large animal medicine. I did at first in Wilkes County, Ga. I worked for two years in Wilkes County from 1999 to 2001. Even in Wilkes County we did small animal medicine as well.
Then I went to work for the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 2002 to 2006. I ran an equine quarantine facility at the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta. My other job for the U.S.D.A. was foreign animal disease diagnostician.
I would investigate potential animal disease. I would drive around the state ... I would respond if there was a question from a veterinarian about there being a potential animal disease. I would investigate that.
When I moved back to Savannah, I thought I would do dogs and cats ... I started working here for Dr. Max Cooper in 2006. Cooper started the practice in 1973. He’d been here forever. I became the owner Jan. 1, 2010. That’s when I signed away my life.
how is it different being the owner rather than working for a practice?
It’s 24 hours a day when you’re the owner. You’re never really off work. There’s always something to deal with or worry about — cases, employees, you’re never really free of it.
Thank goodness we have the emergency clinic (in Savannah). But I take special cases at night — animals that we’ve seen during the day and the case hasn’t resolved. If there’s a really sick animal and we don’t feel comfortable sending it to the emergency clinic. I do have a trailer right here that I sometimes sleep in — two or three times in the year.
what we do
Primarily, I’m a vet with all the responsibilities of a vet. I do preventive medicines — vaccines and what not, as well as diagnosing and treating small animal disease. The therapy can involve either medical therapy or surgical therapy.
is it harder to get into veterinary school than medical school?
It’s extremely difficult. There are between 20-30 veterinary schools in North America. There’s a tremendous amount of competition to get a spot. Whether it’s harder to get into than medical school? I’ve never tried to get into medical school.
Fifteen. Five receptionists at this time. Five technicians. Five veterinarians including my self. The others are Dr. Katie Black, Dr. Jennifer Donaldson, Dr. Mary Kelble and Dr. Jamie Baker.
why are there two bowls of dog food in your office?
The food on the floor is for my dogs. They come to work every day with me. That’s a perk of the job, being able to bring my dogs to work.
Dr. Donaldson brings her dog to work, too. She has a Corgi. He’s paralyzed in his back end. She has to express him (throughout the day.) He’s 12 years old. His name is Charlie. He’s a nice dog.
don’t you have a cat?
There are two office cats. They’re available for adoption. Oscar is just a white domestic shorthair. And Zero. I’m not sure what Zero is. He’s an orange tabby. He’s got a little cross-eyed like a Siamese. Both were kittens that for one reason or another, the owner decided he couldn’t keep, so we took them.
will you take any more office pets?
Absolutely not. We’re at our limit.
why are you successful?
I think we’ve been lucky. One, we have a very good location, I think. So this practice has been here for many years. I think since 1973 at the same location. Then, we’ve had good vets and good staff. That and a good location have been the recipe for a pretty successful practice.
best professional achievement?
I think the best thing we’ve done here — I feel like we’ve done a pretty good job of keeping good vets, good experienced vets. The best thing of the practice? Luckily we have good vets that want to come work for us. It’s huge. If we didn’t have good vets, we probably wouldn’t have satisfied clients. The business would suffer.
best personal achievement
I’ve got two really good kids and a good wife.
I’ll be doing this until retirement. Oh gosh, I’m sure it will be when I’m 65 or 70. Hopefully there will be someone (to whom) I can sell this practice. It’s getting to be a crowded field. There are a lot of veterinary practices downtown. There’s more and more competition every year.
tips for other businesses?
My only piece of advice is you’ve got to go to work every day. You’ve got to run the business because if you’re not there, I don’t feel like the business will be run the way it ought to be run. It’s just human nature. When the boss isn’t around, there’s not going to be enough work done.
things to avoid?
I would be quite hypocritical if I told you to avoid debt. But avoid running out of cash. Have a nice nest egg to draw from for emergencies.
why does the area work for you?
I like the people in Savannah. And you know they’re good people. All my clients down here take good care of their animals, which translates into better business for me.
why don’t you have a website?
I really don’t believe in much marketing, advertising, for this business. I feel like excessive marketing cheapens the profession. Not to sound naive about this business side of things, but there are certain professions (that shouldn’t advertise.) If you’re in this business to make money, you shouldn’t be in this business. I feel like because of excessive marketing and advertising, some professions are not as respectable as they once were, (for instance) law and medicine ... I think there should be a higher calling for medicine. At the University of Georgia Veterinary School, I had an ethics class. And they flat out said advertising was unethical for a veterinarian.