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Executive Profile: Georgia Bottoms

  • Georgia Bottoms, physical therapist and the owner of Fetch Canine Rehab, with Bella. (Steve Bisson/Savannah Morning News)
  • Georgia Bottoms, physical therapist and the owner of Fetch Canine Rehab, with Bella. (Steve Bisson/Savannah Morning News)
  • Bella performs on the hydrotherapy treadmill at Fetch Canine Rehab. (Steve Bisson/Savannah Morning News)

Georgia Bottoms

Physical therapist, owner and practitioner of Fetch Canine Rehab

Address: 335 Stephenson Ave., Savannah, GA 31405

family

Wife Lauren Bottoms.

pets

We have three dogs. They’re our kids. Ripken—like the baseball player. He’s a chocolate lab. Gabe is a Maltese mix. He was a rescue. He comes to work everyday. He absolutely loves it. He comes to the back door in the morning to make sure I don’t leave him. It’s really cute. There’s Ritz, a German shorthair pointer. She’s a rescue dog. She’s gorgeous. I don’t know why anyone would give her up. She likes to come to work with Gabe. They make sure things are running correctly.

what we do

We have an underwater treadmill. We have e-stim, electric stimulation. We have a class 4 laser — a high-powered laser that can reach the cellular level. It’s used for dogs with arthritis, degenerative disease process, post-surgical dogs, We have game ready — ice and compression. It’s used on horses and in the human world. It’s used on post-surgical dogs. We do extracorporeal shockwave therapy. It’s used to treat injuries. We use that on post-surgical dogs, dogs with fractures, dogs with arthritis. (Also, she does wound care.)

years in business

One year. We started June 13, 2016.

background

It’s my dream. I used to work for a veterinary surgeon, Paul Shealy, as his physical therapist. I wanted to provide therapy for all dogs…I bought the physical therapy part of his practice. It’s very gratifying. I spent my life savings on this—to make the dogs better, so they can walk again, improve their quality of life.

I’m a physical therapist. I went to Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, Virginia. I graduated in 2001. I came down here to work at Memorial…I still do on weekends. I’ve been working for Memorial for 15 years.

how she discovered canine physical therapy

My dog Ripken got injured. He tore one of the ligaments in his knee in 2004. He had a physical therapist. I came to see what she did and I was hooked. I worked for Dr. Shealy from 2007 to-2010. I continued to talk to him over time, trying to buy the physical therapy part of his practice.

employees

Two full-time and myself. Three part-timers.

why are you successful?

Because I care. I think owners see that I want to make their dog better. And if I can’t, I tell them I can’t. I’m here seven days a week working on dogs. If a dog has a back injury and he’s not walking, I’ll come in (on a weekend) and do a session on him.

(Also) because physical therapy works. People understand physical therapy is for humans. Dogs have the same diseases as humans, the same injuries. I think they should be offered the same opportunity as humans. They have pain. They have swelling, paralysis…Dogs deserve physical therapy. Dogs deserve the same opportunity to have the same quality of life.

I work with older dogs and owners say I extended their dogs life…I make sure I text owners every day or every other day to tell how the dog is doing. I send videos and photographs. I put videos and pictures on Facebook and Instagram.

is the physical therapy expensive?

I charge $50 a session—between 15 minutes to an hour. I’ve researched other businesses around the country and it seems like I’m very reasonable. I’m the only (canine) physical therapist in this area. There’s one in Atlanta.

do you ever work on cats?

I’ve done two cats for wound care and two post-surgical. They’re not really fond of physical therapy. One was paralyzed and I made it walk again. I’m not opposed to doing cats. I’d rather do dogs.

favorite quote

I always use my mom’s quote. “Good sense and good nature are never separated.”

best professional achievement

When I get a dog that can’t walk through back injuries or a stroke and I get him to walk again. And the look on the owner’s face; they’re so appreciative. That’s the greatest gift. There’s (a dog named) Forest. with a herniated disc. He couldn’t have surgery because of certain underlying causes and he couldn’t walk. He was brought in for physical therapy. After three sessions, he was walking. That’s what makes it so gratifying. And the owners, they’re so grateful. What they say is ‘You gave our dog back to us.”

personal achievement

Marrying Lauren. Through her, anything is possible. She gives me the confidence to be able to reach my dreams.

future plans

I want to be able to have multiple Fetch clinics. In Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina. Probably in a couple of years. We need to make this one financially independent before we decide to reach out.

tips for other business operators

I would say consult with the Small Business Development Center. They made us do a business plan, project how much you would make the first year. You need to make projections. And (learn) how to grow Fetch. Like if you want to go in with other people or start this (yourself). You look at the pros and cons of that.

(Also) having a good team around you is very helpful.

And don’t be afraid to fail. Be humble. You’re going to make mistakes. It’s learning from them. Moving forward is what’s going to make you a better business.

things to avoid

Getting complacent. Thinking that you’re successful and not working as hard. I do everything my employees do. Clean kennels. Pick up poop. Anything that they do.

Another thing to avoid

If other people knock you down, don’t believe them. Stay strong. Have thick skin.

do you worry about growing too fast?

I won’t let that happen.

Difference between physical therapy and rehabilitation: Some clinics say they’re doing physical therapy when they’re doing rehab. You can’t say you’re doing physical therapy if you don’t have a physical therapist (on staff)…Physical therapy is a protected term and can only be used if you’re a physical therapist.

why does Savannah work for you and your business?

This is my home. I love the people here. I love where I live and my parents love to visit. It’s close to the beach. Close to the mountains. And it is very dog-friendly.

People (here) understand the importance of (canine) physical therapy. It’s growing—the awareness of getting physical therapy for your dog.

how do you promote your business?

I market to all the veterinary clinics in the area. And it’s word of mouth from dog owners. Word of mouth is our greatest asset, when other dog owners tell their friends. Also we are sponsoring the Halloween pet contest on WTOC.

mission statement

To provide skilled intervention for all dogs to improve their overall quality of life. I had to write that a lot in the business plan.

contact

To contact Fetch, call (912) 662-7616

Email fetchcaninerehab@gmail.com

Web site: www.fetchcaninerehab.com

On Facebook and Instagram.

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