SOMERS, N.Y. – Less expensive technology and the advent of tele-medicine have made it possible for mom and pop-type veterinarians to stay afloat in an increasingly corporate environment, said Dr. Andrew Frishman, owner of Progressive Animal Hospital in Somers.
In March, the Chappaqua native opened a second office in White Plains. The building was later bought by a corporation, which Frishman said told him to take a buyout or take a hike.
“We got out,” Frishman, a Mount Kisco resident, said.
Corporations that buy out independent clinics take over the management responsibilities, which some consider a benefit. It also allows struggling clinic owners to continue to serve their community.
Like other independent veterinarians, Frishman said he is looking to band together with others like him to pool resources and compete at a higher level. The Veterinary Cooperative, based in Chicago, launched in 2012 and has nearly 200 members across the country and has set a goal of hitting 5,000 members.
By pooling and leveraging their resources they hope to compete with corporate veterinary hospitals like VCA, which has 600 locations nationally, and three in Westchester: County Animal Clinic in Yonkers; Village Animal Hospital in Larchmont; and Katonah Bedford Veterinary Center in Bedford Hills.
While Frishman remains independent, he said he is still able to offer some advanced testing at lower costs.
“With technology nowadays there’s so many more things that general practitioners can do that, 10 years ago, were outside of our reach,” Frishman said. “Some of this equipment was too expensive. Some of the things were just relegated to just a couple of specialists or a few facilities.”
Progressive Animal Hospital recently acquired an ultrasounds machine that also performs echocardiograms, which is a picture of the heart that is more detailed than an X-ray. This allows Frishman to look at blood flow and organs – particularly the heart – and detect problems.
“I want to do a great job and practice good quality medicine and offer these things on a reasonable budget for people,” he said.
Lisa Bonanno, of the SPCA of Westchester, said pet owners can quickly rack up thousands of dollars in bills before they know it, which forces some to give up their companion.
“At Progressive they’ve been really good at trying to do a little lower cost than other vets in the area, and just working with people, which is really helpful to us at the shelter,” she said. “Most people are willing to do what they have to do for their animal, if you’re willing to work with them.”
Often people take their pets straight to specialty or emergency clinics for advanced testing. Frishman said pet owners should first check with their local vet to see what they can do, which he said could save them in the end.
With his new machine, Frishman said he can now take an ultrasound and send it to a board-certified specialist for review, who then returns the results within 24 hours.
“This means a faster diagnosis for our patients,” Frishman’s wife, Deborah, said.