Webster Groves Animal Hospital: an Old Orchard landmark that does it all

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One wouldn’t have to look very far to see that Webster Grovians love their pets. The neighborhood, with its walkable business districts and open, green spaces, is a haven for those who proudly sport animal-loving bumper stickers on their SUVs and Priuses and brave the elements to give their four-legged friend their daily walk.  

Pets need care, too, and Webster Groves Animal Hospital is renowned in the neighborhood and beyond for its accessible urgent-care services for pets. 

Panda awaits his doctor at Webster Groves Animal Hospital, who will provide an exam, medication and lots of belly rubs. Photo by Alexandria Darmody.

The practice was founded in 1965 by Dr. Andrew Love in a tiny two-story building. The hospital’s current location in Old Orchard, highly visible from I-44, used to be the site of an old U.S. Post Office building that later became a bookstore. In 2003, the hospital took over the 16,000-square-foot property, establishing a one-stop veterinary clinic for family pets and other animals.

Hospital administrator Angel Venegoni says Webster Groves Animal Hospital offers so much more than an ordinary vet’s office. In addition to urgent animal care and annual wellness visits, the hospital is able to handle everything from diagnostic services to surgical care. It also has an internal medicine specialist on staff for treatment of animals with heart problems, cancer and other serious illnesses. While the facility no longer provides 24-hour service, trained staffers are available to come in and assist in any animal emergency when needed. 

Venegoni says staff veterinarians see an average of up to 100 pets a week by appointment and approximately 20 or so pets are emergency cases. She adds the COVID-19 pandemic saw a surge in business due to an increase in the number of people adopting pets during the lockdown.  

Working at the pet clinic requires a lot of skills, and among the most important for all staff is to be observant, according to Venegoni.  

“No matter if you’re a doctor or technician, it’s important to focus on the animal’s behavior because they can’t communicate,” Venegoni said. “Before approaching an animal, you must make sure they are comfortable with you and ensure whatever actions you take with them that they aren’t hurt or feeling attacked. Having a lot of compassion and patience can be a big part because not all animals are friendly and know you enough to stay calm.”

Often, it is also staffers’ job to look for signs of physical abuse or malnutrition in animals, according to Venegoni. Sometimes, it only takes awareness on the part of the owner to give their pets proper care; but there are times when the next step is reporting the problem to authorities, along with removing the pet from their owner and giving them treatment. 

For the most part, the majority of patients at the hospital are happy, well-cared-for members of the family, regardless of whether they have fur, feathers or scales. 

“The most common animals the hospital sees are dogs and cats, sometimes a small pocket pet such as a hamster or guinea pig,” she said. “We don’t typically see unusual pets a lot, but we had an experience with a wallaby who needed a wellness visit.”

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Kennedy Moore
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