It was a gloomy Thursday morning when Jaxson, a sweet-spirited goldendoodle, pulled into the Channel 4 News parking lot to appear on a special segment for “Lowcountry Live”. Followed closely by handler Cathy Bennett, Jaxson jaunted into the station wearing a bright yellow rain jacket, and for a brief moment, it didn’t seem as dark and gloomy out as before.
Jaxson, along with a host of other certified therapy dogs, is a part of the MUSC Animal Therapy Program. This special program gives patients a caring companion to pet and interact with while staying in the hospital. Bennett said Jaxson does “a lot of occupational therapy and physical therapy with stroke patients, as well as patients battling Parkinson’s.”
Studies have shown that exposure to therapy animals can lower pain levels, blood pressure and cholesterol. Their presence also helps greatly with fighting off feelings of loneliness. Jaxson was visiting “Lowcountry Live” to help spread awareness about the program and to educate people on just how beneficial their services are, something Bennett is extremely passionate about.
According to his handler, “It is something that you have to actually witness and experience to be able to understand the impact.”
Jaxson wasn’t alone in sharing the benefits that animals have in helping their bipedal partners. Three other dogs also visited the “Lowcountry Live” set. Among them was Mr. Frisco, who, along with his human, real estate agent Tony Tonelis, helps buyers find pet-friendly properties. When moving to the Charleston area in 2017, Tonelis found that Mr. Frisco’s needs were a huge factor in determining where to live. That experience led him to his desire to help others find the perfect home to accommodate both themselves and their four-legged family members.
“Seventy percent of families have at least one pet,” Tonelis said.
When asked about what the biggest request home buyers with pets have, he remarked, “Fences. The obvious is a fenced yard. But also close proximity to vets and parks.”
Speaking of vets, Dr. Steele with Advanced Animal Care also joined Pet Day to discuss his work with Somerby’s in North Mount Pleasant—specifically on helping older community members take care of their pets. It’s sometimes difficult for senior citizens to take their furry loved ones to a vet to receive proper care, so Dr. Steele has made it a priority to go visit them instead.
Another thing to consider when parenting a fur baby are those unexpected vet bills. Grayson Schirmer Jones of Schirmer Insurance Group and her dog, Miss Millie, were also on hand to talk about an often-overlooked aspect of pet ownership: pet insurance. They stressed that emergencies come up, and it’s always a good idea to be prepared. Pet insurance can help cover the costs of sudden vet bills, medicine and flea and tick treatments.
With all the love a pet can bring, you might be looking right now to add an extra member to your family. Kay Hyman with the Charleston Animal Society brought Lil’ Girl to the “Lowcountry Live” couch to discuss adopting and fostering pets. Lil’ Girl is one of an overabundance of dogs looking to be adopted from the Charleston Animal Society. Said Hyman, “We take 90% of animals in Charleston County, so you can imagine how full we get there.”
Even though volunteers take care of the animals and take them out of their kennels and crates, Hyman stressed, “There’s nothing like being in somebody’s home. We want to make sure there’s a perfect match.”
Whether you are looking for a compassionate friend to help you get through trying times, a new furry family member to love or even a new place where your pet feels at home, the Mount Pleasant area is bursting with ways to help. If you missed Pet Day, never fear. Just visit us on the web, at MountPleasantPets.com, for a large resource of pet-friendly advice. This community loves all its members, and we love those with whiskers and wet noses just as much.
The Animal Medical Center of Mount Pleasant and Best Friends Boarding have been serving Charleston since 1995. They currently have seven veterinarians on staff and employ over 30 highly-skilled pet care providers. They pride themselves on providing extraordinary medical care and superior customer service. Their dedicated service has elevated veterinary care in the area and given pet owners access to the best care for their beloved pets.
Dr. Steven Epstein was born and raised in Mount Pleasant. He was a teenager when he accepted his first position at the Animal Medical Center, which he now owns. Dr. Epstein started as a veterinary technician’s assistant, worked his way up to kennel technician, became a certified veterinary technician, then a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and is now the proud owner of the practice where he got his start. “This hospital is home for me and is my pride and joy,” he beamed.
Their newest vet, Dr. Tess Lawhon, grew up on the Isle of Palms and also started at the Animal Medical Center as a technician’s assistant. Like Dr. Epstein, Dr. Lawhon went on to become a certified veterinary technician and is now a veterinarian at the practice. The opportunity to work together with Dr. Epstein once again is the culmination of grueling studies, hard work and unwavering dedication to the veterinary field.
The Animal Medical Center offers personalized care and the most innovative diagnostic and treatment tools available, including CT, digital radiology, ultrasound, echocardiograms, radioactive iodine therapy, laser therapy, laser surgery and in-house lab work for same-day results. They also maintain relationships with internal medicine, orthopedic and radiology specialists to provide the most complete medical care available.
Recognizing that despite their extraordinary care, standards pets don’t always enjoy visiting the veterinarian, the Animal Medical Care Center is a Fear Free® veterinary practice. To achieve Fear Free accreditation, members of the team undergo rigorous training and testing. They develop a wide range of skills that reduce the stress levels of dogs and cats during veterinary visits. They practice positive-based handling techniques, learn ways to alleviate fear and anxiety during examinations and treatments and master techniques that create an overall more pleasant experience for pets, no matter their age, health, or comfort level. Because fear and anxiety can jeopardize patient care, Fear Free practices see improved outcomes for their patients and their veterinary team alike, which creates an atmosphere of compassion and collaboration that even pet parents can feel.
Voted 2022 Best Veterinarian in Mount Pleasant, the Animal Medical Center believes that companion animals are family. They strive to provide a quality of medicine that is second to none. By staying on top of the latest in veterinary medicine, they ensure the best possible result during every visit. They understand that pets enrich their family’s lives and are dedicated to enriching the lives of pets by offering them the most advanced, exceptional, and dedicated care.
To learn more, visit amcmp.com or call 843-881-5858.
The Charleston Cat Groomer
Best Cat Groomer
Best Local Pet Website
Whitney Bullock, Owner
What is it like working with the Mount Pleasant community? Working in the Mount Pleasant community is great. I’ve gotten to know so many people and their cats over the years. I can always find a connection with someone, whether it’s that our kids go to school together or we like the same coffee shop. The shopping center where we are located is a wonderful, tight-knit community, and we all help each other out.
How did your business get started? I started as a receptionist at a cat-specific veterinarian in Mount Pleasant and moved up from there, eventually helping with surgeries, vet appointments, grooming and more. I learned so much, but the most important thing was how to handle cats. If you don’t know how to read a cat, it can be pretty impossible to groom them.
What is the most rewarding part of your business? The most rewarding part of my business is educating people. So many people think that cats groom themselves, and the cats suffer. Solving problems like matting, shedding, dandruff, poopy butts, ingrown nails and hairballs makes life easier for you and your cat.
What are some challenges that you’ve overcome? There’s one major challenge that I overcome pretty much every day, and that is — yes, your cat does need a bath. People have been conditioned to believe that cats hate water, and it simply isn’t true. All you have to do is scroll my Instagram or TikTok feed, and you’ll see happily wet cats!
Crescent Care Veterinary Clinic Nominating Category: Best Veterinarian Dr. Jeffrey Leeman, DVM, Owner
What is it like working with the Mount Pleasant community? I have found the community surrounding Crescent Care Veterinary Clinic to be a wonderful and caring group of people. Every year at Christmas, we have a giving tree to sponsor a local shelter — and we always have an outpouring of giving to assist the community shelters. Our community of clients and neighbors are always very generous.
How did your business get started? I have always dreamed of owning my own clinic. I worked in a corporate veterinary hospital for the first part of my career, and that was the absolute driving factor to start Crescent Care Veterinary Clinic. I wanted to treat patients collaboratively with their owners by tailoring their treatment plans instead of following corporate guidelines.
What is your most popular service? Our most popular services are things relating to preventive medicine. We do a lot of routine veterinary care such as annual assessments, spays, neuters and dentals. Routine preventive medicine is a key part to any pet’s health.
What is the most rewarding part of your business? I find the bond that I witness between our clients and their beloved pets so satisfying and rewarding. I have personally experienced the incredible relationship and companionship that animals can add to your life. Being able to treat and care for clients’ pets is very fulfilling.