Macons only overnight veterinary emergency care clinic has closed -- at least temporarily -- and people are being directed to a similar facility in Fayette County.
Animal Emergency Care, which has been in business 22 years, was forced to close its Mercer University Drive clinic at least temporarily after two veterinarians resigned in December due to cash flow problems at the business, said Holly Spires, who manages the business.
Weve had to close our doors because its hard to find vets, she said. Were trying to get the word out to save the clinic. Its been there for 22 years, and for me, its heartbreaking.
Spires said the clinics employees, including herself, havent been paid because business was slow the past three months. The clinic was closed during the day but open every night of the week, so it didnt have the steady stream of business other veterinary practices have.
It was a lot of long hours, and business got really slow, she said.
In addition, Spires said, the clinic did a lot of free work and had some clients skip out on paying their bills.
With the hospital closing, Spires is referring people who need emergency care for their animals to the Southern Crest Animal Hospital in Fayetteville -- more than 60 miles away -- because none of the other practices in Macon or Warner Robins offer 24-hour care to the general public.
Christi Fryery, office manager of Banfield Pet Hospital on Billy Williamson Parkway, said her clinic has seen about a 20 percent increase in emergency cases because Banfield is the only veterinary clinic open on weekends, and is open later on weeknights than most private practices.
(Animal Emergency Cares closing) definitely has had an impact on us, she said. Were the only ones open on weekends. ... Unfortunately, theres no one else in Macon or Warner Robins who does it.
There are some vets in Macon who will see their own clients after hours in an emergency situation. Jeff Davis, a vet with Plantation Centre Animal Hospital on Peake Road, said his practice will treat his clients after hours, but not all Middle Georgia practices do.
Thats the first thing a pet owner should ask, to see if their vet will see them in an after-hours emergency, Davis said. But Ive found that people who go to after-hours clinics dont take their pets to a vet regularly.
Davis said some local vets are trying to organize a coalition to provide emergency care to the general public should Animal Emergency Care not reopen.
Theres a group trying to form within the clinics for after-hours care, he said. There are five clinics working up an arrangement.
Spires said she is still determined to hire a vet and reopen the clinic. Im hopeful, she said. Im not giving up.