I distinctly remember asking the representative from Luna’s then rescue, who was doing my home evaluation as part of my adoption application, for recommendations on veterinary hospitals. We were sitting at my dining room table in my very first apartment after college and neither of us had a scrap of paper accessible, so he wrote about 3 or 4 names down along with some recommendations for heart worm preventatives and flea & tick care on a napkin.
Luna was going to be my very first dog that I was solely responsible for. I’d had pets in the past, but this time I couldn’t depend on my parents to do the yucky or boring stuff. I had to step up to the plate and “adult” (as us millennials like to say), starting with finding a quality, safe, and reputable veterinarian to help keep my future dog healthy. I felt like I was in a bit over my head with all the decisions I had to make before I even brought her home, so a recommendation from someone older, wiser, and working in animal rescue for years meant a lot.
I looked at my napkin list of veterinary practices and one just happened to be right around the corner – walkable even – from where I currently lived. Convenient and recommended? Sign me up! I called them and set up an appointment, but it still felt a bit like a shot in the dark. Who was that rescue guy after all? But it was a start. I told myself I could always find a different veterinarian if this didn’t work out. Oh how I wished that 2012 me knew about veterinary hospital accreditation because finding an accredited hospital would have made me feel more comfortable and confident with my choice.
I am a BlogPaws® Conference Sponsored Blogger on behalf of the American Animal Hospital Association®. I am being compensated to help share information about the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) with my readers and fellow influencers, but Beagles & Bargains only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Neither AAHA or BlogPaws are responsible for the content of this article.
Why I Chose an AAHA Accredited Veterinary Hospital
Flash forward about 6 months to my first BlogPaws Conference. I now had a dog AND a dog blog. It just so happened that the 2013 conference took place less than 30 minutes from home, so I took the plunge and went. Everything at the conference seemed extremely overwhelming. (What can I say? I don’t get out much.) There was a whole world of passionate people who wanted to write and share about pets and a whole lot of pet products that I had never heard of or seen before. I wandered the exhibit hall, networked, and attending sessions all while trying to avoid letting people catch on that I was actually a socially awkward, nervous wreck. I think it mostly worked.
Throughout all of this, one of the most memorable moments was when I stumbled upon AAHA or the American Animal Hospital Association®. It was one of those pivotal life moments like in third grade when I figured out that Nevada was actually a state and Las Vegas wasn’t part of California. MIND BLOWN! Of course, veterinary offices should be held to some kind of standards to ensure safety and quality of care. Then and still today, AAHA is the only organization to accredit companion animal veterinary hospitals in the US and Canada.
When I got home, I immediately had to know if Luna’s vet was AAHA accredited. My decision based on a recommendation and proximity worked out. Clocktower Animal Hospital was in fact accredited! I wasn’t surprised because the quality of care we always received was outstanding, but it was nice to know that I had lucked out when making my first big decision related to Luna’s health.
Knowing that Luna’s veterinary hospital was accredited boosted my confidence as a pet parent and showed me that the hospital was committed to meeting or exceeding standards in veterinary care. I knew my dog was in the right place. And, that’s why we stayed with Clocktower until summer 2017 when we moved from Virginia to Colorado.
After moving, I just knew I had to turn to AAHA again to help find a new veterinarian for my now two dogs, Ralph & Luna. I started by asking some local friends and neighbors for recommendations. Two different nearby practices stood out. To pick between them, I first checked to see if one or both had received AAHA accreditation. It turned out that only one of them had and after reading a few more reviews that sealed the deal.
Before I knew it I was on the phone scheduling Ralph & Luna’s new patient appointment at Aspen Arbor Animal Hospital. The entire process was much quicker, more painless, and more reassuring than when I had done it 5 years earlier thanks to a bit of experience and AAHA.
Though it has only been about 6 months, I can say that I’ve been very happy with the service we’ve received at Aspen Arbor. The pups have both been in for routine checkups while poor little Ralph has had a tooth extraction and quick “what is this bump” appointment. The doctors and staff are knowledgeable and always treat us with respect and kindness. Plus, they didn’t judge us too hard when we brought Ralph in for a skin tag that literally fell off the very next day!
After 5+ years and searching for two long term veterinary hospitals, I can say without a doubt that I’m thankful for AAHA’s accreditation and search tools to help me find vet office that strives to exceed standards in veterinary care.
Wondering if your pet’s veterinary hospital is AAHA accredited? You can check using their accredited hospital locator! This tool is also amazingly helpful when you move or have to find a new vet for other reasons.
Did you know that nearly 60% of pet owners think their pet’s veterinary hospital is accredited when it’s not? Only about 15% of animal hospitals across the US and Canada are actually accredited because unlike human hospitals, not all animal hospitals are required to be so! To me that number is truly shocking.
The American Animal Hospital Association® (AAHA) is the only organization that issues these accreditations by evaluating animal hospitals in over 900 standards across 18 categories. Example of what’s evaluated include pet health records, cleanliness, emergency services, dental care, and surgery. 50 standards are mandatory for accreditation while the remaining standards have “points” assigned to them. An additional established number of points must be earned across the 18 categories to uphold accreditation. Veterinary hospitals are evaluated on their adherence to the AAHA Standards of Accreditation every three years.
If you’d like to learn more about the AAHA Standards of Accreditation, you can download AAHA’s “I am a Champion for Excellent Care” PDF, here.
AAHA cares about your pet’s safety. AAHA accredited veterinary hospitals must offer emergency services or at least provide a clear referral to an appropriate emergency practice that is open 24/7. These hospitals much also maintain clean and contamination free surgical suites.
On top of setting standards for veterinary care, AAHA also works with industry experts to develop guidelines or best practices for veterinary teams. Although they are not mandatory, these tools can help veterinary care professionals and pet parents communicate more effectively and achieve the best possible experience. An example of these guidelines can be found here.
AAHA Is Sending Me to BlogPaws!
Who doesn’t love surprises? I’m so thrilled to be able to announce that AAHA is sponsoring a large majority of my trip to the 2018 BlogPaws Conference in Kansas City! As I mentioned above, BlogPaws has been such a major influence in both my work to be an animal advocate and building my blogging empire (just kidding, we’re not there yet). BlogPaws also connected me with AAHA back in 2013, so it is just perfect that it has come full circle just in time for the organizations 10th conference!
This year money has been a bit tight with a cross county move as I’m continuing to build my web development and blogging businesses. Even though Kansas City is only an 8 hour drive, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to swing going this year. Thankfully AAHA made that possible!
We’ll be kicking off our journey to BlogPaws in 1 week, so keep an eye out on our social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – if you aren’t already following us there, now’s your chance!) for Ralph & Luna hitting the open road. We’ll also be sharing more information about AAHA. Is there a question you have about AAHA? Share it in the comments below!
If you’ll be at the conference, please stop by and say hi. I promise not to be too socially awkward and I might even have some fun swag! I say “might” because I’m not even sure yet. Regardless, it would be great to see you!
Do you take your pets to an AAHA accredited veterinary hospital?
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