Photo by Ryan Bradford

VCA ANGEL ANIMAL HOSPITAL

VCA (3537 30th St.) recently performed surgery on my cat, Harvey. We didn't know if he had swallowed a plastic bag or not, and X-rays didn't confirm our suspicions. Dr. Ball at North Park's VCA branch recommended surgery. After being warned from another veterinarian that surgery of that sort could range between $3,000 and $5,000, my wife and I felt the world drop out from underneath us.

However, Dr. Ball offered to do the surgery for less than a thousand dollars. Perhaps it's because we were bawling in his office, but that sort of kindness and compassion is rare, especially when all aspects of healthcare—for both pets and humans—is astronomically expensive. Even though our concerns were for naught—our cat had not actually swallowed anything—the unequivocal concern for our pet's continued well-being set Dr. Ball apart from all other veterinarians. In fact, everyone who works in that office is on top of his or her game. When I call to make appointments now, the front desk receptionists are quick to remember Harvey, and seem genuinely interested about how he's doing. It's those little things that make VCA Angel Animal Hospital feel more like a community vet than a branch off a corporate mothership.

— Ryan Bradford

Photo by Seth Combs

BODHI ANIMAL HOSPITAL

When a corporation buys up all the little guys and mom-and-pops, they can pretty much charge and do whatever they want. I don't doubt the employees at VCA love animals. I just don't like the idea of my pet's care being dictated by corporate overlords who might push medications and unnecessary tests to keep profits up. There are plenty of Internet gripes to back up my skepticism. On the other hand, Bodhi Animal Hospital (2200 University Ave.) is a locally owned hospital in North Park that takes a more holistic, hospitable approach. Even its low-star reviews on Yelp still make it sound nice. On the inside, it resembles a welcoming spa with an impeccably clean lobby that doesn't feel stuffy (cat folks can appreciate that when a giant German Shepherd rolls in). When I just strolled in without an animal, the staff was friendly almost to the point of sounding cultish. I got the sense that they really liked their jobs and, while I was there, a customer inquired about some of the food they sell only to have the one of the employees tell them that the food they were currently on was fine. Imagine that. A vet that isn't trying to sell something your animal doesn't really need.

— Seth Combs

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