By Karen Billing
The new Torrey Pines Animal Hospital is now seeing furry, feathered and scaled clients at Carmel Valley’s Piazza Carmel Shopping Center. The clinic opened on May 21 and offers routine vet care, boarding, grooming, surgery, internal medicine and emergency coverage.
Three veterinarians with a wealth of experience between them, Dr. Jon Reuter, Dr. Andrew McClellan and Dr. Brad Steele, head up the hospital, offering “top-notch, quality care.”
McClellan, a Torrey Pines High graduate, is a familiar face to Carmel Valley. For the last 10 years he has worked at Pacific Petcare in Carmel Country Plaza, but leapt at the chance to start his own practice with a pair of vets and friends that all believe in the same style of veterinary medicine.
“A lot of clients have been able to find me which is fantastic and definitely is part of the reason to open up here and stay close by,” McClellan said.
At Torrey Pines Animal Hospital, the goal is to offer the community high-end medicine and diagnostics, the next level up in veterinary care. They said they offer reasonable options and experienced care with the most advanced, modern equipment.
“We’re advocates for doing what’s appropriate for the animal, that doesn’t necessarily mean the most expensive thing,” said Reuter, a Torrey Hills resident. “The quality of life of the animal is what’s important and we want to do what’s in the best interest of the owner and the animal.”
Good communication is key and Reuter said they really want to understand client needs.
“That’s his forte,” Reuter said of McClellan. “Establishing a relationship with the owner and the animal.”
All three vets are graduates of UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, although their time there overlapped and they didn’t meet until later. They were friends first, hiking and mountain biking buddies, and became business partners later.
McClellan said that from a young age he always wanted to work with animals, but wasn’t as sure by junior high school when he felt that pets were scared to be around veterinarians. But during his first year of college he started working at a vet hospital and he changed his mind.
“I started to think about it more in earnest and what I had to do to get there,” McClellan said. “I knew I wanted to work in the medical field and I always had a love and interest in animals. It was inevitable.”
Reuter grew up in Minnesota and was an active participant in 4-H. He also bred Yorkshire terriers and rabbits and showed them throughout the state.
He did his undergrad at UC Davis and stayed on for his veterinary studies, veering into lab animal medicine. He didn’t want to enter the practice vet field until the situation was right, where he could get into management and implement his own ideas.
“It took a long time to get here, a lot of thought went into it and circumstances aligned,” Reuter said.
Steele used to have his own practice in Vista and specializes in birds, reptiles, exotics and “pocket pets,” such as hamsters and Guinea pigs.
“Rather than compete with each other we decided to join forces and do it right,” said Reuter.
Reuter will split time between Torrey Pines and the Salk Institute where he serves as the senior director of the animal research program.
His experience with lab animals enables him to take care of rabbits, ferrets, and all exotics.
They hope as they develop a solid client base they can begin offering home health care where vets could do house calls. Both Reuter’s and Steele’s wives, Rani and Sophie respectively, are also veterinarians and may also fill in at Torrey Pines.
Their new space was formerly a single doctor vet practice for the last 20 years and since they have taken ownership, the hospital has undergone a major renovation and modernization. They have done a lot with a little space, giving up having a little more room by having such a great location and visibility in the community.
Right up front is a new “cat condo” area where cats get to relax away from the hustle and bustle of the back of the hospital. The condos can shift in size as needed and they can even create little jungle gyms for the more active guys, Reuter said.
In the back they have an in-home lab, pharmacy and diagnostics, treatment rooms, and surgical space with new, up-to-date equipment. A digital x-ray works like a digital camera, allowing them to adjust resolution and zoom without exposing staff and patients longer than needed.
“It’s much more efficient and easier to send files to specialists or to client records,” Reuter said.
Reuter and McClellan aim to have a green practice — everything in the hospital will be digital from records to diagnostic x-rays and lab work. It can all be uploaded to the patient file in real time.
While the single-doctor practice of the past had its limitations, Torrey Pines wants to be able to meet any need, from basic vet care to major surgeries.
“We’re trying to be a one-stop shop for everything,” Reuter said.
Torrey Pines Animal Hospital is located at 3890 Valley Centre Drive, #101, Carmel Valley, 92130, next to Royal Dance Academy in the Piazza Carmel Shopping Center. The hospital is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Walk-ins are welcome but appointments preferred. Call (858) 720-8724; www. torreypinesvets.com.