The hospital recently switched to a 24/7/365 kinda schedule.
The waiting room smells of freshly brewed coffee, the couch looks warm and inviting, and the walls are painted a bright, happy blue — everything is seemingly structured to help you forget where you really are, even if just for a moment.
Stress and panic are typical once you enter the doors of the Animal Emergency Hospital Volusia. Hospital Administrator Neil MacGinnis has seen everything he's never wanted to see; including a pit bull who was stabbed eight times, each attack only missing his vital organs by a millimeter or two.
"It's an emergency hospital," he said. "You never know what's coming through that door."
For the past nine years, the hospital has only been operating during hours of critical need: week nights, weekends, holidays and any other time veterinary clinics are typically closed. But on Feb. 12, they opened at 5 p.m. with plans of never closing again.
MacGinnis says he constantly has people knocking on the doors and blowing up the phones during weekdays; many of them without a primary veterinarian to turn to. He spends most of his time trying to connect patients with the right type of help, so it only makes sense to make the help available in their own facility.
But just to be clear, the hospital's goal with this new 24/7/365 availability isn't to steal patients from surrounding veterinary clinics. They just want to stabilize the animal, treat it and refer it back to its vet. The hospital also doesn't handle daytime clinic services like spaying or neutering, and their walk-in only policy helps to make them more accessible during an emergency.
"It's almost like you get better care for your pet here then you yourself would at an actual hospital," MacGinnis chuckled. "Just because it's all here. Whatever your pet, your Fluffy, needs can be done right here."
The dedicated staff you hopefully never have to meet
Swinging open the doors labelled as "employees only," it's obvious that this is a place where furry lives are saved. The hospital's ICU, one of the largest in the region for animals, is a temporary home for the critically injured, and a permanent space for a few of the staffs' pets.
Tater, a talkative macaw, flew into one of the doctors' offices one evening and never left. He got his named after his favorite snack, tater tots. He flies around the ICU during operating hours, and MacGinnis' cat, Dexter, can be found sneaking around the premises and spying on the current guests.
With now four full-time doctors on staff, the hospital's "apartment" — an actual living space on the second floor — will be in full-use for those with back-to-back shifts or long drives home.
Eventually, the emergency hospital hopes to add some board-certified ophthalmologists, cardiologists and dermatologists to the team in order to provide even better care to their patients.
"No one comes through this door with a smile," MacGinnis said. "But we hope they can leave with one."