A hard-working staff, collaborative work environment and focus on customer service have paid dividends for Laketown Animal Hospital, which was voted best veterinary clinic in the 2022 Best of Springfield poll of Illinois Times readers.
"The vote is a really nice validation of what we do every day," said Dr. Bret Peterson, owner and veterinarian at the clinic at 1115 Adlai Stevenson Drive in Springfield. "I think we provide great-quality medicine and have a good reputation because of that. We've got a great support staff, too. Our staff is outstanding."
Laketown Animal Hospital has operated on the same corner on Springfield's south side since it first opened in 1962. It grew over the years under the ownership of Dr. Joseph Curry and later under the ownership of his son, Dr. Chris Curry.
Peterson purchased the practice from the younger Curry, now retired, in May 2018. Two other veterinarians practice at the clinic, which employs 37 people. Dr. Susan Fisherkeller has practiced there 42 years, and Dr. Aaron Felgenhauer joined more recently.
The clinic offers a wide range of services, from traditional examinations and urgent care to boarding and grooming.
Regular professional development for Laketown's veterinary technicians – also called nurses – means they can perform tasks such as blood draws, fluid administration and taking X-rays, freeing up veterinarians to focus on medical diagnoses and treatments and consult with other vets in the clinic, practice manager Jelena Peterson said.
Everyone on the staff – including the groomers and front-desk workers – is trained on good customer service and communication as the staff serves clients who may be going through stressful situations connected with the health of their beloved dogs and cats, she said.
"We invest in our staff," said Peterson, who is married to Bret Peterson. "People want a caring staff that loves their pets."
The number of pet owners seeking services has increased 30% since 2018 as word of mouth about the clinic has spread, said Bret Peterson, who has worked as a veterinarian for 16 years and previously was a high school science teacher in the Chicago area before changing careers.
The number of clients served by the clinic also rose during the COVID-19 pandemic as lockdowns and other restrictions resulted in more people staying home and looking for the companionship that pets can provide, the Petersons said.
"We're just really grateful for the clients we've had," Jelena Peterson said. "Our clientele is hard to beat."