WATSONTOWN - Like any small business owner, Dr. Ray Tritch has to work hard and be creative to keep his veterinary practice successfully operating.
The changing regulations of the industry and the ever constant demands of pet owners and their sick animals forever pose new challenges. And with people perhaps more attentive than ever to their pets, that makes his job no easier.
Not that he's complaining.
Dr. Jennifer Koehl and Dr. Ray Tritch check out one of their animal patients at Susquehanna Trail Animal Hospital.
Several thousand area pet owners annually seek the services of Susquehanna Trail Animal Hospital. It's a fairly heavy caseload of patients, and in the past year Tritch found it just might be a good idea to bring another veterinarian on board.
"We wanted to expand our services a little bit," he said.
Tritch, 65, concluded as well it might be "nice to share the workload."
For many years, he had been the only in-house veterinarian at his practice comprised of eight employees. He didn't have to look far to find the perfect person to complement him in his practice. In the past, Dr. Jennifer Koehl, 31, had worked for him during summer and winter breaks from college.
And in May, she joined his practice.
A graduate of the University of Scranton and the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, Philadelphia, Koehl is happy to join Tritch.
"I lived in Philadelphia after graduation for four years," Koehl explained. "I grew up in the Jersey Shore area. This is close to home."
Koehl, who is married with a young daughter, wanted to raise her child in a family-friendly, non-urban setting. She's following her career plan, having long had a passion for animals as well as medicine. And she likes the types of medicine she can provide for animals that need her services. On any given day, one pet might need emergency surgery, another dental work, yet another just a basic checkup.
She relishes being able to diagnose a problem and coming up with a solution.
Tritch and Koehl like working together.
"At the end of the day it provides better medicine for patients when you have collaborative effort," Koehl explained.
Koehl noted the pace at the practice is fairly heavy.
On many days, it's not uncommon to see a pet every 15 minutes. The practice restricts its patients to dogs and cats, although it formerly saw other animals and took on some of the sickest pets. But these days, Tritch is able to refer those animals elsewhere.
Tritch has long made his home downstairs below his practice. It's allowed him to be around for the animals, and for his children when he was a young father.
"I liked that I saw my kids off to the school," he said. "It did enhance family life quite a bit."
He even built a soccer field next to his practice. Tritch has seen some of the changes of veterinary medicine through the years. In addition to adhering to new regulations in the industry, he's seen the costs for medications skyrocket.
"It makes it tough for our clients," he said.
Overall, animals are receiving better health care than ever. Enhanced radiology allows for better treatments and diagnostics.
And these days, more information is being shared with other veterinary practices than ever before.