At the rate Gary Silverglat is going, his Angels Vet Expresscare clinic may one day become the Saint Jude’s of animal care.
That may seem like a stretch to compare Angels Vet in Savannah, in northern Missouri, to the famed children’s research hospital. But don’t tell that to Silverglat, who first opened the clinic to serve M’Shoogy’s Emergency Animal Rescue, a nonprofit he founded 30 years ago in Savannah.
His strategy with the Angels Vet nonprofit clinic is based on a high-volume, low-cost approach. Today the clinic treats 100,000 animals annually for much less than the fees that private veterinary practices charge.
No wonder pet lovers and other animal rescue operations beat a path to its door. The clinic has captured the attention of veterinary clinics around the country, eager to learn and duplicate Silverglat’s business model.
“The secret is volume, but the clinic was founded on the premise that no animal should fail to receive care services because the expense is too high,” Silverglat said. “I guess we’re like the Saint Jude’s of veterinary clinics by teaching and sharing our model.” It’s no surprise Angels Vet Expresscare has such a huge following. People love their pets, and veterinary care in the US is big business. According to the American Pet Products Association, Americans spent $15 billion on veterinary care in 2014.
The average price in the Midwest for the most basic veterinary procedure—spaying or neutering a pet cat or dog—is $20 to $45, depending on the species and the animal’s size, according to data cited by Silverglat. Something more serious, like the treatment of a heartworm infection, can cost $180 to $350.
At Angels Vet, the combined cost to spay a cat, vaccinate it for rabies and feline leukemia, and deworm the animal is $67. Major surgical procedures at the clinic can cost 10 percent of standard private practice settings, Silverglat said.
Kathy Turner, an animal control officer in Cameron, Missouri, is one of Silverglat’s biggest fans, thanks to affordable care she can obtain for the dogs she uses in the Missouri Department of Corrections’ Puppies for Parole program.
The program, made possible through partnerships with animal shelters and animal advocacy groups statewide, allows select offenders the opportunity to train rescue dogs. It’s a one-hour drive for Turner to Silverglat’s clinic to have the dogs treated.
“If it weren’t for Angels Vet Expresscare, we wouldn’t have a program,” she said. “In fact, we don’t have enough dogs in Cameron for the program, so we bring in dogs from around the state that would ordinarily be euthanized.”