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San Clemente Journal

Talking to the Animals

Aug 30, 2006 09:32PM ● By Don Kindred
by Maggie Zeibak

“Look over here.” “Take a deep breath.” There is no response, just two mournful eyes and a gently wagging tail from a four-legged patient, who hasn’t the faintest idea what this human in a white coat is saying. 
Communicating with animals isn’t an easy job especially when there is sickness involved, so how does the detective-veterinarian complete a diagnosis when the patient doesn’t have the power of speech? This is all in a challenging day’s work for John Agostini DVM, owner of the San Clemente Veterinary Hospital, who has been here in town since 1991. Persuaded by his wife, Jennifer, a San Clemente native, they moved from Northern California to Southern California to raise their four children. Seems that the surf may have held an added attraction.
Interestingly, when the opportunity presented itself to purchase the veterinary practice, John initially said no. He was Director of the Emergency Hospital in Orange County and didn’t see the need for a change, however, once he started thinking about the possibilities of forging long-term relationships, the venture started to become a reality and he’s never looked back. In fact, he looks forward. 
Jennifer and  John Agostini owners of San Clemente Veterinary Hospital.“There are 18 of us on staff and we like to create an element of trust with our clients,” Agostini remarked. “We want this to be a good place to bring your pet so that you can get answers quickly and a diagnosis that lets you know what to do. Our growing facilities provide for surgeries to be performed on the premises covering Orthopedic, Cancer, complete Dental Care and the all-important Spaying and Neutering.”
Offering services to mostly “fur-bearing” animals, the busy hospital has exciting plans for an expansion due to the steady growth of the city. The low-cost vaccination clinic held every Saturday morning is increasingly popular, and it is a place where the veterinarians can determine which shots are really necessary for your pet. Although you may be at your wits end worrying about your Cocker Spaniel’s skin condition or your Dachshund’s ear infection, they have lifestyle solutions along with medicines, and nutritional counseling for special diets.
During the summer months, the generous-sized kennels quickly fill up with boarders while their owners take a vacation. “Book ahead of time,” Agostini advises, “especially when there are Holidays involved. Leave Scrumpy and Flynn where they can be cared for professionally. Taking a dog into unfamiliar territory isn’t always a good idea and letting him off the leash can lead to trouble. Even here on the local trails, expect the unexpected. Rattlesnakes can be basking peacefully in the sun until an inquisitive dog rouses it and then you have a major problem on your hands. The same advice applies to avoiding dog and cat fights in the neighborhood – keep them on a leash.”
After a nasty spat between pets, Dr.John not only cleans and tends the wounds but also has a special weapon in his arsenal. He was selected to complete a Fellowship at UC Davis (only three doctors a year are selected) gaining skills and knowledge in Abdominal Ultrasound that he has been able to pass on to his associates. Ultrasound and Radiology help him make his diagnosis and these can also be important tools when there are complications with an expected litter.
Continuing to make his point about pet safety, he says, “Coyotes are alive and well fed in our area. Try to keep your cat indoors as they tend to get a false sense of security after being around these predators, who come in from the canyons and stalk their prey very patiently. Small dogs are also vulnerable so don’t let them roam free, we often hear of dogs disappearing never to be seen again. One happy owner reported that after repeatedly calling the Animal Shelter, her Sheltie turned up after 6 weeks. Who knows where he’d been, but that was the exception, not the rule.”
We all love our pets in very special ways. They are an integral part of the family and often become privileged members – yes, we know who sleeps on the bed even after all the protestations that a dog should sleep outside in the yard. Amazingly, we tolerate that loud purring in our ears in the wee small hours of the morning; Kitty wants us to get up and watch her eat, the brat. Very few inconveniences would make us trade off our domestic pets, and that is why we take good care of them, taking them in for excellent medical care when needed. We rely on our veterinarians to find out what is wrong with our furry friends and gentle, caring people like Dr. Agostini are leaders in our pack. b
The hospital can be contacted at 492-5777.