Arun Vet Group, which already has branches in Westergate, Storrington, Worthing and Pulborough, expanded into Chichester in September, filling a 'real niche' as the only 24-hour emergency animal hospital in the city.
Claire Bounds, clinical director at the Chichester hospital, said the first few months since opening have been 'nicely busy'.
"It’s quite a big ordeal to open a hospital and get functioning straight away from day one."
"We were very lucky to get two weeks of staff training before we even opened which meant that we could hit the ground running and see patients immediately."
The hospital provides 'seamless' 24-hour care and deals with anything from routine vaccination appointments to emergency road traffic accidents.
Being an independent practice means the team at Arun Vets have greater control over the service they provide and can ensure that they always offer a 'high-level of care'.
Claire said: "Because we’re independent we have complete clinical flexibility.
"We’re not tied to particular brands or particular protocols, we can develop our own protocols based on what we think is the best thing to do medically speaking.
"The patients get what’s right for them. What’s right for one dog might not be right for the next dog with that condition.
"It’s also nice for the staff to work somewhere where you can do things the way you think they should be done and you’re not restricted by protocols set by people sat in boardrooms.
"It’s vets making decisions about which protocols we want to put in place as a practice."
Something the group is 'quite keen on' is what it calls the 'fear-free approach'. The team at Arun Vet Group have thought of everything to ensure the vet experience is as positive as it can be — for both pets and owners — from offering animals treats when they enter consultation rooms to creating a comfortable atmosphere in the building.
The building is decorated with photos of staff and clients' pets, there is a separate waiting area for cats and 'small furries' to avoid heightened anxiety from being around dogs, and owners are even offered a coffee when they enter the building.
"Everybody is worried when their animal is unwell and if we can start the process of getting them better in a relaxed environment then I think everybody will be happier.
"It doesn’t have to be a daunting experience for animal or owner."
Any feline patients staying overnight benefit from their own ward in a quiet area of the building, with dimmable lighting and speakers playing classical music, which has been proven to be relaxing for cats. There are also cameras in these areas so staff members can check on the animals throughout the night without disturbing them, letting them rest and 'focus on getting better'.
Claire said: "It’s not just that it looks nice, we have got fantastic equipment facilities as well."
As an emergency hospital 'there are some things you can't wait for', and the branch has its own lab on site for rapid testing.
"We’ve got quite a good range of blood analysers and urine analysers that we can do quite advanced testing on to make sure that if something comes in, and it needs an answer straight away, we can get that answer quite quickly."
Claire said the staff at Arun Vet Group are 'all just soppy animal people' and what is most important to the team is the relationship with their patients and owners.
"As a group we really strive for continuity.
"So you build up a relationship with a vet who you come back and see every time, so that you know them, they know your pet, and it really helps to build a long-term relationship where you’re both working towards doing what’s right for that particular pet."
"If one of our patients gets ill in the middle of the night, our clients are coming to their usual practice.
"Their clinical records are already on the system, someone will be able to pull their records up and know what’s happened with them before."
She added: "We provide a very high-level of care and we’re able to be flexible in terms of what care we provide for different people and animals, and just make sure that what we’re doing is the gold-standard for the animal, and for the owner as well."
The Chichester branch is currently awaiting dual RCVS accreditation which its Storrington sister branch recently achieved.
For more information, or to register with Arun Vet Group, visit its website.