Big Changes for The BIG EASY Animal Hospital
If you live in Lawrenceville and own a cat or dog, it is likely you have heard of The BIG EASY Animal Hospital in Upper Lawrenceville. Through mainly word-of-mouth, this small practice has garnered an impressive following and reputation. After five successful years in business, the hospital will be moving and expanding to a new Lawrenceville location.
Dr. Aileen Ruiz opened the practice almost five years ago. She came to Pittsburgh after evacuating New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of the city she had come to call home. The BIG EASY Animal Hospital maintains a New Orleans inspired theme (hence the name) – Mardi Gras beads and masks decorate the walls.
I sat down with Becky Dietz, the Practice Manager, last week. She explained the history of the practice and spoke of Aileen with enormous admiration. Aileen’s goal in starting The BIG EASY Animal Hospital, Becky explains, was to create a veterinary practice that would live up to Aileen’s very high ethical standards. You won’t find your standard white doctor’s coats here, a standard that according to Becky, allows the patients to be more comfortable. “We’re like a family here,” Becky explains. In fact, Aileen’s mother and sister work in the hospital too.
The new practice will be on McCandless Avenue in Upper Lawrenceville. As I listened to Becky describe the plans for the new space, it quickly became clear that the main priority was to ensure the best and safest care for the animals. (It will, of course, be an added perk for doctors Sarah and Becky to no longer have to share their office with the kitchen). The goal is to help more animals and enhance the experience for owners and pets in every way. There will be a doggy day care, a doggy cafe, and separate dog and cat waiting rooms (apparently the current shared setup is stressful for the cats). For a practice that specializes in walk-ins, large waiting rooms are an important consideration. There will even be a separate “comfort room” for grieving families who have to say goodbye to their pets.
The hospital portion of the new McCandless location will be open in early April. The third doctor of the practice, Sarah Lavery, also owns The Pet Bakery of Oakmont and will be supplying freshly made pet treats for sale.“We’re a team,” Becky explains. And it’s clear this team cares a lot for the pets they help on a daily basis and for each other. We’re excited to see the new space and for all of the dogs and cats that will get to enjoy some healthy (and presumably delicious) homemade treats.