News: Cincinnati at Night: Veterinary Clinic

Caring for pets around the clock

Jon Hughes/

Dr. Randy Gage pulls an all-nighter along with his cohorts at Emergency Veterinary Clinic of Cincinnati. The city's pets and their owners are grateful.

The clinic's windows burn bright long after the windows of other businesses nearby have darkened and closed for the night. Cars pull into the parking lot along Red Bank Road, unloading pets in distress. Dr. Randy Gage waits for them dressed in athletic shoes and a white lab coat.

There's a cat with facial swelling, another cat that refuses to eat, a dehydrated dog. Over time, there are canine victims of dog fights, felines of cat fights. Dogs struck by cars. There are patients with congestive heart failures and kidney failures. There are pets experiencing seizures.

Dr. Gage is one of four veterinarians who work at the clinic. One veterinarian works each shift with another on call.

"So if you're really busy and a patient has to go to surgery right away, there's somebody you can call to do the surgery," Dr. Gage says.

Welcome to ER. Emergency Veterinary Clinic of Cincinnati, one of perhaps just two area all-night veterinary clinics, is open 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. Monday to Thursday and 6 p.m. Friday straight through to 8 a.m. Monday. Typically, the vet and those who work at the clinic — three veterinary technicians and three veterinary assistants — will see 20 to 25 patients during an overnight shift of 14 hours.

"It's open 24-hours a day on weekends and holidays," Dr. Gage says. "When regular veterinarians are open, we're closed. When they're closed, we're open."

Weekends are busier than weekdays, and summer months are more intense than winter months.

Dr. Gage fixes a stethoscope to his ears and listens to the dog's heartbeat. He examines the X-rays of another dog struck by a car.

"This dog has an enlarged heart," he says. "But I'm not seeing any abnormalities of the chest or abdomen. I saw bones in its belly."

He runs his hands along another dog's coat looking for bite wounds. He works his hands around the hips of a Pomeranian.

"It's OK, it's OK," Dr. Gage says, then offers a diagnosis. "He has a dislocated hip."

It'll go on for most of the night, some nights busier than others. The clinic is there because pet trauma and medical maladies don't always occur during normal business hours. Indeed, Dr. Gage says, some illnesses occur more often at night.

"Patients that have either trauma or disease process going on, some would basically die by morning if they didn't have treatment," he says.

CINCINNATI AT NIGHT is a photography series organized by Jon C. Hughes during his sabbatical from the University of Cincinnati; the work likely will become a book project as well. Excerpts appear occasionally in CityBeat.

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