Frequently Asked Questions

Thank you for putting your trust in the staff of Animal Emergency Center (AEC). Please know that AEC is fully staffed 24/7, which means we are always here to address your pet’s needs and that they are never alone. We will do everything we can to provide the best possible care during your pet’s stay. This also means providing open lines of communication about your pet’s progress and potential changes to their treatment plan.

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) you may have regarding your pet’s visit:

Q. "What do I need to do to have my pet seen, when can I do that and how much will it cost?"
AEC is always open 24/7. We do not take appointments for emergency cases, but we do request that you call to notify us that you are coming. We will prioritize the cases we see based on clinical severity, i.e. if there is a critical case, we will see that ahead of a stable case (even if that stable case has been waiting).

Our emergency examination and doctor consultation fee is $124. Any recommended diagnostics, treatments or medications are additional. We will review all your options so that you can make a fully informed decision about the care your pet receives.

We do charge a slightly higher fee for overnight and holiday hours ($132 after midnight until 6am, and $142 on New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas). We do this because we pay our employees extra wages at those times to enable year round coverage.

Payment is due at the time of service. We highly encourage use of a credit card over cash/check. If you pay with cash we are unable to make change and will instead mail you a check for any difference.

When you call the hospital we will ask you to describe what is happening with your pet and will ask questions so we can help advise you on next steps. If we are very busy and your pet is stable, we may recommend that you check back in a couple of hours rather than wait here while we see more severe cases. Otherwise we will ask for an expected arrival time and/or try to coordinate that with you. While we do not take appointments, we do try to manage the flow of incoming cases to minimize your wait.

If we determine that your pet needs to be seen immediately, we can prep for that or possibly direct you to a closer emergency hospital near you. If we direct you to come in, you will complete a patient information form at after you have arrived. Once you are physically onsite, we ask that you please call to notify us that you are here so can direct you to the lobby or an exam room or if necessary, to bring a team with a gurney to help bring your pet into the hospital. For some cases, we may provide special instructions to enter through an isolation entrance to protect other pets in the hospital.

Please keep in mind that as an emergency hospital, we could have a more severe or life and death situation appear at any time, or we could have that type of situation occur with an existing hospitalized patient, so we do ask for everyone's flexibility and patience (particularly during those critical situations).

Q. "Do you offer Payment Plans for customers?"

AEC utilizes CareCredit and ScratchPay as our Payment Plan Partners. You can apply online anytime before or during your visit to explore your financing options through either provider. They have a variety of payment plan options available (plans vary, but typically include some low or no interest plan options). Please choose the link that corresponds to your AEC location:

AEC Novi AEC Rochester
AEC Novi AEC Rochester
Q. "Can someone look at my pet and tell me if they need to be seen?"
Sometimes it is difficult for a pet owner to accurately describe what is going on with their pet. Your pet could be experiencing an emergency situation and you may not recognize it. Are their gums pale? Are they laterally recumbent? Are they drooling; lethargic; hyperactive; experiencing seizures, etc.

Our patient intake staff will ask you many questions to help make an initial assessment of your pet's condition and attempt to guide you, but we don't have the resources available to have anyone out in the parking lot attempting to look at or triage cases. You are always welcome to call with questions, but please understand that due to the current volume of cases our availability is limited and we may need to take a message or have someone call you back later.

In most situations if something has you worried, your instincts as a pet owner are probably very good and we will recommend that you bring your pet in to be seen. If there is a problem than you are in the right place to have your pet receive the care it needs, and if there isn't a problem than you will have the assurance of the doctor's examination and any recommendations they can offer.
Q. "I’m here now, what will happen next?"
If you have already completed your online check-in and called to notify us that you are here, than please continue to monitor your pet and alert us if there are any changes while you wait. You should have received a confirmation code after notifying us of your arrival, and you can use the link that accompanied your confirmation to monitor your position and see the overall number of patients currently being treated.

When a technician becomes available, they will call you and ask some additional questions about your pet's history and explain our process for bringing your pet into the hospital vestibule. Please do not bring any personal belongings (toys, blanket, etc.) in with your pet. We will have you take your leash with you when you leave the hospital vestibule. If your pet is in a carrier, we will provide a temporary pet carrier and ask that you transfer them into it and return with your carrier to your vehicle.

Once your pet is in our treatment area the technician will take their vital signs. If your pet is stable they may need to wait for a doctor to become available; the technician will monitor your pet. Once a doctor is ready they will perform a physical examination and then contact you by phone to discuss their findings and identify recommended diagnostics or treatments before proceeding.
Q. "Why is this taking so long?"
Unfortunately, wait times and delays are caused by a huge increase in case volume for emergency hospitals. This is a nationwide phenomenon created by the pandemic lockdown, which caused many day practice veterinarians to initially close or limit incoming cases.

Today many regular veterinarians are open, but they may have reduced hours, reduced staff or backlogged appointment availability. Cases they would normally see are instead coming to emergency hospitals like ours. Also, even if someone can see their regular veterinarian, if there is a complicated procedure then many veterinarians are simply sending those cases out to emergency hospitals rather than try to do them in-house.

Our staff has been working with all hands on deck 24/7 since the pandemic began. Sometimes we have been short handed when staff members have been unavailable due to self-quarantine, but overall we have been adding doctors and technicians at both of our hospital locations and are typically staffed on a daily basis with the same resource level we normally would have only used for a busy holiday (when all regular veterinarians are closed).

We are truly sorry that you have to wait, but we don't have any control over the number of cases coming to see us, and we are doing all we can to help those in need. While some emergency hospitals have just closed their doors when it gets too busy, AEC has remained open. We believe that we need to be here and be open for that critical case that may have no other place to go.
Q. "I completed the check-in, how come I'm not in your online queue?"
You can complete the check-in at any time, however, you will not enter our digital patient queue until you have physically arrived in our parking lot and called to notify us that you are here. Once we have spoken with you and confirmed arrival, you will be texted a personal confirmation code, and that is when you will enter the patient queue. The queue allows you to view the number of current cases at our hospital, and your confirmation code shows your approximate position in the queue.

Checking in early does not change your position because you aren't entered in the queue until we have confirmed you are here. A benefit of checking in early is that we will see that you are coming (which helps us plan internally) and also, since your information is already entered you can be placed in the queue immediately after you arrive vs. someone that arrives but then still has to fill out the online form and check-in.

Keep in mind that priority is first determined by case severity. If there is a life threatening case or an urgent, time sensitive case, we will see those patients as quickly as possibly. If your pet is stable and already here waiting, we will see the life threatening or urgent case ahead of you, even though you have been waiting longer. We know this can be very frustrating, but we are all part of a community of pet lovers, and we can help each other by being patient.
Q. "Why did that person go in ahead of me?"
We appreciate how valuable everyone's time is, and we do all we can to see patients in a logical and understandable order, but there are several scenarios where someone may appear to have "gone ahead of you" - and there are also times when someone must go ahead of you due to the condition of their pet.

Please consider the following:

a) In addition to AEC's 24/7 emergency service, there are also a few specialists that work at our hospital location on certain days of the week. Veterinary Cardiology Consultants, Veterinary Vision of Rochester and Animal Behavior Consultants all see cases by appointment, so it is quite possible that you may have observed a patient going into the building to be seen by a specialist rather than for an emergency visit.

b) Some seniors or other individuals either do not have a smart phone with internet access or are otherwise unable to complete an online form. Those cases will not appear in our digital queue, so it is possible that you observed someone coming in for an emergency visit after completing an "old school" paper check-in form or after providing their information over the phone.

c) You may have seen an "urgent" or "critical" emergency case being brought in ahead of other stable patients. As noted on your check-in acknowledgement, and as shown on our 'Current Cases' queue page, we will sequence patients based on the severity of their clinical signs.

e.g. We would likely see a vomiting and dehydrated dog ahead of a dog with a broken toenail - but if all patients are stable than we will see cases in order of arrival. When we have an "urgent" case (a case that is unstable or whose condition would worsen if left untreated) or a "critical" case (a case that is life threatening if left untreated) than we will bring those cases in ahead of other stable patients (even though you have been waiting longer).

We hope everyone can understand that if their pet was the one that needed immediate care, than they would be the one being treated first (but hopefully you don't find your pet in that situation).
Q. "Why did that person get to go inside the building?"
Although our hospital lobby and restrooms are currently closed to the public, we do allow limited access into the hospital when we are seeing a euthanasia patient. We will allow 1 or 2 family members into the hospital. Family members are screened for symptoms of COVID-19 and escorted to a dedicated examination room to be present and say goodbye to their pet. This is the only time we currently allow clients into the hospital.
Q. "Why are some technicians coming out to vehicles and I have to bring my pet to the vestibule?"
AEC shares our facility with 3 other specialists (Veterinary Cardiology Consultants, Veterinary Vision of Rochester and Animal Behavior Consultants). While AEC is always open 24/7 and we have clients bring their pet into our vestibule to do a patient transfer, these specialty groups see patients exclusively by appointment, and often have their technicians do a "curbside" approach to bring a patient into the building. In an emergency situation, an injured or ill pet may be more reluctant to transfer to a technician curbside, so we use the vestibule approach rather than the parking lot to safeguard against a pet that may be frightened or looking to escape. For a severely injured or immobile patient, you may also see AEC staff come out to a vehicle with a gurney to help an injured patient or owner with their pet.
Q. When will I hear from the doctor while my pet is hospitalized?"
The doctor will call you at least twice daily to provide you an update on your pet’s current condition, communicate any proposed changes to the treatment plan, coordinate potential visitation times (when we aren't under COVID-19 restrictions), and coordinate a discharge time when your pet is ready to go home. Our doctors will normally try to call you between 6am - 8am and 4pm - 6pm. However, depending on the number of patients hospitalized and the nature of their care, these times are approximate (doctors will call as soon as they are able).

A technician or other staff member will communicate with you to report results of diagnostic testing, call after the completion of any surgical procedure, or if there are any significant changes to your pet’s overall condition.
Q. "Can I call to get additional updates?"
Our number one goal is to provide the very best patient care. You may call for brief updates as our staff does answer the phone 24/7. However, the doctor or your technician may not be available to speak with you at the time of your call based on the number of patients or any critical cases they are attending to. Remember, we will call if there are any changes we feel you need to be made aware of.

Please limit the number of family members that call for updates. We need to focus our attention on your pet and the other patients in our care. We request that you designate one family representative to communicate with our staff.
Q. "Can I visit my pet during their stay?"
During the current COVID situation, visitation within the hospital is not allowed.
Q. "Where will my pet go to the bathroom?"
The doctor will develop a personalized treatment plan for your pet, which includes providing opportunities for our patients to relieve themselves. Each animal in our care has their vitals taken at least every four hours. Cats are provided a litterbox at all times. Dogs are leash walked outside by a staff member every four hours, and anytime they may indicate the need to relieve themselves.
Q. "My pet requires a special diet, do you have it here?"
Nutrition is extremely important in the recovery of all our patients. AEC has a small variety of foods to offer our patients. If your pet has any special dietary requirements (allergies or sensitivities) or has specific preferences, please inform our staff to make sure we can accommodate your pet’s needs.

Depending on the specific treatment plan for your pet, we may ask you to bring in a small supply of your pet’s regular diet. Note that AEC will not feed a RAW diet while your pet is in our care as it can pose safety concerns to our other patients and staff.
Q. "When can I take my pet home?"
AEC will discharge a pet when we are confident they can be released and will do well on their own and/or with follow-up by your regular veterinarian. The treatment plan that you approve includes the anticipated length of a hospitalized stay for treatment. Each pet is a unique individual and therefore their response to a treatment plan can be equally unique. With regular communication, you will be kept aware of your pet’s current condition and of any proposed changes to the treatment plan, including length of your pet’s stay. When your pet is ready to be discharged from the hospital, you will be notified and a discharge time will be arranged that is convenient for you.
Q. "Do I have to wear a mask?"
Yes. A properly fitted face covering is required whenever their will be any interaction with a staff member. So, whether you are entering the vestibule to bring your pet into the hospital, entering the facility in the case of a euthanasia or picking up your pet when it is being discharged we require that you are wearing a mask. If you cannot wear a mask over your nose and mouth, you may use a combination of a shield and a mask over just your mouth.
Q. "Can I leave and come back?"
We understand that with the long wait times it can be very difficult to just sit in the parking lot. One of the reasons we created our confirmation code and digital queue system is to help give pet owners a way to see how much longer until their pet is close to being seen (and to see how busy we are overall).

Therefore, if your pet is in stable condition and you want to take a short break and get some food or use a restroom, that is fine, but please keep an eye on the caseload queue. If you do leave it would be helpful to send us a quick text message just to let us know you are leaving and when you have returned.

If your pet is nearing the top 1 to 3 spots of the queue than you may be called in soon, so please return to the parking lot so you are here when the technician calls you. If you aren't physically onsite when we call, we will take the next available case. However, you will remain the next case to be seen when you do get back.

If your pet has been brought into the hospital, whether you stay nearby or decide to leave, please keep your phone line open and ringer on to receive communications from the doctor or other staff.
Q. "Can I use your bathroom?"
Unfortunately, our hospital lobby and bathrooms are closed to the public. They are closed because they cannot accommodate proper social distancing, particularly with the high volume of cases we are seeing following the initial pandemic lockdowns.

Instead, clients are able to use a public restroom available at most neighboring eatery's and/or gas stations.

Alternately, clients do have the use of a Porta Potty in the parking lot area. The Rochester hospital location has a Porta Potty available in the upper parking lot (up the steps to the lot where the Rochester farmers market is normally held). The Novi hospital location Porta Potty is located in the parking lot near the back of the building, just past the brick/fenced in dog walk area.

For the time being, for the safety of both our clients and employees the entire hospital is maintained as a "safe zone" with screened entry for essential workers and no general public access. Even when we allow someone into our hospital for a pet euthanasia, they are only allowed use of an examination room and are prohibited from using the restroom.
Q. "Who can I speak with if I have concerns about my AEC experience?"
Communication is so important! Please let the attending doctor or a staff member know if you are unhappy or disappointed with any aspect of your visit. Alternately, please give me an opportunity to listen to your concern. I am Dr. Heather Robertson, the owner of Animal Emergency Center. I will take your feedback to heart, and gladly listen to you share your experience at AEC. I want every customer that comes here to feel they were treated like family, and for your pet to receive the very best patient care possible.

You can leave a voice message with me directly anytime at 248-654-5130, or call 248-348-1788 during daytime hours and let the receptionist know you would like to leave me a message. Please allow me 1-2 days to respond (in case I am working a shift / overnight as a doctor at the time you leave your message). Please also let me know a preferred time to reach you.

These are trying times, but Animal Emergency Center is a "Healing Environment" and we do expect everyone to treat each other with kindness and respect. We have a zero tolerance policy for any type of aggression directed towards anyone, under any circumstance. Any use of abusive language, verbal or sexual harassment, threats of harm or physical assault, or destruction of property may result in removal from the premises and/or prosecution.

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