Dr. Dean Newton, AnimERge
Answering the Call for Emergency and Specialty Vet Care
In the late 1980s, a group of veterinarians in central New Jersey gathered to solve a problem. Like other areas of the country, these local, daytime-only veterinary hospitals saw a need to more effectively deal with the emergencies of their animal patients after hours and on weekends and holidays. At the time, mainly only academic institutions offered emergency clinics, but the need for private instant care centers that operated outside of daytime, weekday hours was growing.
Dr. Dean Newton, a doctor of veterinary medicine, answered the call, becoming the medical director of AnimERge, in Raritan, which opened in 1989 with a small staff operating only when regular vet offices were closed. Newton brought a rich palette of animal experience to the company. The son of an ambulatory veterinarian, he often accompanied his father on visits to treat cows, horses, sheep and pigs, as well as smaller pets, in his small hometown in Iowa. The interest in animals stuck, and Newton attended the College of Veterinary Medicine at Iowa State University. After graduation, he built a vast repertoire, first working in general practice and then pursuing a residency in theriogenology, the study of animal reproduction and obstetrics, at Michigan State University. The latter prepared him to accept a position as the chief veterinarian at Lana Lobell Farms, in northern New Jersey, a large Standardbred horse nursery.
“Working with horses was always a passion of mine and that opportunity motivated me to come to New Jersey in 1981,” recalls Newton. "I decided to stay in New Jersey and return to practicing small animal medicine.”
Newton’s choice worked out well for the group of veterinarians needing afterhours and emergency care support. “The practices that found a need for our type of hospital became shareholders, and nearly 25 years later, they still are,” says registered veterinary technician Kimberlee Silva, the hospital manager for AnimERge.
“We work closely with the primary care veterinarians to support their practice,” explains Newton. “If we see any patient of theirs, we reach out as soon as they are available to make sure they’re in loop as far as what has happened and the direction of care.
Today, the hospital operates around the clock every day with 14 veterinarians and more than 30 technicians and support staff. In 2006, Newton spearheaded an ambitious expansion and remodeling project that transformed AnimERge into a 24/7 facility, adding practitioners of specialty services including cardiology, dermatology, internal medicine, oncology, ophthalmology, surgery and most recently, acupuncture and integrative medicine. AnimERge earned accreditation with the American Animal Hospital Association, an accomplishment that less than seven percent of veterinary centers can claim, in specialty and emergency medicine. Some AnimERge clients travel from as far as 50 miles to seek specialty care.
While emergency and critical care remain the primary purpose at AnimERge, Newton sees the ancillary services as the frontier, embracing new treatments and therapies including complementary medicine. “I see it growing,” he affirms. “It’s a matter of education to know when it’s appropriate. We believe that minimal intervention is the best and most natural. Sometimes you have to be aggressive, but if you can take care of something without drugs or powerful chemicals and if alternative techniques can provide similar results, then it’s to the advantage of the animal.”
Additional growth in the future, Newton says, depends largely upon the needs of area hospitals and clinics. “We would like to feature more emphasis on behavioral training and perhaps add a neurologist to better serve area hospitals,” he says. Behavioral issues, he notes, are often linked to lifestyle issues for animals left inside the home alone for extended periods. For the same reason, pet metabolic disorders, such as diabetes, are on the rise. Pets today typically live indoors with extremely limited outdoor time, reducing the amount of exercise and natural foraging behavior they can engage in.
The passion for animal care is far-reaching in Newton’s family. His wife, Dr. Karan Oberhansley, has a successful small animal practice in Whitehouse Station, and his son, one of four children, is his fourth year at veterinary college at the University of Florida, in Gainesville.
Location: 21 U.S. 206, Raritan. For more information, call 908-707-9077 or visit AnimERgeVets.com.