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Burns Court Veterinary Care in Downtown Sarasota Delivers Cutting-Edge Services in a Compassionate, Fear-Free® Environment
By Candace T. Botha Photos by Jim Fullwood, Paws for Pet Sake Photography
We are pleased to share with you an article that has been written about our Sarasota veterinary center by Suncoast Pet Magazine. This publication has recognized our efforts and chosen to highlight our work in their esteemed publication. We are honored to have received this recognition and would like to express our gratitude to Suncoast Pet Magazine for providing us with this opportunity to showcase our mission and achievements. We encourage you to read the article and learn more about our vet clinic’s dedication to the well-being of pets in the community.
"We are Here to Help Pets Live Their Best Lives."
It’s a simple—yet powerful—statement that is the cornerstone of the quality of care that is offered at downtown Sarasota's newest veterinary clinic, Burns Court Veterinary Care, and also the call to action made by the practice's owner and founder, Josie Hamilton, DVM.
Located on the corner of South Orange Avenue at 1530 Dolphin Street, Burns Court Veterinary Care is the realization of Dr. Hamilton's long-held vision to establish a practice that integrates "expertise, gentle care and a genuine love of animals to deliver exceptional veterinary services."
The underlying mission at Burns Court Veterinary Care is equally straightforward. In Dr. Hamilton's own words, that mission is "to deliver top-tier veterinary care with expertise, technology and a compassionate approach, fostering lasting client and patient relationships."
In fulfilling that mission, Dr. Hamilton fully embraces the Fear Free® movement that was founded in 2016 by "America's Veterinarian," Dr. Marty Becker. This movement has become the benchmark for excellence in veterinary care, offering a set of "gentle and calming" practices and protocols created to ensure that each and every interaction during veterinary visits is as comfortable and stress-free as possible.
Adopting Fear Free® practices, however, was just one part of the equation for Dr. Hamilton, who wanted every aspect of her veterinary practice including the design —to embody a safe, anxiety-free environment for the animals in her care.
After two long years of searching for the right property, as well as defining the intricate details of the development and construction of the clinic, Dr. Hamilton officially opened the doors to Burns Court Veterinary Care in March 2023.
The veterinary practice is currently staffed by Dr. Hamilton, Donna, the practice manager, and Heather, a veterinary nurse/technician. However, Dr. Hamilton specifically designed the layout of her veterinary practice to accommodate additional staff.
For Dr. Hamilton, Burns Court Veterinary Care is more than just an "animal clinic" or an "animal hospital." Instead, she chooses to call her practice an "animal health center" that is committed to addressing each patient's health and happiness.
As a full-service general practice, Burns Court Veterinary Care offers a complete spectrum of services, including:
- Preventative Wellness Care
- Sick Patient Visits
- Chronic Disease
- In-House Lab Work
- Dental Care
- Vaccinations and Titers
- Digital Dental Radiography
- Screening Diagnostics
- Most Soft-Tissue Surgeries
- Spay/Neuter Procedures
- Surgical Laser Surgery
- Cold Therapeutic Laser Therapy
- Behavior Consultations
- Euthanasia Services (In-home)
- Digital Radiography (X-rays)and in-clinic)
Catering exclusively to the health and wellness needs of dogs and cats, the Burns Court Veterinary Care medical team practices integrative medicine, which incorporates treatments from both Eastern and Western (or conventional) medicine.
It is Dr. Hamilton's innate belief that blending the practices of conventional medicine with the ancient and highly respected applications of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine gives her patients the best possible outcomes.
Photo, above: The veterinary team at Burns Court Veterinary Care includes, from left to right, Josie Hamilton, DVM; Donna, the practice manager with her pup, Odin; and Heather, a veterinary nurse/ technician
Photo, at left: The reception area/waiting area at Burns Court Veterinary Care is warm and inviting, with original artwork on the walls and an assortment of foods, candles, treats and chew sticks available for purchase
Photo, below: The reception area at Burns Court Veterinary Center, where clients and patients are greeted warmly by Donna, the practice manager
Based in her study of small animal veterinary acupuncture at the Chi Institute in Reddick, Florida, Dr. Hamilton is well versed in many Eastern treatments and protocols. She notes, "One theory of medicine is not better than the other; it is more about having additional 'tools in the toolbox' so I have more options to better tailor a treatment plan to the needs of a specific pet."
While the exceptional quality of care offered at Burns Court Veterinary Care is first and foremost, the ambiance of the practice's environment is equally impressive.
Upon entering the front door, clients will discover that the reception area is both inviting and comforting. Shades of teal, pale blue and an earthy green color accent the walls here and throughout the building. Natural sunlight pours in from the clinic's plentiful windows, and rustic wood plank flooring complements the contemporary décor.
Measuring 2,350 square feet, the practice includes three exam rooms for dogs, a fourth exam room that is exclusively for cats and a "comfort" room that is designated for acupuncture treatments and euthanasia procedures, when needed.
To make the clinic feel more like home, original paintings of dogs, cats, floral arrangements and landscapes created by local artists bring a pop of color and a welcome sense of relaxing comfort to every room.
Most impressive is the clinic's sizable and fully equipped treatment room, complete with exam tables, an extensive pharmacy of canine and feline medications and a lab station, where critical diagnostic tests are performed.
The treatment room is central to other key areas in the veterinary clinic, including an X-ray/ultrasound room, a surgical suite and two separate kennel areas for dogs and cats that are a comfortable distance apart for the animals' maximum comfort.
For Dr. Hamilton, the completion and day-to-day operation of Burns Court Veterinary Care is a vision realized for the Sarasota veterinarian who once considered pursuing a career in human medicine but chose instead to work with animals.
Born in Huntsville, Alabama, Dr. Hamilton has been an animal lover since she was a young girl. She was raised in a family with several dogs as her faithful companions.
After graduating from high school, she began her college studies at Smith College in Massachusetts before transferring to the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Even during her years at the university, the young student had dogs and cats to keep her company when she lived off campus.
After earning a bachelor's degree with a major in psychology and minors in biology and chemistry at the Birmingham-based university, Dr. Hamilton admits that she was at a crossroads in choosing her future career field.
"Initially, I considered pursuing Neuroscience and studio art, but I am not a big fan of research, and I didn't want to become a starving artist," she says with a laugh.
Dr. Hamilton also considered applying to either medical school or nursing school to continue her education but, instead, applied to veterinary school because she realized how much more she would enjoy working with animals and their families.
Dr. Hamilton attended Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine in Auburn, Alabama, where she received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree.
After earning her degree, Dr. Hamilton completed a one-year rotating internship in surgery and medicine at Coral Springs Animal Hospital in Florida.
Prior to opening Burns Court Veterinary Care, Dr. Hamilton practiced veterinary medicine at Southgate Animal Hospital in Sarasota for two years. She then transferred to DeSoto Animal Clinic in Bradenton where she also worked for two years.
It was at Southgate Animal Hospital that Dr. Hamilton first met Donna, who was a receptionist at the clinic.
"I have known Donna for more than five years," Dr. Hamilton says. "When I would speculate about one day opening my own clinic, she agreed to come aboard as my practice manager."
Before setting out to open her own veterinary practice, Dr. Hamilton's original thought was to invest in an existing veterinary clinic and partner with its owners.
Photo, above: Heather, Burns Court Veterinary Care's veterinary nurse/technician weighs in a new patient in the animal health center's reception area/waiting room
Photo at right: The treatment room at Burns Court Veterinary Center is an expansive space that is the hub of activity at the animal health center. Here, there are computer stations and a lab station, examination tables, dog kennels, and an extensive pharmacy of medications
Photo, below: The lab "station" at Burns Court Veterinary Care, where state-of-the-art equipment is implemented to analyze blood and tissue samples and make diagnoses
However, she says, she was unable to find a clinic on Florida's Suncoast that aligned with everything she personally envisioned in the practice of veterinary medicine.
That vision focused on providing a Fear-Free® environment that exclusively delivers low-stress handling of all patients.
"My philosophy emanates from my belief that veterinary medicine is very much like pediatrics," Dr. Hamilton says. "Our pets, like young children, don't understand why they are here being poked and prodded.
"I wanted a veterinary practice that offered everything possible to make the experience less frightening and more positive," she adds. "When dogs and cats are happier, it allows us to practice a higher level of veterinary care."
It was shortly after New Year's Day 2021 that Dr. Hamilton began an extensive search for property where she could open a veterinary practice of her own.
Initially, Dr. Hamilton considered several Suncoast communities-Lakewood Ranch, Venice or Nokomis in South Sarasota County and downtown Sarasota.
"I always see someone walking a dog in downtown Sarasota," she says. "And with the extensive residential development that continues to evolve downtown, I knew someone would open a practice here, so I decided it might as well be me!
"When it came down to it," she adds, "I knew that I would be spending a lot of time at the location and decided that I much preferred working in downtown Sarasota." Construction on the new veterinary practice didn't begin until June of the following year, when three units at 1530 Dolphin Street in downtown Sarasota were officially designated as the future home of Burns Court Veterinary Care.
Dr. Hamilton conceptualized, then pioneered every step of the layout and redesign of the interior in order to ensure that the finished space would reflect her core philos-ophy, which is to ensure that for client and patient alike, "every visit feels like home."
"We completely gutted the entire space," Dr. Hamilton recalls. "We installed multiple air-conditioning units, refurbished duct work, installed additional plumbing and new flooring, rebuilt walls and added new fixtures throughout the interior space."
Unfortunately, the arrival of Hurricane lan in late September 2022 had a detrimental effect on the completion of construction.
"Everything was delayed because of the hurricane," Dr. Hamilton recalls. "And the extensive supply chain issues experienced nationwide due to COVID 19 put delivery of the medical equipment we needed on hold for months."
It wasn't until February 2023 that construction was finally complete and Burns Court Veterinary Care opened its doors the following month.
A focus and commitment to providing unparalleled veterinary medicine...a calm and comfortable environment in which to seek veterinary care... these are the hallmarks of Burns Court Veterinary Care.
When asked what she believes sets her veterinary practice apart from others, Dr. Hamilton cites several of the key essentials that were included in her design of the clinic, including a separate entryway and exit on the north and west side of the practice, respectively, which eases the flow of "traffic" in the clinic and lessens the chance of disturbing other patients.
The exam room that is exclusively for cats and the separate areas adjacent to the treatment room for dog-only and cat-only kennels also, she believes, are distinguishing design elements.
But there's more. Burns Court Veterinary Care also is one of a just a handful of area veterinary practices that offers vaccine titer testing, a simple test that measures antibody levels in a patient's blood.
"Titer testing, which is typically performed once a year at a dog or cat's annual exam, is a way to monitor if pets have protective immunity against common feline and canine diseases for which they have already been vaccinated," Dr. Hamilton says.
"This prevents over-vaccination if protective immunity is at the right level. If, howev-er, titer test results indicate that immunity has fallen below adequate levels, we can provide a booster of the vaccine to ensure the dog or cat is adequately protected.
"We are happy to either vaccinate our patients or perform titer testing,"
Photo, above: At the far end of the treatment room, the surgical suite at Burns Court Veterinary Care is where spay/neuter procedures, soft tissue surgeries, electrocautery, laser surgeries and a range of other surgical procedures are performed
Photo, at left: The treatment room includes kennels to keep a close eye on patients recovering from procedures, as well as an extensive pharmacy with a wide spectrum of canine and feline medications
Photo, below: The X-ray and ultrasound room at Burns Court Veterinary Care is conveniently located adjacent to the main treatment room
Dr. Hamilton adds; "our clientele dictates what they believe is best for their pets."
Perhaps what is most unique about Dr. Hamilton's practice of veterinary medicine is that she incorporates
behavioral strategies into her work with each patient.
"When I graduated from veterinary school, I considered entering either a behavior residency or neurology residency," Dr. Hamilton explains. "But I realized that there were so many other aspects of veterinary medicine, such as acupuncture and surgery, that I was excited to practice. Even more importantly, I wanted an opportunity to build relationships with my clients and their pets on a long-term basis, which I realized would be best achieved by entering general veterinary practice."
As part of each new consultation and exam, Dr. Hamilton asks clients if their pets are experiencing any behavioral issues and will work closely with the pet parents to help manage the issues before the dog or cat and his or her family "get to the level of needing a behaviorist" to resolve these issues.
"During each exam, I will discuss the dog or cat's behavior to determine, for example, if the family pet is affected by storms or how dogs react in the company of other canines," Dr. Hamilton says. "Our conversations enable us to dig deeper and work together to find solutions."
Celebrating the animal health center's first anniversary in March 2024,
Dr. Hamilton is already looking ahead with set goals in place. Of primary importance is furthering her application of Fear Free® protocols in her practice.
"Personally, both Heather and I are Fear-Free® certified, but we have already submitted an application and are working diligently to become the first Fear-Free® certified veterinary clinic in Sarasota!" she says.
Dr. Hamilton's second goal is to accelerate the growth the veterinary practice has experienced in its first year.
"Our animal health center was designed to provide ample space to accommodate four veterinarians, as well as additional support staff," she says. "I hope that in 2024, we can expand our staff so that there will always be three veterinarians in the building, with two seeing patients and one performing surgeries."
These are lofty goals, to be sure, but nothing seems impossible for this young, dedicated veterinarian who places both the health and happiness of every patient that comes through her doors above all else.
And isn't that just what you would like the veterinarian you entrust with your pet's care to do?
Located at 1530 Dolphin Street in downtown Sarasota, Burns Court Veterinary Care is open Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The practice is closed every afternoon between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
For additional information or to schedule an appointment, call