Catonsville veterinary hospital

Construction continues on the Frederick Road Veterinary Hospital in Catonsville August 4. Catonsville residents Dr. Dan Zakai and Dr. Lisa Zakai plan to have the veterinary hospital on Frederick Road open on August 15. (Staff photo by Brian Krista, Patuxent Publishing / August 4, 2011)

A cat dragging its tail through the dog days of summer will have a new place in Catonsville to get a medical check-up after Aug. 15.

That's the day the Frederick Road Veterinary Hospital at 816 Frederick Road makes its debut to the community.

Don't fret,canine lovers, they will also keep dogs healthy, too.

Catonsville residents Dan and Lisa Zakai, who married seven years ago, have renovated the storefront on the main strip of Catonsville to pursue their dream.


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"We had always known we wanted to own our own vet hospital together," said Lisa, who graduated from the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1996.

"We had looked into buying an existing practice in the area and there wasn't really anything for sale," she said. "Finally, it just struck us that we should buy some place in Catonsville because there really wasn't a central hospital in Catonsville."

The site, formerly a pain management and rehabilitation center, is only blocks from the couple's home, where they raise their two kids, Toby, 5, and Annabelle, 3, and care for their two dogs and threecats.

On Aug. 4, the storefront's interior didn't yet bear much resemblance to a veterinary hospital, with dust in the air, equipment in boxes and construction still underway.

Dan said he and Lisa have spent most of the past seven months setting up the business and haven't practiced since January.

He said he is eager to get back to doing the work he loves but nervous as the Aug. 15 deadline for finishing construction approaches.

"As far as the medicine side goes, it's like riding a bike, you don't forget that," said Dan, a 2006 graduate of the Royal Veterinary College, in London. "The one thing (the time away from practicing) has made me realize is how much I really enjoy being a vet.

"Not seeing the clients on a daily basis, the animals on a daily basis. You really start to miss that."

With the opening still almost two weeks away, he said Aug. 4 that about a dozen people had made reservations for their pets to get a check up .

The veterinary hospital will have the equipment to do blood workups, take digital X-rays, and perform ultrasound exams and endoscopies.

The hospital will have four examining rooms plus several rooms for surgeries, Dan said.

Dan said starting a business instead of buying a practice gave them flexibility in terms of what equipment they could buy for the services they wanted to offer.

"We can say this is the way we want it to a certain extent and getting the equipment we want, too," he said.

"It's always tough when you go to your boss and say, 'Let's get this (piece of equipment),'" he said. "We're really trying to be as up-to-date and on top of things as much as possible."

Lisa said she is eager to see cats, dogs and small pets, such as gerbils.

"We're actually hoping once we open it'll actually be easier," she said. "We're used to being veterinarians. We're not used to being contractors and HR reps."

They have already hired nine employees after posting ads only in the community.

She said they wanted as many of their employees as possible to come from the area.

The couple said they hope their hospital's involvement in the community goes beyond treating pets.

Following the model of Frederick Road Fridays, the free weekly summer concert series held on Egges Lane, Lisa said they plan to show children's movies, often ones featuring animals, in their parking lot next summer.

Asked why they chose to open the business now, Lisa joked, "It wasn't the economy."

"We were just at the point in our lives where we realized we had to strike out on our own," she said. "We knew in our hearts that we could do it better."

For information about the Frederick Road Veterinary Hospital, go to http://www.FrederickRoadVet.com.