Dr. Matthew Tenwolde, who recently moved to the Lowcountry, is trained in emergency veterinary medicine and will lead the team at Carolina Veterinary Critical Care.

Local pet owners have needed an off-hours emergency veterinary clinic for years. Our veterinarians have had to refer pets to emergency vets in either Savannah or Charleston.

It takes anywhere from 40 minutes to 2 hours to get there, and when your pet is in need of immediate urgent care that’s a long way. Plus, some emergencies, such as pets hit by a car, snake bite, unexplained illness, and poisoning are time-critical and need immediate care. 

So here’s great news: Finally, we have an emergency vet clinic in Bluffton!

Carolina Veterinary Critical Care is now open in the building occupied by Coastal Veterinary Clinic at 21 Buck Island Road. This is a temporary location until the permanent facility is built.

The office is open weekdays from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. and Saturdays from noon to Monday at 8 a.m. These hours are meant to cover times when local veterinarian offices are closed.

The emergency care clinic will have well-trained emergency staff to cover overnight visits, and if your pet is OK, you can either take him home when discharged or you can pick up and take your pet to their regular vet when they open. Some might still need to be referred to specialists at other clinics.

Eventually, perhaps in about a year or so, the permanent  24/7 emergency clinic will also house specialists such as internal medicine, cardiology, oncology, orthopedics, post-surgical rehab,  and more.

Over time they will offer a variety of laboratory and sophisticated diagnostic equipment as well.

“The time had come,” said founder Dr. Ben Parker, “when the local demographics could finally support this much-needed facility. It also needed support of the local veterinarians for referrals. The next step was to engage an emergency veterinarian. We got lucky in that Dr. Matthew Tenwolde had recently relocated to the Lowcountry.”

Dr. Parker and Dr. Tenwolde make a formidable team for this project.  Dr. Parker has been a trusted vet here for more than two decades and has huge community support and trust. Dr. Tenwolde trained in emergency veterinary medicine at the prestigious University of California at Davis, where he also was faculty. He built a successful emergency practice – and then met his wife, who was from Bluffton. “Bluffton seemed like an excellent place to raise a family and to continue practice,” he said. “Dr. Ben proposed this idea and I also saw the serious need and was on board!”

Both veterinarians said community support has been “fantastic” since they opened.

Once built, the clinic will require full staffing, and recent veterinary graduates and successful practitioners will be considered. “The beauty, lifestyle, cost of living and safety will attract some very talented veterinary specialists. We can offer so much here and families will appreciate it,” Dr. Tenwolde said.

Contact Carolina Veterinary Critical Care at 843-706-9200 or visit carolinavcc.com.

Abby Bird is owner of Alphadog Training Academy. AlphadogTrainingAcademy@gmail.com