August marks several anniversaries in my professional life. First of all, this week is the 15-year anniversary of the “Ask Dr. Watts” column. Thank you for welcoming me into your homes each week over the past decade and a half.

I have enjoyed our weekly question and answer sessions. Although much has changed in these past 15 years, this column has sought to educate readers about their pets and about the benefits of an ongoing relationship with a good family veterinarian.

I particularly appreciate all those who send me questions through and I respond to all questions privately, and try to work most into future columns.

Next week will mark the five-year anniversary of the opening of my practice’s new state-of-the-art veterinary hospital. When I opened Clevengers Corner Veterinary Care just over 14 years ago, my goal was to deliver the highest quality, modern health care to pets and to provide exceptional client service to their families. In the past five years, our new hospital has allowed us to take that mission to the next level.

Some unique features of our new hospital include a positive-pressure HEPA-filtered surgical suite, a negative-pressure isolation facility, digital dental radiography, and telemedicine capabilities for ultrasonography, echocardiography and radiology. We have also converted our former facility into the region’s only feline-only practice.

I invite any readers of this column who have never toured Clevengers Corner Veterinary Care to come by and have a look. We are always happy to show folks around.

This month also marks the three-year anniversary of CCVC’s accreditation by the American Animal Hospital Association. We remain the only veterinary practice in Culpeper, Madison or Rappahannock counties to be fully accredited by the AAHA.

Although most pet owners assume their veterinarian is accredited, less than 15% of veterinary practices in the country ever achieve this distinction. Unlike in human medicine, where hospitals are required to be accredited, most veterinary facilities are merely licensed by a state regulatory board.

State authorities make sure that veterinary facilities meet certain minimum standards and comply with basic legal requirements. AAHA accredited practices aim to reach a much higher standard. They voluntarily subject themselves to rigorous inspection of over 900 standards of excellence.

AAHA standards evaluate patient care, pain management, surgical procedures, laboratory quality, contagious disease control, dental care, anesthesia techniques and monitoring, pet nutrition, medical records, safety, emergency/urgent care, leadership, continuing education, pharmacy procedures, diagnostic imaging, client service/communication, and more.

By choosing an accredited practice for your pet’s health care, you are choosing a veterinary team that is enthusiastic about upholding the highest standards of care.

I appreciate the enthusiasm of this community for modern, quality veterinary care. Your support and patronage have made it possible for our practice to help over 16,000 pets—so far.

My hope is that 15 years of this column have helped to improve the lives of thousands more.

Dr. Watts is a companion animal general practitioner and owner of Clevengers Corner Veterinary Care. He can be reached at 540/428-1000.