Animal Hospital of North Asheville is the Winner of Practice of the Year

We are very excited to announce that Animal Hospital of North Asheville was selected Practice of the Year, a national award sponsored by Petplan. We are especially honored to be selected by such a prestigious group of judges,  Michael Cavanaugh, DVM, DABVP, CEO of American Animal Hospital Association, Karen Felsted, DVM, CPA, CVPM, MS, CEO of National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues and Amy Hoyumpa Vogt, DVM 2013-2014 President of American Board of Veterinary Practitioners.

During the judging process, each of the three finalist hospitals completed a questionnaire, and was visited, interviewed and filmed by a camera crew.  Staff from all three of the hospitals were flown to Las Vegas and provided accommodations for the weekend.  Several members of our AHNA team were excited to attend the awards dinner on February 16th that was held in tandem with the 86th annual Western Veterinary Conference. The 2014 gala event was emceed by Dr. Ernie Ward and attended by more than 120 guests. It was quite an evening and quite a weekend for us as we were provided with luxury rooms in the Mandalay Bay Hotel. Although of course all of our team could not attend, Dr. David Thompson credited our wonderful veterinarians and staff for the award by beginning his acceptance speech with the following words, “There are forty six people who deserve to be at this podium tonight. Excellent veterinary care can only be provided by working as a team, and at Animal Hospital of North Asheville, we are blessed to have 46 caring, compassionate, conscientious, and extremely knowledgeable individuals who earned this award.”

Why Animal Hospital of North Asheville stood out, in the judges’ words:
Each nomination for AHNA spoke of the caring and compassionate nature of the staff, so it was immediately clear the practice has heart. Upon looking a little deeper, we realized that it also provides cutting-edge treatment and an exception level of service to their two- and four-legged clients.

For their devotion to bettering their community; their dedication to staying on the cutting edge of veterinary medicine; their commitment to their team; their passion for educating their clients using both modern and traditional methods; and their emotional investment in the work they do every day, from leadership on down – Animal Hospital of North Asheville is Petplan’s 2014 Practice of the Year.

Further information  from the award presentation:

Husband and wife DVMs David and Betsy Thompson built the first 1500 square foot building in 1977 (they painted it inside and out themselves!) and began the practice with one staff member. The practice grew rapidly, and in 1980, Dr. Warren Riggle joined as an associate. At that time, additional land was acquired and the first addition was done. As associates joined the practice, another small expansion was performed and a third lot was purchased.  In 1997, a major addition adding eight exams rooms, a lounge, a conference room, restrooms and storage space was begun. In 2011, all the space that had not been built in 1998 was totally renovated and a large addition was added.  This project included tearing out the eight foot ceilings to modernize the original space built in 1977.  The exterior of the building was totally renovated from a brick colonial look to the current modern appearance. Among other things, the technology systems were all updated.  The hospital now has 29 oxygen drops, a new active waste gas system, a camera system, an energy recovery system for energy conservation, and 42 computer work stations.

Today, AHNA’s team is made up of eight veterinarians, as well as 11 Registered Veterinary Technicians, 12 Veterinary Assistants, 10 Client Care Team members and five members of the Management/Admin Team.

Mission Statement of Animal Hospital of North Asheville:

“By embracing new knowledge and state-of-the-art technology, our mission at AHNA is to provide the highest level of medical, dental and surgical care possible; to deliver it with integrity and compassion for our clients, but most importantly, to constantly see ourselves through the eyes of our voiceless patients who understand only that we are gentle and kind; to have as our first priority, relief and prevention of their fear, pain and discomfort and to strive to minimize separation from the people they love."

In the words of AHNA, A Few Excerpts from the Questionnaire:

What attributes set the practice apart as a hospital?

We are very proud of our efforts to eliminate the stress associated with our veterinary care, whether it is a dog or a cat, most recently achieving the Gold Standard for a Cat-Friendly Practice. We have totally separate areas for cats and dogs with the exception of radiology, ultrasound, surgery and dental surgery, which are strategically located so that cats do not have to catch a glimpse of a dog to get to them. 

We are also somewhat unique in that we do not separate pets from the people they love during treatments or hospitalizations. Since we opened, we have encouraged clients to accompany their pet for any non-anesthetic procedure. Clients are welcome at all times (as long as their pet is not undergoing general anesthesia, chemotherapy or x-ray), and we have glass pods in our treatment room to accommodate the client and patient. We provide all-night nursing care each weeknight with shifts of staff so that staff are constantly attending to pain control and patient care. We provide Saturday hours from 8:00am- 5:00pm.

We have been AAHA-accredited since 1979, and we live the AAHA standards every single day. We are Living Wage Certified and have the Superior Service Award from Angie’s List.

Is the practice affiliated with any rescues, shelters or other nonprofit pet organizations?

Drs. Betsy and Dave Thompson have been active in Asheville Humane Society or their predecessor organizations for 25 years. Although we have worked throughout the years to improve the lives of homeless pets in our community in many other ways, we are most proud of Dr. David Thompson who initiated and worked very hard with the city in approximately 1985 to stop the painful gas euthanasia (being done with an old tractor engine) that was occurring on thousands of animals at our local animal shelter.  We are also proud of the time and money that we put into building a state of the art animal welfare campus in our community, serving on both the steering committee and building committee, to build new multi-million dollar buildings that house our county animal shelter, our Asheville Humane Society Adoption and Education Center, and our veterinary technician training program (through our local college).  These buildings will serve to help homeless animals for generations to come.

How does your practice help instruct clients about pet health at the clinic?

Each veterinarian has an Exam Room Assistant that they team up with to work side by side with day in and day out. Some veterinarian/exam room assistant teams have been together for 10 years. Our clients form close bonds with both their veterinarian and their veterinarian’s assistant, which enables our clients to gain even more education about the care of their pet.  We also offer free Behavior Help Sessions in the evenings once or twice a month and free Puppy Preschool every Thursday night. We are also very proud of the healthcare information available to our clients on our website and in our monthly newsletters.

Does the practice participate in any community events, either pet-related or not? 

The Animal Hospital of North Asheville is proud to be an integral part of the Asheville, NC community. During our years in Asheville, we have donated a great deal of time as well as our resources to a variety of local animal shelters and pet organizations. We have also been recognized by many local publications and organizations for the charitable work that we have done. We've listed on this page some of the community work, awards, and accolades we are most proud of

  • Animal Hospital of North Asheville has been repeatedly voted "Best Veterinarian" by readers of the Mountain Express, Asheville's local weekly newspaper, and is recognized in their “Hall of Fame.”
  • Dr. David Thompson has assisted the Madison County Animal Shelter with fundraising, consulting and rabies control clinics. He also served as a member of the Animal Shelter Advisory Board for the Commissioners of Buncombe County.
  • The veterinarians and staff at Animal Hospital of North Asheville raised more than $7,000 for animal rescue and healthcare at Louisiana State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine for animals lost in Hurricane Katrina.
  • Drs. David and Betsy Thompson served on the steering committee as chairpersons of the veterinary committee of Asheville Humane Society Capital Building Campaign for the Nancy H. Clark Adoption and Education Center.
  • In 2007, Animal Hospital of North Asheville raised funds for the purchase of comfortable and durable elevated beds for dogs in the Asheville Humane Society.
  • Our veterinarians personally donated more than $30,000 for the construction of the Asheville Humane Society's Nancy H. Clark Adoption and Education Center completed in 2010.
  • Dr. Betsy Thompson served as Secretary and Vice Chair of Asheville Humane Society's Board of Directors and recently completed a six year term.
  • Animal Hospital of North Asheville provides discounted care to cats and dogs through Animal Haven and Mary Paws rescue organizations.
  • For the past several years, we have provided more than $23,000 per year in free medical care to dogs and cats through the Asheville Compassion Network and Asheville Humane Society.
  • Animal Hospital of North Asheville provides discounted services for service animals and pets residing in nursing homes. We also provide discounted services to the Asheville Police Department's K-9 officers.
  • Dr. Warren Riggle was a frequent guest on WCQS Public Radio call-in program "Conversations." He discussed many interesting topics related to pet health care.
  • Animal Hospital of North Asheville has received Beautification Awards from the Men's Garden Club and Quality Forward. We have also received the Treasure Tree Award from Quality Forward, in recognition of our preservation for many years of a large tree on our property.
  • Animal Hospital of North Asheville serves as a Corporate Sponsor several times each year  for events held by Paws for a Cause, Asheville Humane Society, Animal Compassion Network, and Brother Wolf. In addition, we were a corporate sponsor for Pet Harmony.
  • We are very proud of our Annual Pet Food Drive held in December of each year. Last year we collected over 5 tons of pet food which we donated to Asheville Humane Society, Animal Compassion Network, Brother Wolf and the pet food assistance program of Meals on Wheels.  Our hospital donated one ton of the food ourselves!
  • Several of our veterinarians are members of Asheville Humane Society’s Leadership Circle, a group that provides sustaining funds for special programs such as foster care and medical care.
  • Each year the staff members of Animal Hospital of North Asheville sponsor several of Buncombe County’s  foster children by providing gifts and clothing for them during the holiday season.
  • Animal Hospital of North Asheville provides weekly puppy socialization/preschool in our large Education Room free of charge.
  • Animal Hospital of North Asheville provides at least one monthly free Behavior Help Session in our Education Room for people to learn the latest in ways to help their pets.
  • Animal Hospital of North Asheville actively supports and provides meeting room space for Friends of North Asheville Dog Park.

What is the funniest pet name your team has heard?

Our own Dr. Matthew Goetz recently adopted a precious, very elderly dachshund who is named Frankenweinie.

Tell us about a favorite clinic tradition

Dr. Amy Plankenhorn writes an original version of “The Night Before Christmas” every year that includes something about everyone on staff.  She reads it at our holiday party each year.  It is always great!


Last year we lost both of dogs within a 7 month period. Both were only 6 years old. We were devastated. Dr. Plankenhorn helped us through it all with her compassion and caring ways. She cried with us, hugged us, and we made it through. We thought that we could never ever go through this again, however, we are people who love animals and so we recently adopted a rescue. Our little Yogi is a Yorkie Schnauzer mix who warms our hearts every day. Of course he's already been to see Dr. Plankenhorn. Thank you AHNA and especially Dr. Plankenhorn. You are not just an animal hospital. You are a people hospital too, as you walk us through the difficult times and share our love and laughter during the good times.

Arlene and Bernie -

Thank you so much for your kind words. It's comments like these from our clients (and friends) that make what we do so special. We are honored to care for your pets, who are obviously such an important part of your lives.