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Claremont’s new veterinarian is ready to save lives

 by Andrew Alonzo | aalonzo@claremont-courier.com

Minutes before Dr. Raymond Chae was set to clock out for lunch last Wednesday, the founder and small animal veterinarian of Peppertree Animal Hospital was called to action. Moxie, one Claremonter’s elderly border terrier, was in need of emergency ulcer removal surgery and Dr. Chae was the only vet in the area who could take her immediately.

“Now with the COVID and everything, vets are just inundated everywhere,” Dr. Chae said.
After successfully removing Moxie’s two abdominal ulcers, Dr. Chae patched up the pooch and clocked out for his lunch, which he agreed to spend with the COURIER at Claremont’s newest animal hospital to talk about his practice.

In his youth, Dr. Chae explained that he was an avid viewer of nature programs and often watched them alongside his father. Though programs like Steve Irwin’s ‘The Crocodile Hunter,’ Zoboomafoo and various Animal Planet documentaries did not lead him directly down veterinary school lane, they sparked his interest in helping animals.

When Dr. Chae was a senior in high school, he made a deal with his parents which sealed his career path.

“I always wanted to work with animals…I knew I wanted to have a career with animals. [But] you know, being that you’re Asian and your parents are [too], you’re either going to be a doctor or a lawyer… so I said I’ll make you a deal, I’ll be a doctor but I’ll be an animal doctor,” Dr. Chae said.

After obtaining his bachelor’s in microbiology from the University of California, Davis, Dr. Chae went off to Australia’s Murdoch University in Perth where he began his veterinary training.

“The reason I chose Australia was a little different. I did not want to…stay [at UC Davis] for another four years, I wanted to see the world… “I decided to kill two birds with one stone and go somewhere exotic while also getting my veterinary degree,” Dr. Chae with a smirk acknowledging the irony. “[Between Australia and the United States] The care of veterinary medicine is exactly the same.”

Since 2008, Dr. Chae has been a licensed small-animal veterinarian in and around the Inland Empire. In 2013, he opened his first practice, an emergency service animal hospital in Redlands. But after giving of himself nearly 24/7, 365-days-a-year to the practice for five years, Dr. Chae eventually wore down.

“When you work such long shifts, it starts to take a toll on your body. And at that time I had a very young family, I had two kids that were very young [a newborn and three year old]. I really couldn’t see my family because I was always working and it was really starting to take a toll on my physical health.” In 2018, he sold his Redlands practice so he could recharge his batteries and spend time with his family.

To keep his skills sharp, Dr. Chae began taking fill-in positions for other veterinarians over the next two years around the IE. Though he was still his fulfilling his life’s calling of helping animals, he explained he felt that something was missing from his work.

“I missed the client-doctor relationship, being able to see my patients and how well they do,” he said.

Asked when he moved to Claremont, he explained, “It’s funny because that answer kind of changes. I purchased a home here about four years ago but we demo’d that house and we built [a new one]. So am I technically a homeowner in Claremont, four years ago, yes. But when did I move in? I moved in on January first of this year.”

Exactly a month after the move, Dr. Chae opened Peppertree Animal Hospital at the east end of Peppertree Square—residents can’t miss the “Now Open” sign.

“When I was looking for a place to open my hospital, I noticed kind of a pocket that was missing just around this region where there were no veterinary services. When I was first looking, COVID was not around. Actually, during the construction of this place is when COVID hit, so I couldn’t stop…I already taken the loan out,” he said.

As a vet who thrives on in-person contact, Dr. Chae explained “It was difficult when I first opened because I would have loved to open the place and have clients come in and see the facility, ‘cause that’s what I thrive on. But instead, we had to do curbside service.”

California eventually reopened in July, and while humans can currently enter only while wearing a mask and getting a temperature check, Dr. Chae is excited to be able to now see his patients in person.

“I tell my clients sometimes that I feel like a pediatrician because it’s their fur babies. I feel like when I help their pets, it’s really, I feel like I’m helping had their family member…and because you’re helping a family member, I feel like my work is very integral, much like any other veterinarian—we work hard,” he said.

“I’m not the type of doctor that tells clients ‘this is what you need to do! I’m the doctor I know best. If you don’t do it, go somewhere else.’ I don’t do all that,” he said. “I like to really talk to my clients, have them as a team member to treat…my patient and their pet and see what not only works best for the pet, but for the client’s situation… and come up with a plan [of action] that works best,” he said.

Peppertree Animal Hospital is located at 320 South Indian Hill Boulevard. To schedule an appointment, call (909) 766-2880 or visit www.peppertreeanimalhospital.com.

 

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