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Animal Emergency & Specialty Hospital - Byron Center

What to Expect During Your Visit

Last Updated January 2023

Staff With Dog

We Are Here For You!

Thank you for trusting us to care for your family member. We strive to provide compassionate care and excellent customer service. Please note, our hospital has been experiencing much higher volumes of phone calls and patient visits than is typical, resulting in significantly longer wait times. We apologize for this inconvenience. Please review the following guidance on our hospital triage process and wait times.


  • Mobile Check-In is available and recommended. Register Here or Text “AESH” to 34947 and follow the on-screen prompts. Make sure your phone is not in “silent mode” and that you opt-in to receive text messages. You will receive a text message when it is time to bring your pet in. 

  • Please let us know right away if you are exhibiting signs of respiratory illness (fever, dry cough, shortness of breath) or if you have had exposure to COVID-19. We will provide the same care for your pet regardless. We just need to take extra precautions to keep our staff safe and healthy. 

  • We anticipate emergency visits to take several hours. Our lobby is currently open. However, most clients elect to return to the comfort of home during the wait. We can communicate with you over the phone for the duration of the visit. 

    Families presenting a pet for euthanasia will be escorted to a private exam room. We have no limitations on the number of family members that can be present for euthanasia.

Medical History & Physical Examination

  • After your pet is brought into the hospital and you have checked in your pet, you are welcome to leave as long as you are available by phone. We promise to communicate with you as soon as we possibly can. After your pet has been assigned a doctor, typical wait times are 2-4 hours. Keep in mind that we are always seeing the critical patients, so at peak times, wait times can be extended 8 hours or more. We encourage you to head home after drop off, unless otherwise directed by our staff. We are willing to work with you if it's after midnight to pick up your pet in the morning if your pet is stable, and we've delivered the recommended care. 

  • If the mobile check in was not completed, one of our veterinary assistants will call you first to discuss your pet’s medical history. This information will be shared with the veterinarian. 

  • A veterinarian will communicate with in an exam room or over phone to discuss your pet’s physical exam findings, diagnostic results (if pre-approved), and recommendations for care (diagnostics and/or treatment). 

Diagnostic Tests & Treatments

If diagnostic tests were preauthorized during admission and performed, one of our team members will call to go over these results once they are complete. We will send these results (and the full medical record) to your primary care veterinarian, but are happy to also email all diagnostic results to you directly upon request. We will discuss treatment recommendations with you at this time.

If Your Pet Needs Hospitalization

  • When possible, we allow you to visit your pet during hospitalization, please contact us to arrange a visit

  • We like to be in contact with owners of hospitalized patients during the daytime. You can get an update on your pet from the nurse anytime. 

  • It is best to text for an update and a DVM will be able to follow up over the phone if needed. Please note that during peak times, the line to speak with a veterinarian is long. The vet will call you back once they are able. We appreciate your patience and understanding while we care for you and your pet.

Finances & Discharge

  • Payment is due at the time of service. 

  • We process payment over the phone whenever possible. Credit cards are easiest to process this way. We will make other arrangements for other payment methods. 

  • We understand that emergency care is never planned for so we do our best to openly communicate with you about the financial aspect of your pet’s medical care. One of our team members will call to communicate the financial aspect of the care recommended by the veterinarian. We can email you a copy of this treatment plan at any time. 

  • We accept cash, personal check (up to $500), and all major credit cards. We also offer payment plan options through CareCredit (medical credit card) and Scratch Pay (loan program that is not based on credit). These programs break up the cost of your pet’s medical care over weeks or months depending upon the program selected. Let us know if you have interest in one of these options anytime. 


Animal Emergency & Specialty Hospital’s veterinary assistants will prioritize patients based on the severity of their condition. Patients will be seen by a veterinarian in order of priority. There may be delays for Priority 2 and Priority 3 patients.

You can view the information in PDF format by downloading the free Adobe Acrobat reader.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will my pet have to wait in line for care even if they are critical?

No, patients determined to be in unstable condition are moved to the front of the line. Life-saving care is initiated right away as indicated. Stabilization of critical patients will extend the wait time for patients that have less serious problems.

Why are other pets being seen before mine?

Just like a human ER, we prioritize patients that have a life-threatening situation. If you are walking in because your veterinarian could not see you in a timely manner, or your pet has a non-life threatening condition, you will likely be waiting longer than you wished. We understand it’s frustrating, and we have not forgotten you, we are not ignoring you. Our focus is on the most critical patients at that moment. If your pet’s condition worsens do not hesitate to let us know. Trust us, triage is not a game you want to win.

If my pet is stable and does have an extended wait, where do they wait?

Most of our pet parents are not on-site, they are waiting at home. So while it may sometimes seem calm on the exterior of our building or in our lobby, our ICU is in full swing and our team is working tirelessly to save a life. So if your pet is stable enough to be waiting, as difficult as it is, that is a good thing. We now offer ER Express, a mobile check-in process. The virtual patient queue allows clients to wait off-site until notified to bring their pet in for examination and treatment. Once you are invited in for care, you can expect the visit to take between 2 and 4 hours. Please return home during this step in your pet's care. Dogs are safely housed in a stainless-steel run or kennel. They are provided food (if appropriate), water, a cot, and walks outside. Cats are separated from the dogs in a cat-designated room. We provide them with food (if appropriate), water, and a litter box. 

Why are so many pets arriving for emergency care?

With the pandemic, a few things have happened within the veterinary profession. First, pet ownership increased significantly without the veterinary practices and professionals to support the influx. Second, neighboring emergency hospitals continue to have interruptions in service. This has resulted in an even larger influx of patients into our ER. Our team is committed to staying open to serve our community. Unfortunately, this commitment has resulted in extended times, but we promise to never turn your family member away.

What steps have you taken to provide care for my pet more promptly?

We are a new hospital, built as a second location to the Animal Emergency Hospital of Grand Rapids, in order to accommodate more patients. We have added six doctors to our team, which has resulted in an additional 20 hours of doctor capacity per day. We have also doubled our veterinary support staff since the start of this pandemic. We upgraded our phone system to better handle to capacity of incoming calls. We have regularly adjusted our operational protocol to maximize our efficiency and improve our patient care.

Our Veterinarians