Creature Comfort Clinic, LLC provides unique vet services to the Oshkosh area.
Dr. Christina Lehner is not the typical veterinarian. Her practice, Creature Comfort Clinic, LLC, doesn’t have an office that you go to; instead, she travels to each client’s home. Christina mostly works in the area of pet hospice, caring for pets that are nearing the end of their lives. She also specializes in providing euthanasia services for animals whose health requires it.
“I really wish that everybody had this option,” Christina said. “There are not too many people who do what I do. And there is a growing awareness where people are starting to ask for this more.”
Christina didn’t always foresee a future of being a veterinarian. With her sister and mother being an MD and nurse, respectively, she was originally planning on going into human medicine.
“For some reason I wasn’t super motivated,” Christina said. “My best friend, knowing me since second grade, said right away, ‘I don’t think you should be doing that, you should be [a vet].’ And within a week I met the veterinarian at the shelter, and everything just clicked.”
Christina went to school at Madison and after earning her degree, worked at a multi-doctor practice in Milwaukee for several years. One scenario she had when working at the Milwaukee location sparked the creation of Creature Comfort Clinic, LLC.
“I wasn’t expecting to open up my own practice,” Christina said. “Especially one that focuses mostly on end of life care. But I had one scenario, when I was just first starting to work after graduating, where [a client] requested an in-home euthanasia and nobody else in my practice wanted to do it.”
Christina had the overwhelming urge to help the client, as the dog was having severe mobility issues and she knew they would have a hard time getting to the office.
“I remember just being really impacted by the situation,” Christina said. “It was a family that was so appreciative. The idea of them having to lift up this big dog and take her in, was just daunting. So I just remember thinking that this is a much more gentle way of going about it.”
Creature Comfort Clinic, LLC was started in 2011 and has gained momentum through clients’ positive experiences and word of mouth. Christina receives thank-you cards regularly and has even been referred to as an angel by her clients.
“It’s really impacted a lot of people,” Christina said.
Lehner’s husband, Nate Lehner, is also a vital part of the business. He takes phone calls and also works with patients to decide how to deal with their pets’ circumstances, whether they are suffering with a disease or are near the end of their life.
“When the phone rings, it’s very hard. A lot of people are on the verge of losing it,” Nate said. “So when the call comes in, we try to be there.”
The practice’s business line connects to both Christina and Nate’s cell phones, so they can always be on call.
“Being on call is really important because there are a lot of families who don’t know that it’s the time until right before,” Christina said.
Christina hopes that her clients’ referrals and her use of social media will reach more people and get the word out about Creature Comfort Clinic, LLC. She uses Facebook to post memorials and tributes to pets, local stories, and articles about pet care.
Overall, Christina makes is clear that she is invested fully in the well-being and health of all the pets she treats.
“You’ve got somebody who really cares,” Christina said. “There’s a whole lot of families who say, ‘my vet said, I’ll just know when it’s time [to put my pet down.]’ It’s a really unsettling feeling because sometimes you don’t just know.”
Christina says there is a possibility of adding another vet to her practice in the future, but they’ll have to share the same compassion that she has in this field.
“It’s not about money, it’s about helping [the animals],” Christina said. “So I think about that a lot, can I train another vet to do what I do? Who has a similar heart?”
Christina says she sees herself still running the practice many years down the road.
“I definitely think I’ll be doing this for a lot longer,” Christina said. “I can’t imagine not doing it. I feel like I can provide a lot of caring support and guidance, and a nice niche for a lot of families.”
Hannah Opacich is a journalism major with a German minor currently studying at UW Oshkosh. She is pursuing a career in the writing and editing field, but also has a passion for photojournalism. In her free time, Hannah enjoys drinking coffee and doodling.