Dr. Jerica Lugo, VMD, wants you and your pet to have the best possible relationship. As the newest member of the Doylestown Veterinary Hospital & Holistic Pet Care team, she hopes to do everything in her power to help foster that bond.
Lugo’s passion for truly connecting with animals took root in Connecticut, where she grew up surrounded by pets.
“We used to say jokingly that we had a little zoo,” she laughs.
A high school teacher recognized that early passion for animal welfare and encouraged her to pursue veterinary studies. As an undergrad at Drexel University, she began volunteering with a local animal shelter where her natural talent for advocacy took root.
“I loved what I did there, but I wanted to do so much more,” she says.
Lugo decided to continue her studies at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, expanding her knowledge of biology, physiology, and animal medicine.
More importantly, she had seen firsthand the immense needs of shelter animals and how a veterinarian played a crucial role in keeping animals out of such institutions.
“I always wanted to give a voice to the voiceless,” she says.
The Importance of Advocacy and Education
“I think being a pet’s advocate is both a reward and a challenge,” says Lugo.
“If you can get owners to see things from their pet’s perspective – like ‘Hey, this limping means pain and if we do these things, we can help reduce that pain’ – that is hugely rewarding. You see a drastic improvement in the life of an animal when you can take care of something, say, as simple as diarrhea that’s making their owner annoyed – or something more complicated, like surgical or dental procedures. You’re making a huge difference.”
The challenge comes with owners identifying and responding to their pets’ needs, she says.
“Education is a huge part of what we as veterinarians do, and I really enjoy it,” says Lugo. “It makes an absolutely wonderful difference in the human-animal bond. When people learn how to read their pets, they know when things aren’t right sooner and can make better, more informed decisions regarding their care.”
Putting Pets and Their Owners at Ease
Lugo says another highlight of being a veterinarian is making patients comfortable by taking fear out of the equation.
“In clinical practice, I find it rewarding when I can win over a patient that is really nervous or unsure at the vet’s office,” she says. “When pets come in and they’re kind of scared and I’m able to at least put them a little bit more at ease, I find that hugely rewarding. Hopefully, those pets begin to feel the experience as less scary.”
Working with new pet owners, too, is a significant component of the job.
“I love working with people who haven’t had a puppy or kitten before. Or someone who never had a pet of their own. Those appointments help me form a collaborative relationship with the owners, where I feel like we’re one unit doing the best that we can to take care of their pets. Not only can I share the knowledge I have, but it allows them to ask any questions they may have.”
As a VMD, Lugo expresses a strong interest, and specializes in, soft tissue surgery.
“Surgery can be something as simple as a sterilization procedure to prevent a male dog from marking in the house, or more serious like a mass removal procedure, where you might be helping to take away cancer,” she says.
Unlike other medical treatments – surgery has immediate, visible benefits.
“When surgery is successful, that mass is gone – or that pet is not going to go into heat and causing problems. Things like that. It’s the same with dental surgery. Maybe you have a dog with a stinky mouth … and the owner doesn’t want to kiss him. Now, you’ve helped this dog have a nice, clean, healthy mouth again. The dog’s healthier, the owner is happier, and you’re really helping to develop that bond.”
Lugo was referred to the Buck County area by a longtime friend who had grown up in the area.
Lugo and her husband had lived in Philadelphia for nine years, but were looking for a change of pace, and the possibility of settling down in a suburban neighborhood.
“When I discovered Doylestown Veterinary Hospital it seemed like the perfect match for me,” she says. “The Doylestown team was really passionate about how they treat animals and passionate about the fact that they want to help animals in any way that they can. That was huge to me.”
Lugo is a pet owner of three senior animals, herself – cats Panda and Storm, as well as a Boston Terrier mix named Annabelle.
Outside of veterinary practice, Lugo enjoys hiking with her husband and their friends, and knitting – and she is also a huge movie buff.
“I hear Doylestown has a cute theater, so I’m pretty psyched about that,” she says. But first things first: working with the Doylestown Veterinary Hospital team to provide happy endings for patients and their owners.
To book an appointment with Dr. Lugo, please give us a call at (215) 345-6000.