Pennsylvania native Dr. Jay Hreiz is a practicing veterinarian and owner of Queen City Animal Hospital (QCAH) in Charlotte, N.C. and says he is grateful for the opportunity to provide a warm and welcoming environment with excellent veterinary care to members of the community.

In 2008, Dr. Hreiz graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and received his Bachelor’s in Science in Animal Bioscience from Pennsylvania State University in 2004.

He has always carried a passion for animals, but has a special interest in exotic animals. In 2013, Dr. Hreiz decided to become co-owner of Ebenezer Animal Clinic, an American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) accredited clinic in Rock Hill, S.C. specializing in the care of small mammals and reptiles.

qnotes was able to speak with Dr. Hreiz and find out about his work as a caregiver to animals, as well as what his life entails while not caring for his patients.

Can you describe your roles as a practicing veterinarian and owner of the Queen City Animal Hospital?

I am the medical director and owner of Queen City Animal Hospital and a veterinarian practicing part-time as well (I spend time at my other hospital in Rock Hill as well). I, along with my managing director April Splawn, set policy and procedures going forward. As a veterinarian I see scheduled appointments (both sick and well), perform minor procedures like sedated x-rays and perform general surgery like mass removals, spays, neuters and dental cleanings throughout the week.

When did you first realize that you wanted to work with animals?

When I was about 10 years old, I realized I really enjoyed working with animals. I grew up raising dogs and lots of different exotic animals (canaries, turtles, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils and frogs), so I had quite a bit of exposure to various species. When I was a little older I realized I enjoyed working with people as well.

In addition to treating common domestic animals like cats and dogs, you and your staff at Queen City Animal Hospital also provide specialized care to exotic animals such as small mammals and reptiles. From your experience, how do exotic animals and common domestic animals differ in terms of the type of care they require? Are exotic animals more challenging to provide care for? How extensively were exotic animals covered in your medical training and curriculum while attending school? Is there special training required to be able to care for certain animals?

Most veterinarians do not see exotic companion mammals like rabbits, rodents, birds and reptiles. These species do not have the same nutritional or physiological properties as dogs and cats and, thus, many veterinarians feel out of their comfort zone. My experience as a child with these species drove my desire to see them as an adult. A typical veterinary student receives minimal training in exotics (basically enough to help you pass your boards!). I spent extra time in veterinary school with my clinical rotations along with externships at Cornell [University] and University of Tennessee’s veterinary schools.

Do you have a favorite animal? If so, what is it about that particular animal that fascinates you?

I grew up raising rabbits and, therefore, it would be my favorite animal. They are gentle, unique and challenging to treat as a species.

From your perspective, has COVID-19 affected Queen City Animal Hospital, as well as veterinary care in general? If so, how?

We had to adapt rapidly. In mid-March we converted my entire practice to curbside only. No clients are allowed in the building for the time being. We check in our clients after they arrive in their car, all services are performed in the hospital after safe transport, treatments and recommendations are made, and the patient goes back with the owner in their car. The exception to this rule is humane euthanasia. Even though we are placing our staff at risk, this is a time where I do think an owner should be allowed to be present and balance risk versus need for quality and compassionate care. It has been a challenge without interacting with owners face to face, but we have all adapted well to the change.

In your opinion, what makes a good veterinarian?

A good veterinarian has a passion for what they do, always wants to learn something new and enjoys strengthening the human-animal bond between client and patient.

What inspired the rainbow-paw print in Queen City Animal Hospital’s logo?

Diversity and pride are part of the core values of QCAH. The rainbow paw is a not-so-subtle nod to our LGBTQ foundation, a spin on the Charlotte crown and a reminder that we see more than dogs and cats!

How does life in North Carolina compare to when you lived in Pennsylvania?

I’ve lived in North Carolina for about 12 years, Pennsylvania for 12.5 years and New Jersey 12.5 years before that. I’ve split my time in three states so far! Charlotte is a great fit for me. The weather is great (I’m not a fan of cold weather), the pace of life is a bit slower and the city is a great place to live. The change we have experienced in the last decade has been incredible.

What activities and hobbies do you enjoy doing when not caring for your patients?

I’m an avid runner and have done multiple half marathons and six marathons (and counting). I’ve been a licensed judge for the American Rabbit Breeders Association since 2002 and judge periodically when work or personal life are not overwhelming. My husband and I love to travel and just finished a trip of a lifetime in January when we spent two weeks in Patagonia between Argentina and Chile. We are so grateful we made it home before the world changed dramatically.

As a wine connoisseur, what makes a good wine in your opinion? Do you have a favorite kind or label?

Wine is a hobby that my husband and I like because it involves being social and changes as time goes on. I think a good wine is one that is easy to drink, has layers that may change as you drink it and pairs well with food. We are big fans of Oregonian and New Zealand Pinot Noirs.

What are some of your and your husband’s favorite places to dine?

Peppervine has been at the top of our list lately, but we also thoroughly enjoy The Goodyear House in NoDa, Oh My Soul in NoDa and Lang Van!

What are some of your favorite destinations to travel to?

Patagonia and New Zealand are my top two destinations — so far! Travel is something that broadens your horizons in ways you would never imagine.

What’s your favorite color or combination of colors?

Any shade of green is my favorite.

If you could be any animal in the world, what would you be and why?

Any large bird would be incredible. Seeing the world from their perspective would be fascinating.