Meet the Detroit Veterinarian at the Oldest Pet Clinic in the Country

The Patterson Dog and Cat Hospital in Detroit is celebrating its 175th year anniversary. It evolved from taking care of livestock in the 19th century to modern pets today.

Patterson Dog and Cat Hospital

Dr. Glynes Graham has a special place in the heart of cat and dog owners all over the city of Detroit.

As a veterinarian and owner of the beloved Patterson Dog and Cat Hospital, Graham has nursed, nurtured and educated pets (and their humans) since 1844 — Veterinary News crowned them the oldest known operating vet clinic in the country.

“They were downtown and took care of horses and cows and sheep and pigs. I don’t think there was a whole lot of dog and cat business back then,” says Graham. 

Located on Grand River Blvd. on the city’s westside, Patterson Dog and Cat Hospital is among the last operating small-business in the city. This summer, the historic establishment is celebrating its 175th anniversary. 

“We spend a lot of time not only making decisions about what’s appropriate for the pet, but often how we can do that and work within people’s ability to do that. 

Dr. Graham made a visit to the studio to discuss the hospital’s history and why it remains a staple in Detroit.

Click on the player above to hear WDET’s Ryan Patrick Hooper interview Dr. Glynes Graham. Read excerpts from the Q&A, edited for length and clarity, below.

WDET: You were 15-years-old when you first started at the clinic, what year was that? 

Dr. Glynes Graham, veterinarian: I was still in high school, I went to Cass [Technical High School]. Patterson is right up the road. I actually was in Girl Scouts, I wanted to get my animal healthcare badge and my dad took me to the hospital where he took his dogs, and I just… stayed. I never left.

I worked there during summers and vacations while I was in high school, in college. Then I got married and moved away for about a year and a half. When I learned that Dr. Miller was selling the practice we moved back to Detroit so that I could have my hospital. 

You jumped at the chance to take it over in about 1985, is that right? 

’85, is when I bought the practice. 

Paint a picture of what it was like being a vet at that time in Detroit. I know we talked before about breeds changing and the care changing. 

It was a much smaller practice than it is now, at that point. At one point, the hospital had been a multi-doctor practice with 6 different veterinarians and lots of stuff, but by the time I was there it was just me for quite a few years. My ex-husband was there too, there was the two of us and a couple employees and a receptionist. It was not very busy.

We responded to what people were interested in. Originally we did a lot of vaccinations, minimal care. But as we’ve gone on people have been more interested in doing more extensive care, there’s more things available to take care of pets. We see a really wide range now from wellness to surgery to dental procedures to cancer treatments. We have a pretty wide range of what’s available for animals in Detroit and the Detroit area. 

I think that’s absolutely fascinating to watch that evolution of care. At one time, there might have been a budget on your animal. Do you see that often?

There’s always a budget. Because, with a few exceptions, we do have some people that have insurance for their pets, but the vast majority of my patients come in and people are paying out-of-pocket. So there’s always a budget associated with that. And so we spend a lot of time not only making decisions about what’s appropriate for the pet, but often how we can do that and work within people’s ability to do that. 

Patterson Dog and Cat Hospital is celebrating its 175th anniversary with a block party at its location at 3800 Grand River Ave, Detroit, MI 48208 on Saturday, July 20.