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Packerland Veterinary Center makes its mark with orthopedic services

The Green Bay clinic will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2024

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December 13, 2023

GREEN BAY – With 2024 right around the corner, Packerland Veterinary Center (121 Packerland Drive) will mark a significant milestone – 40 years of providing advanced practice veterinary care.

The clinic was established in 1984 by Allen Dunbar, whose advanced veterinary orthopedic training set the business apart.

Forty years later, Chanda Holschbach, a certified veterinary technician and the business’ sole owner since 2009, said the clinic’s orthopedic services still sets it apart today.

“We’re the biggest in the area,” she said. “The thing about us, we are a one-stop shop, (serving dogs, cats and exotic pets). We don’t refer out – that was one thing that was important for Dunbar and myself – to not make people go elsewhere and be able to help them here.” 

Holschbach said the goal of Packerland Veterinary Center is to provide an array of services.

“If you need vaccines, we got you,” she said. “If your dog breaks a leg, we can do it. If you need an ultrasound, we got you.” 

A team effort
In addition to herself, Holschbach said Packerland Veterinary Center has five veterinarians and 22 other team members.

She said it is also a referral center to about 150 veterinary clinics.

Some of the services the clinic offers, Holschbach said, include: ACL surgery, fracture repair, hip replacement, internal medicine, ultrasound, echo, acupuncture, chemotherapy, same-day stem cell therapy and advanced dental care.

Packerland Veterinary Center, she said, also offers advanced pain management and therapy options, which include an underwater treadmill for the rehabilitation of dogs, which she said was replaced this fall at $30,000.

Holschbach marks 30 years 
In 2023, Holschbach celebrated 30 years with Packerland Veterinary Center.

“Originally, I had no desire to work in private practice,” she said.

Chanda Holschbach

Her professional goal after graduating from the University of Minnesota with a degree in animal health, she said, was to work in a zoo hospital.

Holschbach said an internship at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, Nebraska, gave her the experience to help achieve that goal.

But a death back home in Manitowoc prompted Holschbach to return to Northeast Wisconsin.

While home, she said a friend who worked at Packerland Veterinary Center recommended her for a position.

“Dunbar hired me,” she said. “I thought it was going to be a short period, and I intended to get closer to Milwaukee and get into the (Milwaukee County) Zoo.”

But Holschback said she found herself enjoying the pace of the private practice and has remained with Packerland Veterinary Center for three decades.

Consistent growth
In 2002, the business built a 10,000-square-foot addition. 

“We just kept growing and… Dunbar and I designed what we have now,” Holschbach said.

She said Dunbar “is a brilliant surgeon,” but he needed help managing the practice.

As the practice grew, Dunbar hired office managers, but Holschbach said they often lacked veterinary medicine knowledge.

“I finally said to him, let me try running it…,” she said. “I knew I could easily direct people and do a better job at keeping the staff happier.”

Holschbach said her involvement with the business continued to grow from there.

“I’ve always been ambitious,” she said. “My goal has always been to own a business.”

Holschbach said it came to a point where she either bought into Packerland or opened a veterinary clinic of her own in Manitowoc. 

“It was fine for (Dunbar) – he wanted someone to buy in,” she said.

Though the decision was made to buy into Packerland, Holschbach said a non-veterinarian owning a veterinary clinic presented challenge after challenge.

As of Dec.1, Allen Dunbar, back left, has performed 186 dog knee repair surgeries in 2023. Photo Courtesy of Packerland Veterinary Center

Wisconsin, she said, was one of the few states that allowed a non-veterinarian to own a veterinary clinic, but it was difficult for her to get a loan because she wouldn’t be bringing money into the clinic as a veterinarian.

Finally, Holschbach said working with WTA Veterinary Consultants for an evaluation became a turning point.

She got the loan to purchase half the business in 2007, and then in 2009 became the sole owner of Packerland Veterinary Center.

Through it all, the practice has remained well-known for its orthopedic services.

According to the clinic’s website (, as of Dec. 1, Dunbar had repaired 186 dog knees in 2023.

Holschbach said Dunbar has put Packerland Veterinary Center on the map nationally in field trial work with dogs – with expertise in canine sports medicine emphasizing sporting and hunting dog performance.

Advanced continuing education
Holschbach said she is “a huge believer” in advanced continuing education for her staff.

“Any veterinarian that has ever been employed here, they need to have a strong passion to further their education… that’s who we are,” she said. “I have three vets who have done extensive ultrasound education. We do a ton of dentistry.”

Holschbach said the clinic also does dentistry work, which includes digital radiography.

“We recommend full mouth x-rays on every patient…,” she said. “The things that are hiding are crazy.”

Holschbach said Packerland Veterinary Center is also “cutting edge” in its investment and use of in-house stem cell therapy.

“We were the first in the State of Wisconsin to offer it,” she said. “We do everything here. You come in the morning, we harvest some fatty tissue and there is a seven-hour processing time, (then the pet comes back that day for the injection).”

Holschbach said most stem cell therapies are being used to treat arthritis.

“One of our first cases was a 10-year-old German shepherd…,” she said. “Basically, it couldn’t get up and down the stairs. Going for a walk was completely unheard of.”

After the initial injection, Holschbach said the dog could go up and down stairs – “the possibilities are endless.”

“Stem cell therapy is literally life-changing for animals,” she said.

Client focused
Holschbach said one of the worst positions anybody can be put in is feeling they have to choose between paying their rent or taking their pet in for care.

That, she said, is why Packerland Veterinary Center developed its own in-house “Assurance Plans.”

Different from pet insurance, Holschbach said customers are offered the option of subscribing to one of three annual wellness plans for their pet(s).

Packerland Veterinary Center offers a variety of veterinary services, including preventative wellness care. Photo Courtesy of Packerland Veterinary Center

“We started before anybody else even thought about this,” she said.

A once-a-year pet wellness exam and vaccines, Holschbach said, can cost $300 to $500.

“That’s hard for some people,” she said.

With the Assurance Plan, Holschbach said, customers pay through automatic monthly deductions, with each plan offering discounted services to subscribers.

“I’ve always had the mentality that if someone is offering to make payments for you, they are doing what is affordable for them,” she said. “Our accounts receivable went way down because we were working with people instead of forcing people to pay what they can’t afford. We have people who come to us strictly because we have that.” 

Companion Animal Relief
Besides being the owner of Packerland Veterinary Center, Holschbach is also the founder of Companion Animal Relief Effort (

The nonprofit’s original focus was assisting individuals serving in the active military with care for their pets back home – getting its start when the mother of a daughter serving in Iraq brought in her daughter’s dog that had a torn ACL.

“Nobody could help her,” she said. “The parents were distraught, and so was the soldier. The last thing you should be worrying about is if your dog is still going to be there when you get home.”

So, Holschbach said Packerland Veterinary Center performed surgery on the dog.

A year later, Holschbach said the soldier presented her with a flag “that she flew in my honor in Iraq,” as well as a platoon emblem and letters of thanks that had been written by members of her platoon.

“The letters these guys wrote on behalf of this girl, they were so appreciative that her dog was being taken care of,” she said. “Initially, I wanted it to be just (helping those that) are deployed.”

But then the Green Bay VA Clinic heard about the nonprofit and Holschbach said she learned there are veterans who won’t have needed surgery because they have no one to take care of their pets – another service the nonprofit now takes care of.

“Either somebody here will find a place (for the pet), take them home or they stay here and they board (at the clinic),” she said.
The pet also receives any services it might need, such as vaccines, she said.

Veterinary medicine challenges
Holschbach said there are definite challenges in veterinary medicine today.

“Now the big thing is corporate (veterinary services seeking to acquire independent businesses),” she said. “I’m not exaggerating… They are coming at you from every direction. I bet if I play my voice messages, there are three messages from those corporate groups. The veterinary field right now is literally in a state of emergency.”

The reason, Holschbach said, stems from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Packerland Veterinary Center has a team of five veterinarians – including Dr. Tracy Olsen pictured here – and 23 other team members. Photo Courtesy of Packerland Veterinary Center

“It was the biggest boom that the (animal) rescues had ever seen…,” she said. “Pet population went up tremendously. At the same time, we had smaller clinics closing, and we had the same problem that every other profession did, we had people quitting.”

Holschbach said “compassion fatigue” in veterinary medicine is a huge problem.

A lot of practices, she said, aren’t taking on new patients because they don’t have the staff to do it.

“Of course, we want to help everybody, but you can only do what you can do,” she said.

Holschbach said no two days are alike at Packerland Veterinary Center – noting that some days can be stressful.

“Our work environment is very professional,” she said. “Veterinary care is No. 1, but at the same time, we joke, we laugh, we have a good time… I want people to feel they’re not working for me, you’re working with me.”

Holschbach said she’s never had a day where she’s woken up and hasn’t wanted to go to work.

“There’s always something new,” she said. “Your day is never what you think your day is going to be.”

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