History, Family, Community
The founder of Ponchatoula Animal Hospital is Dr. Larry Ernst, a member of the first class of graduating veterinarians from the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine in 1977. In 1980, Dr. Ernst returned to his roots in Ponchatoula and established the Ponchatoula Animal Hospital on property that had been part of the dairy farm on which he grew up.
Serving as the sole veterinarian for 25 years, Dr. Ernst built up the practice and expanded in 1995, doubling the size of the original hospital. In 2003, Dr. Pete Hendry, who had practiced and owned General Animal Hospital in Covington for 34 years, came out of retirement to lend a hand to Dr. Ernst. In 2004, Dr. Bonnie Duhon also joined the practice. Due to her hard work, dedication, and adoration of her clients, it was only natural that she became co-owner of Ponchatoula Animal Hospital.
The hospital continued to grow at a rapid pace, requiring the addition of an associate veterinarian to the staff in 2011. Doctors Ernst and Duhon, however, realizing the need for additional space to support a thriving practice, expanded the hospital to include a new lobby, more exam rooms, a larger pharmacy and lab, as well as a new treatment area and kitchen. This latest expansion was completed in 2016.
Today, in addition to Drs. Ernst, Duhon, and Hendry, Ponchatoula Animal Hospital has 3 full time associate veterinarians – Dr. Kathleen Elstrott, Dr. Cody Schmaltz, and Dr. Susan Akers. We also have more than 20 talented support staff members including technicians, receptionists, and kennel staff who help make it possible for our veterinarians to provide excellent health care to your pets.
Ponchatoula Animal Hospital would like to take this time to thank our loyal and faithful clients who have brought their pets to the hospital over the years and have provided us with the best advertisement there is -- word of mouth. We want you to know that we appreciate you and we are so blessed that you have chosen to be part of our family.
Ponchatoula Animal Hospital is truly a family operation. From the beginning, Dr. Ernst’s family members helped him establish and maintain the hospital. That tradition lives on, now including members of Dr. Duhon’s family.
The Ernst Family
Dr. Ernst’s brother, Raymond, built the original hospital building; today, he, along with brother Lester, helps with building repairs. Dr. Ernst’s father assisted in all aspects of the hospital during the early years of operations.
Dr. Ernst’s sister, Anita Hotard, has been with the hospital since it opened its doors serving as a surgery technician.
Another sister, Linda Landry, has worn many different hats since she has been here, including that of a surgery technician, receptionist, groomer, and now Office Manager.
Dr. Ernst’s brother, Glen, oversees the computers and wrote the original computer program the hospital used. Niece Christina Ernst works part-time as a receptionist while attending Southeastern Louisiana University.
Great-nephew Chandler Poche is part of the kennel staff and is learning to be a technician while he is attending Southeastern. Grandson Luke helps by cleaning the kennels.
The Duhon Family
Dr. Duhon’s husband, Travis, maintains our lawn and landscaping. Sometimes, you can glimpse Dr. Duhon’s daughters, Grace and Ava, assisting on Saturdays.
Ponchatoula Animal Hospital and its employees are an integral part of the Ponchatoula community. Providing excellence in animal health care is just the beginning of our service to the community.
Ponchatoula Animal Hospital is a proud supporter of St. Joseph Catholic Church and St. Joseph Catholic School. Many of our employees are graduates or have children or grandchildren attending St. Joseph School. We sponsor the Spring Fair every year and staff members serve in many capacities supporting the church and school.
Ponchatoula Animal Hospital is also an active in civic organizations such as the Ponchatoula Chamber of Commerce, Ponchatoula Rotary Club, and the Ponchatoula Knights of Columbus. Members of our staff also serve as members of the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival Board, Trinity Church of Covington, Loranger Baptist Church, Tangipahoa Animal Friends, and the Junior Auxiliary of Hammond.
Ponchatoula Animal Hospital also loves to recycle! Any way that we can prevent filling up the dumpster we do - from Dr. Pete collecting cans to Dr. Elstrott bringing recycles to collection to using old faxes for scratch paper.
Community awards with which we have been honored include:
The Daily Star’s Best of Tangipahoa
2017 Best Veterinary Hospital
2017 Best Veterinarian - Dr. Bonnie Duhon
2018 Best Veterinary Clinic
2018 Best Place to Work