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Pet medics will get more spacious digs

CENTRAL POINT —The animal doctors, surgeons and staff at Southern Oregon Veterinary Specialty Center will soon have more elbow room.

Cramped into 5,000-square-foot quarters not far from the airport on Biddle Road, the dog, cat and pocket-pet medics are slated to begin operations in mid-June at a new $2.5 million, 11,608-square-foot hospital, 1.5 miles up the street, near the Super 8 Motel.

In 13 years, the animal hospital has grown from five veterinarians and a support staff of 25 to 14 doctors, including specialists, and 83 employees.

The veterinarian partners who launched the center in 2004 intended the facility to be a five-year solution, said managing Dr. Diana Schropp. But when the recession hit, expansion was put on hold.

"Things were kind of slow in the area, so we decided to stay here," Schropp said. "Now, we've grown significantly, and we've just run out room for our patients, and room for our doctors and staff."

The hospital handles more than 10,000 visits annually from clients within a 150-mile radius. Between Sacramento and Portland, there are smaller clinics offering surgery and internal medicine, but none with around-the-clock staffing.

In the early 2000s, Rogue Valley veterinarians shared after-hours, on-call and emergency service work. So, SOVSC's arrival proved a game-changer, providing specialty and 24-hour emergency service.

When family veterinarians head for home, SOVSC becomes the hub of animal medical treatment, with 24/7 staffing by doctors, technicians and receptionists.

"That allows us to not only take care of our patients from the specialty side and hospitalized patients, but anyone in the community that needs that service," Schropp said.

The hospital also has equipment some vets couldn't afford.

"If a dog needs a special endoscopic procedure, ultrasound, or special surgical procedure, that can be referred here and then sent back to the family veterinarian for continuing care," she said.

The hospital doesn't offer routine vaccinations, spaying, neuters, or other day-to-day care family vets provide.

Location was a factor in the move, Schropp said.

Being close to the airport made the hospital easy to find for people coming from out of town. It also has been a central location for the area's veterinarian clinics that refer pets to SOVSC or need a place to keep patients. With the hospital's quarters becoming increasingly cramped, the partners began looking for new digs.

"We wanted to stay somewhat close to the airport," Schropp said.

The partners acquired 4.87 acres from Bank of the Cascades two years ago for $675,000. Schropp expects the new building, constructed by S&B James Construction Management, to handle demand for the next 10 to 15 years.

"You anticipate you're going to have enough room anytime you move into something bigger, and then all of a sudden you fill that space," she said. "You just never know what the demand is going to be."

The present building is owned by the original veterinarian partners, as will the new facility. National Veterinarian Associates, which owns hundreds of clinics and grooming operations in the U.S., Canada, and Australia, acquired the practice in September 2016 and oversees the administrative, payroll, accounting and human resource services, while providing lower costs for supplies.

"It's a tremendous support because you can imagine with 83 employees, insurance and all those things, it can be quite cumbersome," Schropp said.

— Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31.

Southern Oregon Veterinary Specialty Center is set to open next week in an expanded location at 4901 Biddle Road. [Mail Tribune / Denise Baratta]