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A bigger, better place to care for pets
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It’s just around the corner, less than half a mile away, but when the building is finished in January it will almost double Well Spring Animal Hospital’s existing space. That means, veterinarian Dr. Laura Thomas and her staff will be able to care for more dog and cat patients.

“We’re about to outgrow the space we’re in,” Thomas said, adding they can only kennel 12 canine patients in their present location at 55 Crowell Road, Covington. The new animal hospital at 11340 Brown Bridge Road sits on a five-acre lot and the new hospital itself will have 5,000 square-feet of finished space. Replacing all but the metal frame and concrete slab with a 5,000 square foot building, construction crews anticipate the remodeling will be finished in January.
“Really, what we’re after is a better set up then we have now,” Thomas said. “The building is going to have a wonderful work flow with more and bigger examination rooms, more surgery rooms and more kennel space. We’ll have a beautiful fenced in play area in the back.”

Plans for the new hospital building have been in the works for two years. Thomas said construction costs have been more than she’d imagined, but “I have a wonderful client who is a banker in Covington, and he has really helped me. I ended up getting a small business administration loan in order to keep my interest rate fixed.”

Arranging financing, she said, was not an easy endeavor, taking almost a year to put in place.

But it will, she said, be worth it. “Many people see their pets as members of the family. I don’t think that was always in true in the past. They want for them [their pets] more services than we ever imagined. People want us to have up-to-date facilities and up-to-date equipment.”

Thomas first opened her practice in Covington 12 years ago, and has called Newton County home since 1986. “I love that Covington is still a small town. So many people who come in [to the hospital] I’ve known for a long time.”

Treating dogs, she said, takes up about two-thirds of her practice, with cats taking up the rest. The most common issues are skin problems, caused primarily by flea allergies or reaction to the environment. “We’ve found if people use some of the good flea products consistently, they can keep it in control. It’s all about being consistent.”

But this fall, she said, there has been rise in puppies with Parvo, often fatal disease that attacks the gastrointestinal tract.

“There are lots of unvaccinated dogs,” she said. “Usually, we start vaccinating [puppies] and finish when they are four months old. Any dog under two needs to be vaccinated for Parvo, though some older dogs may need it, too.”

Another issue animal care providers in the area deal with are feral cats. “There are a fair number of feral cat communities [in Covington],” Thomas said. “Getting them spayed and neutered is hard. It’s hard to manage them. People feed them because they feel sorry for them, so they feed them. I have several clients who have taken it upon themselves to trap feral cats and that’s a wonderful thing. The bad thing, the cat colonies harbor some of the infectious diseases.

“What happened is when the economy went bad, a lot of people moved away and left [their cats] behind.”
Thomas hopes to start a no-kill shelter for Newton County on the new hospital property, “but that’s probably five years down the road,” she said.

“We could use it,” she said. “We have a large stray animal population and our animal control is very well run, but it’s difficult for them to handle as many animals that come to them. Our idea is that we would only take animals from animal control to lessen their burden. We would spay and neuter them and adopt that out – that would be a great thing, but that’s a dream right now.”

In the meantime, Thomas and her staff are looking forward to moving into the new hospital in January. “If people want to come through the building when it’s finished, we are happy to walk them through and show them everything.

“We’ll have a big open house when it’s ready. I would love people to see it inside,” she said.