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Pendleton Veterinary Clinic gets new digs

Clinic received $96,488 grant to build new office at 625 S.W. Emigrant Ave.
Antonio Sierra

East Oregonian

Published on January 25, 2018 8:32PM

Last changed on January 25, 2018 10:14PM

Veterinarian Fiona Hillenbrand, center, checks the dental health of Tucker as veterinary assistant Erin Mills, left, and owner L’Rissa Sohappy work to keep the dog calm during a checkup Wednesday at the Pendleton Veterinary Clinic.

Staff photo by E.J. Harris

Veterinarian Fiona Hillenbrand, center, checks the dental health of Tucker as veterinary assistant Erin Mills, left, and owner L’Rissa Sohappy work to keep the dog calm during a checkup Wednesday at the Pendleton Veterinary Clinic.

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A cat stares out of a holding cage in the cat ward Wednesday at the Pendleton Veterinary Clinic.

Staff photo by E.J. Harris

A cat stares out of a holding cage in the cat ward Wednesday at the Pendleton Veterinary Clinic.

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Veterinary assistant Amy Kline towels off a cat after a procedure in a recovery area on Wednesday at the Pendleton Veterinary Clinic.

Staff photo by E.J. Harris

Veterinary assistant Amy Kline towels off a cat after a procedure in a recovery area on Wednesday at the Pendleton Veterinary Clinic.

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Farrow sits in a kennel after having a procedure on Wednesday at Pendleton Veterinary Clinic.

Staff photo by E.J. Harris

Farrow sits in a kennel after having a procedure on Wednesday at Pendleton Veterinary Clinic.

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With the help of a local grant, the Pendleton Veterinary Clinic has a fresh start.

As a crowd flowed out the door of the clinic’s new facility at 625 S.W. Emigrant Ave., owner Fiona Hillenbrand teared up as she thanked her staff and the city for their help at the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Members of the Pendleton Development Commission then handed Hillenbrand an oversized novelty check for $96,488, the commission’s contribution to the project through its Fresh Start grant program.

After the ribbon was cut, clinic staff stationed themselves in various parts of the building to explain its features and how they are an improvement over the old facility at 1901 S.W. Court Ave.

Veterinary assistant Amy Kline was standing in the procedure room, the area where dogs and cats receive check-ups, dental work and other standard procedures.

Kline said the room now had four tables instead of one, allowing staff to do more work simultaneously. Additionally, all the tables are heated. From the tables, staff will be able to peek into a windowed intensive care unit to check on recovering pets.

The clinic has another room for surgeries and more complex procedures.

Shadee Williams, another veterinary assistant, said the new room has space for all the veterinary equipment, which is attached to the ceiling instead of the wall to avoid tripping hazards. Williams said the old room needed to double as a preparatory space and didn’t have all the equipment in one place.

Other features of the building include a room where families have space to grieve over euthanized animals with access to a separate exit, and boarding kennels with automatic water dispensers and indoor and outdoor play areas.

Hillenbrand said “auxiliary” services like doggie daycare, boarding kennels and canine acupuncture will help offset the costs of running a modern clinic.

“Veterinary medicine is very expensive,” she said.

Although the launch of these new services didn’t coincide with the Dec. 18 opening of the clinic, Hillenbrand hopes to have them running within the next month.

The Fresh Start grant was created in the wake of Hillenbrand’s request, when the commission realized it had no grant program for developers looking to establish new buildings in the urban renewal district. Applicants to the program can apply for up to $100,000 in grant funding.

Although she said she would have been able to build the new facility without the commission’s assistance, it helped make the process easier and more relaxing.

Charles Denight, the associate director of the development commission, pointed to the new possibilities the grant could open.

Denight said the urban renewal district was created under the premise that it would bring in revenue from new development.

While the commission has been active in restoring and remodeling the city’s existing building stock, new commercial or housing development in the downtown area has been hard to come by.

“Zippo, practically,” Denight said.

While the Pendleton Veterinary Clinic is the Fresh Start program’s only project to date, Denight said there’s been interest from a “half dozen” developers in using it for a downtown housing project.

He said these buyers are interested in purchasing the Edwards Apartments, a derelict complex on Southeast Court infamous for drug use and public safety problems that was closed by city injunction in 2010.

Under these developers’ plans, they would buy the property from its current owner, use the commission’s demolition grant to clear the existing building and apply for a Fresh Start grant to build new housing units on the property. Denight said another developer is interested in restoring the existing building, a project that could garner a different set of grants from the commission.

While potential buyers consider the Edwards Apartments, Denight said another property owner is moving forward with plans for a different downtown space.

At a special meeting Tuesday, the development commission will consider giving a demolition grant to John Fenton, who plans to use it to clear away a dilapidated house he owns at 356 S.E. Third Street. If he gets approval from the commission, Denight said Fenton wants to apply for a Fresh Start grant to build a new duplex on the site.

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Contact Antonio Sierra at asierra@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0836.







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