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Six decades and still growing

In the midst of both a pandemic and the latest renovations to its Elmira facility, the Eldale Veterinary Clinic is celebrating its 60th year of serving the community. The latest renovations are in fact aimed at expanding what it can do for clients and their furry friends.

Jamie Hobson has co-owned the clinic for about 20 years alongside his partners. He started at Eldale right out of vet school in 1993, having gone into the field because he loved working with animals, a passion he attributed to his years working on a farm as a teenager.

It’s a passion evident in the fact he and his family are currently raising three dogs, three cats and a chicken. And perhaps a sign he doesn’t mind bringing his work home at the end of the day.

In his time at Eldale, he’s seen more than a few changes.

“When I was first here, we were a large-animal clinic that did small animals to a small degree. Now it’s equal forces, essentially. The large animal has continued to grow slowly, and the small animal side has grown immensely,” Hobson explained.

“There has been a huge bump in pet ownership since the pandemic. The biggest change has been for the staff because we don’t let our clients into the building right now – we’ve been doing curbside practice for the small-animal practice pretty much since March 2020. That’s presented a whole new set of challenges for the staff.”

The latest renovations at the Church Street facility began a year ago and are almost finished, save for a few minor tweaks. The work was prompted by the clinic’s desire to expand the small-animal capacity to keep up with the growing demand, and a growing community.

“We had done a renovation 10 years ago, and we realized we were maxing out in our capacity – if we were going to capture that market, we had to expand again.”

Eldale welcomes a variety of animals, small and large. They currently have a client who never leaves: Fred the cat has become something of a mascot for the vets, but mainly is just good company. Hobson mentioned the main reason he enjoys being a vet in the community is partly due to the unexpected nature of his work.

“The variety of animals you can see from day to day, not knowing what you’re going to see and how any day can bring you some new challenge.”

Founded in 1961 by newly graduated veterinarian Dr. Murrel Bauman, Eldale has grown steadily and is now home to 13 veterinarians (six large animal and seven small animal), eight registered veterinary technicians, and 13 support staff.

Hobson notes Bauman and his partners were the ones who developed a strong presence in the community before handing over the reins.

Katrina Jonker, a veterinary technician, has been working at the Eldale clinic for close to four years and has seen the changes the renovations have brought, particularly in conjunction with the pandemic.

“During the renovations, things were just crazy because we were doing curbside pickup and the renovations were going on at the same time. We were adjusting to COVID and having banging going on, and that was scary for the pets so we were really shifting focus, thinking pets are coming in without their owners and there is scary noises. We really try, as much as we can, to use fear-free tactics, so using treats and using positive reinforcement,” she explained.

“With the renovation, it’s so nice to have somewhere to go to have somewhere quiet to talk to a client, to go somewhere to get away for a few minutes, to decompress and let your mind calm down, and to have a place to eat your lunch or even just get your lunch ready. We used to eat in exam rooms or outside, so it’s nice to have that and meeting space. I think it’s good to have that space for overall morale. The pets have more space, too; we have more room to practice our medicine and not feel rushed either.”

More exam and surgery rooms have given the vets the ability to take on more clients. Downstairs the basement has been renovated into a dog-boarding facility with a big playroom as well as a room that will likely be used for grooming.

“Every day is different and challenging. You learn something new all the time. I don’t know how I could do anything different – animals are just the best thing. These are patients you get to snuggle and play with, sometimes they’re difficult, but there’s a challenge in that too. The clients are so happy to come here – they have a really satisfied client base. The quality of medicine is really good, the vets are easy to work with and just to have an overall good clinic morale. I’m happy for that,” she said.

The staff at Eldale Veterinary Clinic have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic and renovations, always putting client’s first, added Hobson.

“My staff have been stellar. I can’t describe how they’ve adapted through all of COVID and a renovation – it’s just been challenges they faced and the way they faced them and got through it has just been incredible. A big ‘thank you’ to my staff for everything they do for the clinic.”

More information can be found at the organization’s website.

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