One Year Later

Things running smoothly in new facility

West River Veterinarian Clinic, that service a wide area of North and South Dakota, have been operating in their new facility for nearly a year. (Photo by Cole Benz/The Herald)

By COLE BENZ | Record Editor

West River Veterinary Clinic has been a staple in southwest North Dakota for decades. And their pristine customer service and animal care spread quickly and currently serve a vast majority of their surrounding area.

And one year into the next chapter of their endeavor, Dr. Ethan Andress said it has been going great.

“It’s really gone smoothly,” he said. “The reality is I don’t know if there’s anything we would change.”

In April 2016, they cut the ribbon and opened the door to a brand new facility just east of Hettinger. And with the expansion they’ve been able to better serve the animals, and better serve their owners. And the process has never been better.

The design is key to their efficiency, and Andress said that can be attributed to the time they took with the blueprints.

“After moving into this place, we’re glad we took the time we did to design [it],” he said.

After their original general contractor left the project in the middle of the process, the company not only had to hire a new contractor, but they also had to wait for another winter to pass. That, according to Andress, allowed them to really look at the design and flow of the facility.

“It gave us time to fix a lot of things and work on designs, and all those things,” he said.

A big part of the new layout is the retail space, which is going to benefit animal owners of all kind.

“It’s given us a lot more retail space, for us to carry some items we didn’t before,” Andress said. And also have those products out in a location where [clients] can actually see them.”

The new building design has also been accommodating to the large animal aspect of their business. Andress said that it can be tricky when you build something new to house large animals, because they might pinpoint a hole in your floor plan, before you can.

“Anytime you build a new facility for large animals, you never know what they’re going to see that you didn’t see,” he said. “It’s nice to see them flowing through without too much trouble.”

West River Vet has been able to expand on their already wide rang of animal care services, and part of that care is making sure their processes run as smooth as possible. With the increased space, the doctors and techs can accommodate routine pet appointments along with deal with any emergency situations that come to the clinic.

Prior to the new building, if there was an emergency, because of the lack of space, typical doctor visits were having to be moved around if an emergency came in.

“It’s much easier to work in this place,” Andress said.

He added that it’s less stressful to operate with the added room and bigger areas, especially with vets and techs that stat in the building 24 hours a day during calving season. The lodging is much more comfortable and suitable for overnight stays.

Dr. Lindy West, who joined as a partner in January 2016, said with the new facility they have the room to install and try out new programs, such as the Farrier Days. A farrier is someone who trims or shaves horses’ hooves, and most of the time equine owners have to find a service provider and travel.

But because they had more space, they hired a farrier and horse owners were able to come to West River Vet and get service.

When asked if she anticipates more programs like that, West said “I think so.”

“I’m kind of looking at different areas to expand some of our services.” she said.

•What Is The Future?

When they first opened last April, Andress intended on forming a foundation to help support the future of West River Vet and the community.

The new foundation, dubbed West River Veterinarian Clinic Legacy Foundation, recently acquired their 501c3 status and is ready to give their first scholarship.

“The legacy is those that were before us, and those that come after us,” he said. “When we moved here, we wanted to make sure we didn’t lose our identity, lose what [the original founders] had created here, so their legacy here that they created for us, we need to maintain.”

By starting the foundation, the board (which consists of six people and a seventh student member), they want to bring people back to the community by giving them ample opportunity at West River Vet, and help them get educated along the way.

The first scholarship will be $250. The requirements are still begin determined, but Andress said the student should be heading into an agricultural animal health.

“Something that will benefit our community,” he said.

The future is bright for West River Veterinarian Clinic. Along with improved animal care, the new facility has also expanded the workforce.

They’ve already been able to add five new positions.

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