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[EASTOWN] Pet Project

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/Lee Hardy

Underwriting support from:


Access writer, Heather Young Salter

When she's not training for a triathalon, chasing after her toddler or rocking her weeks-old baby boy, Dr. Lynn Happel is realizing her dream of establishing her own veterinary practice, the Eastown Veterinary Clinic. In the process, she’s bringing new life—wagging, barking and purring—back to the dormant site of the former Fifth Third Bank at 1350 Lake Drive.

“I became a veterinary doctor because I love animals and I love science,” said Happel. “I like the investigative quality of it—the ability to determine what’s bothering animals, because they can’t tell us what’s wrong.”

Originally from Portage, Happel and her husband Bryan moved to Caledonia to live on the Thornapple River. In Eastown, she sees a community ready for its own veterinary clinic and also the opportunity to complement her rural lifestyle at home with an urban worklife, courtesy of Eastown’s walkable amenities and lively events.

Happel’s practice will put wellness care, sick patient care, surgery, inhouse laboratory, X-ray and potentially ultrasound services within walking distance of Eastowners and their four-legged friends. Currently pursuing board certification in veterinary dentistry, Happel also offers dental care for pets. Earning this special qualification will make her one of only three such veterinary doctors in Michigan. Happel expects to hire three to four staff people: a licensed veterinary technician, a veterinary assistant or two and a receptionist. In time, she hopes to welcome one or two additional doctors with six to nine staff members.

To support their work, Happel is dramatically remodeling much of the interior of the existing structure,
retaining most of the building’s exterior walls. She’s making creative use of the bank vault, which will house an X-ray machine. A 400-sq. ft. addition will flank the north side of the building. Aesthetic improvements include the addition of cornice to the building’s exterior and green space on the east side of the building. The green space will also give the clinic’s patients a place to go when nature calls.

Continuity of care is as important for animals as it is for people. “I’ve worked in larger practices where you can lose track of patients,” said Happel. “My goal is to practice good, quality medicine on a personalized level.”

Eastown Veterinary Clinic is planned to open late spring or early summer this year. “Like” the clinic on Facebook for updates on progress.

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