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WATERLOO – When sweet and cuddly Lexie stepped on the scales Monday morning, she was the first patient on the first day at the new Den Herder Veterinary Hospital. The nearly 18-year-old Cavachon, one of their oldest clients, was the first overnight patient, as well.

Although workers continued finishing touches on the interior of the new facility at 4041 Hurst Drive, it was business as usual for veterinarians, veterinary technicians and staff as more pets and their owners arrived for appointments. There were shots to give, stitches to remove, blood to draw, testing to be done and treats to be given.

“A change of address doesn’t change who we are, or the quality of our care. We have good people who care for our clients, and good people on the other side of the exam table who trust us to take care of their pets,” said Dr. Tom Taylor, owner of the hospital.

Ground-breaking took place May 30, 2018, and moving day followed less than a year later on May 17. Kirk Gross Co. designed the building. It took roughly three days and two moving trucks to shift equipment, files and supplies from the original 2,600-square-foot hospital on Home Plaza to the 8,900-square-foot hospital located just off San Marnan Drive.

Taylor wanted to remain in the same area where now-retired veterinarian Jerry Den Herder founded the hospital 30 years ago. Den Herder mentored Taylor, hiring him in 2004 right out of veterinary school. Taylor purchased the hospital from Den Herder in 2013. Dr. Jerry, as he’s called, is loved and revered, and his photograph is displayed in the spacious new waiting room.

The hospital is filled with natural light and space. Two entry doors make it easier for nervous pets to dodge one another (and owners to avoid being entangled in leashes). There are seven examination rooms, including a comfort room that affords privacy for owners saying goodbye to a beloved pet. It has its own entrance/exit with a memorial garden outside the door.

Two operating tables in the surgical suite add flexibility, and the main treatment room is four times bigger than in the previous building.

“It’s really exciting to have all this space, which adds a whole new dimension to what we can do here. The traffic flow is so much better,” said Dr. Lori Cherney, who joined the vet hospital 23 years ago.

Cherney performed the first emergency surgery in the new facilities last Sunday.

“We’ve been growing so fast, and now we can continue to grow. We have a great staff. You can’t continue to attract the best people without a space to put them. We were confined by lack of elbow room. This new space will allow them to do what they do best,” Taylor explained.

There are five veterinarians and 27 full- and part-time employees, including seven certified veterinary technicians. In addition to Taylor, Cherney and Dr. Sophi Franck, two new vets will start in the next few weeks. Alicen Tracey, from Minnesota, and Columbus High School graduate Garrett Knudson are recent graduates from Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine in Ames.

Kundson said joining Den Herder is an “incredible opportunity.” Tracey appreciates the welcome she’s received. “I feel lucky to be part of this team.”

The new kennels will feature a supervised outdoor run, and a second room was added for expanding grooming services.

“I look at the big picture of having more space to take care our clients, and the good that comes out of that. Reaction from clients has been overwhelmingly positive,” Taylor added.

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