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Health Care Pet Vet: Focus is on animals – and humans – at new...

Pet Vet: Focus is on animals – and humans – at new center

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Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

The PARC (for People, Animals, Revolutionary Care)

4801 W. Freeway

25,000 square feet

Architects: PGAL, Dallas

Design: Animal Arts, Boulder, Colorado

Construction: Muckleroy & Falls, Fort Worth

Financing: Happy State Bank

Expected Opening: Fall 2018

In practice for more than 24 years, Dr. Steve Hotchkiss has developed a reputation as one of the top vets in the area. As the owner of Hulen Hills, Metro West Emergency Veterinary Center and The Grand Pet Resort & Salon, he and his staff have treated thousands of area pets.

Now he has embarked on an even bigger vision, a new 25,000-square foot veterinary hospital and pet emergency center going up on the West Freeway, just west of Chapel Hill Shopping Center.

“It’s one of the largest, most technologically-advanced, with some of the most unique architecture, of any veterinary hospitals in the world,” said Hotchkiss.

Along with expanding the number of treatment rooms (14), additional space such as 44 additional dog runs, and what he says is the first boarding facility in town to offer 24-hour access to checking in and picking up, the practice will rebrand as The PARC, for People, Animals, Revolutionary Care.

“We’ve had some confusion with three names,” he said. “We’re really one business under three names. It seemed like a great thing 14 years ago, so we’re rebranding under one name.”

The PARC name comes from Hotchkiss’ pursuit of a new type of animal care: one that focuses on the special relationship between people and pets – something he calls “the space between.”

“A pet never drove itself to our clinic,” he said. “What I care about is the relationship you have with your own pet. That’s how I connect. That’s how I relate to you.”

Hotchkiss notes that his own dog is the one that greets him and jumps in his lap when he walks in the door at home. “My dog Lucy is my best friend, she loves me unconditionally,” he said.

Hotchkiss calls that relationship “The Space Between.”

“We all have that space between with our pets, but each relationship is special and unique. We are going to train our employees how to connect, too,” he said.

Space will be not just larger at the new building, it will be more open. The 14 treatment rooms will have glass walls.

“The whole facility has been built to ease anxiety for people and their pets,” he said.

Hotchkiss compared it to the open kitchen concept now trendy in many restaurants.

“We’re putting glass walls in the treatment areas because there should be no mysteries about what we’re doing,” he said.

If the animal – or their owners – are still anxious, the new facility also has space outside for exams.

Hotchkiss said the concept for the new building was his, but he worked with Heather Lewis of Boulder, Colorado-based Animal Arts, which specializes in the animal care design industry.

The new building includes a fifty-seat Harvard style training room for staff and community events as well as a CT scanner, something rare for most veterinary clinics.

Hulen Hills has made its name by being able to provide services many clinics can’t, Hotchkiss said, noting that during a recent week they treated seven snake bites.

“We keep the anti-venom in stock,” he said. “It’s not cheap and if you don’t use it, it’s worthless after three months.”

The PARC will offer the same services currently offered at Hulen Hills and Metro West, including wellness checkups and vaccinations, surgery, 24-hour emergency care and boarding for dogs.

The expanded space, which features a 2,500-square foot patio, will also allow The PARC team to host social and educational events, such as “Yappy Hour” and pet parent classes.

The PARC Grand Resort will remain in its current location and continue to offer luxury boarding for dogs and cats along with salon and spa services.

He also expects to expand the number of vets on staff to 16, up from 10 currently and have about 70 support staff. Total investment for the project will likely be about $10 million by the time its finished, he said.

The timing may be right for a big project focused on pets. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the average American household spent about $502.05 annually on pets in 2011, up from $430.80 in 2007.

Because the current space – and the adjacent parking space – is so small, Hotchkiss said many people don’t realize how busy the Hulen Hills operation is.

“We have 13,000 active clients,” he said. “We’ve been running them through 24-7. We’ve been needing to expand for years.”

Hotchkiss said the business is involved in several animal organizations such as the Saving Hope Foundation, as well as providing services for an animal companion service dog program.

Hotchkiss, who grew up in Irving, said he was always interested in science as a kid and also loved animals. Graduating from Texas A&M and becoming a vet was a way to combine those two passions, he said.

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