CEDAR SPRINGS, Mich. — Pet care has become a priority for many people during the pandemic, but getting immediate care can be difficult right now. To address the backlog, a West Michigan animal hospital is expanding significantly.
For Judith and Lawrence Nauta, animals are everything.
They are co-owners of Cedar Animal Hospital in Cedar Springs. Not so long ago, Lawrence was retired. It didn’t last, however, because he just couldn’t stand being away from animals. So he put on the lab coat and returned to the field.
“I tried retirement, semi-retirement for a little while,” Lawrence said. “It wasn’t me. I think it’s my retirement. I want to help people as long as I can.
Helping people has gotten a little harder lately. Its staff of 60 didn’t change, but because of the pandemic, more people wanted their pets seen.
“It becomes what’s really important and important to them,” Lawrence told FOX 17. “They don’t want them to be in pain. They don’t want them to be sick. They don’t want them to be hurt. They don’t want them to die. They want to be taken care of.”
Lawrence said the increase in business is a welcome sight, but it has also created a significant backlog.
“I know many emergency clinics around here sometimes waited 12 to 18 hours for emergency care,” he said. “Usually when I come into a shift, I’m usually about six hours late.”
This is a problem that many veterinarians face across the state and country. However, Lawrence might have found a solution for his hospital.
This week they opened a brand new 24-hour emergency center, helping them grow in size and capacity.
The new building will triple in size, allowing for a more dedicated intensive care unit, learning center, library, lounge and, of course, 24-hour care.
In addition, this expansion will allow them to create 100 additional parking spaces and fill 40 new jobs.
This kind of configuration is rare to see. Cedar Animal Hospital will join just two other Grand Rapids-area veterinarians that offer 24-hour services, but the only one north of town. Lawrence said they have customers from as far away as Ludington, Chicago and the Upper Peninsula, which means this $5 million expansion is worth every penny.
Lawrence admitted it was a bit scary, but also a dream come true.
“It’s what I’ve dedicated my life to,” Lawrence said. “Seeing this happen feels like an out of body experience, it’s so exciting. It’s almost unbelievable, and I’m so grateful that we can be a part of it.
The plan is to open the building to the public by mid-October.
Lawrence said filling those 40 vacancies can be a challenge. If you would like to apply to join the staff in a number of available roles, you can email with a resume to [email protected] or call the hospital directly at (616) 696-1212.
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