Old vet clinic makes new start


Clutha Vets $3m re­fur­bish­ment of its Bal­clutha vet­eri­nar­ian clinic of­fi­cially opened last Thurs­day.

Clutha Vets former chief ex­ec­u­tive and re­tired vet Bruce Bis­sett said the state-of-the-art fa­cil­ity was one of the best in the coun­try.

It was a far cry from the former premises in Clyde St, and the old Gough Gough and Hamer build­ing on the present Wilson Road site that the prac­tice moved into in 1973.

He likened the busi­ness, and its var­i­ous it­er­a­tions to an old axe, but with new cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy. ’’It’s an old axe that’s had two new heads and three new han­dles.’’

Bis­sett, now re­tired to Wanaka, jok­ingly re­ferred to him­self as a ‘‘liv­ing fos­sil in the evolution of Clutha Vets’’. In its nearly 110-year his­tory, and since the last ma­jor up­grade in 1994-1995, it had grown from three vets to 18, and em­ployed 45 to 50 sup­port staff.

It was pos­si­bly one of the old­est, con­tin­u­ally-run prac­tices in New Zealand, and also has a clinic at the nearby south Otago town of Mil­ton.

The co-op­er­a­tively-owned vet­eri­nar­ian prac­tice, also known as Vet Club, has been in busi­ness since 1908, and its his­tory was de­tailed in A cen­te­nary book of the Clutha Vet­eri­nary As­so­ci­a­tion, in 2008.

Bis­sett paid trib­ute to the ded­i­ca­tion and passion shown by staff over the years.

The re­fur­bish­ment re­flected the in­creased fo­cus on its small-an­i­mal prac­tice and re­tail ex­pan­sion, as well as pro­vid­ing bet­ter fa­cil­i­ties for staff and clients.

The clinic also has a spe­cially ded­i­cated area for re-hom­ing kit­tens.

It was hoped the new fa­cil­ity would be a draw­card to at­tract the ‘‘right peo­ple and stu­dents’’ to live and work in the district, he said.

Se­nior vet John Smart, who has been with the com­pany 41 years, said the 18-month ‘‘fu­ture proof­ing’’ project over-ran, but came within the al­lo­cated bud­get.

He made spe­cial men­tion of the build­ing con­trac­tors, and staff and clients who had put up with the in­con­ve­nience of a long re­fur­bish­ment.

Clutha District Mayor Bryan Cado­gan, who spoke at the open­ing and un­veil­ing, said the prac­tice rep­re­sented favourable re­gional growth.

‘‘Hav­ing this build­ing at the en­trance to the town re­flects where we want to go.’’

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