Everybody raise a glass!

At last! The new clinic expansion is here and everyone is very happy – especially the animals.September 15, 2010
By Best Friends Animal Society
By David Dickson

Back in the good old days, an air stream trailer complete with shag carpet comprised the entire medical facility at Best Friends. "But it worked!" said Faith Maloney during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new clinic expansion.

You see, to a truly committed medical team even the humblest of settings can work in a pinch. Hundreds of spays, neuters and other medical procedures took place in that trailer. That was the first iteration of the Best Friends clinic. And now, after the grand opening last Friday afternoon, the clinic has reached its third stage of existence.

The new building is a world apart from the trailer-turned-clinic of yesteryear, but the commitment to animal care remains the same.


For a long time the previous clinic had been a tight squeeze considering the growth at the Sanctuary. In truth, the new expansion is still just a bridge between the existing building and the planned facility that’s several years out. However, the recent expansion will certainly make things easier and much more efficient until then.

At the groundbreaking ceremony several months ago, Best Friends' veterinarian Dr. Patti Iampietro shared some thoughts on how the new expansion will help the animals at the Sanctuary. "We will be able to perform more spays and neuters on a daily basis," Dr. Patti explained. She detailed the importance of adequate recovery space for an animal’s mental health. The new surgery and recovery areas were both high priority considerations in the more than 900-square-foot addition.

Beyond the larger surgery and recovery rooms, the new clinic has an enhanced pharmacy area, several exam rooms, a greater capacity for overall animal treatment, enhanced workflow, an updated air conditioning system, and a 1,000-foot remodeling of existing space to make the entire clinic more functional top to bottom.


For all the laughter that kept erupting from the crowd during the ribbon-cutting ceremony, you might have suspected professional comedians were at the microphone. Actually, the comedic undertones were provided by Seppi the cockatoo, who decided to show up for the big day. Every few minutes he’d start chuckling wildly which set off the whole crowd. Present as well were Nick the pig, Bogey the rabbit, and a few kittens and puppies. After all, there had to be some animals around. They’re excited too!

Several key donors were responsible for the clinic expansion. During the ribbon-cutting festivities, Faith Maloney thanked Howie and Louise Phanstiel for their generous contribution and vision that inspired this project. Howie and Louise decided to name the surgery room Operation Sweet Pea after their cat Sweet Pea. The incredibly spacious new surgery area was a big hit on the building tours that took place afterward.

Two other families made the expansion possible. Donna and David Marshall, who were present for the ribbon-cutting, named the pharmacy Maxwell’s Meds after one of their cats. And, The Frank M. and Gertrude R. Doyle Foundation opted to name one of the exam rooms Shandygaff’s Study after their West Highland terrier.


Architect Bob Kaczowka from Mesa Design and the construction team from Watts Construction were thanked for such impressive and timely work.

"This has exceeded our expectations for a facility," explained Best Friends animal care director Patty Hegwood. Dr. Michael Dix, medical director at the Sanctuary, thanked everybody on behalf of the medical team and explained how this would be such a tremendous benefit for the animals. Dr. Mike glanced out over the assembled crowd — all of whom were packed in the waiting area shoulder to shoulder — and joked that, although he was thrilled to have such a big turnout, he didn’t ever want to see the waiting room that crowded again!

At the end of the brief ceremony, it was time for a toast. "A toast to everyone: Thank you!" said Faith Maloney. At that point, Donna and David Marshall cut the ribbon and the tours began accompanied by many oohs and ahhs at every turn. Even Seppi made the rounds and was clearly impressed by what he saw. If it’s good enough for Seppi, you can be certain it’s top notch indeed. And that’s no joke.

Photos by Gary Kalpakoff

Just like the generous donors mentioned in this story, you can make a memorial donation to Best Friends in your beloved pet's name.