*This story first appeared in The Budget’s April 25, 2018, Local Edition
By Beverly Keller
When it comes to animal care, Sugarcreek Veterinary Clinic has been the go-to for the community since it was originally opened by Dr. William C. Edgar and Dr. Gene Miller in 1957. In order to continue meeting those needs, the business recently expanded.
The story begins in a new 33-foot by 43-foot building that was constructed next to what was known as the Sugarcreek Locker Service Plant with the address of 303 South Broadway in Sugarcreek. The building had been a long-time coming as Edgar and Miller needed a place to practice that could be used for surgeries if needed and allow them to care for more animals than ever before. The office was staffed by Jo Anne and Maxine who took the calls and, using the two-way radio did their best to communicate with the doctors. The pair worked to treat everything from milk fever to dogs that required a little help birthing puppies.
Fast forward to 1985 and Dr. Edgar was ready to retire having served the community for many decades. Dr. Rick Daugherty purchased the company from him that year. Daugherty grew up on a hog farm near Wooster and had spent two years practicing in Ashtabula County before making the purchase.
In 1990, Dr. James Honigford joined the practice and bought in as a partner in 1992. Honigford is often referred to as a gentle giant by those who know him and his height is definitely an advantage when working with some animals on the farm. However, it was also an advantage to him during his basketball days at Ohio State from 1983 – 1986.
In 1996, Dr. C. Shane Donley joined the practice as the needs of the community continued to grow. Dr. Donley bought in as a partner in 1999.
A few years later, on July 4, 1998, Sugarcreek Veterinary Clinic moved a few clicks down and across the street to its current home at 306 South Broadway. Today, there is a staff of doctors and support personnel who have several decades of experience with animals ranging from Mitsy the family dog to Peyton the cat, Rosie the cow, Hans the horse, Pepper the pig and Gracie the guinea pig and everything else you can imagine. Sugarcreek Veterinary Clinic provides care for animals such as deer by working with local farms as needed as well to be sure they are healthy.
“We are backed by more than 30 years of experience in the animal medical field,” shared Dr. Rick Daugherty. “We are proud to be a locally-owned and operated animal clinic.”
As an animal clinic, the staff stands ready to treat anything in the animal realm with the latest techniques in practice. All three senior vets – Daugherty, Honigford and Donley – are graduates of Ohio State University. They are joined in the ranks by several other doctors and a host of support staff whose specialties help to make the Sugarcreek Veterinary Clinic a well-oiled machine.
Dr. Aimee Clay is a 2013 graduate of Ohio State University and has an undergraduate degree in Zoology from Kent State. She joined the clinic in 2014. Dr. Brandon Michels calls Tuscarawas County home. He earned his educational certifications from the College of Wooster and Ohio State. He came on board in 2016. Dr. Lauren Malenke is also part of the staff at Sugarcreek and is a 2014 graduate of Colorado State. Prior to coming on board in 2016, she practiced in Coshocton County. If you see her, be sure to ask about her wooly pigs. Dr. Luke Morrow is a 2016 grad of Ohio State who grew up on a beef farm in McConnelsville. The newest doctor on staff is Dr. Aaron Pospisil who is a 2017 graduate of Ohio State University. He has a focus on small animal medicine.
Support staff includes local faces like Amy Zahner, Rachel Kirkpatrick, Tammy Snyder, Shelley Recchuiti, Nicole Kellish, Katy Pretorius, Kara Gray, Megan Lehotay, Krista Beachy, Andrea Schlabach, Ashton Metheny, Lauren Sharma, Ashley Stutzman and Martha Ohler.
The new addition was really born out of necessity. “It was a space thing,” Daugherty shared. “We had been thinking about it for about three years. We developed what we wanted it to look like on the outside and made a plan for what we needed inside. We worked with Ivan Weaver and made it happen.”
The importance of input from the entire staff was underscored by Daugherty as key to the process. “Everyone was involved in this process,” he said. “We got input on every aspect from the people who were using the spaces. We had to see what we needed to make things easier and more efficient. We were literally on top of each other before.”
He noted that the new space has been adapted to each group that is using it. “We now have an area just for dental procedures,” Daugherty explained. “We also have an area for x-rays and a place just for surgical services that is separate from our treatment rooms. In our old setup, those things occupied the same space and made it hard to function properly.”
As part of the expansion, the number of exam rooms doubled from three to six. “This will allow us to see more patients in a faster amount of time,” he explained. “We can also get people into a room quicker and be more efficient overall.”
Daugherty shared that the in-house lab will be something utilized by both the small animal doctors as well as those on the farms. “We will be able to do in-house diagnostics on blood and other specimens as well as milk cultures,” he shared. “This means we won’t have to send things out to be read and then wait for a response, which will speed up our ability to treat.”
Another new avenue the space allowed for is a retail area. “We added the retail space for things that we want to have on hand for clients to purchase if needed,” Daugherty said. “We now have things like Thunder Shirts for animals so that people can get them locally as opposed to having to travel out of town. We also have a large selection of dog and other pet foods as well. We added a little bit of everything.”
Daugherty shared that the office is a very busy one that cares for a multitude of animals and offers services not found everywhere, including acupuncture.