Stow -- A longtime area animal hospital has expanded by opening a second location in the city, preserving a recognizable former fast food restaurant in the process.
Last July, Stow Kent Animal Hospital opened Stow Falls Pet Clinic in what was originally a Red Barn restaurant in the 1970s at 3403 Kent Road.
Medical Director Dr. Angela Albers used the word "surreal" to describe her feelings about being inside her family's newest location, saying, "I remember coming here when it was Red Barn as a little girl."
"I'm just rooted in this area," she said, adding that the building's resemblance to a barn is a good fit for an animal hospital.
"I liked that aspect as well and it's kind of an iconic building," said Albers. "We like to keep the character of the community rather than bulldozing."
The Stow-Munroe Falls Chamber of Commerce awarded its Commercial Improvement Award to Stow Falls Pet Clinic in recognition of this renovation at the Chamber's annual community business awards luncheon Jan. 19.
Albers said this philosophy is in keeping with what Stow Kent has done at its original location to the east at 4559 Kent Road. It is a 1920s farm house that has been expanded three times since Albers' father, Dr. Thomas Albers, started the practice with his wife, Carmela in 1967.
Stow Falls Pet Clinic is actually the practice's third location. It also owns Portage Animal Hospital in Brimfield.
Stow Falls Pet Clinic is at the corner of Williamson Road, not far east of Route 91. Its existence is a reflection of Stow Kent's need to expand.
"It's to help with overflow at Stow Kent," said Manager Debbie Aikens. "It is to give people on this side of town some place closer."
After the Red Barn closed, it was for a number of years Brandon Heating and Cooling, which Albers said was another personal connection for her because Fran Brandon, a member of the family that owned the business, was one of Albers' teachers at Stow High School.
Aikens said it took about a year of planning and construction to renovate the empty interior of the building, which had been vacant for four years.
"It started with four walls," said Aikens.
"Basically we had to start over," said Supervisor Amanda Siciliano
Interior walls had to be built, drop ceilings added and new flooring put in.
"The building was 100 percent uninsulated," added Albers.
Entering the hospital, one of the first things a client will notice is that the waiting area is divided into two parts -- one for dogs and one for cats -- by a low wall.
Three exam rooms are for dogs.
"They're big spacious rooms so the dogs don't feel cornered," said Siciliano,
A fourth smaller room is reserved for cats.
"In the cat room, we don't let dogs in so [the cats] don't smell them," said Siciliano, adding that calming pheromones are also used in the room.
Beyond that, there is a pharmacy and lab area, then a surgery suite and treatment area where the restaurant's kitchen was.
"We have done actually some limited surgeries, but minor stuff," said Albers.
Siciliano said for now, Stow Falls is more limited than Stow Kent, with minor injuries and "a lot of wellness" handled.
"Anything that needs x-rays, ultrasound, hospitalization, they go down the road [to Stow Kent]," said Siciliano.
But in a way, this makes Stow Falls an attractive location for clients bringing their pets in for routine checkups and shots.
"There are no emergencies," said Siciliano. "It's calmer so some people like to come here."
Aikens said "same day appointments" are usually available and "we're accepting new patients."
Besides dogs and cats, the practice also sees other species as well, including birds, goats, rabbits and other small mammals, and reptiles are also seen.
"But no horses, that's our limit," said Albers.
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