A few weeks after veterinarian Danielle Meyers became a co-owner of Audubon Veterinary Clinic, a young couple arrived, cradling an injured kitten that could not have been more than five weeks old. The kitten had been dangling from the mouth of a stray dog when the couple found it.
The team of vets went to work on the baby animal and found it had a hernia that caused intestinal leakage. They fashioned a feeding tube from a urinary catheter and hooked it to the anesthetic machine, worried the vulnerable young kitten would not make it.
The kitten recovered quickly, Meyers said, and she was struck by his resilience. There was something else about him, too. Before this, Meyers had become the owner of a 12-year-old orange-and-white tabby named Charles that bore a striking resemblance to the baby kitten they had just saved.
“I saw him and I was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s Charles as a kitten. I need that little guy,’ ” Meyers said. “He’s a little spitfire.”
Meyers named him Ralphie and introduced him to her other cats back home. Though Ralphie and Charles have yet to develop even baseline tolerance for one another, Meyers said she adores them both, as with all cats.
“I mean, if I only saw cats here forever, I’d be totally fine,” Meyers said.
Meyers and Audubon’s co-owner, fellow veterinarian Olivia Young, purchased Audubon Veterinary Clinic in late March. Both graduated from the veterinary school at Washington State University – Meyers in 2017 and Young two years later. Meyers did her undergrad work there, too, while Young earned a bachelor’s degree at Montana State University.
Young said she learned the business side while a member of WSU’s Veterinary Business Management Administration.
“I’d always had interests in owning a clinic … but I never thought it was possible because everything is going corporate nowadays,” Young said.
The young grads met with the previous owner last October and instantly liked the location and property.
“I remember when I first walked in, the lobby has this rustic, almost fishing-cabin kind of vibe,” Young said. “I felt like, ‘Yeah, I would bring my dog here.’ ”
They also ran into unexpected obstacles, as the clinic needed technical and building work to aid in the transition from the previous ownership.
“There’s so many things we didn’t even realize we had to deal with. We had to switch our phone system and that was a whole thing,” Meyers said. “We had to get credit card machines set up. We’re dealing with all these taxes you didn’t think about before. We’re comfortable now, but every day you come in and it’s like, ‘Oh, I didn’t even know that was a thing.’ ”
A new location also means a new clientele base, but Young said they never worried about the transition. Though a self-described introvert, Young said veterinary practice is often about the emotional relationship to the clients and their pets, so those interactions helped her break out of her shell.
From Belgrade, Montana, Young said she embraced the difference between small-town and city life. Audubon sits on Northwest Boulevard, wedged between pizza joints and boutiques in a high-traffic area. They see a range of clients, and an even more diverse set of animals, Young said.
Their resident clinic cat, who Young said is a “giant tabby who just wants snuggles and head boops,” is an overweight female named Lily whose owner could no longer tend to her special dietary needs.
“She is on a diet plan, and she’s lost a total of one pound so far. There’s some progress,” Young said, laughing.
As recent college graduates, Young said she noticed a shift in how they practice compared to veterinary medicine of old.
“It’s not so much a generational divide, but I think 30 years ago people thought of their dog as just an animal, just a dog,” Young said. “But now we have clients who really see their pets as part of their family. And we get it, we have pets that we treat as family too. So that is nice to see.”
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