VILONIA — Vilonia Animal Clinic has completed its third expansion since opening its doors in 1996 with additions that accommodate both pets and families.

"We’ve seen it change over the years, and pets are becoming part of the family," said Practice Manager Melanie Gentry.

In 1996, Gentry and husband Chris built what was the beginnings of Vilonia Animal Clinic. In 1999, the clinic made their first expansion adding 1,000 square feet.

Today, the clinic occupies 6,200 square feet and can accommodate an additional 15 to 20 pets.

The expansion included a complete remodeling of the existing structure.

"We’ve been needing to renovate and remodel for a few years, but we also needed some extra space," Gentry said.

The clinic has grown to include three veterinarians and a large staff, so the first goal of the renovation, Gentry said, was to build a break room for the staff.

In addition to the four original exam rooms, a larger exam room was built for large families with multiple pets. The exam room will also be used for grieving families during a pet’s euthanasia.

Mulhearn Wilson Constructors completed the expansion and remodeling project for $450,000.

Construction started in April and finished in September. The staff didn’t miss a single day of work during the renovations, Gentry said.

"We were in the worst of it in the busiest time of year, so it was interesting," she said.

Although the clinic did not add kennel space, the old break room was transformed into a grooming facility for groomer Meghan Huff with her own bathtub adding nine cages.

Another room was renovated for exclusive cat boarding and a post surgery recovery area also added cage space.

"The remodel reconfigured the space that we had to be more functional, more open and flow a lot better," Gentry said.

About 80 percent of the clinic’s animal patients are dogs, Gentry said, but the clinic is hoping to see more cats.

"Everyone around here is crazy about cats and wants to see more cats especially with our new facility," she said.

The cat boarding room includes a glass window for cats to view daily activities and a play area with a mobile, a cat tree and feather toys.

"Cats are very notoriously stressed out from being away from home and being in a kennel with barking dogs," Gentry said.

All cages in the cat boarding room have a small, circular opening at the bottom so familiar cats can visit each other.

For the first time in 15 years, the entire facility will be open for a public tour Thursday from 4 to 6:30 p.m.

Clients can visit with doctors and staff and have the chance to meet new veterinarian Dr. Michael Lennon who began working part time at the clinic this year.

The clinic purchased new technology with the renovation including a digital x-ray system. X-rays will be on display during the open house. As well as lab equipment and kennel facilities.

Steve Markham, drug representative with Zoetis, is providing catering. Door prizes include a six month pack of flea control and a free check up for a dog or cat among other prizes.

Vilonia Animal Clinic is located down Hwy 64 at 785 U.S. 64 Business.

(Staff writer Michelle Corbet can be reached by email at michelle.corbet@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1215. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)