by: Jacqueline Vaughn

While it’s not unusual for one veterinary practice to replace another one, it is a special event when a practice builds a facility from the ground up, expanding and growing to accommodate both clients and state-of-the-art equipment. The Oak Creek Small Animal Clinic in west Sedona recently opened a new building two blocks from its previous facility, but the address is not the only thing that has changed.

“We had outgrown the old space and it was a very outdated and inefficient design that we couldn’t really change,” says Marc Kinney, practice manager and husband of , owner and director of the clinic. “So we decided to go for it and do a ground up project in order to solve all the other issues as well, like the lack of parking, unsafe ingress and egress, and building deterioration, just to name a few.”

The undertaking took literally years to accomplish, starting in June 2017 through the purchase of the land, working with their architect to design the building, addressing civil engineering experts to develop a project development proposal for the City of Sedona, public hearings on the project, issuance of a building permit in August 2018, following by groundbreaking the following month, construction throughout the fall and winter into 2019, and on June 10, 2019, the practice was open for business at its new location on a .91 acre lot at 5 Pinon Drive and Highway 89A.

The building encompasses 4,889 square feet inside, plus a covered porte cochere for loading and unloading—a particularly desirable component for pet owners carrying in their animals, or during inclement weather and summer heat. The contemporary style building was designed by Scottsdale architect Colin Slais, who worked with the Kinneys to translate their need for improved workflow for both clients and their pets into one that included changes in technology and an increased caseload.

The couple also wanted to “build local” and hired David Biermann of Biermann Construction and Development of Sedona. The project was not only new to the Kinneys, but they were also under the time constraints of needing to get the building completed by the time they terminated their commercial lease at the previous location in June 2019. Slais and Biermann worked closely to interpret the ideas presented by the staff so that everyone involved would have a say and would feel their input was important, too.

The result was a building that blends into the environment with tall ceilings and interior glass walls that make for an open, airy and interactive environment with a view of Thunder Mountain and the surrounding landscape. Inside, there is comfortable seating for clients waiting for appointments, a large reception area for staff and check in; pet food and pet supplies display space, and colorful artwork. In order to make the sometimes negative experience of seeing the veterinarian more positive (at least from the pet’s perspective), there is a comfort buffer between the lobby and the six exam rooms, which have doubled from three in the older facility. The kennels have been placed on the highway side, creating a sound barrier for the surrounding neighborhood.

In addition to exam rooms where nervous pets can wait with their owners, there is an expanded area for treatment and procedures which allows the veterinary staff to perform multiple procedures simultaneously. In-house procedures can also be continued at the same time a visiting surgeon is seeing specialty cases. The existing suite of equipment was moved, and new equipment was added, including new surgical and dentistry lighting systems. Perhaps the addition which has created the most excitement among the staff is a state-of-the-art underwater treadmill that was installed. The equipment was one of the elements that Dr. Kinney had wanted to include from the beginning of the design process, and incorporated into the plumbing and electrical infrastructure of the building. The treadmill will be used for veterinary physical therapy, weight loss, and fitness.

Cats and dogs are separated in the facility to reduce stress, and there is an isolation room, and a large canine kennel with access to the outdoor therapy yard. “The design provides for a much calmer environment for our clients and their pets,” both Kinneys agree. “If your pet is more social, the lobby has plenty of space with comfortable seating and great views of the red rocks.” One feature that pet owners will appreciate is an awareness and accommodation for animals undergoing euthanasia. There is a small sign on the reception counter that notes that if a candle is burning, a pet owner is experiencing the end of their pet’s life, asking others to be respectful and to speak in a quiet voice. There is a bereavement courtyard with a private exit for just this purpose.

Overall, the Kinneys and their staff say they couldn’t be more pleased with the end result, and they hope their clients feel the same. “The location is great, especially since we didn’t move far at all. The parking and access is so much better and safer.” Dr. Kinney says she never stops brainstorming about what they can improve upon, with a new building that sets them apart from every other veterinary facility in the area. “I feel that this facility finally supports and honors how much we love our patients and the level of care that our entire team believes in. Our commitment to the community’s pets and their guardians is unwavering.”