Dogs, cats, birds, lizards … pets have a way of quickly working their way into hearts and becoming a fast part of the family. Naturally, when a pet is showing signs of illness or decline, it takes a toll on not only the animal, but the owner. Veterinary care is an important part of pet ownership. Enter Companion Animal Hospital.
In November 1981, Companion Animal Hospital was opened by Dr. David Nelson on Lincoln Avenue. During construction of the veterinary hospital, Nelson worked out of his home. In May 2003, Dr. Thea Fransen joined the practice. When Nelson decided to retire, Fransen knew that she wanted to stay at Companion Animal Hospital, which prompted her to purchase the business.
“I just knew that Dr. Nelson deserved to retire,” she explained. “It was the logical next step.”
Fransen graduated from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in 2001. She practiced in St. Cloud for two years prior to moving to Fergus Falls to raise her family and joining Nelson’s practice. The decision to enter veterinary medicine wasn’t difficult for Fransen.
“I love the challenge and practice of medicine; and my empathy for dogs and cats and creatures was better than my people skills,” she shared, exclaiming that she gets to live out every child’s dream job.
“After 20 years I still really just enjoy helping the animals and the people who love them. I love medicine. I love that veterinary medicine is still advancing at a rapid pace and we get to be a part of that. And even when a pet has reached the end of their life, I find it rewarding to make that time as comfortable for animals and their families as I can.”
Throughout Fransen’s ownership of Companion Animal Hospital, she has grown the business. Currently, the hospital has three veterinarians, six technicians, three client services staff, two assistants and one animal care staff. It also has provided internship opportunities.
The natural progression of growth often results in the need for additional space, which was true to Companion Animal Hospital. The business has physically outgrown their current location and has broken ground for a new one at 405 Western Ave. With a tentative open date in December 2021, Fransen has greater aspirations for the services that are able to be provided.
“The bigger surgery space will allow us to incorporate the growing amount of equipment needed to do high-quality surgeries (blood pressure monitoring, intraoperative warming units) and with the addition of a second surgery table and setup, the ability to do an emergency surgery if a surgery is already ongoing,” said Fransen, explaining that their treatment area will include special equipment for oxygen supplementation to patients with respiratory diseases. Additionally, Companion Animal Hospital will be adding a therapy laser while incorporating ultrasound diagnostics and adding devoted private indoor and outdoor space for euthanasias. The boarding facilities will also be updated and a large outdoor fenced area will be available. “We are thrilled to be introducing puppy and kitten ‘socials’ (meeting times for education and time for new pets to play together) in our bigger space! A larger laboratory area will allow us to perform some additional in-house testing,” Fransen concluded of the benefits their new location will provide.
Fransen hopes that the new location will continue to attract outstanding employees to the business — technicians and veterinarians that want to work in a facility that allows them to provide quality care. She has been grateful for the support received throughout the expansion project from Greater Fergus Falls, Farmers State Bank and Donavan Rogness, who have taken the new clinic from an “overwhelming dream to a reality.”
“My team has been tremendous during the last year and half,” Fransen stressed, touching on the challenges presented to the veterinary industry throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They have worked harder than ever and kept showing up every day to do it even when it was very hard and we had to adapt. I am so proud of them and feel so very fortunate I get to work with them.”
More information about Companion Animal Hospital, including a link to their Facebook page can be located on their website — ferguspetvet.com.