St. Louis Cat Clinic opened it’s doors on November 30, 1992. At the time, the clinic was located on Chippewa in a strip shopping center across the street from Hampton Village. There were five small businesses in the center. Dobbs was on the corner in a free standing building. The clinic signage was a teal back lit awning. The clinic space was 1000 square feet at street level and 1000 square feet in the basement. My office, boarding, and storage was downstairs. We had two exam rooms.
Unfortunately, Southwestern Bell Yellow Pages failed to get the clinic in the yellow pages for the first year of operation which made building the business a big challenge. I had a contract with the yellow pages, but they had a clause stating that anything that went wrong was not their fault. I was able to negotiate a settlement with Southwestern Bell for $1000. The settlement was used for direct mail post cards to cat owners in the area. My husband, my 10 year old son, and I walked the residential areas around the clinic putting fliers on doors. Some of you are still clients from those days. Thank you.
Slowly the clinic grew. More employees were hired. The clinic had a 15 year lease in that location. In January of 2000, the rumor began. Pace Properties and Walgreens were going to demolish the strip shopping center to put in a new Walgreens on the corner.
I found out that a small business meant nothing to the City of St. Louis. My practice and the other small businesses were expendable. One by one the leases were not renewed. I had the longest lease. After a three year battle with the help of a client who is an attorney and a friend, I received a buyout of my lease. That buy out money built the new clinic on Hampton Avenue.
My clients were so supportive. People wrote letters to the alderman, clients came to clean and prepare the new facility for the move in, clients came to help move to the new clinic, and clients helped remove all lights/doors/ cabinets/ counters from the old facility. Some parts of the old clinic were installed in the new one.
I fondly remember the many clients from the beginning of St. Louis Cat Clinic and all of their wonderful cat companions. I remember the many clients and awesome cats that we see now. It has been a pleasure and an honor.
In summary, a story. One client brought a 16 year old cat into the clinic at the first location. The client had been told that the cat could not be helped. I did a work up and diagnosed Kidney Insufficiency. Kitty was placed on prescription kidney diets, high blood pressure medication, subcutaneous fluids, potassium supplementation,and epogen injections. The cat stabilized and did well. The client later moved to Arizona with his cat. About six months later, the client called to tell me that Mortimer had died of kidney failure. He thanked me for one and one half more years of good times with his beloved cat. This is what veterinary medicine is all about. I love my job!!!!!!!
Joan M. Freesh, MS, DVM