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Yk pets have a new best friend
Dr. Michael Hughes set to open Yellowknife's second vet clinic

Sara Wilson
Northern News Services
Published Tuesday, July 3, 2012

With a calm, soft voice, perfected through years of caring for pets, Dr. Michael Hughes showed off his new business last week - the Yellowknife Veterinary Clinic.

NNSL photo/graphic

The owner of Yellowknife's newest veterinary clinic, Dr. Michael Hughes, feeds Bruno a 'healthy treat' at Hughes' new clinic on Melville Drive in the Kam Lake industrial area. - Sara Wilson NNSL photo

The entire building on Melville Drive in Kam Lake's industrial zone, with its deep purple accent walls, is designed around the animals -- "the way it should be," according to Hughes.

Heated floors, a wide open waiting area, fenced front yard and a centrally-focused behind the scenes area – it's all designed to help the animals and their owners feel more comfortable.

"If I stand in the middle I'm four steps away from everything," Hughes said.

Hughes isn't new to Yellowknife, he left the Great Slave Animal Hospital in April, and has spent a busy six weeks getting everything organized to venture out on his own.

Hughes grew up on a farm on the East Coast where his love of caring for animals developed after a tragic barn fire where the family's livestock were killed.

"I guess it developed from there," Hughes said. "I also started into carpentry then as well."

Those skills have come in handy, as he is taking a hands-on approach to building his new clinic – with the help of some local professionals.

Little details, such as making sure the light fixtures will work , are on his mind now but come the end of July his focus will turn to “man's best friend.”

Although caring for dogs are at the top of his priority list, Hughes said the soon-to-be 24 hours clinic will be welcome to all kinds of pets.

"I'm working with the SPCA and the shelters in town as well," he said, adding he won't charge the animal group or residents a fee if they bring stray dogs to him. "I've never charged for a homeless dog ... why would I? They're homeless."

Hughes credits his success in getting his business going to the community that has helped him get off the ground.

"I've been blessed with so much compassion from the community, why wouldn't I give back," he said.

This will be the second clinic in Yellowknife for pet owners to receive care and emergency help for their animals, and Hughes believes there is plenty of room for both clinics to operate.

There is, however, no change to the contract with the City of Yellowknife's bylaw and the Great Slave Animal Hospital – those animals that are picked up by municipal enforcement officers will still be brought to the animal hospital.

"We don't mind taking care of them, but we don't have any arrangement with the city," Hughes said.

Hughes is currently looking for qualified staff for his clinic, and has interviews planned for the coming weeks.

Qualified staff has been a chronic problem for the Great Slave

Animal Hospital, according to its owner Dr. Tom Pisz – which is currently undergoing major renovations.

"You have to deal with all this stuff right now if you want to be a vet here," said Pisz.

"It's just different and you have to work fast and you have to work good," Pisz said. "So it's hard to get people like that, dedicated people."

When asked to comment on the opening of Hughes' clinic, Pisz declined to comment.

-- with files from Miranda Scotland

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