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AURELIUS — Veterinary surgeon Dale Ottosen sat in an examination room Monday in Cayuga Veterinary Services' current home, which was built in the early '70s.

"This building is not a good reflection of what goes on inside of it," he said.

The practice, which is primarily for small animals and exotic pets like hedgehogs and pot-bellied pigs, is located at 1532 Clark St. Road. But the finishing touches are being put on a new facility right next door at 1538 Clark St. Road. 

Once the approximately 6,215 square feet of space is operational by the end of the year, it will be time to lock up the old building and move out entirely, said hospital Administrator Rachel Hendricks. She said the practice is looking to put a hold on its lease of the old building, but there are no definite plans for it yet.

"We feel that one of the things the new facility will help with is to help reflect a little bit better the quality of medicine that we have available and surgery we have available," Ottosen said.

He noted that the Aurelius veterinary service is the only practice between the Ithaca and Syracuse areas accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association, which is a voluntary certification.

"We're the only practice that does minimally invasive laparoscopes," Ottosen said.

Hendricks first suggested expanding the practice to an updated space five years ago. Hospital administration looked at expanding the original building, but decided to utilize the neighboring parcel of land that Ottosen already owned. A residential home was previously on that property.

Construction with the Marcellus architectural firm Donahoe Group was slated to begin last fall, but was delayed because of weather until this May. Now Cayuga Veterinary Services is hoping to have the space open by the end of the year. 

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The new facility will have several modifications for the comfort of feline patients — features that will go toward a new "fear-free" certification for the practice. Its furnaces are mounted on rubber blocks so they won't vibrate the walls at a frequency cats don't like. The lights won't operate at an uncomfortable frequency, either. Cats and dogs will also have separate waiting rooms, entrances and examination and treatment rooms. 

The practice — which also treats alpacas, pigs, goats, hedgehogs, reptiles, snakes and rabbits — already keeps an emotional record of each pet that lists where they like to be examined. Acupuncture and ultrasound imaging are also offered.

Hendricks anticipates the size of the new facility will be a "shock" to the staff, "because everything is so close here and we all work and help each other. Where there, it's going to be compartmentalized into areas," she said.

There is also a plan to invite clients into the new employee break room for educational session on topics like pet health and what to consider before getting a new pet. 

The practice also plans to hold socialization and training classes for puppies and kittens, once one of the veterinary technicians finishes her teaching certification. With the new facility, Hendricks said, the practice is considering extending its hours to the point that it might hire a fifth veterinarian. 

"It's kind of growing from the inside, seeing what we can do and then adding from the outside when we need to," she said.

The largest treatment room includes a pharmacy, laboratory, treatment tables and an intensive care unit behind a glass wall. There will also be separate kennels for dogs and cats in non-critical condition, as well as rooms for pre- and post-operation and dentistry work. 

"It's a labor of love and pain for five years," Hendricks said. "It's been a lot of work, and I don't realize how much work it was until I'm in there looking at everything."

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Staff writer Mary Catalfamo can be reached at (315) 282-2244 or mary.catalfamo@lee.net. Find her on Twitter @mrycatalfamo.

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