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Canaan Veterinarian Buys Building That Housed The Ranch at Etna Road, Plans to Add Animal Hospital

  • Sara McKinney, of Lebanon, plays with a group of dogs on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017, at The Dog House at Etna Road in Lebanon, N.H. McKinney said that she has been working at The Ranch since April and enjoys working with the dogs. (Valley News - Charles Hatcher) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Charlie Hutchinson, a local veterinarian, recently purchased The Dog House at Etna Road, a dog daycare and boarding business in Lebanon, N.H. Photographed in front of The Ranch at Etna Road on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017, in Lebanon, N.H. (Valley News - Charles Hatcher) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Dogs lounge in a doorway on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017, at The Dog House at Etna Road in Lebanon, N.H. The dogs are part of a dog daycare at The Ranch and go home at the end of the day. (Valley News - Charles Hatcher) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Sunday, August 06, 2017

Lebanon — A Canaan veterinarian who recently purchased the building that housed The Ranch at Etna Road says he will continue to offer doggy day care, pet boarding and grooming services at the facility.

There also are plans to expand the property by opening an on-site animal hospital, while also renovating and updating the space to better suit its canine clientele.

“The transition has been a little bumpy but basically what we’re doing now is offering all the services that this building was designed for,” said Charlie Hutchinson, who recently opened The Dog House at Etna Road.

Hutchinson paid $600,000 for the roughly 1,800-square-foot building located a quarter of a mile from the intersection of Route 120 at a July 20 foreclosure auction, according to city assessing records. 

A Canaan resident, he also owns the Cardigan Veterinary Clinic in West Canaan and Upper Valley Veterinary Services in Lebanon.

During an interview last week, Hutchinson said the purchase likely will alleviate space issues at both locations. In Lebanon, his current veterinary building is in need of costly renovations, and the Canaan business has been trying to handle an uptick in boarding requests.

“So when I came and looked at this, well it kind of answers all those questions,” he said. “All the basics are here to make a really nice operation — to continue to do boarding, and grooming and day care, and also have a vet hospital.”

The building at 77 Etna Road initially was constructed to serve The Ranch, which operated a pet care and grooming business there for more than a decade.

The facility boasts two day care rooms, a large lobby and 60 boarding rooms, according to The Ranch’s website.

When the Lebanon Planning Board approved its construction in 2004, the building was estimated to cost $1.8 million. The City Council sponsored a $200,000 federal community development block grant for the construction.

The property currently is assessed at $871,000, according to city property records.

Grafin Properties LLC, which owned The Ranch building, declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2014. And by the time Mascoma Savings Bank foreclosed on the building in June, the company owed $105,000 in back and delinquent taxes for 2011, 2012, 2013, part of 2014 and 2017, according to city records.

Amy Gamache, the former owner of the building, said her business currently is in a “holding pattern” as she searches for a new location.

“It took me 18 years to build that clientele and I appreciate each one of them and want to continue to be there for them,” Gamache wrote in an email on Sunday. “Many are like family.”

Gamache said she is offering pet sitting and will continue to answer any questions her former customers might have. Many, she said, are upset about how the transition took place.

“I was given three hours’ notice to vacate the building I have been in for 13 years,” Gamache said, adding a week’s notice would have been preferable to adequately transition.

Hutchinson said it’s clear the building was “built for animals,” which ultimately drew him to bid on the property. He first was alerted to the auction after receiving a string of fliers in the mail.

“I actually got three of them. I got a foreclosure flier at home, at my office in Lebanon and at my office in Canaan,” he said. “Apparently they were marketing it pretty hard to veterinarians.”

After touring the facility, he decided it should continue to serve the community’s pets.

Hutchinson said he was the only one at the auction who had experience with animals and he was concerned it would fall into the hands of someone with different plans.

“If someone who wasn’t interested in animals bought it, it would probably be bought by a developer and turned into an office building,” he said.

After the sale, Hutchinson said he quickly got to work to reopen the business. He recruited staff members to stay on-board through the transition and began to take care of those who had previously booked stays with the former business.

“I was kind of nervous that I was going to spend my whole weekend walking the dogs,” Hutchinson said with a laugh. “There were dogs here and we’ve taken care of them.”

Both Sara McKinney and Samantha Stanford decided to stay on working for The Dog House after the foreclosure. They were both working with animals at the facility on Wednesday.

“We’re here for the animals,” McKinney said. “That’s our sole purpose. We are here to take care of them.”

Stanford said the sale initially was “pretty devastating” for those at The Ranch. Customers also were worried, she said, but they’ve slowly begun to come back.

“I think having a veterinary office in here too is going to make a huge difference. Makes people feel, I think, a little bit better about leaving their pets,” Stanford said, adding Hutchinson also had a reputation among Upper Valley pet owners.

Hutchinson opened his first office in Canaan in 1994, working out of his mother’s garage.

His father, Charles E. Hutchinson, moved to the area years earlier and served twice as dean of the Thayer School of Engineering, first from 1984 to 1994, and again from 1997 to 1998.

Hutchinson said he followed his parents to the area after they introduced him to Canaan, deciding it’s a good place to raise a family.

He made house calls catering to large animals until 2004, when he moved his practice to Canaan Village and began seeing pets too.

Three years ago, the business moved to its current address on Route 4 in West Canaan, across the street from the Mascoma Valley Regional High School. The business continued to expand two years ago, when Hutchinson merged his firm with those of retiring Dr. Stewart Ketcham, who owned the Animal Clinic of Enfield and what is now the Upper Valley Veterinary Services.

Hutchinson said he plans to continue renovating the Etna Road facility while also catering to day care, boarding and grooming customers. Within a year, he hopes to have the hospital up and running, and he’s also entertaining the idea of keeping extended hours for urgent care.

“Right now, we’re just kind of in cleanup phase to get all the old stuff out,” he said, adding an architect is working to design the renovation.

“There’s a ton of square footage in this building. It’s a ginormous building,” Hutchinson said.

Tim Camerato can be reached at tcamerato@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.

Clarification

Canaan veterinarian Charlie Hutchinson last month bought a building in Lebanon that formerly housed The Ranch at Etna Road and opened a new business, The Dog House at Etna Road, at that location. An earlier headline to this story imprecisely described what he purchased.