Veterinarian says building damage forced her to close

Dr. Jen Griffin is owner and a veterinarian of Happy Tails Animal Hospital in D’Iberville.
Dr. Jen Griffin is owner and a veterinarian of Happy Tails Animal Hospital in D’Iberville. Facebook

Two Coast veterinarians are saying goodbye to their current building, and both are uncertain where their next offices will be.

Happy Tails Animal Hospital, at 4299 Popp’s Ferry Road, is closing its doors Dec. 16, Dr. James Askew, associate veterinarian there, posted on his Facebook page Wednesday, and Dr. Jen Griffin, the owner, made the announcement on the animal hospital’s Facebook page Thursday morning.

Griffin, a veterinarian with a focus on internal medicine, laser therapy and pain management, said the decision was difficult.

“We have had ongoing contractor issues,” she said, including problems with a leaking roof, falling ceiling tiles and the air conditioner. “We moved in last December, a year ago, and it’s been an ongoing thing for the past year.”

With two loans — one for the original work and one to attempt to repair resulting problems — exceeding the value of the building, she said, the financial burden is a concern.

“The moisture from the ongoing leaks is not just a health concern for my staff and me, it is for my patients, too,” she said. The seven staff members are another concern.

“My staff. That’s what hurts the most,” she said. “We are a family, and our clients are like family, too. But I have to think of safety.”

Griffin is transferring her practice to Bayview Pet Medical and Dental Center in Ocean Springs for the time being.

“We are indeed fortunate to have someone nearby that I can, without reservation, both personally and professionally, count on to assist with the transition of my practice. Over the years, I have worked closely with and found not only a good friend but a like-minded veterinarian in Dr. Matthew Roth in Ocean Springs. Dr. Roth not only practices my kind of medicine, but cares as I do,” Griffin posted Thursday. “Dr. Roth will be entrusted with my hospital records in full.

“I, along with several key members of my staff, whom you know, will begin working side by side with Dr. Roth on December 19, 2016, to insure a smooth transition,” she added in the Facebook post Thursday morning.

Askew is especially interested in the treatment of exotic animals, including wildlife, marine mammals, primates, birds and reptiles. He has been certified in venomous reptile handling by the Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians. He also treats traditional domestic animals and pets.

“Oh, no, this is my passion,” Askew said when asked if this is the end of his practice here.

He continues to be interested in property and a building at 16264 Old Hwy. 49 in Lyman, which had been built as a home for the now-defunct Wildlife Rehabilitation and Nature Preservation Society (WRANPS). The building has been vacant for several years, Askew said, and is owned by the state “but has not been utilized to its fullest potential, as best we can tell.” He had been interested in using it as a wildlife hospital. Now, Askew is viewing the site as a potential home for both a new clinic and a wildlife hospital.

“It all depends on the state,” he said. “It’s a state building and it’s up to them.”

Askew also is considering setting up his clinic somewhere else on the Coast and continuing to pursue the Lyman property for wildlife.

“I don’t know. I’m 24 hours into this, so there are a lot of things I’m having to consider,” Askew said Wednesday morning. He will continue to be available to his patients and their pets via email and social media accounts.

“Rest assured that my plans to save the planet one animal at a time will continue with Wild @ Heart Rescue and the other coordinating rescues,” Askew posted on Facebook. “You also will be one of the first to know where I hang my shingle in the future.”

Tammy Smith: 228-896-2130, @Simmiefran1