Opelika Animal Hospital turns 40 Saturday

2019-02-26 Opelika Animal Hospital

By Morgan Bryce

Saturday will mark 40 years in business for the Opelika Animal Hospital, which was opened by Dr. Jere and Judy Colley on March 10, 1979.
Fresh out of college and looking for a place to settle down, the Colleys initially started searching in their adopted hometown. One afternoon while riding down Second Avenue, Jere noticed a for-sale sign on the lot that housed Central Baptist Church’s pastorium, and decided to place $800 earnest money payment on the property.
Following a nerve-wracked week of waiting, the client accepted their offer. Despite naysayers citing the relative closeness of Auburn University’s veterinary clinic, the couple said the support they received from civic leaders including Billy Hitchcock, Buck Rice, Yetta Samford and Henry Stern encouraged them to follow their dreams.
“We did believe that we could do it, but when they were designing it, he (Jere) had them construct it at an angle so that if it didn’t make it as a vet clinic it could easily be turned into a zippy mart,” Judy said laughingly.
Without additional staff, Jere said he and Judy handled the daily operations of the business, resulting in late-night calls and missed meals together.
“We were open 24/7 back then. Sometimes we’d be getting ready to sit down to eat supper and get a call from someone saying that their animal had this or that going on … it was tough, but in order to grow and get our name out there, you had to be accessible and show people that you cared,” Jere said.
Three arduous months later, the clinic turned a profit and they hired their first employee. Nearly four years after opening, Opelika native Dr. Gary Hunt joined the clinic and became a 50-percent owner of the business as the Colleys pursued a two-year spiritual calling to the mission field in Bangladesh.
Initially, Opelika Animal Hospital provided services for both large and small animals but eventually moved to small only. Monkeys, snakes and wallabies are a few of the unique animals that Colley, Hunt and their team have treated during the last 40 years.
Through its care of animals and treatment of their customers, the clinic has become an Opelika institution, winning the “Best Veterinary Clinic” award 18-straight years in the Opelika-Auburn News’s annual Reader’s Choice Awards contest, offerering free boarding services for pets whose owners were displaced and are looking to relocate and a place for Auburn University veterinary students to gain experience.
Following is a full list of the services they provide:
• Adoption
• Bath and dips
• Diagnostic
• Grooming
• Holding
• Medical
• Spay and neuter
• Surgical.
Jere and Gary, along with associate veterans Dr. Lybbi Epperson and Dr. Andy Wagner, are the clinic’s primary veterinarians. Judy no longer serves as office manager but actively promotes the business within the community.
Both leading veterinarians shared their thoughts on the impact and meaning of their careers and what it has meant to them personally.
“What has and will keep me going is being able to heal and take care of someone’s pets, there’s just nothing like it,” Hunt said.
Jere expressed his gratitude to the Auburn-Opelika area for their unwavering support during the last four decades.
“Without a doubt, veterinary medicine is the best profession in the world. And Opelika has been incredibly good to our family and a great place to live, work and worship,” Jere said.
Located at 1615 Second Ave., the clinic is open 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.
For more information, call 334-749-2025, like and follow their Facebook page or visit www.opelikaanimalhospital.com.


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