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Mullins opens veterinary clinic in Ooltewah

Veterinarian Dr. John Mullins’ resume reads more like a world map.

He’s studied foot-and-mouth disease in Britain, done community development in Africa and continues to respond to areas where devastation has hit as part of the National Veterinary Response Team 3 and Hamilton County Disaster Animal Response Team.

“I think people should do something to make the world a better place,” he said. “There’s a lot of bad things that happen in the world. If everybody tried to help, maybe it would be a little nicer place.”

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Vet tech Mary Green, Dr. John Mullins and office manager Amber Chambers, from left, offer wellness exams, vaccinations, dental cleaning, surgery and some critical care for dogs, cats, birds and “pocket pets” at the new Animal Care Center of Ooltewah.

He spent a month in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

“The only thing they had left were their pets. That was the only thing they had any control over,” he recalled. “I think the biggest thing [of being a veterinarian] is remembering the people.”

That idea runs rampant at his new Animal Care Center of Ootlewah. Eleven-year vet tech Mary Green is not only known as the maker of “Hilton beds” for animals in her care, but also as the calming voice behind what can be a very traumatic situation for the humans attached to them.

“If they know I’m taking care of their baby like I would mine, you can’t go wrong,” said Green, who currently owns four cats — down from seven — and two dogs. “People don’t realize how emotional it is. It’s like babies; babies and animals. When you have a really sick animal it’s intense, and then you’ve got the owner who’s had that dog for 15 years.”

She said she’s a big believer in ongoing client communication throughout an animal’s care. The practice offers grief support and counseling.

“It’s not just a pet, it’s part of the family and we treat them like that,” Green said.

She added this makes for better medical care because it also puts the animals at ease, allowing for a more thorough exam. The facility has state-of-the art amenities, like an incubator traditionally seen in neo-natal wards, oxygen hook-ups and a completely outfitted surgery center. Boarding and grooming equipment is on-hand, but the services are not offered yet.

Animals requiring overnight hospitalization after surgery are kept if not serious, or sent to Bradley McMinn Pet Emergency Clinic approximately 20 minutes away.

“We just want to start out small and branch out over time,” Mullins said, although he already offers wellness exams, vaccinations, dental cleaning, surgery and some critical care for dogs, cats, birds and “pocket pets” (snakes, guinea pigs, hamsters).

Mullins said he likes animals, but his career choice was more than that.

“It’s interesting,” he said. “Most vets have to think outside the box. When I first graduated most equipment was made for humans, or you had to make your own. You learn how to be flexible, how to make do with other alternatives.”

He continues to challenge himself as well as his staff through ongoing education “to stay on top of the latest and greatest.” Green pointed to a new flea and tick treatment that is “going to make life very simple for people.”

Animal Care Center of Ootlewah is located at 9124 Amos Road and can be reached at 238-9005.

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