Local pet owners have another outlet for veterinary care since a new animal hospital opened under the radar earlier this month.
Noozhawk reported in December that owners of the California Animal Referral and Emergency (C.A.R.E.) Hospital, 310 E. Haley St., were filing for bankruptcy, which also put about 60 of the clinic’s employees out of work.
The 24-hour specialty hospital was the only one of its kind between Ventura and Arroyo Grande, and San Roque Pet Hospital, 3034 State St., had helped with covering emergencies in the interim.
Now, a new hospital has opened in the same Haley Street building and using the same name of CARE, although it’s no longer an acronym. But the preservation of the clinic’s name is about all that has remained of the former clinic.
At the helm of the new business is Dr. Eric Wright, a veterinarian with his own animal surgery practice. He’s the co-founder of the previous C.A.R.E. business that he owned with veterinarian Deanna Purvis and psychologist Trish Lane.
The trio became embroiled in a legal dispute around whether Wright was board-certified and Purvis and Lane eventually voted to terminate Wright’s position.
A lawsuit was filed, and a judge ruled in Wright’s favor. In May 2009, Purvis and Lane were ordered to pay Wright a judgment of more than $1 million to buy him out as partner of the business, forcing Lane and Purvis to file for bankruptcy.
The pair filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Feb. 25, and Wright said he’s not sure if he’ll be repaid on the debt he’s owed.
Wright said he hasn’t spoken with Purvis and Lane since they filed for bankruptcy. He said he had tried to settle with the pair, but the three could never reach an agreement.
“That was what was bothersome to me,” he told Noozhawk. “I never collected on the judgment because I never wanted to close the hospital.”
In the meantime, the pair became insolvent, and Wright bought back the business assets from the bank.
Wright is merging his practice back into the CARE clientele, which he thinks will bring a steady stream of clients back into the business.
Several veterinarians have been hired back, and much of the staff, too, so “people will see many of the same faces,” he said.
The hospital, which reopened April 9, is staffed from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. on weekdays and is also open on the weekends. Wright said the hospital will be open 24 hours starting in July.
Wright is also available for surgical referrals during the week and is on call on the weekends.
“With the closing, we saw how important it was to the community,” he said.
He said the C.A.R.E business had remained profitable in the five years he was with the team, and even had a “sizable nest egg.”
“I don’t know how it’s been run” under Purvis and Lane alone, he said, and added that he was shocked to hear the business was going under.
“I think we can get it back to where it was, and that’s what matters,” he said.
Noozhawk talked to Purvis on Sunday, and she acknowledged that “emotions run deep” on the matter. She confirmed that C.A.R.E, as well as she and Lane, had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Purvis also stressed repeatedly that although the company is using the same name, it’s an entirely different organization with new management.
She said she was surprised the facility would take the name of the now-defunct business, and that it wasn’t a reopening.
“They deserve to get out there and do their own thing,” said Purvis, who encouraged the community to think of it as an entirely new business.
“It’s a really a grand opening of a new business in the same building,” she said.
Purvis confirmed that the company’s bankruptcy had been filed on Feb. 25, and she declined to comment on whether the debt to Wright would be repaid.
“It is no more,” she said of the business.
Of future plans for her and Lane, she said they were planning to leave the area.
“We do want it behind us, for everybody’s benefit so this new organization can do what it needs to,” Purvis said.
— Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.