OVILLA — Built from the ground up by the same hands that care for those furry family members, Animal Hospital of Ovilla has continued to serve the community for the last 18 years.

“I grew up in the area and went to a practice in DeSoto and one in Grand Prairie,” began Dr. Mark Stanfill about the hospital’s start in his hometown. “We wanted to come back to this area and have a family because it’s a welcoming community and they try to support small businesses.”

“He had grown up around the corner in Ovilla,” added Karen Stanfill, Practice Administrator of Animal Hospital of Ovilla. “We looked for property in this area and found this and worked with an architect to design it, but he built it with the help of some of his friends.”

Established in May 1995, Stanfill coordinated with a North Dallas architect and constructed the hospital with a dream, raw determination, and neighborly support.

“It all started in August and opened up in May (of 1995),” Mr. Stanfill recalled. “Other than the big trades of electric, plumbing, and foundation, I did the walls, sheetrock, flooring, and everything else that fits in-between.”

“He built this place – literally,” Mrs. Stanfill affirmed. “He and his dad, and some friends built this from scratch.”

With big city technology, the hospital is equipped with everything from a surgery suite to an intensive care ward, a radiography and X-ray room, a dentistry table, separate housing for contagious animals, and a laboratory to accommodate small town pets in one visit.

“We have some equipment that others don’t, like an ultrasound, a therapeutic laser, and a radio-surgical unit, so our lab equipment is a little newer than what others have,” Mrs. Stanfill listed. “We also have grooming so people can have their whole visit done at once.”

“And we do a lot more when it comes to addressing pain management. When you go to a low-cost clinic to have a quick spade or neuter, they aren’t giving them pain medication beforehand or after like we do,” she included.

“Our medicine aspect and the quality of the medicine is very good,” Mr. Stanfill noted. “We get referrals from other practices often. We have two veterinarians that are great diagnosticians, I’m more of a surgeon, but they do more of the medicine aspect and always get referred.”

Treating more than just domestic pets, the Animal Hospital of Ovilla is one of the only hospitals in Ellis County that treats exotic animals as well.

“Dr. Stanfill was interested in exotics when he was a student and worked at different clinics. And one of the clinics he worked at, they had monkeys and all kinds of exotic things, so he got a lot of experience from different places,” Mrs. Stanfill accredited.

“What we do is a little different,” she admitted. “Like birds, reptiles, guinea pigs, hedgehogs, and a couple of years ago, we had some tiger cubs from Austin visit.”

“We have small animals like cats, dogs, and weird things,” Mr. Stanfill summed up in a joke. “We have clients that come from different parts of the metroplex, whether they hear about it or they move, but they keep coming back to us.”

Out of 1,000 visits a month with about 60 new clients walking through their doors, the patients aren’t the only ones that keep coming back.

“One of our doctors worked with us when she was in high school in Midlothian as one of our kennel attendants and then went off to vet school and came back and worked for us,” Mrs. Stanfill recollected.

“We have another girl that’s at a vet school right now, and she worked in the kennel also and has talked about coming back here, so it’s nice to have this family atmosphere,” she added.

Throughout the years, the Stanfill’s have not only built a physical home for their practice with returning patrons but have also maintained a trustworthy reputation within Ellis County.

“We always help out with the ‘Bark for Life’ event, and we sponsor things at schools and work a lot with ‘Good Shepherd,’ a German Shepherd rescue,” Mrs. Stanfill acknowledged their community activity. “And Dr. Stanfill is involved with the Red Oak ISD school board and the Dallas County Veterinarian Medical Association and has been in that office for years. And I do a lot of volunteer work.”

“We like that we can be a part of the community because we work so closely with people and their pets,” she smiled. “We have a really low turnover, so our employees have time to bond with our clients, and the clients are known when they come in. We just like being a part of people’s lives.”

In the beginning, the hospital started with three full-time employees but has now grown to employ 25 skilled staff members.

“My staff is the part I’m most pleased about,” Mr. Stanfill recognized. “They care and will recognize the clients in the community and ask them about their pets — and that goes for all of our technicians, receptionists, and doctors. They really love the animals, and that’s what’s important.”

“One thing we do is that we take care of the whole family,” Mrs. Stanfill added. “We consider your pet a part of the family, and you’re not just somebody walking through the door, you’re a part of the family.”

With plans to expand the practice in the near future, the Stanfill’s are taking in the moment of their 18-year standard of exceptional care, grateful to the community’s constant support.

“To the community – thank you,” Mr. Stanfill appreciated. “People had told me that there was no way that we would make it just because they basically said that putting a practice in a small community like this wasn’t going to work because the demographics didn’t really support it.”

“But if you think about it, for somebody to start a practice and build it from the ground up, it’s done well. The community has been very welcoming and has given me that opportunity, and I think we’ve earned that trust of patients to continue to refer and come back,” he articulated. “We’ve been blessed because there are good people here, so I just want to say thank you.”

To connect with Animal Hospital of Ovilla, visit ovillavet.com or call 972-617-9996.

--- Chelsea Groomer, @ChelseaGroomer