Dr. Hermann originally founded the practice as Berea Pet Hospital in 1948, making it one of the oldest veterinary clinics in Cleveland. The original animal hospital was located on Bagley Road at Front Street in Berea. In approximately 1954 the veterinary hospital moved to Pearl and Bagley Roads in Middleburg Hts. Dr. Cameron owned and operated Berea Pet Hospital from the early 1960’s until January 1992 when Dr. Fegan purchased the practice effective February 1, 1992.
During the Korean War, Dr Hermann worked on the design of a new building while stationed at Camp Perry. The Pearl Road veterinary hospital was approximately 1870 square feet in size and state of the art for 1954. Approximately half of the clinic was devoted to boarding. There was one exam room, one surgery, an x-ray room, and a very small pharmacy. The doctor’s office doubled as a darkroom for x-rays processing. Communications between the staff was easy because everyone was on top of each other.
While we are a small animal veterinarian – dogs, cats, and pocket pets, we have been asked on occasion to care for some wildlife (now we refer people to the Metroparks Rocky River Nature Center).
In 1999, the building and land was purchased by a developer with the intent of knocking down our building and the adjoining Long John Silvers. Even though we had a lease through January 31, 2002, we were asked to move out. A protracted legal battle ensued.
In 2000, Dr. Fegan and her husband, Ed, purchased an abandoned gas station where we are now located. It was the number one eyesore in the city. However, it also was a terrific location, being so close to the I-71 interchange. During the summer and fall of 2000, we went through the re-zoning process and began planning the new hospital.
Dr. Fegan got together with Bob Zarzycki of Zarzycki-Malik Architects and began designing the new hospital. We had a handshake agreement with Bob even though we had no financing in place. The pie-shaped land posed several unique design challenges. Also there was serious consideration for reusing the gas station. Dr. Fegan and Bob decided to maximize the building size right at the beginning even though this would be more than the business needed.
In early 2001 the Middleburg Hts. Planning Commission gave both preliminary and final approval for the building design at one session — unprecedented. At the same meeting our landlord was getting approval for the Walgreens.
In the spring of 2001, Schalmo Builders was selected as the prime contractor for the project, and a “Dog-breaking” in June began the formalconstruction process. We immediately hit a snag, as it was determined that the property had been a fill site during the construction of I-71 and there were concerns about the foundation footers. The solution was “screw jacks”, a process that had been developed in the 1800’s for the construction of lighthouses.
While we had been originally anticipating completion in December, the foundation problem pushed construction back to the spring of 2002. Fortunately, mild weather allowed construction to go ahead throughout most of the winter.
Disaster struck on September 11, 2001. As the world watched the planes crash into the New York City twin towers, Berea Pet Hospital had lost its lawsuit with our landlord and was evicted. Everything was moved to the Fegan’s. After a few days to recover from the shock, we began a house call practice. Dr. Fegan, Gill, Linda, and others made house calls to our clients. During the next five months we operated out of the house. The kitchen became the lab and the living room became the business office. Dr. Cross, at Southwest Animal Hospital, allowed us to use his surgery and x-ray, and Dr. Wiley, at Metropet, allowed us to use her morgue for euthanized animals. While this time was stressful for all and devastating financially to us, the entire staff stayed together and worked through this period.
In December 2001, we announced our new name, Big Creek Pet Hospital. We wanted a name that would be more identifiable with the entire area. (The corporation is still called Berea Pet Hospital, Inc.)
On February 11, 2002, exactly five months after being evicted, we were able to get partial occupancy for approximately 1/4th of the new hospital. We had the reception area, waiting area, Fagin’s office, and the bathing area for operations. Our first day’s sales were more than we had done the entire previous week. The exam room table doubled as a surgery table in the afternoons. We were pleasantly surprised that passing trains did not seem to spook our patients, even when being examined.
In the middle of April 2002, we received occupancy approval for the balance of the building — it was great. Later that month we held a series of Open Houses, which were well attended by clients, friends, family, and the general public.
2012 was a special year for Big Creek Pet Hospital. This year marked the 20th anniversary of Dr. Fegan owning the practice, the 10th anniversary of the Middleburg Hts. hospital, and the first anniversary of the Olmsted outpatient clinic.
We estimate that the Big Creek team has seen over 10,000 clients and 20,000 pets in the past twenty years. Our patients have ranged in size from several ounces (a mouse) to well over 200 lbs. (a St Bernard/Irish Wolfhound mix). While our patients are mainly cats, dogs, and pocket pets, we have also raised several fawns and repaired the shell of an over 20 lb. snapping turtle.
Remarkably, three of our team started working in the kennel or as a veterinary assistant and are now veterinarians. We are hoping that two more will be starting veterinary school next year. (Veterinary school is the toughest professional school to get in to with only about 1 in 8 being accepted.) We have several staff members become registered veterinary technicians
Over the past twenty years Dr. Souders and his team have taught 1000’s of area children about pet safety at the Middleburg Hts., Berea, and Olmsted Falls Safety Towns, area schools, plus for Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and other groups. (Call us if you have a group that’s interested in a class and/or tour.)
Thank you for allowing us to serve you and care for your pet! Call us at (440) 234-5831 if we can serve you in the future.