Business

Midway Animal Hospital must move

Midway Boulevard may soon lose one of its historic landmarks — the Animal Hospital on Midway.

The building was recently purchased by Sea Tree Properties, LLC, whose higher lease prices are forcing clinic owner and veterinarian Donna DeBonis out.

Since the mid 1950s, when Doc Ellis opened his vet clinic, the squat building on the east side of the street has always housed an animal hospital. In its decades of operation, it became the launching point for many local vets who went on to open their own clinics. Ellis sold the clinic to another doctor in 1996; DeBonis purchased the business portion of the clinic in 1998 and continued to lease the building. When Ellis decided to sell earlier this year, DeBonis tried to purchase it but lost out to another bidder, SeaTree Properties, L.L.C.

DeBonis said she has no hard feelings toward SeaTree Properties, or owner Sean Byrne. “I’m honoring him that he needs to make a living,” she said. “There’s no hard feelings. I just pray that they have patience. I completely understand that people need to make a living.”

She hoped to lease the building from the new owners, but the lease price was too high for a single-vet clinic to afford. Byrne said he would take a another offer under advisement. But for now, the “for sale or lease” sign out remains in front of the building, and DeBonis continues to search for a new building to lease.

Byrne said the building is currently being marketed by Steve Hertling of Koetje Real Estate, but that there are no immediate plans to develop the lot. “We’re weighing some options and seeing what we can do with it,” Byrne said.

When DeBonis moved into the building in 1998, her daughter Charmaine was one month old. Since then Charmaine, now 7, and her brother Daniel, 13, have grown up in the clinic. Daniel works there after school and DeBonis’ husband helps out when he can. “It’s very much a family practice,” she said. “Putting out that sign affects my business, affects my livelihood negatively. I just want people to know that I’m not out of business.”

She stressed that the clinic will remain open during the eventual transition to a new building. Though SeaTree Properties has not yet given DeBonis a notice to move out, she is still looking in Oak Harbor and Coupeville for a building to lease.

“We don’t intend to squat here,” DeBonis said. “We’re trying to get out as fast as we can. It’s extremely hard to find an affordable lease.”

An added challenge has been finding a building with appropriate zoning for a vet clinic. She said several properties have been available in Oak Harbor, but the city has prohibited any zoning variances that would allow her to lease the buildings. And she said the last thing she wants to do is fight city hall.

“I have faith that things will work out,” she said. “If God can catch a sparrow, he can catch the vet who takes care of the sparrow.”

DeBonis graduated from Colorado State University in 1983, and worked as a vet in California for several years. She and her husband moved to Washington to raise their children in 1998.

Midway Animal Hospital is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. It can be found online at http://animalhospitalonmidway.com.

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