City's first vet hospital celebrates 100 years of history in P-town

City's first vet hospital celebrates 100 years of history in P-town

PORTLAND, Ore. - A local veterinary hospital that has been serving the community for 100 years celebrated their centennial on Sunday by inviting folks to join them in honoring their long history.

Rose City Veterinary Hospital first opened its doors in 1911. The pet hospital was founded by Dr. Gus Huthman, a San Francisco Veterinary College graduate who opened the hospital at its original location at 1917 S.E. 7th and Grant (in an old fire station building).

Rose City Veterinary Hospital was the first incorporated veterinary hospital in Portland at a time when the city was just beginning to flourish. Horses were the main mode of transportation and the hospital focused on equine care.

Veterinary care was quite different in the early 1900s. Back then the health of working animals, like horses, was much more important to people. After all, their livelihoods were often at stake.

Everything changed once the automobile came into the picture and Portland became more of an urban town. Dr. Huthman, not to be deterred, changed with the times and switched the focus of his practice from horses to household pets.

Sometime in the 1950s, the hospital moved to its current location at 809 S.E. Powell Boulevard, at the east end of the Ross Island Bridge.

Today, Rose City Veterinary Hospital is owned by Dr. Craig Quirk, DVM, who purchased the hospital in 1996.

"When I first bought it, it was basically a one-doctor practice," he said. "I had two other employees and they kind of did everything - technician, reception work, etc. And it was the three of us running the place."

And the building they were working in wasn't in the greatest of shape.

"When I bought the practice it was in pretty bad condition," Dr. Quirk said. "The only two things it really had going for it were the size of the building and the location. So I could see the potential there. It just needed someone to nurture it."

So five years ago, Dr. Quirk (pictured at right) had the building gutted and remodeled to create not only a functional space but an inviting atmosphere where folks could take their pets.

The hospital, which now has about 20 full-time and part-time employees, treats mostly dogs and cats. Dr. Quirk said they do a lot of typical soft tissue surgeries, as well as spays and neuters, but also do alternative treatments.

"We do a lot of laser therapy for arthritic pets," he explained. "We also do laser surgery, which is a little bit different, using lasers instead of scalpel blades. Not a whole lot of people are doing it. We've been doing it actually for over 10 years when they first came out. It's a lot easier on the pets."

The hospital also works closely with local organizations like the Portland Animal Welfare Team and the Oregon Humane Society to help those who cannot afford veterinary care.

To show their appreciation for the community they have served all these years, the hospital held a celebration on Sunday where they invited folks to stop by for a barbecue, participate in some fun and games and have a good time.

They even let folks go behind the scenes to learn more about the equipment they use and to see just what your pet sees when they are taken to the back by a veterinarian.

"We're just really proud to be part of the community," Dr. Quirk said. "I have great staff and great clients. It's a lot of fun."

All photos by Shannon L. Cheesman, KATU.com Producer/Reporter, unless otherwise noted.