Vet clinic opens in Ivor

Published 8:29 am Wednesday, July 1, 2009

IVOR—Pet owners and animal lovers from Waverly to Suffolk will now have a place to take their animals for the required vaccinations, as well as any illnesses or general health problems they may have — the Ivor Veterinary Clinic.

Dr. John Bensenhaver will have the grand opening of his clinic on Main Street in Ivor in about two weeks, he says.

“I had originally planned to open by July 1, but a few things we need and have ordered have not yet come in.

“My computer network, examining tables and much of the equipment is here, however, and my employees are all on board and ready to go,” he added.

The newest business in Ivor, ironically, will be housed in one of the oldest brick buildings in town —originally the G.C. Niblett Grocery Store, built about 1920. Measuring about 2,100 square feet, the building has been completely renovated by Bensenhaver to meet his needs.

“The store inside was one large, long room, which was heated back then by a pot-bellied stove in the center of the room. Later tenants put in a heating and cooling system, but that was about all.

“I rented the place last December, then drew up the plans for what I wanted. We now have 15 rooms.”

Bensenhaver said this will be pretty much a full-service clinic.

“I will be able to handle the majority of cases, although for extremely large animals, I may need a little more assistance,” he said. “We’ll have a lab, two examining rooms, an X-ray room, two treatment areas, a room for surgery, rooms in which to keep the animals and, of course, a reception area.”

He said he would not be able to board animals, though, because he does not have the staff to do so.

The 71-year-old veterinarian, who retired from his clinic in Virginia Beach in 2003 after 41 years, said he is opening this clinic because so many people had asked him to. “There aren’t many clinics in the area, and people have to go to Franklin, Suffolk or Smithfield for service. This will be so much more convenient.”

So far, Bensenhaver has a staff of four: Debbie Gach, office manager; Mary Ellen McCarter, receptionist; and Melissa Howell and April DeVites, lab technicians. He expects the office to be open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This is not Bensenhaver’s first venture into business in this area. About 2½ years ago, he purchased and renovated the “Old State Lab” on Route 460. It was built in the late 1960s.

He now runs the business as Ivor Farm Store, selling tractors and equipment, pottery and collectibles.

Before that, even, in 2004-05, he purchased and renovated four older homes on Main Street in Ivor, claiming this was something he had always wanted to do.

“I really didn’t think I’d open another veterinary clinic, though. But when people around here found out that I was a veterinarian, so many of them urged me to get back into the business.”

The Virginia Beach resident, who with his wife, Margaret, has two daughters, Lisa and Hidi, will commute to the clinic daily, but then, “that’s no problem,” he says. He already drives to Ivor each day to the Farm Store.

He loves working with animals, he said with a smile. “If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have done so for 41 years.

“Tell you the truth, I’m happy to be getting back to that.”