TotalBond Veterinary Clinic Constructing New Office on Hwy. 115 in Davidson
Dick Hay confesses that as a Davidson student (Class of 1977) he drank an occasional beer with friends at the Anchor Grill. At the time, the jovial Hay never imagined that fate would lead him to become a popular Davidson veterinarian who now owns the building.
The real estate transaction has led to major construction on North Main Street, where Kayak Construction is building a new 3,800 square foot home for Hay’s TotalBond Veterinary Hospital. The new structure will replace the clinic on Griffith Street that he has rented for the past 20 years, allowing expansion of the practice from one vet to two. Making the move with Hay will be Emily Nutt, DMV, a Davidson native who also has a master’s degree in epidemiology.
The project has two parts. The building under construction will be the new TotalBond Veterinary Hospital. Meanwhile, the old Anchor Grill, which has occupied the 3.6-acre site for decades, is being put on the market as a commercial building. Despite its aged outside appearance, Hay said a major renovation eight years ago by a previous owner shored up the building’s bones and made it suitable for commercial use.
The project has definitely thrown Hay a few curve balls along the way. It started in the mid-1970s when Hay, a young Davidson biology graduate from Toccoa, Ga., assumed that his first postgraduate move would be enrollment in medical school toward becoming a medical doctor like his father. Things didn’t turn out that way. When med school turned him down, he wound up working as a lab technician for a veterinarian at the University of Georgia with a grant to study heartworms. Hay took the job and found himself increasingly attracted to work with animals and folks at the vet school. He earned a master’s degree in physiology and enrolled at the University of Georgia vet school, where he graduated in 1985.
His first real career job was in Concord, N.C., which was close to Gastonia where his vet school classmate and friend Mark Epstein was working at a vet clinic. When a job opened at Epstein’s practice a year later, Hay took it, and the friends became business partners, as well.
Over the course of 35 years they bought out some practices and shed others, with five TotalBond hospitals in their current portfolio, including the 1,200 square foot Griffith Street clinic.
With spouse Pam Hay teaching at the college and children Ben and Sarah in local schools, Hay kept an eye out for a location to open a vet practice that would keep him in town.
He began renting the Griffith Street hospital in 1999, but he kept on the lookout for a site he could purchase instead of rent. With some trepidation, he purchased the Anchor Grill in 2016, almost immediately encountering surprises that slowed the project. First of all, contractors informed him it would be less expensive to build a totally new building than to renovate the Anchor Grill building. Additionally, the soil was so poor that it had to be removed. Davidson College had to provide easement for relocation of sewer lines, and a sliver of the property in Mecklenburg County required special consideration. “It was just one thing after another,” Hay said. “I’m not ready to retire yet, but I’d like to live long enough to see it open!”
The building now under construction will have 3,000 square feet of medical space on a single floor and an unfinished basement he plans to put up for rent. The veterinary floor will allow improvements for blood work, full digital radiology, a complete dental suite, a larger surgery suite, and separate waiting area for dogs and cats. The support staff will double in size from four to eight.
One thing that will not change is TotalBond’s adherence to “Fear Free” practice, a national program that guarantees animals will be handled in ways that keep them calm throughout their procedures and invites owners to be present while vets diagnose and treat their pets. In fact, that type of patient-centered approach to care gave the TotalBond clinic its name.
“Good care acknowledges the animal-human bond,” said Hay. “We felt strongly that our name should speak to the value our pets bring us. We wanted a name that would be a total provider for people and their pets.”
Barring too many more construction surprises, the new TotalBond hospital, its name and its commitment to humane veterinary medicine, will open soon to serve the area’s two-legged animal lovers and the four-legged pets they treasure.
Bill Giduz was the son who followed his father’s footsteps into journalism. He has been involved his entire life with news and photography in schools he attended and jobs he’s held. He believes now that he’s got a few good years left to devote to The News of Davidson.