The big, new sign went up at the end of February in front of the River Valley Animal Center on South Street, and after two more months of finishing work, Dr. Mohan Sachdev held a ceremonial ribbon-cutting on May 1. Visitors were mightily impressed at what they found inside that day. Many more were impressed in tours led by Dr. Sachdev and his staff during a two-hour open house on May 6, which included a well-loaded buffet table. Some visitors brought their pets (but they found no buffet on the floor).
The hospital is open for business; its phone number is 860-370-5277.
In the tours, Dr. Sachdev pointed out the reception area, the six examining rooms, the X-Ray studio, the ICU, the operating room, the big CAT scan machine, a spacious pet grooming area, and a large space yet to be partitioned for his MRI and other installations. There are ninety individual cages, many of them roomy, indoor-outdoor spaces arrayed around two interior courtyards, open to the sky. Scattered where necessary are the ancillary spaces for utility rooms, unisex restrooms, storage areas, the staff lounge, and Dr. Sachdev’s corner office. There is no usable attic or second floor space, but dormer windows bring natural light to the main floor, and skylights over interior spaces illuminate through light channels.
The interior courtyards and the sound-absorbing and sound-insulating material in the walls, with no dogs visible outside, are intended to mitigate noise annoyance to nearby neighbors.
Dr. Sachdev got his veterinary education in Punjab, India, and came to the U. S. in 1976. After interning in the Bronx and practicing his profession for a number of years, he built a veterinary clinic on Kennedy Road in Windsor in 1985, then a larger one across the street there. In 2011 he established the River Road Veterinary Center in Willington. The River Valley Veterinary Center here is his fourth location. As an entrepreneur, he bought the old Plaza Theater building in Windsor, which is being renovated for improved use. And in Windsor Locks he bought the old Montgomery factory, which is now approved for conversion to apartments by a major developer and operator of such facilities.
In his role as a veterinarian in 1985, Dr. Sachdev met Davetta McComb Curtis, a Suffield dairy farmer on South Street, where she also ran Meadowrock Kennel and bred Saint Bernards. In 2009 he bought Davetta’s house and her large fields on both sides of the road, leaving her with life use of the house. (Suffield Economic Development Director Patrick McMahon says Davetta left the town a nice legacy by agreeing to protect her farmland from further development.)
Davetta was killed in a head-on collision in Enfield in 2012 – the other driver strayed across the center line. And several months later Dr. Sachdev proposed his plan for Davetta’s east side home lot. Town commissions granted approval for a commercial kennel, the approval being based on continuing the grandfathered operation of such a facility, as kennels had become an unapproved use in that zoning district. The hospital function was approved with a special use permit issued on March 20.
Dr. Sachdev, evidently an inveterate planner, has dreams for Davetta Curtis’s farm fields: how about a vineyard?