Even though the Black Forest Veterinary Clinic burned to the ground in June, its dedicated doctors have refused to let that get in the way of helping the area's four-legged residents.
Dr. Ted Mohr, the clinic's owner and a resident of Black Forest, has been practicing in the forest for 20 years. When the fire ignited last month, he and his employees were able to get all the animals, a computer server, and a few surgical packs out before the flames devoured his building, most of his records and equipment.
"We did not have a lot of time to evacuate," said Mohr, whose house didn't burn. "Should have grabbed a lot more important things, but the pressure was on to get out of there."
Once Mohr was allowed back to his house, he set up a home office and began reconnecting with clients who had concerns or needed medications. During that time, he said, he and his employees made some house calls and resumed ordering and dispensing drugs, but it still wasn't business as usual.
It wasn't long before other veterinary clinics around Colorado Springs offered to help Mohr, including Powers Pet Emergency, which offered him space to set up a temporary practice. It's about a 15-minute drive from his Black Forest location.
"We refer clients to them, they refer clients to us," said Michelle Johnson, practice manager for the Powers clinic. "It was a natural thought process."
Loyal clients have been more than willing to drive the extra miles to get their pets in to see the practitioners from Black Forest Veterinary Clinic.
"It's good to see a lot of the old clients from Black Forest come down here," Mohr said. "Some have endured tragedies, but it is a situation where it's just real good to see them again."
One client, Joanne Jensen, suffered right along with the business when it burned.
"I'm devastated for them," said Jensen, an 18-year patron of the clinic. "They're such fine people. They have such expertise as far as veterinary medicine, they're very knowledgeable, they're very compassionate people toward their clients."
Jensen, whose dog was having severe medical problems in June, said that even though the clinic was burned and the doctors had a lot to deal with, Mohr stayed connected through the whole thing.
"We've been needing care during this process and they've been there for us," Jensen said.
The veterinary clinic wasn't the only business in the Black Forest building. Teresa Rooney's grooming business operated downstairs.
"Right now I'm just trying to see about trying to find places with like a year lease where I wouldn't have to stay there a long time so that I can go back with the vet," said Rooney, president of Pet Grooming in the Forest.
Rooney has been working out of her home in southeastern Black Forest, and said she worries that she will lose business because her clients may not know where she is.
"Losing my business over there was definitely hard," she said, "but I feel almost fortunate that I still have my home and that I can do some business here, compared to others that just don't have anything."
Mohr isn't sure if he will rebuild, although he was insured. But he plans to reopen the clinic in a leased space near the burned clinic as soon as possible.
"I'm thinking a few months, which seems like an eternity right now, but it's already been a month since the fire," he said. "Time rolls on, it seems like."
Mohr expects business to suffer, but only temporarily, because he has strong support from his clients.
"The support I've had has just been overwhelming," said Mohr. "My practice is still there; it's just not like it used to be."