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Mortons, new veterinary clinic fitting in nicely

Posted on Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 10:00 am

The staff at Lynchburg Veterinary Hospital (from left) Dr. Wendy Morton, Dr, Bryant Morton, Patty Guiberson, Kelly Harrison and Nikki Hammond have settled in nicely at the old Jennings Funeral Home building on Majors Blvd. (MCN Photo by Robert Holman)

Timing is everything.

Wendy and Bryant Morton know that all too well. In fact, they epitomize the right-place-at-the-right-time notion. The Mortons own Lynchburg Veterinary Hospital, which opened in November in the old Jennings Funeral Home building at 96 Majors Blvd.

Whether it be the way the two met, or the decision to open the animal clinic, timing has been the key for the husband and wife duo who are both registered veterinarians.

The Mortons came to Middle Tennessee from Elizabethtown, N.C., in 2006 after selling their successful practice, Elizabethtown Veterinary Hospital, located in the southeast part of the Tar Heel State. The Mortons simply wanted a change of pace.

“We didn’t want to be that busy,” said Bryant, who has a degree from N.C. State in Animal Science and a degree from Tuskegee University in Veterinary Medicine

They settled on their farm in Bedford County, but never truly stepped away from the veterinary business. And despite selling their business in North Carolina, the Mortons never let their passion for animals — large and small — waiver.

“There was a dog pound (in Elizabethtown), but no cat pound, so we would end up with all the (stray) cats,” said Wendy, who is a 1991 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. “When we moved here, we brought the clinic cats with us. We have about 15 cats now.”

With five dogs, 25 horses and nearly 30 head of cattle, along with chickens on their farm, the Mortons may have gotten a change of scenery, but hardly a change of pace. Wendy calls their animals “pets,” while Bryant says that tending to their own animals isn’t the same as running a veterinary clinic.

“I don’t consider that veterinary medicine. That’s just farm work,” he contends.

Despite the demands of a busy farm, Bryant continued to practice veterinary medicine, working as a relief vet offering his services to any veterinarians in need. The Mortons also added a large-animal clinic at their farm in Flat Creek.

Still the urge to open another veterinary hospital to service small animals remained. Though they live in Bedford County, Bryant said he didn’t want to open a clinic in Shelbyville where he would be in direct competition with many of the vets he has helped through the years.

He also knew that if they were to open an animal hospital in Lynchburg, the location needed to be perfect. After mulling it over for some time and not finding an ideal spot, Bryant said he was close to giving up.

“I remember coming home from Ardmore (Tenn.) one night and I was really frustrated … thinking maybe it just wasn’t meant to be,” he recalled. “I was driving real slow, looking at each house along the way. I’d probably driven by that building 150 times and never noticed it.”

That night, however, the old funeral home reached out and grabbed his attention. After making a few phone calls, Bryant said “one thing started happening after another” and they were well on their way to opening a new practice.

To read the rest of this story, as well as an update on Nikki the News Cat, pick up the March 28 edition of The Moore County News. To subscribe to The News, click here.

By ROBERT HOLMAN (Robert Holman is the editor of The Moore County News. He may be reached at <mcnpub@lcs.net>)

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