Veterinary clinic in Oak Harbor celebrating 40th anniversary

Best Friends Veterinarian Center in Oak Harbor celebrated its 40th anniversary last month.

In that time, Eric Anderson, the clinic’s chief of staff, has treated a menagerie of animals, from otters to deer to eagles to cats and dogs.

He said he knew he wanted to be a veterinarian ever since he was little, and his passion for taking care of animals has not wavered.

“I love to go to work every single day.” Anderson said. “I love what I do. I’m good at what I do, and it’s a real pleasure to be able to take of care of animals.”

Before he established the clinic, he spent three years in Seattle at a multi-doctor practice.

“And then we came to the island and built the hospital from scratch,” he said. He also helped establish the Pet Emergency Center in Mount Vernon and founded the Wildlife Care Clinic, a nonprofit dedicated to caring for sick, injured and abandoned wildlife.

His family lived in the clinic in Oak Harbor for the first few months after opening because at the time they didn’t have a house. He said he spent much of his time traveling up and down the West Coast, looking for state-of-the-art hospital equipment. Over time, he built his inventory to include sonograms, lasers, and blood testing machines that utilize facial recognition software to analyze cells.

“Our mantra is to be new adopters of everything,” Anderson said.

He added, however, that the most fun part of his job is helping clients, not the “bells and whistles.”

He strives to make his clinic fear-free for animals. As a result, the clinic has two entrances, one for dogs and one for cats.

“We never do any cowboy stuff,” he said.

Like many businesses in recent months, the clinic has had to adapt to COVID-19 regulations. The clinic has stopped boarding animals and has established policies to limit social interaction between clients and doctors.

Down the road, as the business recovers from the pandemic, and also looking to the next 40 years, Anderson said he sees the clinic moving to a larger location.

“We’re bursting at the seams here.”

His daughter, Dr. Erica Syring, plans to take over the business when he retires. Unlike her father, she said she didn’t want to be a veterinarian growing up, but as she got older she warmed to the idea. Now she can’t see herself doing anything else.