After 13 years serving the Mitchell community at Safe Haven Small Animal Hospital, Veterinarian Jason Heezen decided it is time for semi-retirement. As the son of a veterinarian, the Plankinton native grew up with a passion for animals and veterinary science. In his 21 years of practice, Heezen has treated animals in both Mitchell and Plankinton. Now at age 49, Heezen is ready to follow the advice his grandfather gave him years ago.

“My grandpa had always said when you get to about 50 (years), you should always slow down a bit,” Heezen said. “He said, ‘Travel, enjoy your family and enjoy life a little bit.’”

Having grown up and worked many years in the veterinary field, Heezen felt the time was right to slow down and make time to pursue his other passions. That’s when David Thompson, fellow veterinarian and owner of Creekside Veterinary Clinic, popped into his head. The two had a working relationship, referring animals to each other throughout the years, but didn’t know each other well. That changed when Heezen approached Thompson with the idea of joining forces.

“I was looking for an associate doctor so I could step back a little bit, and along that same time frame I knew Dave was trying to expand his business. I thought this might be a really good situation,” Heezen said. “Dave can expand his business and I can slow down a little bit.”

At first, both doctors didn’t know if a merge was possible, but after a meeting over a cup of coffee the two came to an agreement.

“A lot of times when you have two organizations like ours, trying to put them together can be difficult,” Heezen said. “It must have been God’s plan for us to get together because everything went together very well.”

Thompson agreed, joking the hardest part of the transition was reading through the legal documents.

“We want to do the best medicine that’s out there, whether it’s surgical or medical. Our mind-frame was the same with that,” Thompson said. “That was one of the reasons this collaboration was so nice.”

Within four months, Heezen closed Safe Haven Small Animal Hospital and made the transition over to Creekside Veterinary Clinic where he sees patients Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Tuesday marked his third week at the clinic. Thompson and his staff are excited about the skill set and and orthopedic knowledge Heezen brings to the team of four veterinarians.

“Jason brought over a lot of expertise, especially on the surgery side, and just experience in general,” Thompson said. “Having Jason’s skill set here will help us in all realms of the clinic, whether it’s medicine, surgery or diagnosis.”

Like Heezen, Thompson’s father was a veterinarian in Warrenton, Missouri, and he grew up going on calls with his father. He and Heezen love their jobs taking care of a family’s furry member.

“It’s the best profession in the world,” Thompson said. “We’re helping a family member through their whole life, from birth till the end stage. You’re there every step of the way and it’s awesome.”

“It’s a very creative profession,” Heezen said. “The ability for me to have something new, different, and challenging all the time is what really inspires me to keep moving on.”

With the closure of the Safe Haven Small Animal Hospital, Mitchell lost its only clinic dedicated to small animals. The other four clinics, including Creekside Veterinary Clinic, are mixed animal practices, but Heezen says the dedication found at Safe Haven has not been lost.

“We still have the capability of being a dedicated small animal facility but we also do large animals,” Heezen said.

Even though semi-retired, Heezen looks forward to caring for animals in the new setting of Creekside Veterinary Clinic along with Thompson and his staff.

“We want the best for pets in Mitchell and the surrounding area,” Thompson said. “That’s our plan and what we see for the future.”