After the fire: Eyota veterinarian getting pets well again
EYOTA — The first days after the fire were the toughest for Dr. Wayne and Trudy Ode.
"It was like walking on fudge — it didn't seem like we were getting anywhere," Trudy Ode said. "We couldn't even think of what to do first."
The Odes had just finished remodeling their 10-year-old Eyota Veterinary Clinic at 127 S. Front St. W. when a fire gutted the building the evening of Feb. 1, destroying about $250,000 in property, including medical equipment and merchandise.
The official cause of the fire hasn't been declared, though it appears to have been electrical. It started in a wall that divided Ode's clinic from an adjoining business.
Ode was working in his office inside the building when it caught fire. A passer-by, longtime Eyota resident Ray Schuchard, was driving by and saw smoke pouring out of a window. He alerted Ode soon enough that they were able to rescue the two dogs and two cats in the building, and Ode was able to grab his computers and some medical files.
"That was a blessing," said Trudy Ode. "They wouldn't have been able to save the animals otherwise; they were right next to the wall.
"There's been a lot of blessings — people have helped us, and just the kind words people say," she said.
The Odes have relocated the mostly small-animal clinic to the former Kwik Trip store on U.S. 14 at 95 Center Ave. N. in Eyota.
They were able to get the business running again in about four weeks, and the doctor was able to start doing surgeries after another two weeks. He hopes to start doing dental work on animals again soon.
Ode said he's back to about 90 percent of his previous business volume.
The Odes haven't decided whether to sign a long-term lease at their current site. They're also thinking about constructing a new building, Dr. Ode said.
After the fire, some local residents offered to hold a fundraiser for the Odes. Ode declined, concerned that he would be taking donations from people in dire need.
"I guess I felt that communities can do only so much, and we were in good enough shape after the fire," he said. "We could have had (the fundraiser), but then maybe someone in the community would have gotten cancer and needed the money worse."