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Family-owned Wooster Animal Clinic marks 45 years

By STEVEN F. HUSZAI, Staff Writer Published: July 14, 2013 4:00AM

WOOSTER -- Molly Clark was only 17 years old when she took her dog in to the Wooster Animal Clinic for an emergency.

"I was in here after hours for an emergency ... my Beagle had an accidental pregnancy," Clark said, as Dr. Mike Yacapraro had to forcibly remove the first puppy because of complications.

"But then he sort of chastised me and told me I needed a job," Clark said, and Yacapraro offered her a job at his vet clinic.

Clark quit her restaurant job she had at the time and started working for Yacapraro. That incident was 24 years ago and Clark still works for the clinic, which is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year.

Employees celebrated the occasion with a small in-house party.

The Animal Clinic was started in 1968 when Mike Yacapraro obtained a business loan for $1,000 (co-signed by his father) and renovated a former restaurant into his own vet clinic.

Mike and his wife, Jane, operated the business, and even had a play area for their four children.

One of those children -- Mark -- grew up to work at and then take over the family business.

Mark Yacapraro runs the business today with Dr. Greg Cantrell, who has been with the clinic for 42 years, and Dr. Mark Hoverstock, a 10-year vet. The business has grown from just Mark's parents to roughly 20 employees.

"Initially, we did large and small animals, but as time went on we shifted to small animals," explained Yacapraro, who remembers going on farm visits with his father when he was younger.

Mark Yacapraro graduated from Ohio State University's veterinary school in 1995 and started in an official capacity with his parents' business. He performs surgical and dentistry procedures, which is the clinic's main focus.

Mark said his mom still helps with the bookkeeping and his dad is "retired" but still involved.

He said as pet care for dogs and cats has evolved over the years, it's become more specialized.

"There's a lot more surgeries, dental work, advanced diagnostics," and mirrors human medical practices today, he said. The clinic also handles a lot of after-hours emergency calls, as it always has someone on call to take care of patients.

But where other clinics send patients to specialists,

Yacapraro said he and his staff perform those procedures in-house.

"We're not specialists, but we do a lot of those more difficult surgeries just like specialists," Yacapraro said and which sets the Animal Clinic apart from the competition.

Yacapraro said his father was one of the first people to establish separate waiting and exam areas for dogs and cats. Roughly 20 years ago, Yacapraro said the clinic expanded the building's footprint to the west in order to add a separate entrance and wing for cats.

But what separates the Animal Clinic from others in the area, clinic staff say, is their consistency, work ethic and family attitude.

"This is a family business ... and sometimes you see them more than your own family," Clark said. "I'm proud to say I work here."

"I think we show up every day ready to work," Yacapraro said. "We work with other people's pets like they're our own ... since (animals) can't talk, it's up to us to check what's wrong with them."

And when asked if any of his own children are ready to take over as the next generation of Animal Clinic vets, Yacapraro said maybe some day.

"They're a little young for me to think about that yet," he laughed. "But my girls do like to come in to see what I do."

Reporter Steve Huszai can be reached at 330-287-1645 or shuszai@the-daily-record.com. He is @GeneralSmithie on Twitter.

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