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Burned: Veterinary practices up in flames
Three practitioners face lost homes and lives in wake of February fires


DVM360 MAGAZINE


Lessons learned

Although the fires were devastating, everyone involved in these February blazes came away with newfound knowledge.

After going through the experience of trying to rebuild Rowan Animal Clinic, Lowe offers this advice to colleagues: "Prepare for the worst and hope for the best."

"Whenever you're looking for places to cut back, I recommend insurance not be one of those place," he suggests.

When Lowe started looking to make cuts at the clinic two years ago, he examined the clinic's insurance policy, but luckily decided not to make any cuts. His forethought paid off.

Thanks to the clinic's payroll insurance, all of the employees will continue to be paid for up to a year, which will allow the clinic time to rebuild.

Building insurance and expense insurance also proved to be worth the cost. But Lowe couldn't foresee all of the potential problems as the result of a fire.

All of the clinic's electronic records were recovered, but there were paper records that were destroyed. Surprisingly, one of the more experienced veterinarians on staff was the first to suggest typing more and writing less.

"All of our contact information, all of our inventory information were damaged," he says. "I recommend keeping that information in a fireproof safe at another location. There is something to be said for backing up off-sight and fireproof safes."

There is also something to be said for not procrastinating, says Barnett.

"I was planning on having a big benefit garage sale in the spring," she says. "I had a lot of things I thought I would like to give people, too. I should have went ahead and done it."

Barnett is grateful she had a fireproof safe and that she had a video in that safe of her China cabinets.

But everything else is gone.

"I didn't even have time to grab my purse," she says.

And personal items are important; just ask Knowles.

In the future, Knowles plans on having additional insurance that covers belongings away from home. He lost a number of his "toys," including bicycles, motorcycles and a large book collection.

While his homeowner's insurance will cover a percentage of his loss, it is nowhere close to the true value of the items—some never used.

It's a lesson learned.

Knowles also plans to install security cameras in the future. Although another arson isn't likely, the cameras would capture any break-ins.

"I always expected to be robbed," he says, "Not burned."


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Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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