BY SUZANNAH COUCH
For The Daily Journal

BEAN BLOSSOM — For more than 50 years, the Bean Blossom Animal Clinic on State Road 135 southwest of Johnson County has been a magnet for people who love their animals, because of the doctor who clearly loved them, too.

Earlier this month, James “Doc” Brester closed the door to the clinic for the final time as its doctor. The next week, it was opened by new owners, who also operate the Franklin Animal Clinic.

Dr. Andrew P. Mills, Dr. Amy L. Smith and Dr. Chad M. Hennessy are the main owners of the clinic. Five veterinarians will work on rotations at the practice — now called the Bean Blossom Veterinary Clinic — until they are able to hire a full-time veterinarian there.

The clinic will focus on small animals. Home visits may be added when additional veterinarians are hired, Mills said.

“The first day was wonderful. It was great to work with the staff and meet new folks. I love to educate clients on great care of their ‘kids,’” he said.

“At Franklin, we have a rule that they are not called pets but kids.”

The staff spent the first few days bringing down supplies to stock the clinic, plus handling all the patients on the schedule.

Mills said the clinic plans continue offering the loving care Brester offered and expand on it by offering services like CT scans, X-rays, blood work with results in 15 minutes and surgeries that don’t require overnight stays.

“I am a person who doesn’t believe in leaving animals here by themselves at night. It just doesn’t sit well with me,” Mills said.

The plan is to also expand the clinic’s pharmacy to provide more treatment options for pets.

The Bean Blossom location will be the Franklin Animal Clinic’s third clinic in Indiana. The primary veterinary hospital is in Franklin with an advanced wellness clinic in Greenwood.

The new doctors plan to offer specific appointment times. Most days, cars fill the Bean Blossom parking lot as people walk around with their pets or sit outside waiting for their names to be called — sometimes for a couple of hours.

Longtime Brester client Brittany James has been bringing her four dogs from Fairland — an hour’s drive away — to Brester for 10 years, but Brester’s prices were not the deciding factor for her.

“It’s how he treats the animals. The reason he keeps them low is not because of the money, it’s because he loves what he does, and that’s why he’s been doing it for as long as he has,” she said.

James said she wants an animal clinic that doesn’t treat her like any customer.

“That’s what I liked about Bean Blossom. Even though they’ve had such a high client base, they’ve always kind of talked to you a little bit and made you feel like this was your clinic,” she said.

Mills said his clinics practice the patient-relationship approach, or connecting with the owner first.

“I always felt that if you treat the people really well, then they just trust you and you can treat the pet really well. It’s not all about the pet. You have to take care of the people, because the people will trust you and they will communicate with you and you’ll give better care,” he said.

Brester said that’s one of the reasons he decided to go into veterinary medicine. “I just decided it’s something you can help the animal and that helps the people, so you’re doing two things at one time,” he said.

Taking care of the people also means taking care of the staff, Mills said. All of Brester’s staff will continue to work at the clinic with the same benefits and pay, including Brester’s daughter, Anna Gartner, who will be the practice manager.

“They know the residents of Brown County and we need them,” Mills said.

Brester wants people to know how much he appreciates all of his clients, his family and his staff from over the years.

“If it hadn’t been for them, I wouldn’t be able to do it. I enjoyed having worked many days in life, because I enjoyed doing what I have been doing. Some people can’t say that, but that’s thanks to the clients and my staff and my family,” he said.