Weather Forecast


Animal Care Center notes decade in business

Steve Rehnblom, veterinarian, examined a dog at Animal Care Center with the help1 / 3
Steve Rehnblom, veterinarian, held two newborn chocolate lab puppies after perfo2 / 3
Animal Care Center has three veterinarians — Kendall Sawyer (left), Steve Rehnbl3 / 3

BAXTER — When Steve Rehnblom, veterinarian, opened Animal Care Center in 2001, his business philosophy was simple: build a practice based on respect — for people and their pets.

That philosophy remains the foundation of Animal Care Center, helping the clinic grow for the last 10 years.

To celebrate its 10th anniversary, Animal Care Center is hosting a community appreciation party from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on July 16, complete with animal demonstrations, tours and food catered by Famous Dave’s.

“We want to thank not only our clients, but this community for supporting us for the last 10 years,” Rehnblom said, in a news release. 

In the beginning, Rehnblom built his clinic, located near Home Depot in Baxter, with expansion already in mind. At the time he had only three employees, a short list of loyal clients and a lot of big ideas.

“To this day, it’s our goal to get to know each of our clients and their pets,” Rehnblom said. “We want what’s best for them and will advocate for them.”

Animal Care Center now has three veterinarians — Rehnblom, Brent Henkes and Kendall Sawyer — and 17 employees including technicians, groomers and receptionists. 

Animal Care Center is a small animal or companion animal clinic, treating dogs, cats and exotic pets like rats, mice and ferrets. While a majority of the clinic’s business is in wellness exams and preventative health, veterinarians are able to perform complicated procedures like soft tissue and orthopedic surgeries, dentistry, laser surgery, ultrasound and surgical implants for breeding using the latest in high-tech equipment.

The laser was added in 2005. The  most recent technology was the ultrasound which was added last year.

Diagnostic ultrasound is used for diagnosing abdominal diseases such as tumors, bladder stones, enlarged organs, kidney disease and liver disease. Some day we hope to use it to diagnose heart disease as well.

Ultrasound allows the staff to see inside of organs, often finding small tumors not visible in X-rays. 

Without ultrasound, Rehnblom said they’d have to investigate by surgery. 

Laser surgery is somewhat new within the profession, Rehnblom said. It cuts with a light, seals blood vessels, lymphatics and nerve endings so incisions don’t hurt as much. 

“With lasers we can make spays nearly bloodless,” Rehnblom said.

Animal Care Center’s team of veterinarians provide expertise in many specialty areas. Henkes is interested in internal medicine and surgery; Sawyer enjoys ultrasound and dentistry, while Rehnblom has a special interest in orthopedics and reproduction.

Rehnblom, 51, began his veterinary career with a farm practice in the southern Minnesota town of Chatfield, then joined a small animal and exotics clinic in St. Cloud before moving to the Brainerd area in 1994. He practiced locally until 1999, before branching off on his own to build Animal Care Center. 

During the construction process, Rehnblom worked on a relief basis, filling in for veterinarians around northern Minnesota, covering for them during vacations, maternity leaves or extended illnesses. He also had a house call practice, caring for sick pets in their homes before the clinic was built.

“I’ve learned something from every clinic I’ve worked,” Rehnblom said. “I brought knowledge and experience and took ideas and philosophies of how I would practice in my own clinic some day.”

With the help of his wife, Lori, and their four children, Animal Care Center opened in 2001. 

“My kids grew up in this practice,” Rehnblom said. “They’ve all helped at some stage, from cleaning and landscaping to all types of animal care.”

When he’s not working in the clinic, Rehnblom may often be found outside, tending to the lawn or flowers on the three acres of manicured, park-like Animal Care Center grounds. 

Those grounds will be transformed on July 16 for the 10-year anniversary party, complete with tents, food, canine search and rescue, agility and water rescue demonstrations. 

“It’s our way of giving back, a thank you for 10 years of business,” Rehnblom said.