AT HOME AT THE HOSPITAL

gregory-heinsGregory Heins checks the heartbeat of an injured pup at his home veterinary hospital in Fair Haven. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

There isn’t anything about Gregory Heins’s home on River Road in Fair Haven that’s particularly different from those around it.

Until, that is, you head to the western portion of the house and open the door, when you’re instantly transported to Heins’s duality: a veterinary hospital.

Heins calls Two Rivers Animal Hospital, which opened for business two weeks ago, his “dream come true.”

He spent 12 years at Red Bank Veterinary Hospital, but said he always had the goal to have a home practice. That opportunity came last year, when the home of the late John Morrell, who ran his physician practice out of the house for decades, went on the market.

Heins jumped at it. After obtaining zoning approvals from the borough — some variances were needed  — outfitted the spacious home with an office, surgery room, exam room and holding area for pets that need to stay overnight.

When redbankgreen dropped in on Heins, he was just wrapping up a neuter job on a dog and was starting to prep for a Caesarian section on a bulldog. Just two weeks after opening his doors, Heins said, “we’ve been busy enough.”

Although Heins and his family — he has a wife, Mary, and four children — live in a place where high-tech machines hum and animals give birth, the business, with a little help from soundproofed walls and a heavy door,  is completely separate from the home. It’s not as if Fido can limp into the kitchen while the family’s having dinner.

“I’m still at the stage where it’s weird to me,” Mary Heins said. “You step in one door and you have this, then walk in another door and it’s our family area.

“For Greg, he can’t stop smiling. He’s so happy.”

The benefits are obvious for Heins. If a pet owner calls him in the middle of the night for help, he doesn’t have a very long commute to see them. More importantly, he said, the practice allows him to teach his children about work and, at times, as when there’s a C-section to do, life.

About a week ago his daughter, Saylor, watched an unborn puppy’s heartbeat on one of the hospital’s monitors, and was beaming, he said.

“We all looked around and said, ‘this is what it’s all about,'” Mary Heins said.