Willowbend Animal Hospital to open on the east side in August

Michael Johnson and his dogs, Marty and Mabel.

WICHITA — Veterinarian Michael Johnson, who has practiced in the Wichita area for 17 years, is opening his own animal hospital next month.

Willowbend Animal Hospital will open Aug. 8 at 7606 E. 37th St. North, which is between Rock Road and Woodlawn.

“I just wanted a facility that I could provide the services that I want to for my clients and my pets,” Johnson says. “Specifically, I’m very passionate about managing chronic pain with pets.”

Johnson says pet owners often are unaware their pets are in pain.

“They expect the pet to act like we do when they’re in pain, and that’s not how they act,” he says.

For instance, he says, dogs are pack animals who wouldn’t want to show pain to others.

“They’d be hiding it if they could.”

Johnson says cats go into seclusion, which may be difficult to differentiate from their regular behavior.

Some issues, he says, owners may chalk up to the aging process, when actually their animals are in pain.

“I just believe that our pets can not speak for themselves,” Johnson says. “They suffer quietly for years with undiagnosed and untreated pain, and they never enjoy life as fully as they could.”

Johnson will treat dogs, cats and what he calls pocket pets, including reptiles and amphibians.

“It always starts with a thorough physical exam,” he says. “We do that on every pet on every visit.”

Johnson uses a therapeutic laser for pain control, which he says is a hot topic with veterinarians right now.

“It’s just really opened the door on addressing this with pet owners and making a difference.”

Willowbend Animal Hospital will be in 2,650 square feet.

Brent Madison and Brad Saville of Landmark Commercial Real Estate represented Johnson in the deal, and Doug Malone and Marty Gilchrist of J.P. Weigand & Sons represented the landlord.

Paul Cavanaugh of Places Architects is the architect and contractor.

Initially, Johnson will be the sole veterinarian practicing at the clinic.

“My plan is to expand over time when business gets to that level,” he says.

There wasn’t a particular incident or a series of things that led Johnson to want to specialize in pain management.

“I feel it’s my responsibility as a doctor to look for it,” he says.

“What’s led me there is just the fact that at the end of the day, I’m just an animal lover, and I don’t like to see animals hurting.”