Dr. Matthew Pike says there's more space for dogs, cats and people at his new Aqueduct Animal Hospital in Rexford.
Pike, a veterinarian who has owned the business since 2010, last week opened his larger location at the intersection of Balltown Road and Riverview Road.
Pike said he is now able to offer separate accommodations for dogs and cats in a space that is much larger than the former Aqueduct Animal Hospital on Balltown in Niskayuna.
The former location made headlines in 2018. Residents of Schwaber Drive, located near the hospital, had complained about continuous barking at the hospital, noise they said often woke them in the middle of the night.
Dozens of people who support the hospital were part of a large crowd at the Sept. 25 session of the Niskayuna Town Board. Supporters -- along with Pike -- were concerned proposed legislation that would govern dog barking would also adversely affect the business.
The new 8,290-square-foot hospital and boarding facility is directly across the street from a Stewart's convenience store. New York Oncology Hematology is located just east of the new animal building, also on Riverview Road.
A section of the Edison Club golf course is also located on Riverview, across from the hospital.
Pike said the new Aqueduct has many upgrades over the original building that Franklin W. Rapp opened in 1957.
"Essentially, what we did with this place, we were able to build it so we were able to separate the cats and the dogs," Pike said. "The cats have their own waiting area, they have their own exam rooms, they have their own treatment rooms, they have their own boarding area. They have their own cat ward, so if they're sick they're still separate from the dogs."
The cat boarding area is equipped with several "luxury suites," Pike said, places that give cats different levels to explore -- with separate spots for litter box areas.
"Cats don't like to live next to their litter boxes, but who does," Pike said.
Large and small dogs will have separate exam rooms. Boarding areas also will be large spaces. "They can sleep and hang out in one area and go to the bathroom in another, they're shielded from the other dogs. When you put one dog in a run they don't have to walk and see other dogs as they walk through.
"I have three large luxury suites that are right next to the windows," Pike added, "so those dogs will get bright sunshine, they'll get just the VIP experience in there."
Two large indoor daycare rooms are also ready for dogs.
"One is built to look like a back yard, the other one's built to look like a beach, they'll have a good time in there. We have daycare equipment built and being built for it, we have stuff for dogs to run and jump and climb on and everything, just keep their minds stimulated."
Dogs will be outside too, in a large play area.
Flooring in the facility is non-slip and dog-proof. Animals will not be able chew or pull up the surfaces. "It's safe, it's comfortable," Pike said.
The vet does not believe noise will be a major issue.
"The dog kennel is sound dampened, acoustical ceiling tiles, sound proofing in the walls, so barking will not be echoed or anything like that off the walls," he said. "Bright LED lights for them, we can turn them up, we can turn them down, so depending on how we're trying to keep them calm, things like that."
Pike said he and other veterinarians had to deal with a canine coronavirus outbreak a few years ago.
"Pretty much it swept through the whole area," he said. "In this place, my heating, ventilation, air conditioning, they're getting fresh air from the outside and recirculated, air, all the recirculated air is UV light sterilized. So the air these animals breathe, the air we breathe, all clean air, we're not going to have microbes going through it, we're not going to have coronavirus going through it.
"I also have a wet dry-vac system in the walls, it's a centralized system where the floors can be cleaned and sterilized several times a day, we can use it to sterilize all of our surfaces, it's what we've been using to keep coronavirus out of our building."
The parking lot will hold 80 vehicles. Dogs will not be able to see other dogs coming into the hospital for appointments.
"It's not like last time," Pike said. "A lot of it was, the noise was, people would pull in the parking lot and the dogs would see them. One would start barking and they'd all start barking. This, the dogs aren't going to be seeing other dogs ... they don't have a view of the parking lot. Everything is for them, they're in their own little world back there and they're going to have a ball.
"Everything here is, I don't want to say state of the art, but certainly well planned, well thought out, thoroughly vetted for 'Does it work or not' and installed and operational at this point," Pike also said.
The old animal hospital on Balltown remains for sale.
"I'd love to sell it, if anybody's looking to buy it," Pike said. "Anytime anybody wants it, it's available for someone. I still own it."
The hospital's boarding facility is currently closed because of the coronavirus pandemic. "As New York re-opens, so will we," Pike said.
He added veterinarian facilities were deemed essential.
"We were running things as a need-to-be-seen basis," Pike said. "We were told only emergency appointments ... and we've been working with that, but our clients are really demanding ... we've told everyone for years the wellness exams are important because we find out animals are sick when they don't even know it, and they're saying 'Well, don't do that,' I feel like it's making animals sicker. They're coming to us sicker, I think we can really keep better care on these guys here, especially since most clinics are doing curb-side everything.
"We can socially distance so well here," Pike added. "If you have a mask, one client can come in at a time and they can get the full experience here of checking this place out and seeing really where we are with it."
Pike said more support staff will be hired.
"At the old place, we were really busy, and we're still really busy," he said. "But we need people to come in, it's such a big place. We really need some people to help us fill it so we can serve more clients and more patients."
Contact staff writer Jeff Wilkin at 518-641-8400 or at [email protected]