Dr. Dan Whelan, 37, and Annikki Nurmi, his partner and office manager, opened Easton Veterinary at 796 Sport Hill Road in September 2020. 

Specializing in cats and dogs, the pair has gotten to know and adapted nicely to their new community. Since the opening of their solo practice, Easton Veterinary has had to overcome many challenges throughout the year, including, of course, the coronavirus pandemic.

“With such a new business, we were really worried initially and didn’t know what to expect,” Annikki said. 

Office Manager Annikki Nurmi greets clients at the reception desk at Easton Veterinary. — Nancy Doniger Photo

Fortunately, Easton Veterinary has never been forced to close during the pandemic. Instead, the business clientele grew steadily during those uncertain times, something which Dr. Dan and Annikki (a Finnish name that rhymes with Monica) did not anticipate.

“We did not expect the coronavirus obviously, but since so many new people moved to this area from New York City and got pets and because a lot of places were shut down, we got many new patients from all over the place,” Dr. Dan said.

Easton Veterinary’s growth over the past year has far exceeded Dr. Dan and Annikki’s expectations as they have nearly quadrupled the number of clients from 355 in February 2020 to more than 1,200 clients in March 2021.

“We truly have great and awesome clients and have built so many amazing relationships with them,” Annikki said. 

Although Easton Veterinary has experienced a sustained period of growth and success, like most other businesses, they had to adapt to the changes and challenges brought on by the pandemic.  They continue to follow the Covid-19 safety precautions first implemented at the start of the pandemic, including mandatory masks and outside check-in. In addition, all of the animals are brought inside by the Easton Veterinary staff and all communication and correspondence with pet owners is done by phone and email. 

The pair couldn’t have done it without the help from their 23-year-old employee, Hannah Mello. Hannah had been working part-time since Easton Veterinary opened in September 2020, but recently transitioned into a full-time role.

“Since Hannah is here full-time now she has been excellent and made things so much easier for Dr. Dan and myself,” Annikki said. 

Hannah studied animal science at the University of Connecticut and is currently enrolled in the Penn Foster program working towards her veterinary technician degree. 

Hannah assists Dr. Dan with surgeries Tuesdays through Thursdays and focuses on appointments Mondays and Fridays.  

“I really do love working here, the atmosphere is great and Annikki and Dr. Dan are awesome too,” Hannah said. 

Hannah Mello and Dr. Dan Whalen–Gabriella Tamburri Photo)

Easton Veterinary also has big plans for the future. Dr. Dan and Annika plan to slowly expand their office and create a larger lobby so that when they do start letting pet owners back in, it will be more spacious and comfortable to navigate. “Our goal is to have this project done by the end of this year,” Dr. Dan said. 

Despite the fact that the pandemic began just six months after they opened their practice, it is a testament to the quality of care that Dr. Dan and his team provide that they not only overcame these unprecedented obstacles but continue to thrive.

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