The next few weeks in Houston County will be good for pet parents.

Wellston Park off Watson Boulevard, which will have the city's first dog park, opens officially on Thursday morning at 10:30a.m.

Over on Russell Parkway, a new after-hours emergency clinic is getting ready to open for pet parents all over central and southern Georgia. It will open officially on September 8th.

New emergency veterinary clinic in Houston County

The Hootens and their 14-year-old Labrador-mix, Pudgy, say an after-hours emergency clinic is music to their ears.

“When we're scared for our babies, there needs to be someplace to come,” Cheryl Hooten said after their appointment at Critter Fixer.

The couple knows emergencies. Pudgy had a seizure Sunday due to cancer complications.

“So since it was Sunday, there was really no place to take her. So we had to go on with what we knew how to do to take care of her. And we got here in today,” Cheryl’s wife, Andrew, explained while holding Pudgy’s leash.

Pudgy also was attacked two Christmas’ ago while the family was in Florida. The Hootens say a pit bull attacked her neck and left her severely injured. They called Doctor Vernard Hodges who told them to get to Critter Fixer as quickly as they could and he’d be waiting.

Dr. Hodges says he's basically been on call all the time for 21 years. He says on average he has 3 to 8 emergencies a weekend and at least 2 during most week days. He said the after-hours emergencies add about 20-25 hours to his work week and often take away weekends.

Hodges says it's taxing for veterinarians trying to run a normal day-to-day business.

“You know if you're on- if you have some plans for the weekend, you know you kind of have to cancel cause you typically have something going on. For instance, last weekend I had two snakebites, I had two dogs I had to come in and give anti-venom. I had to treat them, I had to stay with them, my techs had to stay 24 hours to make sure they're okay,” Hodges said in his office on Monday.

That's why he and 29 other Central and Southern Georgia vets partnered with an Atlanta-area emergency care center to open one right here in Houston County.

The Middle Georgia Veterinary Emergency Center will be open overnight seven days a week, including holidays. The hours will be 6:00p.m. each evening, to 8:00a.m. the next morning so people can take their pets in an emergency overnight, and then go to their normal veterinarian for a follow-up the next day.

It will be fully staffed with 3 doctors and deal solely with emergencies when normal offices are closed.

Any small animals and pets are welcome when they open their doors on September 8th.

However, Hodges and others wanted to stress it will only handle emergencies. So, just because it's open late, don't bring your pet for normal preventative care or vaccines.

The Center is located at 4798 Russell Parkway. All patients are welcome, not just patients of the 30 partnered veterinarians. Payment will be handled in house at the time of service.