Today we’d like to introduce you to Sabrina Grinstead.
Hi Sabrina, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I grew up on a farm—the youngest of six siblings—in the small town of Nazareth, Texas. My family had chickens, guinea hens, cattle, hunting dogs, and barn cats. My very first dog was a mutt named Special.
In college, I volunteered for a mixed animal veterinary practice and found my calling. In 2001, I graduated from Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine. My experience includes working as a large animal mobile vet, a relief vet, and for two years an emergency vet: one of the toughest jobs a veterinarian can ever do.
In 2006, I moved to Durham to focus on what I love most: small animal medicine and surgery. I really wanted to make a positive difference in my adopted community, so in 2011 I bought and took over Eno Animal Hospital, where I had worked for a number of years.
At that time, Eno Animal Hospital had served Durham for more than 25 years; our hospital was cute and cozy but very small and somewhat outdated. I knew I wanted to grow the business to help even more pets! We spent three years planning and designing a new hospital, which we built specifically to look and feel like a home: arched roofing with lots of windows, gray shingles, stone and woodwork, calming colors (blue and cream).
My proudest, fondest Eno moment was moving into and opening our beautiful new hospital in February 2019. Now we offer even better medicine and more holistic care: wellness and sick visits, puppy and kitten care, senior care, end-of-life care, behavior and training consultations, surgery and dentistry, and lab work, alongside specialty orthopedic surgeries and laser therapy. We even have special suites for grooming and boarding, and we’re one of the only vets in town that accepts (and welcomes) feline grooming patients.
My goal for Eno Animal Hospital is to be a one-stop-shop for fur babies. That’s what our pet parents say they really want!
I believe in educating pet parents to help them make the best decisions for their pets. We believe in treating the whole pet and always emphasize the importance of best care: routine visits, year-round parasite prevention, annual dental cleanings, the right nutrition. Pets truly are family members!
It’s always been essential to me to contribute to the community. I have many friends who are first responders and firefighters. So in 2018, we established an Eno cause: pet oxygen kits. We started raising money to get these life-saving devices onto every fire truck in Durham. Today we’ve donated 22 pet oxygen kits in total to local fire departments: Durham, Bahama, Creedmore, Lebanon, and Redwood.
The kits we donated were used after a fire tragically destroyed Falconbridge Animal Hospital in August 2019. Immediate oxygen made a huge difference; firefighters reported the kits saved the lives of several dogs at the scene. That was a big moment; I felt so sad about the fire, yet so relieved those families got their dogs home to them.
My favorite part of leading Eno is working with an amazing team to help as many pets as possible live the best lives. At Eno, we say we’re all about happy visits! Dr. Robyn Hahn, an associate vet, is Fear Free certified; soon our team will be Fear Free certified, too. Dr. Michael Peace, another associate vet, is amazing with nervous pets: so patient, compassionate, and gentle. We can make friends with pets who haven’t been able to see a vet before! We give lots of treats, peanut butter, patience, belly rubs, cuddles, hugs, and love. We never rush. We never force. Whatever is best for the unique pet is what we do.
We also work hard every day to create a fun, safe, empowering work environment. This is such a stressful job; compassion fatigue is real and can be crushing. Our team really supports each other, and it’s great to come to work every day with a profound sense of purpose, surrounded by other animal lovers who truly care.
I’m really proud to be a local small business owner and that our executive leaders are all women. Last year we won INDY Week’s Best Vet in Durham (and are nominated again in 2021), and this year we won Durham Magazine’s Best Vet in Durham! I’m so excited about Eno’s bright future.
All right, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Twenty years of experience being a vet does not prepare you for being a business owner! Owning a business is a whole other set of challenges and requires a whole new set of skills and knowledge: in hiring, HR, management, insurance, taxes, safety and building codes, marketing, scalable growth.
I’ve been training in business management so I can grow Eno successfully and in a healthy way! The goal is always to help as many pets as possible. It’s hard whenever you’re short-staffed; building a team of great people takes a lot of effort and investment. It’s worth it when I see Eno pets and the Eno family thrive.
The COVID-19 crisis has certainly been challenging…for everyone. Everyone has lost something: a loved one, an opportunity, time with family and friends. We were understandably worried, so we introduced new protocols and made a lot of adjustments, especially valet visits, to stay open to keep helping pets. It was hard on pet parents not to be able to come inside; that was hard on us, too. We committed more than ever to happy visits, and we all got in good shape running in and out of the hospital.
Our third veterinarian came on right as the crisis began in earnest last spring. Our team really rallied and grew stronger than ever. We kept accepting new patients; that was a huge need to fill. Ultimately, like so many other vet hospitals, Eno got even busier: more puppies and kitties adopted (“quarantine pets”), more people at home who realized their dogs or cats needed care or treatment. A big part of my job is to make it as easy and understandable as possible for pet parents to be responsible and thoughtful. As one of my best team members says, “People who seek vet care are great people!” Through it all, I’m grateful.
Diagnosing and treating tricky cases is an ongoing challenge that excites and inspires me. And to be real: Helping stressed, scared, or worried pet parents is demanding (much more so than helping stressed pets). I know we must first treat the pet with the best care, then handle difficult emotions separately; I’m constantly working on that delicate balancing act!
But people who are outright abusive to us must be “fired.” It’s rare, but it happens. Abusing me or my team is never acceptable. We are all hard-working professionals who put a lot on the line every day; we’re in charge of a pet’s life every moment we’re at work. And we often take our work home with us: all its stressors, pressures, both beautiful wins and painful losses. We are doing our best, for all these diverse patients with different needs, from majors issues to simple nail trims, all the time. And not even nail trims are always simple! Please don’t bark at us.
Lastly: Helping a pet parent say goodbye to a beloved, cherished furry best friend is always difficult, especially when we’ve looked after that pet his or her whole life. Yet despite all the stress and strain that comes with this territory, being there in the tough times is deeply meaningful and rewarding. I consider it an honor and a privilege to do what I love.
Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
At Eno, I lead a team of three full-time veterinarians (including me), a Registered Veterinary Technician, two executives in administration and marketing, numerous vet assistants, kennel assistants, and receptionists, and two groomers.
My work compromises all sorts of small animal care: wellness and sick visits; administering vaccines; diagnosing problems and recommending exact treatments; prescribing parasite prevention and other medications; performing routine surgeries such as spays, neuters, and mass removals; performing dental surgeries; and basically offering the most comprehensive treatment plan for each unique pet.
Every dog or cat is different and beautiful! My job is to keep them all healthy and happy.
What do you like best about our city? What do you like least?
I love Bull City! Especially the diversity of cultures, restaurants, and landscapes, with both downtown and countryside close by. For fun, I like to read, craft, sew, walk, garden, and play cards. I’m happiest at home with my husband, two children, two pups, and two kitties. And seeing friends. And hanging out with my Eno pals at our annual lake trip!
I lovingly tolerate my daughter’s banana ball python. I dislike puns.
- Wellness exam: $55
- Cat boarding: $20 per cat per night
- Dog boarding: $26 to $32 per night
- Baths: $32 to $60
- Grooming: $52 to $100
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: enoanimalhospital.com
- Instagram: @enoanimalhospital
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/enoanimalhospital/
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/eno-animal-hospital-durham