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Animal hospital will be newest addition to China Grove

By Josh Bergeron

josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

CHINA GROVE — This year will undoubtedly be an eventful one for veterinary school sweethearts Jake Blanton and Venessa Longobardi.

In October, Longobardi and Blanton will be married. A few months later, the couple will be setting up shop on China Grove’s Main Street.

Blanton and Longobardi will be be the veterinarians at South Rowan Animal Hospital, which is currently under construction. The business will be an extension of Salisbury Animal Hospital, which is owned by Veterinarian Charles Steinman.

Since 1972, Steinman has worked in the Salisbury area. In addition to the Salisbury Animal Hospital, Steinman also owns Salisbury’s West Innes Animal Hospital. Now, he’s expanding to a growing area of Rowan County — China Grove.

“Things have worked well for the last many years, and we’ve got a lot of clients from the south Rowan area,” Steinman said. “So, we knew there was an opportunity there. Because there was the opportunity and because we’ve got two knowledgeable veterinarians, we’ll be opening up a facility in China Grove.”

South Rowan Animal Hospital will sit near the intersection of North Main Street and East Church Street. Steinman said he made sure to get a Main Street address for the business.

South Rowan Animal Hospital also will be on the site of what was formerly a location of Cannon Mills.

Blanton and Longobardi will move to the South Rowan Animal Hospital from Salisbury Animal Hospital.

Blanton, from South Carolina, said he and Longobardi, from Florida, met in veterinary school — both received their degrees from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in St. Kitts, which is in the Caribbean.

“I used to annoy her in anatomy lab,” Blanton joked.

As part of studying at Ross University, Blanton did a clinical year at Auburn University. Longobardi did a clinical year at LSU.

Both said they’re excited about the opening of the animal hospital.

“It’s new and we’ll be able to extend all of our practice to this area of Rowan County,” Longobardi said.

“New people, new challenges,” Blanton added.

South Rowan Animal Hospital will look and operate like West Innes Animal Hospital, Steinman said. It will serve small animals — “basically dogs and cats” — he said.

He said veterinarians from other branches may cover for Longobardi and Blanton on days off or vacations.

He said the couple will be “the face of” South Rowan Animal Hospital.

“They’re both very good with people,” Stainmen said. “They can talk to people, and that’s just paramount above everything else.”

Lately, wet weather has slowed construction, but Steinman said he hopes to have the the animal hospital operational by December.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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