The History of Westgate Pet Clinic
Westgate Pet Clinic has been an institution in the Linden Hills neighborhood of SW Minneapolis since 1973. But our roots extend back to the mid-1800’s.
Edith Adele Prescott Clark. As the wife of a veterinarian, she helped brew concoctions, roll the pills, and diagnose and dispense when her husband was out on call.
The story begins in 1858 when Thomas Portier brought his family to Minnesota from Quebec to homestead. Thomas was a “horse doctor” by trade. In those days, you didn’t need a veterinary degree to work on animals. You learned from someone else that was doing that job. Most animal doctors during the 19th century also needed other jobs to supplement their income. Thomas did as well. He farmed and raised stallions in addition to his animal doctoring.
Thomas’s son, Bennett Porter, was the first “official” veterinarian in the Porter family. Dr. Porter graduated from Ontario Veterinary College in 1906. He wasn’t a kid at the time he graduated. He had already been married, and remarried since he lost his first wife to typhoid fever, leaving him a single father with 3 children. Bennett’s new wife, Edith Adele, had also lost her spouse to typhoid, and was widowed with 3 children. Together, Bennett and Edith had 3 more children for a total of nine. Their 9th child, Bennett J. Porter I carried on the family veterinary tradition.
“It never occurred to me that I would be anything else but a veterinarian”, recalls Dr. Porter I. “Not many went on to college in those days. I had trouble finding a college offering training for veterinarians”. This was the time of the Great Depression, and the bank with his life’s savings had closed. Bennett, like many others of his time, were wondering how they were going to survive. Luckily, however, more than 86% of his money was returned in quarterly installments “just in time to pay tuition and book fees”.history2
Dr. Porter I (seated to the left)
Dr. Porter I persevered and earned his veterinary degree from Iowa state college in 1931. He practiced in several locations around Albert Lea, Minnesota before coming to St. Louis Park in 1947 where he opened Porter’s Dog and Cat Hospital. The clinic was located just east of Highway 100 on the south side of Highway Seven across from the old Skippy Peanut Butter baseball fields and by the Robin Hood Flour factory.
Dr. Porter I, and his wife Violet had three children. Two of his children, Thayer (Gene) and Bennett II, became veterinarians. They both attained their veterinary degrees at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Gene Porter graduated in 1959. Dr. Bennett Porter II graduated in 1961 and founded Westgate Pet Clinic in 1973.
The original Westgate building stood where our parking lot is now. It used to be Leo’s Mobil Gas Station before it became remodeled into a veterinary clinic.
Dr. Bennett Porter II went on to have four children with his wife, Mary Jean (Jeannie). His son, Dr. Bennett Porter III also went on to become a veterinarian, and graduated from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in 1982. He purchased Westgate from his dad in May of 1996. In 2000, Dr. Rhonda Downie became a partner in the clinic.
Dr. Porter III and Dr. Downie both had a big interest in modernizing the way Westgate practiced. Under their leadership, the clinic became computerized, moved into a large, newly remodeled building, and grew the clinic from 3 doctors, to the 10 doctor state-of-the-art practice it is today.
Dr. Porter III and his wife Mary Jo, have 2 children, Bennett IV and Mathew. Neither of his children went on to become veterinarians.
Dr. Downie has 2 children, who also pursued interests other then veterinary medicine.
In 2012, Drs Porter and Downie sold their practice to 4 of their associates, Dr. Erik Melin, Dr. Olivia Mirodone, Dr. Teresa Hershey, and Dr. Brek Perry.
In 2013 Dr. Bennett Porter III officially retired from practice.
In 2020 Dr. Hershey stepped away from an ownership position, but remains as an associate veterinarian at Westgate.
Westgate Pet Clinic continues to be a vital part of the Linden Hills and surrounding communities. In a time when many veterinary clinics are being sold to corporations behind the scenes, Westgate Pet Clinic is proud to be privately owned and continue the Porter legacy of knowledgable, compassionate and progressive medicine.