Politics

Former Sen. John Ensign Opens Vegas Animal Hospital

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File photo of former Sen. John Ensign. (Photo by KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo of former Sen. John Ensign. (Photo by KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Two years after resigning from Congress amid an ethics probe involving his affair with a former campaign staffer, former U.S. Sen. John Ensign of Nevada is opening a luxury animal hospital in Las Vegas.

Ensign, who was a veterinarian before he became a politician, is launching the Boca Park Animal Hospital on Friday.

His website touts his history of fighting animal cruelty and supporting the Humane Society in Congress.

The 10-year congressman opened two Las Vegas animal hospitals before entering the Senate in 2011.

He says he spent the six months after his resignation getting up to speed on current veterinary practices and volunteering with Heaven Can Wait Animal Society, a Las Vegas nonprofit that offers a low-cost spay and neuter clinic.

“I studied literally every single day for hours and hours, kind of like when I was back in vet school,” he said.

For the past year and a half, he has been working full-time at another veterinary practice. Patients often ask the former politician to pose for pictures with their animals.

Ensign resigned from office in May 2011 as the Senate Ethics Committee was finalizing a report that said there was evidence he had broken laws. The investigation stemmed from Ensign’s eight-month extramarital affair with his campaign treasurer Cynthia Hampton, and from his effort to set up her husband Doug, who also was Ensign’s top aide, as a lobbyist.

In 2010, after a yearlong investigation, the Justice Department notified Ensign’s attorneys it would not pursue criminal charges against him. Questions about why the senator was not prosecuted escalated when federal prosecutors brought charges against Doug Hampton on alleged violations of lobbying law.

Ensign said he wanted to set up his own practice so that he can do things his own way. He said he sold his last practice in 2002 after he found out that congressional ethics rules barred him from keeping it.

“They made me sell it, and I lost a lot of money, but you had to comply with the rules. It was an unpleasant surprise to me,” he said.

The hospital will be in keeping with the Sin City aesthetic, with luxury suites for pets and treadmills for hefty canines.

“We want to combine the practice with a pet resort, where your dog or cat can be pampered like they’re in a four or five star resort,” Ensign said.

The hospital will feature flat screen televisions set to a channel geared at dogs. Owners will be able to pull up a live stream of their animals on their cellphones.

Ensign said he has been surprised at the amount of regulation involved in setting up the hospital, including regular inspections and increased standards of access for disabled people.

“There’s so much more regulation today than there has been in the past. Every time you turn around there’s something new. It’s really remarkable the amount of things you need to comply with now that didn’t used to be there,” he said.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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