Door sensor blamed for evacuations at La Mesa pet clinic

LA MESA, Calif. - Eight people were taken to the hospital to be evaluated after a strange smell at a La Mesa veterinary clinic.

Fire crews were called out twice to the Pet Emergency and Specialty Center on Jackson Drive on Saturday evening when workers smelled something like plastic – similar to an odor when you turn on a new appliance.

The first time, crews checked things out but left after not finding anything.

"They had opened the doors and everything aired out so you couldn't tell anything, so they thought it was fine," said clinic owner Monika Kaelble.

Two and a half hours later, workers started feeling nauseous and light-headed, so they called the fire department's hazmat team again.

Eight workers were taken to the hospital to get checked out. Seven others felt fine and went to the clinic's branch in Chula Vista to tend to the nine pets that were evacuated from the La Mesa location.

"Ultimately, after a few hours it was determined to be a faulty doorbell," said Kaelble. "The doorbell had just been installed pretty recently."

Every time someone walks into the clinic, the door sensor goes off. Workers have taken apart the sensor and let the building air out. 10News cameras captured veterinarians carrying pets out of a pet ambulance and back into the clinic.

Kaelble is just happy no one got seriously sick and calls what happened a fluke.

"That's not something in our 20-year career," she said. "We've only evacuated once before."

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