Veterinarian Dr. Hillary Cook will open her clinic, the Animal Wellness Center, in downtown Crozet later this month. The location is at the curve on Crozet Avenue as it leaves downtown, where for the last few weeks heavy equipment has been packing fill dirt in place for a new two-lane commercial driveway with adequate sight lines on approaching traffic.
Dr. Cook earned her veterinary degree from Virginia Tech 12 years ago and for the last five years has worked as an associate at the Orange Veterinary Clinic in Orange. She is hanging out her own shingle now in Crozet. Her practice will focus on dog, cats, small mammals, other exotic animals such as ferrets and rabbits, “pocket pets,” and reptiles. She will not do grooming or boarding.
“I really love animals and making them get better, and helping people as well,” she said.
In recent weeks her husband, contractor Rees Frescolm of Triangle Wood Works in Crozet, has been remodeling the one-story building that in the 1960s was three apartments and after that an office into a modern animal medical facility.
At the south end of the building will be a reception area and waiting room. Next to that is an acupuncture room for pets. “It’s pretty scientific,” said Dr. Cook. “It’s been around for thousands of years.” Dr. Cook spent one year in school to become specially certified in acupuncture.
Next are two exams rooms and a pharmacy, a treatment area, rooms for dental and anesthetics procedures, a room for doing digital X-rays (“My biggest purchase.”), a lab to do blood work in-house, and a surgery and a surgery scrub area. Beyond the surgery is an isolation room, a wash room and a ward for holding animals in crates so that they can be dropped off in the morning when their owners are on their way to work. The spaces are fitted out with dozens of cabinets.
Cook grew up on a small farm in Connecticut where they raised horses, Shorthorn cattle and Suffolk sheep, she said. She has been living in Crozet—-on Fox Mountain Road—for the last five years and commuting to Orange. One of the things she likes about her new location is that it’s close to her kids’ schools. “At least I can pop out and say to them, ‘Remember me?’” she said. “I want to be part of the community. What’s so nice about being in Crozet is that people can go do other things [in town] if they are having to wait for their pet.”
Dr. Cook calls herself “a wholistic vet—using any effective therapy. I take the best thing that will help the animal.”
The renovations involved a three-year process—the property is owned by Henry Smith, the owner of Central Virginia Builders, whose office is in the house next door—and required getting a special use permit from the county. Albemarle does not have a zoning description for veterinary clinics and any new facility must get an SUP. The center will have nine regular parking spaces and one for handicapped drivers. It has a new roof and a new entry porch. “I imagine it with rocking chairs and hanging baskets,” said Dr. Cook.
The wetlands and pond stormwater basin for capturing rainwater from all downtown Crozet will be built immediately to the south of the center, meaning it will not have neighbors there or in the rear who could be disturbed. The new driveway has required 6,000 cubic yards of fill and new landscaping will be added once construction is complete, Smith said.
Dr. Cook’s hours will be from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.