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10/17/2014
Oak Ridge Animal Hospital celebrates 25 years

This October is an important milestone for Oak Ridge Animal Hospital, as it celebrates 25 years of serving the northwest Guilford community. Owner/founder Dr. Denise Sacks couldn't be happier.

A native of Charlotte, Sacks can't remember a time when she wasn't an animal lover.

"Growing up, I wasn't allowed to have pets so I would gather animals from the woods and creek," she says. "I was a tomboy and was always bringing home snakes, turtles and salamanders." Sacks laughs about an incident in which she and a friend cornered a snake, put it in a trash can and proudly took it home to show her mother. Her mom's response was less than enthusiastic, and the incident may have even played a part in her developing a "deadly fear" of snakes.

Even as a youngster, Sacks knew she wanted to be a veterinarian. After graduating from high school she went on to N.C. State University, where she finished her undergraduate work in three years. From there, she was accepted into the university's College of Veterinary Medicine and in 1985 she was in the school's first graduating class.

After graduation, Sacks remained in the Raleigh area and worked for other doctors while helping manage their practices. Though the work was rewarding, she longed to be able to practice veterinary medicine in her own way.

When her husband was offered a job in Greensboro, Sacks did her research and discovered there was a need for a veterinary hospital in the northwest area. She put together a business plan and went in search of financing, only to discover the savings and loan crisis had essentially shut down the lending industry.

A woman of strong faith, Sacks says she put the situation in God's hands.

It was from an unexpected source - a bank in North Wilkesboro - that Sacks got the money to start her practice.

"It was a God thing," she says. "He answered prayer in a miraculous way."

In the beginning, the practice, which had no client base, was a one-woman show. In the 25 years since, Sacks has established one of the area's most successful veterinary practices and put together a team of staff members who share her commitment to providing compassionate care of animals and their owners.

"We like to develop personal relationships with our clients," explains Sacks. "I enjoy the clients and I love the animals."

Sacks also enjoys educating her pet owners.

"I love to get new puppies and kittens in here," she says. "At that point, I can educate the clients and help them bond better with their new pet. The behavior of an animal is not the same as that of a human being, and we have to communicate with them in a way that the pet understands."

She also sees a vet as a good resource when deciding which pet will best fit into an individual's or family's lifestyle.

"We can give advice on the pros and cons of owning a particular breed and can point out potential health issues that the person may not be aware of," she says.

In addition to providing health care for the pets of area residents, Oak Ridge Animal Hospital proudly takes care of the UNCG police dogs.

"The officers and their dogs have become part of our family," says Sacks. Sacks and her husband, Stanley, live in Oak Ridge. They have two children, Daniel, 25, and Ashley, 20.

In 2001, the entire family spent a year in Latin America on the mission field. Mission work continues to be an important part of their lives.






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