Brookside Veterinary Hospital marks 20-year anniversary

Karen Lovett Dr. Lisa Woods with Brookside Veterinary Hospital resident, Rolo, her 18-year-old, 23-pound Maine Coon cat. Photo by Karen Lovett, KP News

When Lisa Woods opened her veterinary clinic on the Key Peninsula 20 years ago, she slept on the clinic floor and took animals home with her. Caring for both large and small animals, she was on call 24 hours.

“I was the only vet for a hundred miles who did ostriches when they were popular,” she said. “I was a single mom for many years and drug my son around on farm calls ‘till he was 4. I had all my life to be a veterinarian, but one good chance to be his mom so around 2001 I stopped doing around the clock and no longer go out to farms.”

Brookside Veterinary Hospital has come a long way since its 1994 opening.

The clinic has separate rooms for dogs and cats. Most lab work is sent out to save money, but sometimes it is done there if results are needed quickly. Rooms are equipped with X-rays and ultrasound as well as modern equipment needed for traditional surgery, laser surgery and dental care.

In addition to cats and dogs, the clinic sees pocket pets and small animals including ferrets, guinea pigs and rabbits, and will see sheep and goats if they are brought in. They do not do reptiles or birds.

“This is not cookie-cutter medicine,” Woods said. “Weve tried to stay on the cutting edge of medicine yet keep it affordable. We are the physician, radiologist and pharmacist.”

Woods first became interested in veterinary medicine as a young girl, when a veterinarian in West Virginia let her work with him in his clinic. She later graduated with a degree in veterinary medicine from Ohio State University. After graduation, she moved to the area to work with friends, the husband and wife veterinary team of Gary and Kathy Haigh in Shelton.

Dr. Woods fell in love with the Pacific Northwest, so she decided to open her own clinic. That first location for Brookside was in the renovated building that now houses the deli across from Charboneau Construction and Supply on State Route 302.

“I went to human medical graveyards for supplies (tools) and bought everything I could scrounge from the human side, used,” Woods said. “I don’t want a fancy house or fancy car. I put everything into the business.”

Woods purchased the land at the site of the current clinic, but had an extremely difficult time with the county to get approval for building the new facility. People stood behind her and pressured the county, she said. There was no code for a mixed animal practice so the building is zoned as a pet shop. The 2,500 square feet she desired was reduced to 2,200 and she had to get flood insurance.

They moved into the new facility at 118th Avenue in January 2000.

University of Minnesota graduate Dr. Shelby Watson joined the staff in January 2014. In addition to traditional healing, she specializes in herbal treatments, acupuncture and nutritional wellness care. She received training from the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society in Texas and online nutritional courses from Australia.

“People seem really excited to have options for pets that conventional care doesnt help,” Watson said. “We have more tools to keep everybody comfortable. The nutritional aspect is important. We do food allergy testing and adjust diets. Herbs are used to treat dogs and cats with cancer. There is a one-hour specialized exam to evaluate before using herbs or acupuncture.”

In addition to the two veterinarians, the office is managed by Melody Clark. There are three certified veterinary technicians, three receptionists and two kennel assistants. There is no round-the-clock kennel care. Most animals are sent home the same day. Two resident cats live there full-time.

“I want people to understand there is so much more to improve quality of life for pets. I have a wonderful staff. Everyone has a passion for what they do,” Woods said. “We don’t make a lot, but we enjoy it.”