Residents in the Summerport Village area and their furry, four-legged friends soon will have a new veterinary clinic in their backyard.
Dr. Angela Chesanek, a West Orange-area native, has worked as a veterinarian since 2005 and is now on track to open her own animal hospital — Chain of Lakes Animal Clinic — across from Keene’s Crossing Elementary in mid-September.
Chesanek is a 1997 graduate of West Orange High and also attended Windermere Elementary and Lakeview Middle. She knew she wanted to be a veterinarian from the time she was in elementary school.
“It stuck with me through the day I went to undergrad at University of Florida — I decided my major was going to be animal sciences,” she said. “I knew it was what I wanted to do, and I always loved animals. I’ve always loved it and never thought about doing anything else. My family has a family business, and I’m the only one who doesn’t work there. I just wanted to be a vet.”
Chesanek graduated from UF’s veterinary school in 2005 and began working at another local veterinary clinic. A few years later, she decided she wanted more surgical experience
“I went to the SPCA, now called Pet Alliance, and worked there for five years,” she said. “We did a lot of surgeries and helped a lot of pets. I really liked it there: I think sometimes people are unsure … of working as part of a shelter, but I really liked it, and I think we did a lot of great things. I had my kids while I worked there, and then I decided I needed a change and wanted to go back to private practice.”
She has worked in Windermere for the last four-and-one-half years and decided the time was right to follow her dreams of opening her own clinic.
“My dad’s a business owner, and I’ve always wanted to be one, inspired by him,” she said. “I always knew I wanted to have something, it was just a matter of when. I thought I’d do it earlier (than this) but with having my kids the time wasn’t quite right earlier. Now my kids are 7 and almost 5, and now is a great time.”
Chesanek signed her lease for the 2,000-square-foot clinic a year ago, before ground was even broken on the new shopping plaza on Bridgewater Crossings Boulevard. It’s been a long road to get to the present, but she said it has given her time to prepare and coordinate the clinic layout.
“I looked into buying a practice instead of building from the ground up, but it makes it more difficult to formulate your own plan for a place already in existence,” she said. “It gives you a fresh start, being able to start from scratch and pursue your vision.”
Choosing the Horizon West area was strategic. She wanted to be close to her kids’ schools and serve an area in which she has friends, family and neighbors. The family-oriented neighborhood sealed the deal — plus, the clinic is right next to an elementary school, playground and dog park.
Her office manager, Megan Wright, is a former West Orange High classmate who worked with her at another veterinary practice.
“She saved my chihuahua’s life after hours on a Sunday,” Wright said of Chesanek. “My neighbor’s dog attacked him. … She saved his life three-and-a-half years ago, she’s a very good doctor, and I’ve had that respect for her. When she ventured out, I thought we’d make a great team. … We have a genuine love for animals, and we want to share that with the community, because we are also pet owners and pet lovers.”
Chain of Lakes Animal Clinic will offer a range of services, including microchipping, vaccinations, wellness visits and preventative care, surgical services, X-rays, an in-house laboratory, compassionate euthanasia, dental care and the ability to call in specialists and surgeons for ultrasounds or more extensive surgeries.
“The thing I wanted to create, partly in being in this spot, is long-term relationships versus just a place you go to for shots,” she said. “I want people to be able to recognize us whether at the clinic or out and about. One of the things I find really important is not to make the vet visit so stressful, because a lot of times pets are really scared and I’m trying to emphasize that it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s our goal to be that family doctor, but just for the four-legged ones.
“I’m just proud to create something and proud to show my kids that … you can follow your dream and do what you want to do,” she said. “If you want to be the boss you just have to try and work hard. Its been a process, but it’s possible.”