Though she has worked with the Gardiner Animal Hospital for most of the 22 years that she has been living in the mid-Hudson Valley, Eleanor Acworth, DVM, didn’t have a brick-and-mortar headquarters for her private veterinary practice until just a few months ago. In fact, over the past few years, Dr. Acworth has been developing a reputation as a member of a rare species herself: a vet who makes house calls. “I’m mobile,” she says. “I run around the countryside.”
The name of her practice, All Animal Veterinary Services, is no mere hyperbole: Acworth works with everything from “pocket pets” like Guinea pigs to pot-bellied pigs, hens to horses. Many of her clients are farmers and breeders, including a dairy farm in Accord with 200 cows and a kennel in Millbrook with 60 dogs. Providing a broad range of veterinary services to a variety of different animals on a single visit to a location makes her mobile model more economically viable. But she also makes regular rounds of animal-rescue sites and private pet-owners, such as a woman in Hudson who takes care of 20 cats. And some of her road trips include smaller stops, servicing “people who can’t drive or animals who can’t travel,” she says. On the Friday that the New Paltz Times paid a visit to her new clinic location, at 2264 Route 32 in Modena, Acworth was recently returned from dehorning a goat and getting ready for a Saturday house call to a client in Kingston whose cats hate being put in carriers. “On Tuesday, I’m going to work on an alpaca, and then vaccinate a horse.” All Animal Veterinary’s regular service area ranges from Woodstock and Saugerties in the northwest to the Taconic Parkway in the east to Routes 84 and 17 in Orange County. She also makes occasional trips to her native Long Island to visit family members and check up on her southernmost charges: the live animals in the petting zoo at the Green Meadows Farm Museum in Queens.
Acworth grew up as one of those kids who “wanted to be a vet forever.” On her website she recalls, “I tried to save every animal the cat brought home. In high school in the ‘70s I worked at a small animal hospital and experienced the devastation of parvovirus before there was a vaccine. In college I worked in the research department at the zoo and traveled to Africa and Alaska to study wildlife. Spending a summer milking cows in upstate New York cured me of wanting to become a dairy farmer, but reinforced my desire to be a veterinarian, especially after spending time with a mixed-animal veterinarian in Germany another summer.”
She got her “pre-vet” training majoring in biology at the University of Pennsylvania, then attended veterinary school at Ross University in St. Kitts in the Caribbean. After getting her certification, Dr. Acworth tried living in several states before settling in the Hudson Valley: “I row, so I picked places based on whether they have a rowing club or not,” she says. The Poughkeepsie waterfront was beginning its renaissance as a home for rowing teams in the early ‘90s, when she began working in Gardiner; so after getting married in 1993, she raised her family in Dutchess County.
Acworth’s son, born in ’98, and daughter, born in 2003, both got involved in the 4-H Club, and nowadays the veterinarian remains active in the group, certifying and testing animals for county and state fairs and keeping her own small flock of chickens. She also does regular volunteer work for The Animal Rights Alliance, spaying pets for free in Newburgh on Mondays and holding vaccination clinics in Middletown on Thursdays.
It’s a busy life, but these days it’s becoming somewhat more organized, timewise. At the new site in Modena, Dr. Acworth keeps regular office hours of 10 a.m. to 12 noon from Tuesday through Saturday, plus evening hours from 5 to 7 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Appointments can also be made at other times.
Though she wasn’t originally planning it that way, the new veterinary offices are located in what used to be a private home with a ranch-style floor plan. Clients and their pets enter a “great room” space whose waiting area still has the comfortable feel of a family living room; what used to be a dining counter has now become the reception desk. And the kitchen-turned-laboratory seems perfect for the purpose, with a centrifuge and microscope set up next to the big stainless steel sink, and the refrigerator now serving as a place to store vaccines and other perishable medicines. On the north side of the house, one bedroom has been converted into an examining room, while two bedrooms and a bath on the south side have been combined into a treatment room and surgery.
Acworth acquired the house, plus an adjoining property that is being used to create a circular driveway big enough to accommodate horse trailers, just about a year ago; but it took several months to get her conversion plan through the Town of Plattekill Planning Board. She began meeting clients at 2264 Route 32 in August, and was able to open up shop officially in October, after building a handicapped access ramp to the front door.
To find out more about All Animal Veterinary Services, visit the website at http://allanimalveterinaryservices.com or www.facebook.com/allanimalveterinaryservicesny. To make an appointment with Dr. Acworth and her staff, call (845) 249-8557 or e-mail email@example.com.