WALKER -- Cortney Pitzer has worked with animals her entire life.

Living on a farm as a child, she helped her parents raise thoroughbred race horses, the family’s main source of income.

In high school, she worked as a veterinary technician, and upon graduation, she studied at LSU and later Ross University in the Caribbean to obtain her bachelor’s and doctorate of veterinary medicine degrees.

Now, the 28-year-old Denham Springs resident is the proud owner of her own veterinary clinic, which officially opened its doors Monday, Oct. 2.

For Pitzer, it was a long time coming to reach this point, but it’s where she always knew she’d be in the end.

“This has sort of been in the works for a long time because I’ve always known this was what I wanted to do with my life,” Pitzer said sitting in her new office Thursday morning.

But how long has H.O.P.E. (Healing Our Pets Exceptionally) Veterinary Clinic, located at 9792 Florida Blvd. in Walker, been in the works exactly?

Pretty much her entire life, Pitzer said.

It all started on a farm in Franklinton, Louisiana, where Pitzer was introduced to all kind of animals at an early age, and not just the thoroughbred race horses her family raised.

An “animal lover from the get go,” Pitzer brought home all sorts of critters — rabbits, dogs, cats — or as she jokingly put it, “whatever other pets you could imagine.”

As she grew, so too did her love for animals, so much so that she never even considered other career options.

In Pitzer’s mind, why would she bother?

“It just kind of stuck with me, and I always felt like I was going to be a vet one day,” she said. “When I was in high school, I knew that was what I wanted to do, so that’s what I did. I never tried to do anything else. It was always ‘I’m going to vet school and becoming a vet.’”

After graduating from high school, Pitzer obtained her bachelor of science degree from LSU in 2011. To further her education, she then made the biggest transition of her life up to that point — a 2,000-mile trip to Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in St. Kitts, a 65-square foot island that lies southeast of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Sea.

Pitzer spent a year and a half studying on the small Caribbean island before returning to LSU to complete her studies at the School of Veterinary Medicine, which she graduated from in 2015.

While she was completing veterinary school, Pitzer spent her “off” time working as a technician at Miller Animal Hospital in Folsom, Louisiana, where she got more of a first-hand look into the profession under the tutelage of Dr. Normie Miller.

Upon her college graduation, Pitzer made another big move — though on a much smaller scale than the first one — to Pace, Florida, where she lived for a year and a half while working at Pace Veterinary Clinic, a high-volume, high-quality, multi-doctor small animal clinic.

After gaining much-needed experience, she decided to move back to Louisiana in September of 2016 once her contract in Pace ended.

Back in her home state, Pitzer did “a lot” of relief work for multiple small animal hospitals in southeast Louisiana, including Kleinpeter Veterinary Hospital in Baton Rouge and Live Oak Animal Hospital in Denham Springs, before getting on board with Amite Veterinary Services on a more permanent basis as an associate veterinarian.

But after Pitzer moved from Baton Rouge to Denham Springs this past January, the thought of opening her own clinic kept popping up in her mind.

And after logging countless hours of relief work and saving every penny she could, that dream finally became a reality.

With two employees already on staff, Pitzer opened the doors to H.O.P.E Veterinary Clinic on an initial part-time basis. The 1,400-square foot clinic, located at 9792 Florida Blvd., Unit A, in Walker, includes two examination rooms, a treatment room and a surgery room, but Pitzer hopes to turn the 3,000-square foot warehouse in the back into a boarding facility in the future.

After a week, Pitzer ripped off the part-time tag and officially opened H.O.P.E. on a full-time basis on Monday, Oct. 9. The clinic is now open to the public Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8 a.m.-2 p.m.

Pitzer said her clinic is open to anyone in Livingston Parish and the surrounding areas, adding that she is looking forward to working with the pets and their owners who are seeking quality veterinary care. 

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