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Houston County Living

Born to be a Veterinarian

Jan 06, 2021 09:52AM ● By Jennifer DeMaro
 Nestled down a country road in Fort Valley, Georgia, is a farm that you may expect to see in the rolling
  hills of Kentucky. Black board fencing lines the lanes of Central Georgia Equine Services (CGES). This is the home and practice of Dr. Charlene Cook, Equine Veterinarian, and her husband of 39 years. The practice is majestically set on 70 acres of scenic pastures. She has a staff of 15 that includes 2 veterinarians, 3 veterinary assistants, a certified farrier and barn help. Like any business, she started out small and then expanded to be what it is today, a professional full-service practice. The mission of Central Georgia Equine Services is to “Provide exceptional quality care with outstanding customer service in a family-oriented atmosphere. We consider our clients to be friends and our patients are their top priority".

 Dr. Cook has been providing veterinary care for horses in the area for over 32 years. The over 7000 active and inactive patient records that line the walls of her office reflects the hard work that has been accomplished. Charlene grew up in a military family and her work ethic reflects the honor and duty that is associated with the military. Her father was an Air Force navigator and they moved around the country on different assignments but eventually landed in Georgia.

Dr. Cook graduated from Warner Robins High School in 1978 and was awarded her B.S. Degree in Pre-Vet Medicine from the University of Georgia and continued with her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine in 1985. Like any doctor, she continues her education by 
 attending clinics and seminars to keep up with the ever-changing world of medicine. Dr. Cook and her associates have helped many young people in high school and college to pursue their careers. Over the years, many have obtained Doctorates in Veterinary Medicine, Master’s Degrees in Poultry Production and Animal Science and varying other degrees. The practice strives to teach young adults business skills, professionalism and the value of hard work. They also like to educate the horse community by providing a monthly online newsletter and online health library. The online health library touches topics like vaccines, parasite control, nutrition and much more.

CGES is a state-of-the-art facility that can handle most equine emergencies, but they have a great network of equine practitioners to work with if needed. The facility includes a main barn which is attached to the office and clinic. In addition to the main clinic, the facilities now include an isolation barn, a foaling barn, and several private paddocks. Dr. Cook also specializes in reproductive services, so at any given time you will see mares and their babies running the fields of the farm. Clients come from all over for her regular and reproductive services. Dr. Cook and her husband have been breeding, raising and showing Tennessee Walking horses that are made up of world champions for more than 30 years. One of her more notable accolades include winning the English Trail Pleasure World Grand Championship at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in 2003.

 During the Covid-19 pandemic, CGES has taken all the precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control to keep everyone safe. Though the protocols have made it more challenging to work, they have buckled down and continue to provide the excellent service for which they are known. Health maintenance and the emergency care of horses continue to be a priority. Though I have written about this state-of-the-art facility, a large part of Dr. Cook’s business evolves around farm calls. Yes, just like Dr. Pol of television fame, her days are filled with off-site appointments and emergencies as well. She would be the first to say it is not a career for the faint of heart.

Like any good business owner, Charlene surrounds herself with good support staff. Her long-time office 
 coordinator, Teresa Owens, has been with her for 15 years. Teresa describes a hectic day when both Dr. Cook and her associate veterinarian have a full schedule of appointments for the day and then the emergency calls start coming in. Re-arranging schedules is all part of the job when you have a practice as big as CGES. I asked Teresa what she thought made Dr. Cook stand out among her peers and she said that since she is a horse owner herself, the depth of understanding what the client is going through shines through. She always makes her clients feel at ease and takes the time to answer every question during an appointment and never makes you feel she is in a hurry. Teresa and the rest of the staff would agree that one of the most rewarding parts of the job is seeing an emergency case that has been staying at the facility for treatment, fully recover and go back home.

 When I asked Charlene what she would be doing if she was not a veterinarian, there was a very long pause. I finally interrupted and said I think I have my answer. It is obvious that Charlene loves her job, and when she was asked as a little girl what she wanted to be when she grew up, you can be assured; she said a veterinarian. There is not a lot of spare time when you’re a veterinarian, but she does enjoy snow skiing and has a newfound interest of swimming. She competes in the Masters Swimming program. Dr. Cook has a very competitive side and I know personally, as a horse owner myself, that is what I like to see in a veterinarian. She will always be striving to be her best and that spills over into her work.

Central Georgia Equine Services is always taking new clients. They are a valuable asset to the community and can be found at 3398 Lakeview Rd, Fort Valley, Georgia 31030.Check out their website for additional information on services, employment opportunities, and equine health care.

Photography: Jennifer DeMaro