Last year, Dr. Jessica Torok opened her first veterinary practice—a lifelong dream for the 2008 graduate of Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine. Her practice, called Urban Veterinary Associates, is in downtown Westmont in a cheerful blue building with a black awning. It’s welcoming, on both the outside and inside.
“It’s a very functional and very friendly practice,” Dr. Torok says.
The focus isn’t just on the animals; it’s on their families, too. The waiting room has coloring books and activities for children, and Dr. Torok believes strongly that a healthy relationship with owners creates better well-being for animals and their human owners.
Dr. Torok is a fear-free certified practitioner, which means the staff at Urban Veterinary Associates is as committed to looking after the emotional wellbeing of pets as the physical well-being. The ultimate goal is to reduce fear, anxiety, and stress in patients. At Dr. Torok’s practice, exam rooms are customized for different types of pets to make them comfortable. There’s a cat-only exam room with a cat tree and other fixtures built for cats, and other exam rooms are similarly adapted for other species. Pheromone spray, emitted throughout the building, makes animals feel more at ease, too.
“There are very few creatures I feel uncomfortable with,” says Dr. Torok. Unlike some practices, she will see animals of almost any kind. Her recent patient list has included a tortoise, chinchilla, bearded dragon, and silky chickens, to name a few.
“I’ve taken additional coursework to care for nontraditional species,” she says. Every species requires a different approach, even dogs and cats, but exotic pets tend to get stressed out more in a vet’s office and have different health concerns. Often exotic pets begin to show signs of health issues because of how they are being kept or what they’re being fed, which requires some teaching on the part of Dr. Torok. She aims to make sure every owner understands treatment plans and knows how to help their pets during recovery.
“The more educated owners are, the better we can make decisions together,” she explains. “If they don’t understand what we’re doing, and why we are doing it, I’ve failed as a practitioner.”
Dr. Torok has worked in various veterinary capacities in the decade since she graduated vet school, including as a medical director at two American Animal Hospital Association certified practices. She has learned a lot over the years, and she brings that experience to her own practice. She also is able to set her own goals and build a staff that operates with her same vision.
One of the biggest and most rewarding surprises for her is how cohesive her staff has become in the time they’ve worked together, and how quickly her patient list is growing. Dr. Torok is community-focused, so you’ll often see her at area events like weekly “Cruisin’ Nights” during the summer and pet-friendly festivals. As a family-owned small business and vet practice, she’s focused on becoming a go-to resource in the area for families who want a veterinarian who truly cares about their pets.
“My goal overall is to be that cut right above where everyone else is setting their mark,” she says. “I’m part of something bigger—part of a community—and I like that.”
Urban Veterinary Associates is located at 35 N. Cass Avenue in Westmont, 630-541-8088, urbanpetvet.net.