Veterinary practice believes in ‘family way of doing things’

Bridges Animal Hospital in Ada just 20 minutes from Rockford

Denise Whittoft, DVM knew she wanted to be a veterinarian since she was just six years old. When she fulfilled her dream, she then realized she wanted to be her own kind of vet—a person like the old-fashioned family doctor who takes time to get to know her patients and can be a friend the family can count on.

Dr. Whittof and fellow veterinarian Kirsten Marshall DVM, opened their own practice to offer just that kind of care for the dogs, cats, “pocket pets” and the occasional reptile in need of preventative and medical care. “Pets are such a big part of the family, we want to care for them like family,” Whittof said.

Drs. Whittof and Marshall worked in a Belmont veterinarian hospital before opening Bridges in April of this year. The new office in Ada is not too far, just 20 minutes for those who choose to take a straight shot down Petis Avenue to reach the facility at 517 Ada Drive.

Between Dr. Whittof and Dr. Marshall, they have a combined 30 years experience in veterinary medicine. They are joined in the practice by technician Sherry Rings. Experience is important, but Whittof believes heart is just as important. “We welcome questions and never want anyone to feel rushed,” she said of their business philosophy.

Whittof said staff at Bridges believes in being proactive and preventive and in the long run keeping up with a pet’s care is less expensive—and offers a better long-term outcome—that waiting until a health issue is apparent to seek a veterinarian’s help. Must-do care includes keeping up on rabies vaccines, even for indoor cats. Also, physical exams are important. “Animals age at a rate of seven to one compared to people,” she said. Cats, especially, but also dogs, will hide evidence of pain or poor health until problems can be extreme.

In addition to physical care, Dr. Whittof believes taking the family approach to veterinary medicine allows her and Dr. Marshall to hear about other issues the family and pet may be having. “Naughty” behavior—barking or destructive dogs, a cat who won’t use the litter box—can be reasons pets are surrendered to shelters. With advice and sometimes referral to a trainer, such drastic steps as giving the animal up may be avoided.

“If he or she is being a naughty dog, sometimes they just need to run a mile,” she said. “People see this cute little puppy in the window and don’t realize it is going to grow into an 80-pound lab that needs to run five miles.”

She said she heard of a family that put a motion-activated camera in their home to find out what the family dog was up to while they were gone for the day. They found all sorts of things, from chewing up furniture to pacing and barking. “People see their dogs sleeping all day and think that’s normal, but a lot of that is because they are bored and are passing the time.”

Bridges Animal Hospital at Ada Village can be reached by calling (616) 682-5005 or online at

The office hours are Monday and Thursday from 7:30 6 p.m., Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturdays by appointment. The public is invited to Bridges open house on June 12 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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