Class Notes Profile: Pet protector

Cynthia Olsen “I feel like I learn something new every day—it’s like solving a puzzle,” says veterinarian Cynthia Olsen, owner of Ravenswood Animal Hospital in Chicago. (Image by Cindy Kuzma)
Illinois grad Cynthia Olsen offers holistic, compassionate veterinary care.

As Cynthia Olsen, ’04 VM, DVM ’06, walks around Ravenswood Animal Hospital in Chicago, the veterinary clinic she opened in September 2014, she points out the latest technologies: electronic medical records, an isolation bay with separate air circulation, a digital X-ray machine. “We can email X-rays right away to specialists,” Olsen notes.

But the veterinarian is just as proud of the details that make clients feel like family. Each room has a whiteboard scribbled with personal notes, and a local artist’s pet paintings decorate the walls. The friendly staff includes Olsen’s mother, Christine, who works part-time as a receptionist.

Olsen—who was raised in nearby Skokie and Niles, Ill.—was thrilled to open the practice she’d always envisioned. She is certified in acupuncture and chiropractic services as well as Western medicine. (So is Marisa Wlodek-Roesner, ’04 VM, DVM ’06, ’01 UIC, who joined the practice last year.) “I have a cat I’m treating for asthma with acupuncture,” Olsen says. “She’s still getting an inhaler, but we’ve been able to cut her dose. They’re complementary.”

Just as important are the treatments she won’t offer—declawing, along with cosmetic procedures such as tail docking and ear cropping. Declawing changes a cat’s gait, and causes pain, arthritis and behavioral problems, says Olsen, who’s also Illinois director of The Paw Project, a nationwide effort to ban declawing.

Educating clients about these issues is part of her job. And it’s work she loves. Olsen relishes cracking difficult cases to restore the health of animals. “I feel like I learn something new every day—it’s like solving a puzzle,” she says.