Our Team

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Dr. Andrew Empel | Medical Director

Dr. Empel was born and raised in Atlanta. He was inspired as a child to become a veterinarian by his father and his experience working at Vernon Woods Animal Hospital. Dr. Empel completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Florida in 1996 and graduated from Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2000, in July of the same year he joined his dad at Vernon Woods Animal Hospital. Since staring at Vernon Woods Animal Hospital, Dr. Empel and his father have opened North Springs Animal Clinic in 2005 and Brookhaven Animal Hospital in 2010. Dr. Empel has a special interest in dermatology, soft tissue surgery, and dentistry. He shares his home with his young son Brayden and their English Cream Retriever, Finley. Dr. Empel and Brayden enjoy bumming around the house, playing outside and generally just being together. Dr. Empel also enjoys boating, skiing, traveling, and attending sporting events in his free time.

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Dr. Vivian Wen | MEDICAL DIRECTOR

Dr. Vivian Wen joined Vernon Woods Animal Hospital in July of 2011. She grew up in New York City and earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from New York University in 2006. Dr. Wen graduated from the University of Illinois, College of Veterinary Medicine in 2010. She went on to complete a one-year small animal rotating internship at Blue Pearl Georgia Veterinary Specialists in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Wen has special interests in veterinary animal behavior as well as surgery. 

Apart from her work life, her interests include camping, hiking, and board games. Her personal goal is to try cuisine from all over the globe, one country at a time. When she returns home she loves to hang out with her family and with her cat, Macaroon and rambunctious pup, Marlo. 

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Dr. Miriam Renfroe | Associate Veterinarian

Originally from Alabama, Dr. Miriam Renfroe is a Veterinarian new to the Atlanta area. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Science from Auburn University in 2012 and graduated from Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, Magna Cum Laude, in 2016.

After practicing in Alabama for two years, she moved to Georgia to be closer to her family. She loves all aspects of veterinary medicine, but her areas of special interest are ophthalmology and ultrasonography. She has a black Labrador named Dax and hopes to have a horse one day.

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Dr. Juliana E. Lee | Associate Veterinarian

Born in Annapolis, Maryland, Dr. Juliana Lee grew up in the rural area of Southern Maryland-- where she often expressed her interest in the biology of animals growing up.

Her passion sparked further in college, where she translated her love for biology and medicine into a profession by working at a veterinary clinic. She knew her destiny lay in small animal medicine. She received her Bachelor's of Science degree in Zoology and Psychology from the University of Maryland College Park. Her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree was received from Virginia Tech.

Dr. Lee loves small animal general medicine and soft-tissue surgery so much, that she practiced nationally in places like Connecticut, Nashville, Boston, Baltimore, and Houston before recently settling in Atlanta. Particularly, Dr. Lee enjoys the constant learning offered every day and feels most fulfilled when educating clients about pet care and illnesses. By mentoring employees, students, and interns, she helps pass on the love for this profession and animals.

When not practicing, Dr. Lee can be found traveling and experiencing new places and cultures. She loves reading, cooking, boating, and solving escape rooms with her husband and three children. She has also spent time volunteering at Houston Humane Society and Worl Vets in Nicaragua, performing spays and neuters while teaching veterinary students.

 

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Dr. Michael Astor | Associate Veterinarian

Dr. Michael Astor grew up in a small, rural town in Northwestern New Jersey, where he spent his childhood dreaming of holding various jobs, such as a firefighter or artist. It was not until High School that he combined his love for science and pets with a passion for veterinary medicine.

Ever since his first veterinary experience at his hometown veterinarian during High School, he knew he wanted to be a veterinarian.

Dr. Astor attended Lafayette College, where he graduated with a Biochemistry degree; he then began veterinary school at Cornell University, where he earned his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine.

His special interests include internal medicine and chronic disease management.

Outside of work, Dr. Aston loves physical fitness and frequenting the gym, hiking, cycling, and other activities to get moving. On the weekends, he can be found hiking with his dog, Porter. He enjoys trying different craft beers and even brews his own beer!

Dr. Antoinette Jones | Associate Veterinarian

Born and raised in the suburbs of Cleveland Ohio, Dr. Antoinnette Jones attended Ohio State University where she earned her Bachelor’s of Agriculture in Animal Sciences. Between finishing her undergraduate and enter vet school, Dr. Jones worked at a poultry company as an assistant production manager. She stayed with the company for a year before attending the Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine in the class of 2021. Double Buckeye! After graduating, Dr. Jones worked in the Columbus area doing small animal relief work before dedicating herself full-time to veterinary medicine for backyard poultry and small animals. In April of 2022, Dr. Jones joined Vernon Woods Animal Hospital.  

At home, Dr. Jones has one cat, the “Orange Menace,” named Sunday. Weather permitting, she enjoys outdoor activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding, and hiking. Dr. Jones is currently enjoying all the restaurants and exhibits that Atlanta’s suburbs have to offer.  

Our Veterinary Support Team

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Cindy Martin | Hospital Manager

Cindy grew up on Signal Mountain in Tennessee. Atlanta has been her home since 1984. Cindy has been at Vernon Woods Animal Hospital since 1991. Cindy's family consists of her husband, Danny, daughter Shelly and her husband Matt, son Daniel and his wife Erin and two wonderful grandchildren, Abbi and Wyatt. Cindy enjoys spending time with her family whenever she can.

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Taylor Ashendorf | Assistant Practice Manager

Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Taylor began his career in veterinary medicine as a technician in 2007. He took a break to start his own at-home, pet care service while studying accounting at the University of North Georgia. Taylor always believed he would work in sales or find a career in accounting, but his love for dogs, client care, and patient care brought him back to the veterinary world. Pursuing his passion, Taylor returned to veterinary medicine in 2017 as a technician and subsequently joined Vernon Woods as our Assistant Practice Manager in January of 2023. Passionate about customer service, Taylor upholds a high standard of medical care for our patients, consistently raising the bar since joining our team.

Taylor and his wife, Becca, share a home with their two black labs, Clayton and Charli. In his spare time, Taylor enjoys golfing, exploring the North Georgia Mountains, cooking, and cheering on the University of Georgia Bulldogs.

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About Vernon Woods Animal Hospital...