Meet our Team

Office Hours








7:30am - 6:00pm

7:30am - 6:00pm

7:30am - 6:00pm

7:30am - 6:00pm

7:30am - 6:00pm

7:30am - 12:30pm



We are a full service hospital, providing a full range of medical services, including soft-tissue, orthopedic and oral surgery, preventative dental care, dental x-rays, chemotherapy, and ultrasound. We also offer quality pet boarding and professional grooming.We are located in the heart of Sandy Springs (Atlanta). We pride ourselves on the personalized attention that we are able to give to all of our clients. Although the majority of our patients are dogs and cats, we are able to care for small mammals such as ferrets, rabbits, gerbils, hamsters, and guinea pigs.

Dr. Jay M. Empel

Dr. Jay Empel grew up in Montgomery, Alabama.  As a child he raised Manchester Terriers and his determination to take care of his puppies inspired him to become a veterinarian.  He obtained his undergraduate degree from The University of Georgia in 1966 and his doctorate degree in veterinary medicine from Auburn University in 1970.  In 1973 he founded Vernon Woods Animal Hospital with Dr. Ray Dunahoo.  Since that time, he has enjoyed watching it grow from a 2 doctor-1 secretary practice to a practice with over 30 people.  He currently serves as medical director of Vernon Woods Animal Hospital, Brookhaven Animal Hospital and North Springs Animal Clinic.  He loves the personal relationships that he has been able to foster with employees, clients and patients.  He has special interests in internal medicine, dermatology, dentistry, general surgery and some orthopedic procedures. 

Dr. Empel has been married to Elise for over 45 years. They have three children (Andrew, Ivy and Ashley)- two of which are also veterinarians.  Andrew joined Vernon Woods as a Veterinarian in June of 2000.  Ivy Empel Frank is a Veterinarian and she lives in Houston, Texas and has been married to Dr. Steven Frank who is a radiation oncologist at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.  They have four beautiful girls, Hayley, Maddie, Lyla and Charlee Frank. Ashley Empel graduated nursing school in 2017 and is currently working at Children's Hospital of Atlanta. 

When not working on managing three hospitals, he enjoys spending time with his family, exercising, playing sports, golfing and watching football. 

Our sister hospital Brookhaven Animal Hospital is open Monday - Friday until 9pm and on Sundays from 1-5.  When both clinics are closed on the weekends, one of our doctors will answer an emergency number until 9pm at night (404) 290-1641


If after 9pm at night, you may reach one of the following two emergency clinics:

Animal Emergency Center of Sandy Springs 228 Sandy Springs Place NE, Atlanta GA 30328
(404) 252-7881

Blue Pearl Animal Emergency Clinic in Sandy Springs 
455 Abernathy Road, Atlanta GA 30328
(404) 459-0903

Dr. Andrew M. Empel

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. 

Dr. Vivian Wen

Dr. Vivian Wen joined Vernon Woods Animal Hospital in July 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.

Dr. J. Todd Jones

Growing up in Birmingham, Alabama Dr. Jones knew at a young age that he wanted to be a Veterinarian.  He attended Auburn University where he obtained his B.S. in microbiology degree in 1991 and then completed his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine in 1995.  After practicing in Birmingham, he moved to the Atlanta area in 1998 where he has practiced in both the Vinings and Chamblee areas.  He served on the Board of Directors for the Greater Atlanta Veterinary Medical Society for several years until its merger with the state medical association. 

In 2014, Dr. Jones joined Vernon Woods Animal Hospital and North Springs Animal Clinic where he enjoys seeing both feline and canine patients with special interest in the areas of dermatology and ophthalmology.  

When he is away from work, he can be found hiking, mountain biking, exploring the small towns of the Southeast and supporting his Auburn Tigers.  He and his wife, Laurie made their home in Cobb County with their pet, Thomas Crown.

Dr. Miriam Renfroe

Originally from Alabama, Dr. 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 2 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.

Vernon Woods Hospital Manager

Cindy M.

Cindy Martin 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. 


Diane S.

  Diane is originally from Illinois, but moved to Atlanta and and Vernon Woods in November of 1998.  Diane has loved animals her entire life and wanted to be a nurse like her mother, but with animals!  Diane has an orange tabby named Sammy, and a Shih-Tzu named Muffin.  Diane enjoys going to the beach with her husband and loves her Chicago teams!  Go Cubs! 


Paulina moved to Atlanta and has been working at Vernon Woods Animal Hospital for two years.  She attended the University of West Georgia and received a Bachelors in Biology.  Originally from Carrollton, Georgia, Paulina's family always had animals and as a profession wanted to help care for them.  Currently, Paulina does not have any pets but loves on each of the ones that come in to the clinic as if they were her own.


Priscilla H.

Pricilla moved here from Memphis in 2006.  She has been here at Vernon Woods since then and couldn't be happier!  Priscilla currently does not have any pets but does have two beautiful children, Briana, 15, and Mahgan, 8.  Priscilla enjoys spending most of her time with them outside of work.  Together, they enjoy shopping, smoothies, going to the beach and just hanging out and being silly.  Priscilla is a die hard Minnesota Vikings Fan!! 

Travis J.

My name is Travis Jackson. I am 27 years old and I was born and raised in Sandy Springs Georgia. I have been in veterinary medicine for more than 5 years. I specialize in emergency medicine, assisting for surgeries, and radiology. When I’m not working, I enjoy spending time with my family, playing with my pets and making music.



Brianna N.

Brianna was born and raised in Georgia.  She is currently attending college for a Bachelors degree in Business, with a concentration in Management.  Bri worked as a Security Forces Officer in the United States Air Force.  She is a proud owner of two handsome kitties, Liu and Ranger.  She enjoys working at VWAH because she loves all the animals, big and small, that come in!  Bri spends her spare time with family, playing sports going hiking, being outdoors, cuddling her two kitties, watching TV and getting comfortable on the couch with a good book. 

Kathleen P.

Kathleen is a native Georgian.  She was raised in Sandy Springs but currently resides in Acworth.  She has been working with animals for as long as she can remember.  She started volunteering with cat rescue groups and then moved to the animal hospital workforce.  She is back at Vernon Woods Animal Hospital after some time away but is happy to call this hospital home. 

Kathleen and her husband Charles share a home with their four dogs, Koal, Dreck, Crystal and Princess Fiona, and four cats, Cooper, Kit Kat, Jake and Dexter.  

In their spare time, Kathleen and Charles like to shoot pool and fish!

Rikki B.

I’ve been a CSR at Vernon Woods Animal Hospital for over two years. I have a super sweet pup named Ziggy who loves to go on hikes, and a kitty named Griffinclaw who is super social and loves to snuggle. I love to listen to music, spend time in nature, and play video games.

Belinda S.

My name is Belinda and I have been with Vernon Woods Animal Hospital for four years, but have worked in the animal industry close to twenty years. I married my best friend, Bruce and have 2 beautiful kids and a nine year old doberman pinscher named Lacey who has the sweetest disposition.I consider Vernon Woods Animal Hospital my extended family and cherish each and every one of my fellow co-workers.

Mary R.

Mary has worked in the veterinary industry for over 8 years and has always had a passion for animals.  Mary has grown up with all kinds of creatures including rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, snakes, and dogs.  Mary now has one dog and cat that mean so much to her!  She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and minored in sociology.  Mary hopes to finish her masters degree within the next two years.  She is aspiring to be a criminal profiler and possibly go into criminal law.  She is grateful to everyone at Vernon Woods and loves her family here!


Elizabeth M.

Elizabeth grew up in Woodstock, Georgia and graduated from Kennesaw State University with a Bachelors of Business Administration.  After spending nearly eighteen years in the financial service industry, Elizabeth decided to change career paths to a field that would be more fulfilling and rewarding on a personal level; working with animals!  Elizabeth joined Vernon Woods Animal Hospital in April of 2016 as an Animal Care Specialist.  Elizabeth plans on earning her certificate as a Veterinary Technician in the near future.  Elizabeth currently lives in Atlanta with her longtime boyfriend and two adorable cats.  In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, traveling, reading, exercising, volunteering and watching football. 

Andrew B.

Andrew Brandt has worked at Vernon Woods since he was a high school students 8 years ago  He is from Connecticut and has 2 older sister and 1 older brother.  Andrew is studying history at KSU.  He has 2 rescue pets, a blue pit bull named Reptar, and a domestic short haired cat with her own Instagram account, Miss Stache. 

Elizabeth N


Micheal has been working at Vernon Woods Animal Hospital for a year.  He has a boxer named Sadie that he loves very much.  He is currently in school for veterinary technology and he loves his job.