Healthy Pets

Photos courtesy of Vet Villa Animal Hospital


In a recent interview, Dr. Rebecca Swimmer recalled the moment she knew she wanted to be a veterinarian: she was five-years-old and her mother had taken her to see Black Stallion Returns. After the movie was over, she knew she had found her true calling.

“I fell in love with horses and all other animals,” Swimmer said. “My parents were wonderful about seeking out opportunities for me to really explore that passion.”

Fast forward to July 2018, when Swimmer opened Vet Villa Animal Hospital in South Pasadena. With the help of her husband, a theme park designer who owns the business next door, she transformed the vacant corner lot into a beautifully designed space that looks like it could be featured on the pages of an interior design magazine.

From the building’s Mission-style façade to the bright, airy interior featuring blue accents, patients instantly feel welcome. Soft classical and jazz music is played throughout the hospital, while the individual rooms where Swimmer sees patients have call buttons and adjustable lighting, which help to set patients at ease.

“I designed the layout, flow, and functionality of the hospital,” said Swimmer. “My husband brought it to life with the colors and overall feel. It was important to keep the building’s Mission-feel. I love blue, which is a calming color that animals respond well to. We wanted to create a tranquil environment that makes every visit as peaceful and enjoyable as possible for our patients.”

Vet Villa Animal Hospital has state-of-the-art equipment including x-ray and ultrasound machines, an in-house laboratory and pharmacy, and an advanced monitoring system that includes complete blood count, chemistry, urine analysis, urine sediment, and coagulation profiles. Oxygen is also available in the examination rooms, which makes it easier for animals that require oxygen support to spend time with their pet parents as opposed to being kept in an impersonal oxygen chamber in the back.

Services offered include everything from basic wellness, nail trims, vaccine appointments, and puppy and kitten exams, to general practice surgeries, spaying and neutering, bladder surgeries, and dentistry. While overnight emergency care isn’t offered, Swimmer does have access to numerous specialists and surgeons whom she can refer patients to when necessary. She has an experienced staff of animal technicians working alongside her, a cardiologist who visits frequently, and two other doctors that offer additional assistance one day per week.

After graduating from the University of Illinois, where she majored in Animal Science, Swimmer earned her Master’s Degree in Neurobiology from Harvard University. Next, she attended veterinary school at Tufts University in Boston, before relocating to California for an internship at the Animal Specialty & Emergency Center.

“I started working in overnight emergency for several years, and that’s where I really became a strong doctor,” Swimmer explained. “I still take emergency cases and provide stabilization, but one thing that I love about working in a general practice is that you really get to know the patients and watch them grow, from the moment they walk in the door as a puppy to the later stages in life. I transitioned to general practice a couple of years ago, which is when I decided to open up my own place.”

Vet Villa is open seven days per week, and accepts all types of pet insurance. While it does take walks-ins, appointments are recommended. But most important, Swimmer is focused on providing quality care and attention to all of her patients at all times.

“We chose this area because of the community,” she said. “The response has been fantastic. The clientele is so warm and kind, and couldn’t have been nicer to us. We’re a family-owned business, and I think the love that my husband and I put into designing and staffing the hospital really comes across. We’re passionate about being here and being part of the community. If anyone needs us, we’re here.”

Vet Villa Animal Hospital is located at 2140 Huntington Dr. in South Pasadena. It is open Mon. – Fri. from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sat. – Sun. from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call (626) 799-5900 or visit

Vet Villa Animal Hospital Business Spotlight appeared in the print edition of the South Pasadena Review on 1.18.19. Support Local Business.

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Kamala Kirk is a contributing writer for the South Pasadena Review, San Marino Tribune and The Quarterly Magazine. Kamala formerly served as Managing Editor of Beauty Launchpad Magazine, West Coast Editor of American Salon Magazine, and Digital Editor for E! Online. A native of Hermosa Beach, California, she is a proud USC Trojan and pug mom to Wrigley the Pug (@pugofpasadena).