The reluctant doctor

Posted: September 8th, 2017 | Community Profile, Feature, Top Story | No Comments

By Ken Williams | Editor

The love of pets inspired her calling in life

Hang around with Ann L. Eliopulos for any length of time and there likely will be a cute little dog begging for her loving attention. Or maybe two or three competing for a hug or to sit on her lap. For the past three decades, she has been working with animals in some form or fashion.

Growing up with parents who were both doctors, Eliopulos vowed to take a different career path. The little rebel tried out a number of jobs, but always found her greatest joy as working with our furry friends.

Ann L. Eliopulos, medical director and hospital administrator at Bodhi Animal Hospital in North Park, in the “Cat Room” (Photo by Ken Williams)

Over the years, she held positions such as a vet technician, an animal control officer and an animal shelter manager before deciding to go back to college in the mid-1990s to become a doctor of veterinary medicine.

These days, “Dr. E,” as Eliopulos is affectionately dubbed, is medical director and hospital administrator at Bodhi Animal Hospital, located at 2200 University Ave. in North Park. Her areas of expertise are internal medicine, emergency medicine, geriatric medicine, behavior and surgery.

Here are five questions with Ann Eliopulos:


  1. What is the history of Bodhi Animal Hospital, and how many people work there?

Dr. Bob Nagell and Chris Chandler opened Bodhi Animal Hospital in April 2011. Dr. Nagell had his North Park practice, Pacific Vet, for over 20 years and wanted to offer his unique blend of high-level, affordable veterinary care; compassion and community-centered practice on a larger scale so that more pets and their people could benefit. With the help of multiple designers and architects, they completely redesigned the building at 2200 University Ave., which had previously been a fitness club, a bathhouse and a banquet hall, to reflect their vision of a calming, healing environment for everyone. He sold the practice to Pathway Partners in June 2012 after achieving his dream. Bodhi has grown from that small practice in a house to one with eight doctors and 44 employees.


  1. What services make Bodhi stand above the competition?

Bodhi is incredibly unique in that we are fully engaged in our community and truly want to be available to provide great, affordable care at almost any hour. We now offer Urgent Care until midnight seven days a week for the maximum convenience and benefit to our clients. We are the only urgent care practice in all of San Diego, practicing high-level urgent and emergent care at night without the inflated prices of 24-hour emergency hospitals.

We have a veterinary technician monitoring and caring for the patients all night, allowing us to hospitalize patients and give them the service they would get at a more expensive facility. We take urgent and emergent patients throughout the day and do not require an appointment to be seen.

Our wellness programs are thorough and tailored to the needs of the individual. We recognize that great health care is costly for many and have instituted our Essential Care Plans to address this. Pet owners are able to get the optimal care for their kiddo while making monthly, affordable automatic payments on discounted services.


  1. How does Bodhi treat pets differently than at most veterinary facilities?

Bodhi takes the well-being of the pet, their person and the health care team very seriously. We are one of only eight Certified Cat Friendly Practices in a 20-mile radius. What this means is that we have advanced training in gentle cat handling, and provide a separate cat waiting room and exam rooms with pheromones to help them relax.

We also practice Fear Free Medicine, which strategically addresses the fear, stress and anxiety that many pets feel when they come to a vet office. To achieve this, we utilize a lot of treats, gentle handling, anxiety medication where indicated and sedation if needed. We are very pro-active with pain management and treat acute and chronic pain to achieve maximum quality of life for our patients.

Veterinarian Ann L. Eliopulos holds one of her rescue dogs in her office at Bodhi Animal Hospital in North Park. (Photo by Ken Williams)


  1. What is your background and why did you choose this as a career?

I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio with both my mom and dad being doctors. I swore that I would never become one myself. I began as a veterinary technician in 1982, and interspersed with that co-owned a restaurant, managed an SPCA, worked as Animal Control Officer, managed a dairy goat farm and was an organic farmer for eight years. I even was a nanny for two years.

No matter what else I tried my hand at, I always circled back to working with the animals, from working with abuse and neglect cases, to rescue, to shelter work. I finally had to admit that nothing made me feel more fulfilled, more vital and more passionate than helping animals and their people … and, I had gone as far as I could without a real education. I had been a technician for the better part of 10 years and was ready to completely dedicate my life to the well-being of these amazing animals I am privileged to work with.

So much for not being a doctor! I graduated from the University of California at Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 1997. After 20 years in practice, there is not a single day that goes by where I don’t see some patient that makes me smile and laugh. There are days when the work is painful and heartbreaking and that one silly, cute or sweet elderly pet can be just the balm that my soul needs. I know without doubt that this is exactly what I was meant to do with my life.


  1. What do you like about working in North Park?

North Park, and our neighboring community of Hillcrest, just has this fantastic diversity, energy and progressiveness that is not found elsewhere in San Diego. For such a small part of San Diego, it is packed with personality, great restaurants, breweries and very cool small local businesses.

Our clients are from all walks of life and are unique individuals who defy the Southern California stereotypes. We have clients from every demographic category, including homeless clients, and I love that we can serve all of them and their amazing pets equally.

Our staff reflects our community. We are very LGBTQ centric. Our hospital is this spa-like environment with committed individuals who sport a ton of tattoos, piercings and multi-colored hair. We can be who we are in North Park and know that we are being received based on our caring, compassion and quality versus our appearance. What’s not to love about that? That’s the embodiment of North Park.

For more information about Bodhi Animal Hospital, visit Text or call 619-225-5838.

—Ken Williams is editor of Uptown News and can be reached at or at 619-961-1952. Follow him on Twitter at @KenSanDiegoInstagram at @KenSD or Facebook at KenWilliamsSanDiego.

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