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Our History

Willowrun Veterinary Hospital has a long and proud history of serving the Smithfield, North Carolina area. In fact, we are one of the oldest veterinary hospitals still operable registered with the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).

Our founder was the accredited Dr. Ed Boyette. He began practicing veterinary medicine in the year 1938 and opened the first iteration of our hospital at a different and smaller location on Truck Lane in 1946.

Years later, the practice was purchased by Dr. Charles "Bug" Swearingen. He ran the practice until his retirement, in 1985.

In the early days, Willowrun was primarily a veterinary center that catered to large animal clients on their farms. Over the course of Dr. Swearingen's stewardship, the practice began to care for more companion animals because of the doctor's love for them. In 1952, Willowrun became one of the first veterinary hospitals to receive accreditation from AAHA.

After Dr. Swearingen's retirement, Apex Veterinary Hospital purchased the practice and gave leadership to Dr. Kurt Zimmerman and Dr. Willie Smith. In 1991, these two doctors were joined by Dr. Eileen Langdon and together purchased full ownership of the hospital. A few years later, our good friend and past owner, Dr. Zimmerman, was chosen to serve as a professor of pathology for a highly respected veterinary college. Dr. Smith and Dr. Langdon are our current owners to this day.

In 2003, Willowrun reached another milestone when we moved to our current location, which allows us to treat patients in a comfortable, spacious, and top-of-the-line practice.