Veterinarians of Cottage Grove Animal Hospital

Sarah Whatley, DVM, Owner

Dr. Sarah Whatley joined Cottage Grove Animal Hospital in January 2006 as an associate veterinarian and became one of the practice's owners in October 2014.

Originally from LaCrosse, Wisconsin, Dr. Whatley moved to Chanhassen, Minnesota when she was 11 and spent much of her teenage years obsessed with horses. It was when her quarter horse, Classy Chassis, developed colic and was treated at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Hospital that she got an in-depth look into veterinary medicine and was "hooked."

"The most satisfying part of being a veterinarian is getting to know my clients and their families," she says. "I love helping my clients learn how to care for their dogs and cats and support them through the good and the bad times. The best cases are those in which I know I can make a huge difference in the life of my patients. Educating my clients and supporting them by finding treatment options that they can afford and can administer at home are two of the things I spend most of my time doing."

Dr. Whatley attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Zoology. She went on to the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in St. Paul, where she earned her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine with a concentration in small animal medicine and surgery. She also won the Dr. J.E. Salsbury Foundation Veterinary Medicine Award and the Veterinary Student Council Award. She is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association and the Veterinary Hospitals Association. Her professional interests include internal medicine, preventive medicine, dermatology, dentistry and surgery for dogs and cats.

At home Dr. Whatley cares for her mixed-breed dog Maggie, who is half Treeing Walker Coon Hound and part Boxer, among other breeds. She also has a cat named Sophie. Dr. Whatley enjoys spending her time outside the practice going to movies, dining with friends, visiting family, traveling, reading and walking around lakes with Maggie. She is also a newly minted Louisiana Tech Basketball fan because her brother-in-law is their head coach.

Jason Down, Associate Veterinarian

Associate Veterinarian Dr. Jason Down joined our team in March of 2020. He specializes in surgery, internal medicine, and wildlife care. Dr. Down is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, and the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association. In 1999, Dr. Down completed his undergraduate education at Syracuse University where he earned a Bachelor's of Science degree in Biology and Philosophy. He is a Remembrance Scholar, which is one of the highest honors a Syracuse University student can recieve. He was also a nominee and finalist for The Chancellor's Award for Public Service. In 2003, Dr. Down graduated from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine. He completed his clinical year at Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine and his internship at University of Idaho's Canine Veterinary Teaching Center.

After completing his internship at the University of Idaho, Dr. Down was invited to stay on as a clinician and stayed there for a year. He then moved to Oregon to work in a busy mixed animal medicine, surgery, and emergency clinic. He was invited to collaborate on many research projects and speak at several meetings. Dr. Down designs and ran his own research project on the wildlife and captive elk herds of Idaho.

Some of Dr. Down's favorite parts of veterinary care include locating sources of pain, diagnosing illness, treating patients, and curing patients when possible. He is passionate about improving the quality of life for patients and pet owners.

Growing up in Massachusetts, Dr. Down volunteered to work with animals whenever he could. He would go to neighbors' farms, equine stables, wildlife rehabilitation centers, and he helped train security canines. He wanted to be a veterinarian since he was four years old. As a young child, Dr. Down had speech issues that affected the way he communicated with people, but not animals. Wild animals would come to him and feel calm, and he created a kinship with them that has helped him become an advocate for those that cannot communicate for themselves.

Dr. Down is married to his loving wife Amy, a Pediatrician. They have two children, Joshua and Lilliana. They have two dogs, Necco and Nala. In his free time, Dr. Down enjoys sports, woodworking, movies, nature, spending time with family, and participating in a Doctors Without Borders program for veterinary patients. He also volunteers with his local church, Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels, and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Jill Semler, Associate Veterinarian

Dr. Jill Semler is a full-time Associate's Veterinarian here at Cottage Grove Animal Hospital. Her professional interests include preventative medicine, internal medicine, and dentistry. She is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association.

Growing up in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, Dr. Semler has always had a passion for animal care. Dr. Semler completed her undergraduate education at North Dakota State University where she earned a Bachelor's degree in Animal Science. After graduating in 2015, Jill went on to attend veterinary school at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine where she graduated from in 2019.

When asked why she loves being a veterinarian, Dr. Semler says "The most satisfying about being a veterinarian is creating relationships with clients while caring for their pets. From educating first time pet owners to discussing diagnosis & treatment with long term clients, it is rewarding to develop trusting relationships with owners."

While pursuing her undergraduate degree, Dr. Semler went on a trip to Nicaragua with a veterinary group that focuses on providing veterinary aid and training in developing countries. It was this trip that solidified her passion for helping animals and her belief that all animals deserve access to veterinary care.

Before joining our team in July of 2020, Dr. Semler worked as a Veterinary Assistant at two different small animal veterinary clinics. She also volunteered at the local humane society and helped care for pets while their owners were away.

At home, Dr. Jill has a 5 year old labrador retriever mix named Laney who she adopted from a local rescue. Outside of work, Dr. Jill likes to spend time outdoors, going to the lake, visiting family, hiking, and cheering on the Minnesota Vikings and Twins. Jill is married to her wonderful spouse Zack, and they are currently expecting their first child!