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Hiawassee Animal Hospital

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Our Veterinarians

Meet the folks who make it all happen. We see big potential in every moment, and care deeply about what we do every day.

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Our Veterinarians
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Kirk Vardeman

Kirk Vardeman

DVM, Owner

Dr. Vardeman has owned and operated Hiawassee Animal Hospital since 1989. After graduating from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine in 1986, he practiced medicine for 3 years in Blairsville and Hiawassee before purchasing the practice. Originally from Gainesville, Georgia, he worked as a veterinary assistant from the time he was 14 years old. He fell in love with this area during his 2 years at Young Harris College. Kirk has been married to Susan for 42 years and they have 3 grown daughters, Amy, Taylor and Ansley. He enjoys reading, hiking, biking, running and skiing on water and snow. He loves traveling and spending time with his family (especially his grandson, Callahan, who was born in January 2023) and pets. He is an active member of Sharp Memorial United Methodist Church and the Lake Chatuge Rotary Club.

Taylor Vardeman

Taylor Vardeman


Dr. Taylor recently graduated from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine and is interning while she obtains licensing in the state of Georgia.  She has joined her Dad to work and learn “from the best.”  Taylor is a graduate of Towns County High School and LaGrange College.  Taylor enjoys working out, playing soccer, and spending time with friends and family.  She is engaged to Matthew Morton and looking forward to her wedding in 2024.

Julie Roche

Julie Roche


Bio coming soon.

Dr. Stephen Arbitter

Stephen Arbitter


Dr. Stephen is a graduate of the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine.  He was born and raised in Rabun Gap, Georgia where he graduated from Rabun Gap Nacoochee School and then received a BS in biology at UGA.

Following graduation in 1996, Dr Arbitter worked in Jefferson and Commerce Georgia in Farm and companion medicine. In 2001 Dr Arbitter became owner of Rabun Animal Hospital and the Animal Wellness Hospital of Highlands.

Dr Arbitter is married to his high school sweetheart Jennifer and they have Mark 20, Allen 14 and Wyatt 14. The Arbitters’ live in Clayton and attend Mountain City United Methodist Church. Mark attends Piedmont College and the twins go to Rabun Gap Nacoochee. The family enjoys Lake Burton, hiking, tennis and travel.  Dr. Arbitter enjoys climbing American peaks over 15,000 feet and spends as much time in the woods as possible.

Dr Arbitter has been involved in local politics in Rabun County. He was a two term county commissioner and currently serves on the Rabun County Water and Sewer Authority, The Chair of Tourism for Rabun County through Forward Rabun, COO of Rabun County Animal Control and Rabun Paws for Life Humane Shelter and board member of Rabun County Pickleball club.

The Arbitters’ have 5 dogs, 1 cat and a saltwater reef.

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