Veterinarians

Dr. Andrea Dunnings

Practice Owner

• Why did you become a veterinarian?
My favorite subjects in elementary school were math and science. When I was old enough I volunteered at a local hospital. The experience was less than I hoped for. The following summer I volunteered at a veterinary clinic. I still remember that summer as if it happened yesterday. It was the most heartbreaking experience of my young life. However, the day we sent one puppy home was the most gratifying experience. That was the day I decided to become a veterinarian.
(You can read more details about my experience in my blog, “Why I became a Veterinarian”)
• What is your goal with every patient visit?
I always try to assess the needs of my patient and merge that with the desires of my client. The care of a pet is a partnership that I take seriously. I don’t want people to feel judged about their decisions. My goal is to always be compassionate and understanding.
• Who makes up your family (pets and/ or people)?
I grew up in Southwest Atlanta. I still reside there with my family and my cat, Monica.
People often ask why I only have one pet. I really do not have just one. Most people do not understand the bond that we form with our patients. Especially the ones we see on a regular basis. We care for them as much as we do our own, sometimes to our detriment.
(You can read more about this subject in the blog titled “Compassion Fatigue”)
• Do you have a mantra or philosophy that you live by?
When I was in veterinary school an upperclassmen told me to “work hard and play hard”.
It is a philosophy that has always stuck with me. Although, I have to admit that I struggle with the “play hard” aspect.
My mantra is “to make a difference”. I want to make a difference in the lives of my patients, my clients, my employees, and the industry.

Dr. Angie Hardy

• Why did you become a veterinarian?
I have always loved taking care of things. I have an innate curiosity about how things work which may explain my love of science.
• What is your goal with every patient visit?
I want owners to feel heard. I want to make sure they feel they are a part of the decision making process. It is important for them to understand why we are doing the things we recommend.
• Who makes up your family (pets and/ or people)?
I have a loving husband and two wonderful kids. Our family cat is named Lizzy.
• Do you have a mantra or philosophy that you live by?
It is my intention to always be nice and have compassion.

Dr. Jamie Harmon

• Why did you become a veterinarian?
My love for animals is innate. I wanted to dedicate my life to helping animals and the most comprehensive way to accomplish that goal is to know them inside and out.
• What is your goal with every patient visit?
With every patient visit, my goal is to reduce stress for my patients and to thoroughly educate their owners in a way that accomplishes pure understanding and client compliance. I hope to convey my love and compassion for all life, and truly be present with each appointment. Therefore, my overall goal is to do my very best each and every time.
• Who makes up your family? (pets and people)
My family consists of my 11-year old daughter, my two cats and my French bulldog.
• Do you have a mantra or philosophy that you live by?
Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery, but today is a gift that is why it is called the present.

Dr. Erin Ringstrom

• Why did you become a veterinarian?
At age nine, I accidentally ran over a field mouse on my bicycle. This affected me deeply, and through this experience I realized that my empathy for animals was strong. I initially followed the path blazed by my father and brother and obtained a Bachelor’s of Business Administration in Accounting. I quickly discovered that my calling lay elsewhere. So, I set forth to find my way into veterinary medicine. I graduated from the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia in Athens, GA in 2003. I joined East Atlanta Animal Clinic shortly after graduation. In 2008, I trained at the Chi Institute and became certified in Veterinary Acupuncture.

• What is your goal with every patient visit?
I strive to establish a rapport with every client and their pets. I want the clients to know that their pet’s healthcare is in good hands. I want to be a resource for my community and my clients, and for them to see me as their other family doctor.

• Who makes up your family (pets and/or people)?
I live near East Atlanta Animal Clinic, in the Grant Park neighborhood with my husband, David. We have two children, two dogs, and three tabby cats. When I’m away from the clinic, I enjoy spending time with my family and pets, as well as reading, cooking, and listening to music. You may also find me visiting a quiet beach a few times a year.

• Do you have a mantra or philosophy that you live by?
A book that had a transformational effect on me is Stephen Covey’s “The 7 habits of Highly Effective People.” In particular I live by the habit “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

Dr. Sara Schilke

• Why did you become a veterinarian?
One of my earliest memories as a three year old is dressing up in my Grandmother’s nursing clothes and setting up a veterinary shop in her living room with my stuffed animals. From a young age, I always said I wanted to be a veterinarian. For a high school project, I attempted to research and explore other professions. However, no other profession picked my interest. I honestly could not see myself doing anything else that would make me feel as happy and fulfilled.
• What is your goal with every patient visit?
My overall goal with every patient visit is to personally connect with each individual patient and to focus on their overall health, wellbeing, and unique personality.

• Who makes up your family (pets and/ or people)?
Kyle my significant other and our cat Noah
• Do you have a mantra or philosophy that you live by?
To help and care for those without a voice

Dr. Patricia Starnes

Shareholder

• Why did you become a veterinarian?
I have always loved animals. However, when it came to choosing a major in college I was quite intimidated by the schooling required to become a veterinarian and I thought that I couldn’t do anything in the medical field because nausea and faintness would overcome me whenever I stepped into a hospital. So, I got a degree in finance and real estate. I was a financial analyst for two years and realized that I didn’t want to do that for the rest of my life. After another boring day at work and as I loved on my cat (who was then 21 years old), I was overcome with the feelings that I should have been a vet. I was then old enough to realize that my feelings, while in a hospital, were simply due to losing my grandmother (after being hospitalized for a heart attack) when I was a teenager. I also realized that I was strong enough and smart enough to overcome the challenges of the rigorous schooling to become a vet. I wanted a job that would fulfill me and to know that I made a difference in someone’s life. I also wanted to be a voice for these innocent and wonderful creatures that so enrich our lives. So, I became a vet and now have a wonderful, challenging, fulfilling career that is never boring.

• What is your goal with every patient visit?
My goal with every patient visit is to make each cat or dog happier, healthier, or more comfortable, so that they can live a longer life -- thereby, helping their owner and enriching their family.
• Who makes up your family (pets and/ or people)?
My sweet husband, Steve, who is my high school sweetheart and our furry kids: Filmore, Lucy, Walker, Pete and Whiskey.
• Do you have a mantra or philosophy that you live by?
Kindness always helps. Wouldn’t the world be better if everyone went out of their way to be kind?

Managers

Rita Kuhn

Practice Manager

• Why did you choose to work in the field of Veterinary Medicine?
My love of animals has to do with the look in their eyes and the unconditional love that they provide. My hope is that I can provide that same love to others as I travel through life.
• Who makes up your family (including pets and/ or people)
I have 3 children and 6 grandchildren. I currently have two dogs, Kwoven Hoofs and Fill Us Dill Her. I also have three cats; Buddy, Jimmy Billy and Funny.
• Do you have a mantra or philosophy that you live by?
The only thing we are supposed to do here is have compassion, be kind, and love one another.

Meg Hartman

Clinic Supervisor

Why did you choose to work in the field of veterinary medicine?
I have always loved animals. I started showing Siberian Huskies, American Staffordshire Terriers, and Bouvier des Flandres at a young age. I helped my mother with Bouvier Rescue of Georgia as a young teen. I have also ridden horses since I was 8 years old. I began to work in Veterinary Medicine when I was 25 years old and I haven’t looked back. I can’t see myself doing anything else and loving it so much! I have been with East Atlanta Animal Clinic since summer 2019, and love the staff, the doctors, and the clients (both two and four legged-and maybe a few three legged thrown in there too!)

Who makes up your family (including pets and/or people)?
I live in the Decatur area with my 14 year old son and our pets. We have several rescued cats, Kizzy and Boris. Two rescued dogs, Griffin who is a mixed breed “wonder dog” and Suluk who is a Siberian Husky. I also own two horses, a newly retired Dutch Warmblood named Wintrixa O and an off track Thoroughbred named Louisiana Dream “Louis”. I rescued Louis in February of 2019 in poor health along with two other horses. I have found two of the horses “forever homes” which love and appreciate them.

Do you have a mantra or philosophy that you live by?
I live by the rule of treating those the way you would want to be treated. This applies to both humans and animals. I believe in being equally kind and respectful towards everyone regardless of your position in the world.

Veterinary Technicians

Chesna Kraatz

Registered Veterinary Technician

Why did you choose to work in the field of Veterinary Medicine?
I have always felt a deep connection with animals and have never really feared any critter I have come across so far! I could not think of a better job than one that lets me help, and let’s admit snuggle animals all day long!
Who makes up your family? (pets and people)
My husband, Brandon, and our five dogs: Digger, Roxeanne, Stinker, Pepe and Charlie.
They range in age from 4 years old to 16 years, and they weigh between 7 and 60 lbs.
Do you have a mantra or philosophy that you live by?
If you fall down seven times, you get back up eight. Always.

Chrystina Riggs

Registered Veterinary Technician

1. Why did you choose to work in the field of Veterinary Medicine?
Doing something to help and serve my community (and society in general) has always been important. After giving up on teaching, I chose to use my love of animals to do just that. I am glad to say I found my calling.
2. Who makes up your family? (pets and people)
My partner for life, Christopher; a grumpy old lady cat named Whalebone; a sassy, large old lady Wirehair Terrier who refuses to act her age named Mocchi; and a weirdo boy cat whose family tree didn’t branch named Muadidib.
3. Do you have a mantra or philosophy that you live by?
I have two:
- Being nice takes much less energy.
- I am a huge fan of alternative British comedian Rik Mayall who said, “I may be gloriously stupid, but if it helps people to forget the grimness of life then I’m happy.”
So I try to be funny as often as possible.

Veterinary Assistants

Dana Brimer

Veterinary Assistant

• Why did you choose to work in the field of veterinary medicine?
As far as I can remember, I always knew that I would be in a field helping animals. When I was a small child, my dog was having puppies and after “assisting with the delivery” I knew that I had found my calling. In 1998, I started working in a small animal hospital. Since then there was no turning back, animal medicine was meant for me.
• Who makes up your family? (pets and people)
I am a rare native Atlantan. My family consists of my husband, my son Wyatt, and my two cats and my dog.
• Do you have a mantra or philosophy that you live by?
Take things as they come. Don’t hold on to the negative. This too will pass. Be thankful for the moment.

Raye Barkley

Veterinary Assistant

• Why did you choose to work in the field of veterinary medicine?
Since I was a young child, I have had a strong connection with animals. For as long as I can remember my grandparents always had dogs, cats and chickens in their yard. All of which intrigued me as a toddler. I began running behind these animals trying to pet, feed and play with them. It was the unconditional love that animals displayed that ultimately won me over. This led me to fulfill my passion of working in the field of veterinary medicine.
• Who makes up your family? (pets and people)
My wife Trasi, and our two dogs Chance and Kairo.
• Do you have a mantra or philosophy that you live by?
“Envisioning the possibilities”

Morgan Dillard

Veterinary Assistant

• Why did you choose to work in the field of Veterinary Medicine?
I began working in animal medicine after a lifelong love of animals. I chose to make vet med my career choice because of the joy I receive from healing and helping pets and their owners.

• Who makes up your family? (pets and people)
I currently have two dogs, a Potcake from Grand Bahama Island named Buoy and a Chihuahua mix that I adopted in college, he came into the clinic as a stray named Kodak. I also have two orange tabby cats I raised from 3-weeks of age: whose names are Butter and Wesley.

• Do you have a mantra or philosophy that you live by?
I live by the quote “You can only see as far as your headlights but you can make the whole trip that way.” – E.L. Doctorow

Susjed Garcia

Veterinary Assistant

• Why did you choose to work in the veterinary medicine field?
I picked veterinary medicine because I wanted to find out more about my dogs health. I’ve done it for 4 years and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

• Who makes up your family? (pets and people)
Me, my wife (Ada Garcia) and my dog( Cloe Garcia).

• Do you have a mantra or philosophy that you live by?
Don’t watch the clock; do what it does, keep going.

Jennifer “Jenn” Medina

Veterinary Assistant and Client Service Representative

• Why do you choose to work in the field of veterinary medicine?
I’ve always wanted to work with animals since I was a child. Animals rely on us so much and I want to help them in any way possible. They are such loving and innocent creatures. I can always count on my pets to be there.

• Who makes up your family? (pets & people)
My dad Hernando, my mom Yolanda, my older sister Mayra, my nephew Andrew, my four-legged child Mila and my evil cat August, all make up my family.

• Do you have a mantra or philosophy that you live by?
Just go with the flow!

Sidney Smith

Veterinary Assistant

• Why did you choose to work in the field of Veterinary Medicine?
I followed a girl. Lol! This is a true story; I previously worked in merchant service sales. I was not happy with the way things were progressing at work. The woman I was dating at the time suggested that I apply to her clinic to see if I liked the work. Twelve years later I am still in the field.

• Who make up your family? (pets and people)
My wife, Remeredzai, my son, Grayson and my three dogs: Ngoni, Lady Blue, and Seal

• Do you have a mantra or philosophy that you live by?
Yes. Never stop moving.

Brian Watts

Veterinary Assistant

• Why did you choose to work in the field of Veterinary Medicine?
I have worked in animal care for most of my adult life. That’s actually how I met my wife. We worked at a doggie daycare together then started fostering rescue animals and adopting many of our own. We trapped feral cats for a time with Lifeline animal project for their “Trap, Neuter, Spay, Return” program, (neutering and spaying feral cats before returning them to their colonies). I eventually started working in a veterinary clinic where I started my training as an assistant. Soon I found my home at East Atlanta Animal Clinic where I continued my training and developed a passion for animal health and care. Now, I work with amazing people that share a similar compassion for animals. With a small nudge of encouragement, I made the decision to expand my skills and education in this field to better help the patients I see every day. I am currently in school, studying to become an RVT with the hope to better serve our patients and community.

• Who makes up your family? (pets and people)
My wife Ali
Dogs: Toki (shepherd mix), Porthos (beagle)
Cats: Caliope, Mama, Inori
Exotics: Brock Oguana (Cuban rock iguana), 4 button quail, 1 fish, 1 whip scorpion named “Peppercorn”

• Do you have a mantra or philosophy that you live by?

Treat others as you would like to be treated, including animals.

Shari Wenger

Veterinary Assistant

• Why did you choose to work in the field of Veterinary Medicine?
I love animals because they love us unconditionally. I got into the vet field to give back, since they give us so much. Plus animals make me happy!

• Who makes up your family? (pets and people)
My boyfriend and our dogs: Sweet pea, Noodle, and Roci.

• Do you have a mantra or philosophy that you live by?
Never give up and always trust yourself

Client Services Representatives 

Sheamalla Nair

Client Service Representative

• Why did you choose to work in the field of Veterinary Medicine?
I am a transplant from the United Kingdom. I moved to Atlanta,GA with my two cats, Bon Bon and Shadow, who were patients here at EAAC. I was so impressed by their vet care that I joined the staff.

• Who makes up your family? ( pets and people)
I live in Little Five Points with my three crazy “foster” cats.

• Do you have a mantra or philosophy that you live by?
Kindness, laughing aloud, trot the world, whimsy with a touch of the ridiculous and the eccentric!

Elly Pagan

Client Service Representative

• Why did you choose to work in the field of Veterinary Medicine?
As a little girl, I always loved helping and caring for animals. Growing up, I learned that I could help pets and not just as a doctor. I started working and learning all I could about small animals and how to educate pet owners as well. I gained experience in customer service and animal care and with this combination I decided to take the veterinary field route. Working in a vet clinic is great. I get to meet new wonderful people and their cute pets every day, allowing me to learn and gain more experience for my future.

• Who makes up your family? (pets and people)
My family is composed of actual family members, friends that have been more family than family over the years and my dear small furry friends (2 Chihuahuas and a chunky kitty)

• Do you have a mantra or philosophy that you live by?
Enjoy the little things in life.

A.J. Smith

Client Service Representative

• Why did you choose to work in the field of veterinary medicine? Or why do you love animals?
I was always an ambitious child. At my kindergarten graduation, my list of what I wanted to be when I grew up was extensive with such gems as: author, parent, teacher, and most importantly a VET. Though my ambitions have changed over the years, working with animals has always been a top priority, and the most fulfilling career.

• Who makes up your family? (pets & people)
At home I’m greeted by my two cats, Jesse and Dante, and my dog Ozzie. My mom also plays an important and supportive role in my life.

• Do you have a mantra or philosophy that you live by?
My philosophy in life is to take it one day at a time and to be comfortable in who you are.

Cheryl Williams

Client Service Representative

• Why did you choose to work in the field of Veterinary Medicine?
I have always shared my life with animals. The veterinary field was the perfect option for me to work in; it’s an industry that I truly appreciate.

• Who makes up your family? (pets and people)
My family includes: my husband, Dell, my children, Michael (Son) and Jordan (Daughter) and my grandson, Oakland. My four loving dogs: Kobe, Zoe, Charlie Murphy and L.P.) Last but not least, my seven sweet cats: Grady, Baybe, Bizzy Bone, Mila, Carl and Popcorn.

• Do you have a mantra or philosophy that you live by?
A philosophy that I always abide by is “Life is too short to live it with fear or regret; always be open to new possibilities!