Dr Robert McLeod, D.V.M.
Dr McLeod's Bio
Dr McLeod practiced medicine in Swift Current, SK and Comox, BC before he moved to Creston to join Dr Dave Perrin, who was the founder of Creston Veterinary Hospital, and who later retired to write the Country Vet Series. In Dr McLeod’s many years of practice, he’s developed a special interest in dairy medicine and orthopedic surgery.
Dr McLeod is an avid aviator! He uses this vehicle to bring veterinary care to remote clients and it also serves as an air ambulance. He volunteers his time with the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association, CASARA, and plays hockey as a goaltender with the Creston Old Timers. Dr McLeod’s two children, Kathleen and Alexandra, both attend the University of Calgary and major in Education and Business respectively. He has 3 dogs: Zeke, the Lab Pointer (master of the ball flinger), Kona, the crazy Lab (mischief and mice hunting specialist), and Piper, the photogenic border collie. He also has 3 cats; Ruckus (so named because he made such a fuss when he strayed into the veterinary clinic) and two other 3-legged cats that take care of his hangar, Lucy and Elvis. These two are awesome mousers despite their handicaps!
Dr McLeod is passionate about making Creston Veterinary Hospital responsive to community needs. He has been committed to the Creston Valley since he first arrived in 1993, becoming co-owner in 1996 and noting that the community required a veterinarian who could handle all species. It requires a continuous veterinary emergency presence and he is proud that he has been able to offer that. Creston Veterinary Hospital has grown significantly over the years and now requires several veterinarians to lighten the load. He continues to mentor the younger veterinarians as a payback to the community and profession he loves.
John Wallis, B.S.F., R.P.F.
John graduated from UBC with a degree in Forestry in 1986 and continued on to work as a professional forester in both industry and as a consultant. During this time he has gained varied experience in business management.
John enjoys a variety of outdoor activities and still works seasonally as a field forester. Much of his time is spent with his wife, Hilary, and their “sled” dog, Cara. Their three daughters are now independent, two married with dogs of their own, as well as one pet pygmy goat, and one daughter finishing university. They have been a family of many pets over the decades, ranging from dogs and horses to budgies and hedgehogs. Having spent some time at veterinary clinics as a client, with a background in business, John brings a different and welcome perspective to clinic management.
Dr Julie Gailius, D.V.M.
Dr Gailius' Bio
Julie studied Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Saskatchewan prior to being accepted into the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (Saskatoon, SK). During her time at the WCVM, she remained focused on rural mixed practice, with the goal of returning to BC. Julie returned to Creston in 2017 and joined the Creston Veterinary Hospital. She is passionate about practising rural mixed animal veterinary medicine.
Julie currently lives in Erickson with her two cats – Valdy (a perky orange tabby who is allergic to the world!) and Vance (a shy black kitty). She spends her spare time rock climbing, hanging out with her cats, and playing the guitar.
Julia Kaczkowski, D.V.M.
Dr Kaczkowski's Bio
Dr. Julia Kaczkowski grew up in Lake Country, BC, where she spent most of her formative years as a self-described barn rat at an equestrian facility. After studying animal biology at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, Julia attended veterinary school in Saskatoon at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine. She spent a brief period of time exploring the maritime provinces before deciding to return home to beautiful British Columbia. Julia is so happy to be back in her native province and firmly believes that B.C. is indeed “The Best Place on Earth”.
At the clinic, Julia’s
Julia has always been an outdoors enthusiast, and in her free time, Julia enjoys hiking, scrambling, backcountry camping, rock climbing, trail running, kayaking, skiing, and snowshoeing. With its wealth of outdoor recreation opportunities, the Kootenays are the perfect fit and Julia feels fortunate to live in this spectacular region. When at home, Julia enjoys the company of her two critters: Captain the Rabbit (a pompous bun who takes his name a bit too seriously) and Pinot Noir the Cat, a very emotionally attached feline who takes great pleasure in decorating Julia’s home with large amounts of cat fluff.
Carrie Woodall, R.V.T
Practice Manager, Registered Veterinary Technician
Carrie was born in Williams Lake, BC but grew up in the beautiful Creston Valley; first on an apple orchard in Erickson, and later, on a farm in Lister, a place her parents still call home. As a child, Creston proved to be the perfect playground for Carrie; she spent the summers camping
and participated in Dairy 4-H, Horse 4-H, reining, and Extreme Cowboy Racing with her friends and family.
In 2009, mentored by
Carrie continued to challenge herself both personally and professionally; taking on more leadership roles and dedicating her practice to the wellbeing of our clients, pets, and staff. In 2015 she became our first ever Practice Manager, a role she has embraced fervently ever since. Carrie still enjoys working directly with the animals; however, she is most passionate about fulfilling the needs of the community by delivering the highest quality of care in a friendly and educational manner, an experience truly unique to Creston Veterinary Hospital.
Carrie loves spending time with her family and especially enjoys watching her nieces grow up. Together, they ride their horses, tend to farm chores, and adventure with their dogs. Carrie shares her home with her faithful Australian Shepherd, Gypsy; two horses, Jiggs and Mickey; and a recently adopted Siamese mix named Pearl.
Assistant Practice Manager, Call Centre Attendant
Over the years, she pursued further education and training in different aspects of the animal hospital to widen her knowledge of the practice as a whole. Her training expanded into reception, client care, canine rehabilitation and hydrotherapy, alternative modalities, nutrition, and weight management. Eventually, she became more involved with fundraising events, administrative duties, managerial/team leadership roles, and practice evaluation.
If asked what she thought was her greatest accomplishment in her career, it would have to be her participation in small animal rescue. Since early childhood, Belinda was known for bringing home all sorts of stray and injured animals. As an adult, she was able to contribute more to their care from lobbying the government to fostering and helping to find many happy, forever homes. Her children were raised to love and respect all animals and were also actively involved in helping to care for the menagerie of rescues over the years.
By 2014, with their two children raising families of their own, Belinda and her husband, Eric, escaped to the Creston Valley to enjoy a quieter lifestyle. Planning on early retirement, Belinda could finally spend more of her time on outdoor activities like gardening, hobby farming, and hiking with their dogs.
Alas, it wasn’t long after becoming a client at our hospital that Belinda soon found herself “back in the saddle”. Believing strongly in the human-animal bond, she is thoroughly enjoying her time working in our Call Centre and has recently stepped in as Assistant Practice Manager. Belinda most enjoys following-up on the care of our patients by answering or directing any questions or concerns, working as a liaison for our busy doctors and technicians if needed.
Having limited experience with large animals, she is very excited to be learning about our beautiful valley’s large animal clientele as well. So much so, that she is now hoping to rescue a few goats and possibly a donkey or a Llama (or two)!
At last count, Belinda shares her home with 2 beautiful rescue dogs; DeDe, a rambunctious and snuggly Boxer mix and Todd, a mischievous Blue Heeler; 3 demanding senior cats, Mr. Biggs, Granny Smith, and Tabitha; one dog-loving, 3-legged cat named Vincent; one young plant-eating cat named Brady; 7 pet chickens; and 13 pet turkeys (yes, they all have names too!).
Rochelle Christensen, R.V.T.
Marketing & Recruiting Director, Registered Veterinary Technician
Rochelle always knew she would pursue a career working with animals. She grew up in Canmore, AB, where wildlife sightings are commonplace. Driven by her curiosity and inclination to nurture, she became infatuated with the creatures she encountered and made numerous attempts to connect with them on some level. Naturally, she was an enthusiastic science student, excelling at Biology, which she later studied at Capilano University in Vancouver. It was during this time that she had the fortunate opportunity to volunteer with both the Bamfield Marine Science Centre and the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Association.
Rochelle began working at the Creston Veterinary Hospital in the summer of 2014 as a Veterinary Assistant, returning to school in the fall to complete her final year of Animal Health studies at Lakeland College in Vermilion, AB. Upon graduation, she gained valuable work experience at a 24-hour emergency and specialty practice in the Okanagan, achieved her R.V.T. designation after successfully writing a national licensing exam in July of 2015, and has since returned to work for Dr. McLeod full-time.
Since her arrival, Rochelle has taken on many roles. From student to Veterinary Technician to Hospital Director, she now spearheads our marketing and recruiting endeavours. This new opportunity provides a welcome change from her technical skill set, allowing her to creatively bridge the gap between our veterinary services and our communities needs.
Outside of work, Rochelle volunteers her time with Love 2 Play Dog Training in Nelson, BC and enjoys galavanting outside with her boyfriend, Jeremy, and her two beautiful rescue pups; Daisy, a spicy 6 year old Collie/Shepherd mix and Jo-Jo, a sassy 11 year-old sled dog who is thoroughly enjoying her retirement. Together they enjoy hiking, camping, swimming, 4×4‘ing, and snowboarding throughout the Kootenays!
Tara Halonen, R.A.H.T.
Registered Veterinary Technician
While working as an assistant, Tara began studying for her diploma in Animal Health Technology through the Thompson Rivers University Distance Education program. With the support from Dr. McLeod and her amazing coworkers, she received the hands-on experience necessary to graduate and became a Registered Veterinary Technician in 2010. Tara enjoys the fact that Creston Veterinary Hospital is a mixed animal practice because throughout the day her patients may be large or small, and as result, the years in practice have never been boring.
Outside of work, Tara enjoys many adventurous outdoor activities, exercising, and camping with family and friends. Tara shares her home with husband, Mark, son, Caelan, and their favourite fur-buddies, LadyBug, a Border Collie/Lab cross, Percy Blackstone, a black and white DSH cat, and their newest addition, Zeus, the Blue Heeler puppy.
Katelyn Samson, R.V.T.
Registered Veterinary Technician
Katelyn began working in the field during her final semester of technical school and instantly recognized a family of people who shared in the same enthusiasm for caretaking. Drawn to the relationships built with clients and patients alike, she knew this was exactly what she wanted out of a career and to this day, it is what she loves most about being a Veterinary Technician.
Katelyn graduated in April of 2017 and discovered a keen interest in nutrition, homeopathic medicine, and small animal behaviour and training while she worked part-time at Full Circle Veterinary Alternatives. This experience also broadened her knowledge of home prepared and raw diets, essential oils, and homeopathic methods. Katelyn is a proud Fear Free Certified Veterinary Professional and uses these skills to look after a pet’s emotional wellbeing, in addition to their physical wellbeing, which allows her to provide her patients with the most inclusive healthcare possible.
“I love educating clients and sharing my experiences of my own Shih Tzu, Kida, who struggles with separation anxiety, a heart condition, and mild allergies”.
Katelyn moved across Canada in December 2018 with her boyfriend, Jeremy, their 2 cats, Nala and Oliver, and Shih Tzu, Kida, and thrilled to call Creston their new home. In her free time, Katelyn enjoys walking the local trails with her little family, drawing portraits, reading, and playing the occasional video game.
Carrie Ukrainetz, R.V.T.
Registered Veterinary Technician
It’s been difficult not to take home every stray animal that comes through the clinic and Carrie has shown great restraint; however, last year they adopted Reggie, a very loving Golden Retriever mix. As it turns out, good things come to those who wait, because he could not have been a more perfect fit for their family. Outside of work, Carrie enjoys a variety of sports which include hockey (go Jets!), slow pitch, golf, and a rekindled passion for rock climbing. Carrie looks forward to helping you and your fur-family very soon!
Student Veterinary Technician
Lyn has moved to the Creston Valley with husband Pascal, 3 cats (Penny, Moose and Odo), and 1 Bearded Dragon (Elon). So far, they have enjoyed the breath-taking views and a number of outdoor hikes that Creston and the surrounding communities have to offer and they look forward to continuing to hike, kayak, paddleboard, canoe and camp their away around this beautiful valley. Lyn and Pascal have visited Iceland to admire its extensive hot springs and most recently visited Australia, where they experienced their first cageless dive with sharks. YIKES! The two said they wouldn’t trade that experience for anything else in the world and that it really opened their eyes to how magnificent these often-misunderstood creatures are. When not adventuring abroad or exploring what home has to offer, the couple enjoys being creative. Lyn enjoys drawing, painting and photography, while her husband enjoys building scale models of steamships and historical replicas. Although new to the valley, they are excited to live in a town that embraces artists and outdoor adventurists so fondly and they look forward to the many new memories they will create in the years to come.
Kaca Hegerova, A.H.T
Kaca was born in Communist Czechoslovakia. She studied photography and worked in a movie studio in Praha, though her love for horses and the outdoors strongly influenced her decision to change careers and move to Southern Bohemia, where she worked on a government breeding farm for Hanoverian
One year later, Kaca and her daughter immigrated to Canada to start their new life! She’d always dreamed of becoming a veterinarian, though it would prove difficult for a single mom with a young child, so Kaca decided to pursue a career as an Animal Health Technologist instead. At the time, the Animal Health Technology program at Olds College was in its infancy, so the competition was fierce, but Kaca was lucky enough to secure one of the 20 available seats (out of 200 applicants!). Her educational pursuit took her from S.A.I.T. to Olds, and finally, Saskatoon. This is where she first met
Kaca continued to work as a Veterinary Technician for many years. During this time, she began breeding and showing Briard’s, an ancient breed of large herding dog, and was even named Canadian Breeder of the Year! She was also very committed to Bashkir Curly and Arab horses. Now, Kaca devotes her heart to rescuing dogs. Her current companions include Manicou; an anorexic, mangy, and battered dog that Kaca first met while vacationing in the Caribbean; Sarik, a Blue Heeler with a similar story; and Buzzerina, a 3-legged cat who Kaca rescued from CVH after she had been hit by a car (she is the best mouser!).
Now, semi-retired, Kaca has more time for travel. She and her husband, Karel are avid hikers; if they’re not enjoying local pursuits by foot, skis or snowshoes, they’re likely trekking through Europe or
Hospital, Kaca is still a very active member of the team and often helps out as a Veterinary Assistant when she returns home. She is passionate about her work with animals and is equally partial to her teammates, who she so fondly refers to as her extended family.
Amanda moved back to Creston in the fall of 2014 to work at Overwaitea Foods before joining our team in October 2016. Amanda has grown immensely during this time, both professionally and personally, which is evident in the meticulous care of her patients and ever-growing responsibilities. Her new role as a Veterinary Technician Trainee requires her to help with billing, client communication, lab diagnostics, and on-call rotations with the veterinarian. Amanda enjoys all aspects of her job but has a special interest in small animal dentistry.
Amanda shares her life with Cajun, a Jack Russel Terrier who was born in their family home in Creston, 9 years ago, and Linc, the newest addition, a bright and playful Red Heeler puppy. Together, they are very active, love to play fetch (it’s all about the ball), and enthusiastically follow Amanda on her many adventures. Amanda also cares for her barrel horse, an 11-year-old Quarter Horse mare named Jess.
Hiking, walking with her dogs, dirt biking, hunting, fishing, and riding horses are among Amanda’s favourite outdoor pursuits. As an avid barrel racer, she has won the purse on several occasions and even won a saddle in 2016. Amanda enjoys spending time with her boyfriend, Dale, and is looking forward to barrel racing this summer and starting agility with her puppy, Linc, before she heads to college to pursue an education at Olds College to become a Veterinary Technician. We are so excited for her future!
Jagan has had the opportunity to fill several positions within the clinic, from Call Centre Attendant and Receptionist to Veterinary Assistant, which is where her true passion lies. Jagan loves every minute of her new position. From helping with puppy litters to large animal farm calls and everything in between, she enjoys all of the adventures this role entails. She is keen to tackle each unique situation as it arises and looks forward to learning more about animals every day.
Jagan has a wonderful elderly dog named Rex, who is a valued addition to her family, as well as a young cat named Thor, who she recently adopted from CVH.
Tessa is part of a large blended family that all have varied careers and interests in retail, esthetics, sales, nursing, and construction. Tessa; however, has found her joy in animals! Tessa got her first horse when she was 13 and has been devoted to riding and training “Izzy” ever since. In May 2018 “Izzy” had her own baby and now Tessa is working with “Jupiter”, the feisty filly who’s growing very large, very quickly. Tessa loves horseback riding, hiking, swimming, and most outdoor activities that Creston has to offer.
Laura began working at Creston Veterinary Hospital as a student assistant when she was only 15 years old and still attending high school. Her love of animals and her passion for veterinary nursing has kept her in the field and has inspired her to pursue an education in veterinary technology. We’re so excited for her future!
Throughout the years, Alexandra has enjoyed learning about the dairy industry and spent many summers working as a farm hand and milker at Mountain Valley Dairy, in addition to working at several fruit stands and farms throughout the valley. Last summer, she worked in Kamloops as a Parent Seed Summer Associate with BASF and Bayer Crop Science, gaining valuable work experience in the Canola industry. While Alexandra certainly enjoyed studying plant agriculture, she maintains that her passion is working with animals, particularly farm animals, and has since returned to her hometown of Creston to work with Creston Veterinary Hospital. Alex joined the team in November 2018 and is thoroughly enjoying her transition into the field of veterinary medicine.
A life-long learner, Alexandra is currently taking a certificate course in Agricultural Business Risk Management and is planning to work towards becoming a veterinary technician through Thompson Rivers University. In her spare time, Alex enjoys taking photos of our beautiful valley, playing with her dogs Orsa, the Maremma Sheepdog, and Charlie, the Collie cross, as well as working with her horses, Sterling, the Fjord, and Ariel and Cookie, both quarter horses. She continues to play recreational soccer and also works to expand her family farm business, Haygan Farms. She hopes that one day it will become fully self-sustainable, with a small Jersey herd, beef cattle, and chickens.
Amber started her employment with the clinic in 2015 as a Call Centre Attendant, then moved from Creston for a year and upon her return, the clinic welcomed her back as an Office Assistant. Her tasks include billing, typing up SOP’s, and other important office errands and responsibilities. Ambers attention to detail, professionalism, and pleasant demeanour help our clinic run more efficiently.
Amber shares her home with her fiancé, Rory, his children part time, their rescue dog, Sally, and their rescue cat, Chloe. Amber also stays busy helping her brother and sister in law on their farm. Raising pigs and chickens for food, feeding and caring for goats and horses and learning the ways of farming and self-sustainability. She takes pleasure in hiking the many mountains we have in the area, walking her dog, Sally, scenic drives with no destination, creating recipes, and spending time with her family and friends.
Kate began working as a Receptionist in 2011 and has grown in her role over the years, taking on many different responsibilities. From scheduling appointments to filling prescriptions, maintaining medical records, and relaying important information amongst the veterinary team, Kate is always attentive to our clients and pets needs.
At home, Kate has four dogs; Molly, 11, Bailey, 10, Abby, 8, and Sophie 6, and eight cats; Nugget, Cali, Annabelle, Lucy, Reggie, Gabby, Sylvester and Deck. Yes, Kate has what you might call a small zoo, but she has an extraordinarily big heart and finds it difficult to say “no” to animals in need. In her spare time, you can find Kate walking, hiking, and swimming throughout the valley, usually with her family in tow.
My husband and I came to the Creston Valley in 1991, where we’ve raised our 4 daughters on our 10-acre orchard. We always had some kind of animal, ranging from cats and dogs, to hamsters, rabbits and chickens. The Fall Fair was a familiar place for us in those days.
We now live in Lister, enjoying time spent with family and friends, our dog Bear, haying on the side, pack trips in the mountains, and team roping with our friends.
Call Centre Attendant, Receptionist
Having been raised in Creston, Megan was keen to return to this beautiful valley. Her family has always taken in creatures in need, and while working at the veterinary hospital she fell in love with (and adopted) Cricket, the 3-legged, half-tail cat. She looks forward to helping you with your animal friends.
Call Centre Attendant, Receptionist
Ever since Kayla can remember, the daily operations of a veterinary clinic have held fond memories for her. With her mother working alongside Dr. Keith Marling, she was fortunate enough to experience just how extraordinary the veterinary field is. With a keen willingness to learn, Kayla would help her mother with weekend kennel cleaning and after-hours patient care, and upon graduation from high school, Kayla took a position as a receptionist at the Kootenay Animal Clinic. This role helped her to build a strong foundation of customer service skills and allowed her to continue to serve the people and animals of the valley until the retirement of Dr. Marling in 2009.
Kayla joined the Creston Veterinary Hospital in November 2018 as one of our Call Centre Attendants and is now eagerly and skillfully transitioning to a position with our Reception team.
During her days off, Kayla enjoys time with her family, goes on pack walks with her friends, camps and boats on Kootenay Lake!