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.
Dr Julia Kaczkowski, D.V.M.
Dr Kaczkowski's Bio
At the clinic, Julia’s favourite aspects of veterinary medicine range from feline and equine medicine and wellness to animal behaviour. She finds great reward in working together with clients to create tailored health plans specific to every pet’s individual needs. Julia also has a special interest in pocket pet medicine, especially rabbits (having a rabbit of her own, she admits she may be slightly biased).
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.
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 Technologist
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!
Katelyn Samson, R.V.T.
Hospital Team Lead, Registered Veterinary Technologist
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.
Tara Halonen, R.V.T.
Registered Veterinary Technologist
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.
Carrie Ukrainetz, R.V.T.
Registered Veterinary Technologist
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!
Bronwyn Bush, R.V.T.
Registered Veterinary Technologist
As an adult, Bronwyn adopted many other animals while attending the University of Calgary for her BSc in Psychology. She had a rewarding career working with children, teenagers, and adults with Autism and one day aspires to unify her two passions; healing animals and assisting people with special needs.
Bronwyn realized she had chosen the right career path the second time around while attending the Animal Health Technology program at Lakeland College in Vermilion, AB. Surrounded by people who shared her compassion and enthusiasm for the care and companionship of animals, she knew she’d found her calling. Bronwyn came to Creston on her practicum in May 2019 and
enjoyed the exceptional learning environment and welcoming staff, as well as the clients and their pets so much that she enthusiastically accepted a full-time position. Bronwyn has a special interest in emergency nursing care and thinks that the best part about being a Veterinary Technologist is that every day is different. It keeps her on her toes and encourages her constant
Bronwyn has a 10-year-old chihuahua (guard dog) named Astro, who has a large personality in a tiny body. She also shares her home with a tuxedo cat named Hugo and a grey tabby named Edward. The furry trio spend their days cuddling each other and loving any human that comes around. Outside of work, Bronwyn enjoys outdoor adventures, snowboarding, and true crime podcasts.
Student Veterinary Technologist
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.
Student Veterinary Technologist
After graduating high school, Shannon moved to Calgary, where she eventually started a family. As a military wife, she often found her herself moving across Canada, a journey that took her to nearly every province! When her two children matured, the family retired from the Canadian Armed Forces and went in search of an area to lay down more permanent roots. The family moved back to Calgary and Shannon took a job working in the corporate office of a trusted airline.
Shannon loved this position, but with the required travel in her job description, she found it resembled the military lifestyle her family left behind. After much thought and consideration, (along with the realization that it’s completely unacceptable to have snow at the end of May) it was decided that their final move would be to the beautiful Creston Valley to fulfill Shannon’s lifelong dream of working with animals.
While working as a Veterinary Assistant at Creston Veterinary Hospital, Shannon is concurrently enrolled in the online Veterinary Technician Training Program at Penn Foster University. This program will prepare her for a long and rewarding career as a Registered Veterinary Technologist. Additionally, she is working towards becoming a Fear Free Professional. This certification focuses on reducing fear, anxiety and stress in our patients, and will ensure that your pets leave the clinic loving her as much as she loves them.
When she’s not studying or spending time with her wonderful husband and children, Shannon can be found cuddling one of her three cats; Argo, Lily, and Mickey, or attempting her hand at something creative. Her main hobbies include photography, knitting, crochet, and sewing. Her Pinterest “fails” and unfinished projects, which can be found littered throughout the house, provide endless hours of entertainment for her cats. There’s nothing more exciting than a ball of yarn!
Shannon looks forward to taking this journey with you and thanks the Creston community for welcoming her with open arms. She has finally found a place to call “home”.
Student Veterinary Technologist
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. In 2018, 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 has recently completed a certificate course in Agricultural Business Risk Management and is working towards becoming a veterinary technologist through Thompson Rivers University. The 3-year Animal Health Technology (AHT) distance program commences in January 2020 and will allow Alex to obtain the theoretical portion of her training by distance education while gaining clinical experience at Creston Veterinary Hospital.
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.
Student Veterinary Technologist
Bassano, Alberta, where she gained experience in artificial insemination, stallion handling, and semen collection.
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 is looking forward to barrel racing this summer and starting agility with her puppy, Linc, before she heads to school to pursue an education at Olds College to become a Veterinary Technician. We are so excited for her future!
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.
Reception Team Lead
During that time Jay continued to work for BC Tel (now Telus) and Trish began working as a milker at Mountain Valley Dairy. Trish was always fond of cows and gained vast amounts of knowledge in organic dairy production and bovine management during her time there. The dairy was a huge part of her life, but after 12 years, Trish retired from the farm to pursue a less physical career as a veterinary receptionist, though no less demanding. At the time, Trish did not have much experience working with the public, but her love for animals, paired with her genuine and helpful nature, saw her excel in all areas of her work. She thoroughly enjoys making an impact on the animals lives, connecting with clients on a personal level, working with a collaborative and caring team, and the fact that there’s never a dull moment in veterinary medicine!
Trish and Jay both find pleasure in their horses and horse activities. Jay’s hobbies are team roping and mounted shooting, while Trish enjoys trail riding, liberty training, and Extreme Cowboy Challenges, which she looks forward to pursuing with her new filly. Trish also enjoys hiking, backpacking, running, fitness classes, taking her Australian Shepherd, Rudy, for long walks, and snowshoeing in the winter. Most of all, Trish loves spending cherished moments with her family.
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.
Brittany first joined Creston Veterinary Hospital in 2015 as one of our Call Centre Attendants, where she helped triage calls and relay important information between clients and staff. She’s since mastered the position and has been promoted to Reception, a role that requires proficiency in hospital protocols, sharp critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, compassion, a positive attitude, followthrough, and excellent communication and teamwork skills. Brittany is most grateful for the opportunity to merge her love of animals and public service into an exciting and rewarding career in veterinary administration.
Brittany was born and raised in the Creston Valley and has decided to raise her young son, Carter, here as well. Her family includes an 8-year-old Retriever mix named Diesel, who is a gentle, playful, and snuggly giant, and Peppa, a Holland Lop who keeps them laughing with her silly bunny antics. In her spare time, Brittany enjoys the outdoors by going for walks, hiking, or relaxing by the water, especially with her family and 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!
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.
Call Centre Attendant
After moving back last November, Lori was thrilled to have the opportunity to join our team in February 2019 as a Call Centre Attendant; a fast-paced role that requires unique attention to detail and exceptional communication skills. A true “people person”, she is eagerly getting to know each and every one of our clients and their pet’s, making sure to get as many snuggles as
she can as they come through the door.
Outside of her full-time hours at the clinic, Lori enjoys spending time with family. Her mom, stepdad, father, and brother still reside in the Creston Valley, and she often visits them in town or on their farm, helping where she can. Lori also enjoys painting with various mediums, but her true passion lies in writing; a dream that recently came to fruition with the release of her first
book, Lost, a local story in which she depicts a man’s fight for life.
Ryan is one of the newest team members at Creston Veterinary Hospital. He is our very first Reception Assistant, a role that was established in July 2020 to provide relief for our Client Care Specialists amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Ryan is kind, patient, and professional; proving to be more than just a helping hand, he has become a welcome asset to our team. He’s the first familiar face you’ll see when you visit our hospital, always extending a smile and his full attention before offering you a bottle of cold water and a shady spot to sit while you wait. In addition to our current comprehensive cleaning and safety protocols, Ryan ensures client and staff safety by maintaining an arduous sanitization schedule, keeping exposure to COVID-19 to a minimum. From cleaning and grunt work (“Ryan, can you reach that for us?!”) to processing payments and providing an exceptional customer experience, Ryan’s our go-to guy!
Ryan was born and raised in Creston, BC, alongside his two older sisters. Graduating from PCSS in 2018, he has future aspirations of becoming an electrician. Grateful for this new position as a Reception Assistant, Ryan knows it will help him to acquire further skills in serving the community prior to attending Selkirk College in January 2021. Ryan’s fur-family includes his very loyal and beloved 14-year-old Cocker Spaniel, Oreo, and a 7-year-old fluffy feline named Cat. Oreo is a friendly dog who grew up with kids, taking on the “teenager lifestyle” of constant sleeping and eating, which he continues to enjoy into his golden years, and Cat is a typical cat! When not at work, Ryan enjoys hanging out with family and friends and has an appreciation for food and sleep. Ryan is looking forward to meeting and working with the Creston community and their pets.