Being a part of the full circle of life - from the first exciting pediatric visit to their last day and last breath, when memories and happy times are recalled - is a wonderful privilege that we do not take lightly.
We enjoy the innocence, trust, and love that all animals display, and feel honoured to be given the opportunity to help - even if those we try to help, try to bite us!
Jenna joined Park Animal Hospital in early 2015 to fill a reception/assistant vacancy. She has a positive and calming influence on everyone around her, animals and people alike, and has become a very important part of Park life, both at the front of the hospital as well as the back and in exam rooms. So important, in fact, that in July of 2018 she became our hospital manager! We are lucky to have someone so caring and thorough who knows this hospital inside and out to steer us through all of the inevitable ups and downs.
Not long after being hired, Jenna adopted Smush, a Persian who was found by one of our clients in her backyard, un-neutered and without a microchip. Jenna also has another rescue cat, Murphy, and a rescued Schnoodle named Ozzie. Her favorite things to do are bike riding with her dad in the summer and binge watching anything on Netflix.
Mads Christensen (photo & bio coming soon)
VETERINARIAN & HOSPITAL OWNER
Gitte Fenger, DVM (pictured here with Goldie)
Originally from Denmark, Dr Gitte moved to Canada with her parents and 2 siblings when she was 8 years old. She was raised on a hobby farm with sheep, chickens, rabbits, guinea pigs, canaries, budgies, cockatiels, hedgehogs, chinchillas, gerbils, dogs and cats.
Dr Gitte graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph In 2000. She joined Park Animal Hospital in 2005 after spending the first five years of her career at a practice in rural Ontario. In 2010 she and her then husband Mark Fenger, bought the practice from its founder, Dr Mirek Hainish, upon his retirement.
Dr Gitte really enjoys being a general practitioner and has a special interest in behaviour, nutrition, and breed-specific problems (not the least of which those that affect greyhounds). She loves the opportunity to mentor volunteers as well as high school and college co-op students.
Dr Gitte’s passion for the humane treatment of animals – pets, captive wildlife, and animals used in food production alike – continues outside of working hours. In 2014 she was proud to be a part of the movement that stopped the Bowmanville Zoo from declawing their lion and tiger cubs, a practice they had undertaken for the previous many decades and the following year she was honoured to become a Director with The Paw Project with whom she is working towards ending declawing in North America. She is an active member of OCAW (Ontario Captive Animal Watch - an organization that was instrumental in the 2019 success of Bill S-203 [the "Free Willy" bill], ending the captivity of cetaceans in Canada) and in 2019 she traveled to Northern Ontario with the Grey Bruce Aboriginal Qimmiq Team to sterilize and vaccinate dogs in First Nations communities.
When she is not championing for animals, Dr Gitte enjoys yoga, hiking, traveling, and relaxing with her family. She and her husband, Mads, are vegetarians trying very hard to be vegan. They share their home with a toothless cat (Luna) and an itchy old English bulldog mix (Betty), and a very cute but crusty Shih Tzu / Lhasa Apso mix (Sparky) all of whom have come to them “second hand”.
VETERINARIAN *On maternity leave*
Samara van der Smissen, DVM (pictured here with Keji)
Dr van der Smissen is thrilled to be part of the Park Animal Hospital team! She has loved animals from day one and is holding onto one in almost every single childhood
photo. Growing up on a hobby farm, Dr van der Smissen's most cherished time was spent outdoors with cats, chickens, dogs, rabbits, pigeons, horses and cows. Her mom had the
challenging task of discouraging her from sharing the cat food dish as a toddler (cat food was apparently pretty appetizing)!
Dr van der Smissen has a zoology degree from the University of Toronto and a veterinary degree from the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph. In addition to working with dogs and cats, she has worked and volunteered with many wildlife rehabilitation organizations in Canada and Central America. She has a special interest in pain management, feline medicine and animal welfare. Dr van der Smissen has a special place in her heart for our feline friends and shares her Queen West home with her kitty Keji (pictured), her husband Oliver and her son Lunen.
Barbara Alexandre, DVM
Dr Alexandre graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College in 2008 and went straight into private practice. She spent the last 8 years working at a 24-hour emergency hospital before joining our team in March of this year, just as the global pandemic started.
She has long had a passion for caring for animals and hopes at least one of her four children will one day follow in her foot steps!
When not at work, Dr Alexandre is busy chauffeuring her kids to their various sports and, when she does get a minute to herself, she enjoys reading and biking. She is a self admitted yogi fail but hasn’t ruled out giving it another go.
Dr Alexandre cares for all of her family pets and lives full time with her sassy cat Peppermint Peter. Ask her the origin of that name and you might get a chuckle ;) Dougie, her shepherd cross rescue, is near and dear to her heart and is her phone screen saver (shhh don’t tell the kids!).
Dr Alexandre is very happy to be part of the Park Animal Hospital team and looks forward to meeting you and your fur babies.
VETERINARIAN *leaving at the end of September 2021*
Pam White, DVM (pictured here with Banksy)
Dr White grew up with veterinary medicine – her father is also a veterinarian (now retired). She started working for him (for pay!) in 1977 at age 16, and continued working for him as a vet assistant through high school and then veterinary college, graduating from the Ontario Veterinary College in 1986. Dr White practised with her father for 15 years before setting out to work as a locum (relief veterinarian) throughout Southern Ontario and finally settling in Mississauga 12 years ago in order to work mainly in the west GTA.
Dr White enjoys general small animal practice and likes treating both dogs and cats, although rumour has it that she is really a cat person ;). At times she’ll claim that she has forgotten everything she has ever learned, in reality she brings breadth of experience and wisdom to her work, yet is not afraid to consult with her younger colleagues and co-workers for all the latest and greatest that veterinary medicine has to offer.
Dr White has one cat, Mimi, a cute 15 year old brown tabby, who was rescued from the parking lot of a Tim Horton's in Brampton in 2005.
Dr White is interested in “just about everything” (which has earned her the affectionate nickname Encyclopedia Pam) including birdwatching and natural history, astronomy, weather, classical and jazz music, ballet and opera, world politics, architecture, visiting art and natural history museums, trips to Paris, France, and to Quebec and the Maritimes - although not right now!
Christine Coia (pictured here with Bella) *On maternity leave*
Thanks to a lifelong friendship with our one and only Madeleine Masters, Christine was convinced to join Park in December of 2019. And she fit right in from day 1! Christine has literally been at the forefront of keeping us all safe throughout the COVID pandemic, keeping our door closed so we have been able to stay open to care for your pets. It is also her voice you hear on our answering machine :)
Christine & her husband Chris have a tabby cat named Olive, a gentle German Shepherd named Bella, a dinosaur loving son named Logan - and a daughter on the way.
Beth Masters (pictured here with Charlie)
Beth graduated from Humber College’s Film and Television Production program in 2017 with an end goal of working as a sound technician in film and television. She joined Park in early 2020, taking after her sister Tori who worked as a receptionist at Park from 2013 until 2018. At home she helps care for her sister’s cats (Amos and Abel) and dog (Charlie). She hopes to make her own furry family when she moves out and has an interest in owning dogs, cats, hedgehogs, and rats.
Kaitlyn Tidd (photo coming soon)
Kaitlyn joined Park in October of 2019 to fill the void left by Jenna as she moved from the reception desk to the manager desk. Her passion for animals and the environment make her a perfect fit!
Kaitlyn graduated from the Veterinary Technician program at Georgian College in 2013 and from the Law Clerk Advanced program at Durham College 4 years later. She has 2 chihuahuas (Moose & Barlow) and 3 cats (Autumn, Storm & Havok) and is eager to meet all of you and your pets, and we know you will make her feel welcome!
Madeleine (Maddi) Masters (pictured here with Purrogie)
Madeleine (aka Maddi) is a proud veterinary technician! She started her animal lifestyle from day one - living with 3 old English sheepdogs as her assistant caregivers. She was introduced to horses around 7 years old and that became her life outside of school until about 24 years old.
Maddi attended Georgian college to become a veterinary technician in 2007, and says it is the best decision of her life! Her favorite part of school was dentistry, which lead her to become our dental expert here at Park.
She worked with Dr. Hill at Bloor Mill Animal Hospital for the first 3 years after finishing tech school. Working under his wing gave her the confidence and skills that have helped mold her into the tech she is today. The next part of her journey took her to Endsmeet Animal Hospital in Bermuda. This was a life experience she will never forget! She enjoyed the island life for 3 months and celebrated her 25th birthday there. Returning to Canada may have been tough but she then locked in an interview at Park and soon became a fundamental part of the Park family.
Maddi has the biggest heart when it comes to fur babies. During her first year at Park she rescued Purrogie (kitty in her photo). Purrogie made her the fur mama she is today - 7 years later and she now has 6 rescue dogs! Winston, Rusty, Eddie, Leo (daVinch), Prada and Chawrlyy.
Her passion at Park is dentistry which includes helping cats and dogs maintain a healthy mouth through all of their years. Since taking in Leo (a Frenchie) she has been focused on brachycephalic awareness and education. She loves to learn and share her experiences to help educate clients.
"I love being a veterinary nurse, and it makes it even more amazing being apart of our team at Park Animal Hospital!!" - Maddi
REGISTERED VETERINARY TECHNICIAN
Courtney Barbosa (pictured here with Bug)
Courtney was born and raised in Bermuda and decided to come to Canada to pursue her studies. She graduated from the University of Guelph in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science degree and from Sheridan College in April of this year from the Veterinary Technician program. Courtney achieved registered status in October.
Courtney joined Park in October 2019 and - so very fortunately for us - has decided to stay in Canada to further her veterinary medical experience. Her 2 cats, Bug and Mouse, are also from Bermuda and travel with her every time she goes home for a visit. Courtney's favourite thing to do is to explore scenic walking trails, but only when it isn’t too cold, and her winters are spent drinking tea while wrapped in a cozy blanket. In the fall of 2020, Courtney adopted a Lab mix named Ryker who comes to work with her almost every day and has taught her much about how complicated puppies can be!
Kara Sternig (pictured here with Buddy)
Kara has been a part of the Park family since 2001 - that's when her parents first brought a pet to our hospital. We have watched her grow up from being a gentle and caring young girl to a talented and confident woman of the world! She did her high school co-op placement with us in Grade 11 (this sealed her decision to have a career with animals) and in June of this year, we were very excited to be able to hire her as technician after she completed her training in New Zealand (yeah, we're kind of jealous too!). She has a certificate in animal technology and a diploma in veterinary nursing (New Zealand's version of Canada’s veterinary technician program).
Kara loves surfing and hiking, and just being outdoors. She has a very special place in her heart for exotic animals (if anyone needs a penguin tube-fed, Kara's number one!). At home she has Buddy, her childhood cockapoo who is now a precious senior.
Sofie Riendeau (pictured here with Squishy)
Coming to Park Animal Hospital is a family tradition older than Sofie - her parents started bringing their Labrador retrievers to Dr Hainish in March of 1995, over 25 years ago! Growing up loving all creatures great and small, and volunteering with us during high school, it was no surprise to us that Sofie would choose a career allowing her a lifetime of caring for animals. She soon enrolled in the veterinary technician program at Georgian College (you may have seen her around the clinic again as she completed her co-op placement with us) and we jumped at the chance to hire her as soon as she finished it this summer!
Sofie has 3 pets (a happy beagle named Squish, a polydactyl cat named Kirby and a leopard gecko named Nemo). In her spare time, Sofie plays softball and hockey and she loves to draw and sing.
Alicia Gilks (pictured here with Captain Peeps)
Alicia’s passion for animals led her to complete a high school co-op program at a veterinary referral clinic. From there she went to work in a pet store until we recruited her in November of 2000, one of the best decisions ever made for Park! Alicia has now worked here longer than anyone else - even her boss!
Alicia (pictured here with our beloved Captain Peeps) shares her life with her daughters Erilynn and Abriel and 2 cats: Fluffy, a handsome but badly injured stray cat Alicia rescued in the winter; and Lucky, Fluffy’s mother who Alicia also rescued. Always in her heart are Bunny (Alicia’s beloved Pekingese dog) and cats Molson, Mookie, Mr George, Owl, Kitty and Cat (her ‘soul-kitty’ who was rescued from the pet store where Alicia worked).
Depending on the season, Alicia enjoys swimming or skating and can often be found with a book in hand. Her favourite author is Stephen King.
Carolina Gallegos (pictured here with Miata)
Carolina has been a part of the Park team since 2011. She has a spinach-loving green budgie named Birdie NumNums whom her neighbour’s sister found in their chimney.
You will find Carolina cheerfully greeting you and your pets for appointments as well as caring for them behind the scenes when you have to leave them with us. Despite being allergic to both dogs and cats, her love of animals is so strong that she refuses to let her immune system win! And we are so glad, because animals seem to feel safe with her calm and positive presence.
Mercedes became an official part of our Park family in July 2019. She happily lazes in her cat tree found in the center of our clinic. If not in her tree, she is typically chasing a recently opened can of food or the sound of a treat bag. Food is the way to this girl's heart. She accepts the occasional petting session but will let you know when she's had enough. Mercedes unexpectedly fit perfectly into the clinic cat role and we are lucky to have her.
VOLUNTEERS & CO-OP STUDENTS
We strongly believe in getting and giving a good education. To this end, you will often see a student at Park. They may join us in the appointments & in surgery. There is no better way to know if veterinary medicine is an appropriate career choice unless you have experienced life behind the scenes. We require that all volunteers be at least 16 years of age and follow all confidentiality rules that apply to the rest of the team.
Our Angel, Pitsou
Pitsou had been coming to Park Animal Hospital since he was less a year old, but he didn't move in until September of 2017 in his 15th year when his beloved life-long companion became unable to take care of him. He settled in to our hospital better than we ever could have hoped for - fearlessly patrolliong all areas, seemingly oblivious to the danger that dogs could pose him! Diabetes and missing most of his teeth didn't slow him down one bit. He enjoyed cuddles and had perhaps the loudest purr you would ever hear - and when we stopped petting him he was quick to reach for our hands with his paw to get just a little more love. Pitsou passed away surrounded by love March 6, 2019.
Our Angel, Captain Peeps
This feisty little black kitty arrived in the arms of one of our clients in the fall of 2012. She had been seen living on a street corner for a while and then one day she was gone. The next time our client saw her, Peeps was badly injured. She scooped her up and brought her to us.
Peeps was a mess - she was covered in so many lice and nits that she looked brown instead of black. She could barely walk and had uncontrollable diarrhea. She was skin and bones, had only 1 tooth left and, worst of all, she had sustained a terrible eye injury. We tested her for feline immunodeficiency virus and sure enough this little street cat was positive. We decided we would try to save her and give her a comfortable life with us for whatever time she had left - which turned out to be just over 5 years.
Peeps passed away peacefully surrounded by love on October 26, 2017, due to multi-organ failure. Even though she was with us for many years, you might never have seen her unless you spent time in the treatment area of our hospital. There she would patrol the grounds and catch up on beauty sleep in her many beds and all the sunbeams she could find. She was sometimes mistakened for Goldie, our other black clinic cat, until a closer look would reveal a missing eye. Unlike Goldie, she was probably the baddest clinic cat ever but that didn't stop us from loving her deeply or being ever so proud of her. She was a perfect fit for our Park family and we miss her dearly.
Our Angel, Goldie
Goldie arrived in a cardboard box outside our front door on August 20, 2010 – the day after Gitte & Mark officially took over Park Animal Hospital. She turned out to be the most wonderful “hospital warming” gift ever!
Even though she was emaciated, loaded with fleas, missing most of her fur, had bloody feet, a badly ulcerated upper lip, a growth on her tongue and a hole in the roof of her mouth we could easily see that she had a gentle and trusting soul. There was a note in the box with her explaining that she had been living in the backyard of some people who kindly had fed her but could plainly see this sweet cat was in desperate need of serious medical attention. We searched unsuccessfully for her family, and then adopted her ourselves.
From her first day here, Goldie settled right in to the hospital, and in to our hearts. Indeed she became the heart of our hospital. She made herself at home on the reception desk counter (on a bed next to the catnip jar, of course) from where she could survey all of the comings and goings.
With on-going loving care from all of her Park mommies and medical attention for her food and flea allergies, eosinophilic granuloma complex and chronic kidney disease, Goldie’s health vastly improved. She clearly enjoyed her many roles as omnipotent supervisor, misled mouser, loving lap-warmer (especially at our weekly staff meetings), and all-around-giver-of-comfort at our hospital.
Goldie passed away on the evening of Wednesday, September 27, 2017. We surrounded her with love and peace as we said a tearful goodbye to this gentle girl who graced our hospital for 7 wonderful years. We still don't know who left her on our doorstep all those years ago, but we are exceptionally grateful that they did.