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!
Mark Fenger, M.Sc.E.E., MBA
Most people don't know we have a hospital director but this role is actually essential to a smooth long term life for the hospital. This is the person who sets budgets for new equipment purchases and guides us when we start to steer off course. A job that gets very little recognition and yet is a big part of the reason why we can do all the things we can.
In his "other life", Mark is a dielectrical engineer for a multinational corporation headquartered in Milan. He travels the world giving presentations and testing high voltage cables... but his heart is always with the animals.
Jenna joined Park Animal Hospital in early 2015 to fill a reception/assistant vacancy. It wasn't long before she adopted Smush (in photo), a Persian who was found by one of our clients in her backyard, un-neutered and without a microchip. Jenna also has another cat, Murphy, and a rescued Schnoodle named Ozzie.
Jenna 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 as of July of this year 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.
VETERINARIAN & HOSPITAL OWNER
Gitte Fenger, DVM
Originally from Denmark, Dr Gitte (pictured here with clinic cat Goldie) 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 has 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), both of whom have come to them “second hand”.
Rebecca Sterns, DVM
Dr Sterns (pictured here with her loyal companion Sadie, who comes to work with her every day) joined Park Animal Hospital in 2015. She is a vegetarian and passionate about minimizing the use of antibiotics, helping all dogs and cats achieve their optimal weight, and also loves the challenge of finding solutions for behavioural problems. She became Fear Free Certified at the beginning of 2018. Before she graduated from OVC in 2013 she founded the Pet Trust Dog Jog; with us she has been the driving force behind our growing social media exposure. In her spare time (when not at the family cottage), she volunteers with the Toronto Humane Society and has helped with preventive health care for dogs on First Nations Reserves as well. We are so proud that Dr Sterns chose to make Park her professional home!
Samara van der Smissen, DVM
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 kitties Loki and Keji (pictured), and her husband Oliver. She no longer eats cat food!
Hans Christoffersen, DVM
Dr Hans is filling in while Dr van der Smissen is on maternity leave. He has extensive experience across many aspects of veterinary medicine including working in emergency medicine, establishing and running an animal shelter veterinary clinic and teaching the Ontario Veterinary College.
When not at work, Dr Hans loves to play hockey and Ultimate Frisbee, and likes to dabble in photography. He spends his free time with his wife, specialist veterinarian Dr Jinelle Webb, his daughter, 3 cats and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Homer.
Christine joined Park in December of 2019. Bio & photo coming soon.
Beth joined Park in December of 2019. Bio & 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!
Full bio & photo coming soon.
Madeleine (Maddi) Masters
Madeleine graduated from the veterinary technician program at Georgian College in 2009. Shortly thereafter she took a job at a clinic where she quickly discovered her great passion and skill for pet dentistry. She joined us in July of 2013 and the pets at our clinic have never had brighter smiles! Madeleine thrives on continuing to keep herself and others educated on the most up-to-date procedures and, to that end, she went to Bermuda for 3 months to work with a Board Certified Veterinary Dental Surgeon.
Madeleine shares her home with a variety of dogs and cats and is always ready for the next adventure - and we're glad it’s here at Park!
ASSISTANT / SOON-TO-BE TECHNICIAN
Courtney joined Park in October of 2019. Bio & photo coming soon.
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 (pictured here with Miata, our beloved clinic cat whom Jamie has since adopted) 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.
Paul joined Park in June of 2019. Bio & photo coming soon.
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.