Harrisonburg Team

Melissa Gilligan Hospital Administrator

As Hospital Administrator, Melissa spends most of her time making sure daily operations run smoothly. Melissa is very passionate about her job at Anicira and cares very deeply about providing high-quality veterinary care and excellent client service. She works tirelessly to create an environment that feels welcoming where pet parents can be confident that their four-legged family member is receiving the best care. Her favorite part of working at Anicira is helping pets and their families who would otherwise not receive necessary veterinary care and seeing the happy success stories. In 2021, Melissa earned her Certified Veterinary Practice Manager (CVPM). Outside of work, Melissa shares her life with her long-term significant other and their six beloved pets. She loves cooking and trying new foods, being outside, watching new movies, and spending time with her closest friends and family.

Dr. Megan Oelstrom

Dr. Oelstrom has been involved with Anicira Veterinary Center since October 2013. She started as an associate veterinarian at the Manassas hospital helping the practice to grow and helping countless pets and their families. She now serves as the Chief Medical Officer overseeing all of the Anicira hospitals.

Megan received a BA in biology from the University of Virginia in 2005 and earned a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2010. After graduation, she completed a small animal rotating internship at Regional Veterinary Referral Center in Springfield, Virginia.

She has exhibited a passion for surgery and helping animals in need since veterinary school. During that time, she volunteered with the Rural Area Veterinary Service providing spay/neuter and vaccine clinics in remote areas of the United States.

Megan feels blessed to be able to help animals in her community by providing affordable surgical services.

When not in the hospital, Dr. Oelstrom enjoys many outdoor activities (beach-going, skiing, camping) with her husband, two children, and her “Mississippi mutt”, Obi.

Rachel Mirabelli Veterinary Nurse

After working in South Carolina for several years as a receptionist and Veterinary Technician, Rachel moved to Virginia and has continued her career in veterinary medicine. Her favorite part of working with the animals is seeing the joy they bring to their families. Rachel has four dogs – Cooper, Luna, Banjo, and Max. She spends her weekends with her husband and twin daughters hiking in the Shenandoah National Park and going to local vineyards and breweries.

Dr. Chelsea Bond

Dr. Akers graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor of Science in cellular, molecular, and physiological biology. She continued her studies at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine where she earned her doctor of veterinary medicine degree. Dr. Akers loves working together with pets and their families to formulate a successful treatment plan. She is very passionate about client education and fully believes no one knows their pets better than their parents. Working at Anicira, she enjoys being able to provide medical and surgical care to animals that might not otherwise receive it. Outside of work, you can find Dr. Akers working out at Crossfit Harrisonburg and hiking with her dog. She has a soft spot for male orange tabby cats and has three of her own named Finn, Killua, and Gojo. Her dog, Lucy, came from a shelter in West Virginia and was the first dog she performed a spay surgery on during vet school.

Dr. Anna Artale

Dr. Artale graduated from UNC-Wilmington with a degree in biology and a minor in chemistry. She then received her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Artale enjoys treating patients for a wide variety of reasons that they visit Anicira. She is most interested in soft-tissue surgery and dentistry procedures. When she is not at work, Dr. Artale spends her time riding four-wheelers and kayaking in local rivers. She enjoys spending time with her family and taking her nieces and nephew fishing and crawfishing. Dr. Artale shares her life with two beloved dogs Biddy, a Saint Bernard, and Dori, a chocolate Poodle mix.

Dr. Whitney Eure

Dr. Eure graduated from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. Throughout his years as a Veterinarian, he has enjoyed inspiring others, providing high-quality care to animals in need, and focusing on helping both pets and their families live better lives. Dr. Eure shares his life with a dog named Shashta and a cat named Gandalf. During his time not in surgery, he loves to go whitewater kayaking especially at Watauga River Gorge and he has kayaked through the Grand Canyon a total of four times- 227 miles each trip!

Dr. Laura Kivlighan

Dr. Kivlighan graduated from UVA with a degree in biology and fulfilled her life-long dream of becoming a Veterinarian by receiving her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Kivlighan’s day is never the same and she loves it that way.  She works in the medical department at Anicira and enjoys seeing pets for routine preventive care, sick visits, and emergencies. In her free time, she enjoys being by the water with her two dogs – who are, in her opinion, the cutest and funniest dogs ever. Dr. Kivlighan enjoys seeing the love between pet parents and their animals and engaging with them in a meaningful way.

Dr. Shelby Pedigo began her education journey at James Madison University, where she majored in Biology with a minor in Pre-Veterinary Medicine and Honors Interdisciplinary Studies and a concentration in microbiology. Her passion for helping pets led her to Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, where she received her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Shelby’s fascination with animals blossomed from an early age, and she finds great fulfillment in understanding their unique communication and finding ways to improve their lives. Animals, in turn, are her constant teachers, imparting invaluable lessons. Being a part of Anicira’s compassionate and experienced team is particularly rewarding, as it allows her to provide much-needed care to both people and animals.

Among her proudest accomplishments are the diverse veterinary experiences and travel opportunities she has encountered early in her career. From working in different locations such as France, Florida, Colorado, North Carolina, and New Orleans, she has forged a strong network and gained invaluable exposure.

Outside of work, Dr. Shelby is an avid enthusiast of outdoor activities. She finds joy in hiking, skiing, horseback riding, and running. Her love for trying new things keeps her constantly engaged and active. Dr. Shelby shares her life with Blair, her beloved Australian Shepherd, whom she adopted from Anicira Adoption Center during her senior year at James Madison University. Blair was originally meant to be a foster, but Dr. Shelby couldn’t resist their bond, making her the first foster fail.

Dr. Micah Thompson

Dr. Thompson received her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine and joined the team at Anicira in July 2021. She was raised on a ranch in rural New Mexico surrounded by many animals and knew from an early age that she wanted to work with animals. Dr. Thompson truly enjoys every aspect of veterinary medicine, especially working with pet parents to provide the best possible care. She loves Anicira’s collaborative and friendly environment. Dr. Thompson has many pets of her own – a horse named Rafiki, a dog named Bee, and two cats named Penny and Leonard. Outside of work, she enjoys riding her horse, taking long walks with her husband and dog, gardening, and traveling whenever she gets a chance! Being a New Mexico native, she enjoys eating any food that has  Hatch Green Chile in it.

Lauren Law Licensed Veterinary Technician

Lauren received her Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology at Blue Ridge Community College in 2021. She is passionate about pet care and gives each animal the same level of care and attention that she would want her own to receive. Lauren most enjoys working on dentistry cases and teaching clients more about pet care. She loves seeing the strong bonds between people and pets. Lauren shares her life with her husband and pets. She has a goat named Ralph, a cat named Goober, and two dogs named Jasmine and Baxter. In her free time, she enjoys hiking with her dogs and watching movies with her fiancé.

Caroline Palmore is a dedicated Licensed Veterinary Technician with a passion for providing exceptional care to animals. Her journey in veterinary medicine began at Blue Ridge Community College, where she earned her associate’s degree in veterinary technology in 2023.

Caroline’s interest in working with animals was sparked by her childhood pets. From an early age, she found joy in “playing doctor” to her dogs and horses and eagerly absorbed knowledge from her family’s veterinarians.

Caroline’s passion for helping pets is palpable, and she has a special place in her heart for shelter animals. She takes pride in playing a small but meaningful role in their lives. Caroline thrives on the diversity of animal personalities and situations she encounters. Additionally, she highly values actively listening to and collaborating with pet parents, recognizing their invaluable insights into their pet’s well-being.

Outside of work, Caroline lives an active lifestyle. She enjoys hiking with her faithful Plott Hound mix, Eddy, whom she adopted from the HCHS. She also enjoys spending quality time with friends in downtown Harrisonburg and channeling her enthusiasm into recording podcast episodes.

Elizabeth Peters Licensed Veterinary Technician

Elizabeth graduated from the Veterinary Technician program at Blue Ridge Community College in 2021. She grew up near Harrisonburg on a farm and has always had an interest in helping animals. Elizabeth loves getting to know pets and their families and is grateful for the opportunity to form a relationship with all family members. Her favorite part of working at Anicira is helping pets receive care that may not be able to afford care elsewhere. Outside of work, she enjoys camping with her family. Elizabeth has two cats – Flounder and Zero – and two dogs – Gage and Ruger.

Kelsey Stephens Licensed Veterinary Technician

Kelsey received an Associate Degree in Applied Science with a major in Veterinary Technology from Blue Ridge Community College.  Kelsey always knew she wanted to work with animals and enjoys being an advocate for her patients. Kelsey likes spending time with her wife, watching action and comedy movies, reading mystery and sci-fi books, playing video games, and spending time with their dog Rumple and cat Freya. Kelsey’s favorite parts of working at Anicira are assisting with dentistry and oral surgery, being able to help our animal welfare partners and working with feral cats.

Jessi Vent Licensed Veterinary Technician

Jessi attended Bridgewater College where she received a bachelor’s degree in biology and then went on to earn her AAS in Veterinary Technology at Blue Ridge Community College. Her love of animals started at an early age, and she works each day to love and care for each patient as if it were her own pet. Jessi’s favorite part of working at Anicira is that the focus is on the patient’s health and well-being above all else. She is grateful to be able to make a positive impact on the outcome of each patient visiting Anicira. Professionally, Jessi is most interested in cases involving feline neonatal and geriatric care, chronic disease management, and emergency care. In her free time, Jessi likes to garden, watch and play sports, go antiquing and listen to music. She enjoys spending time with her friends, family, and pets.

Karen Yowell Licensed Veterinary Technician

Karen received her AAS in Veterinary Technology from Blue Ridge Community College. Karen loves serving our clients and patients at Anicira so much that she drives an hour each day to work. Growing up, Karen would bring home animals that needed care and would work tirelessly to save them. She believes that we are the voice for animals and loves being able to help them in any capacity. During her free time, she enjoys hiking at Bear Church- a 12-mile hike – kickboxing, and watching movies with her husband and two teenagers. Karen has two rescue dogs – a chihuahua named Ruru and a Pitbull name Jelly Bean – and a cat named Optimus Prime.

Jennifer grew up in Northeastern Pennsylvania. She knew she wanted to have a career with animals ever since she was a small child. Her family always had a hard time prying Jennifer away from anything with fur, feathers, or scales. At family gatherings throughout her entire childhood, she could always be found wherever the nearest animal was. Even while all the other kids might be playing in a pool, she would play fetch with the dog or feed snacks to the horses.

Jennifer spent her early adulthood and college years trying to make time to live her passion by working and volunteering for a variety of animal organizations such as wildlife education centers and animal shelters. She also spent time training dogs.

She began her career with Anicira as an Adoption Specialist in July 2018 and eventually transitioned to her current role as a vet assistant. Her favorite part of working at Anicira is being a source of comfort for the animals and helping pet parents to feel at ease knowing their pets will be treated as her own.

Jennifer is always learning more about animal care and building her education. She has an associate’s degree in Wildlife Biology and her bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education. She is also a certified dog trainer with a certification from Animal Behavior College. She has recently begun a course in Canine Massage Therapy.

Jennifer shares her life with her husband and a menagerie of animals. She loves spending time outdoors in nature and is working toward our dream of someday owning a hobby farm.

Dan Chavez Operations Coordinator

Dan graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in Political Science. When he is not working, Dan enjoys spending time with his wife, building fun things for his two boys, having an outdoor movie night, and visiting the local breweries with his dogs Tucker, Flash, and Aurie.  Dan also has three cats, Monty, Abigail, Wednesday, and usually a foster cat, too. Flash, an Anicira Alum, considers himself more a person than a dog and loves to sit on the arm of a couch. Dan loves seeing the transformation of animals as they move through a recovery process, whether it be from illness, injury, or abandonment. He is proud of his work managing Anicira’s Pet Food Pantry and helping the program expand to help even more pets.

Katie Nicholson Marketing and Communications Manager

As marketing and communications manager, Katie is responsible for sharing the stories of the pet families helped by Anicira. She spends her days crafting copy for web, email and social media posting, working on advertising campaigns, and developing marketing materials such as video testimonials and newsletters. Her favorite part of working at Anicira is witnessing the happy stories of pets healed through veterinary care and observing the deep connection between pets and their families. Katie graduated from the University of Virginia in 2017 with a degree in Media Studies. In her free time, Katie enjoys hiking with her dog Pookie, yoga, paddleboarding, playing volleyball, and hanging out at local breweries.

Haley Brazeau Resource Center Supervisor

Haley has always had a passion for helping animals. She thrives in this field of work where she is able to be a voice for the animals and help care for them. Each day, Haley works in various capacities to help the Veterinary Center run smoothly. When she is home, she enjoys gardening, going to amusement parks, swimming, and spending time with her three cats Moe, Momma, and Puff. Haley considers the work she does to be very rewarding and it is what drives her passion for animal welfare.

As a member of the resource center team, Liliana enjoys helping pets get the vital care they need. She finds it especially rewarding to help pets in emergencies and loves to hear the joy and relief in the voice of pet parents once they know that their pet is going to receive care. Liliana attended Blue Ridge Community College. She shares her life with a 5-year-old Siberian Husky named Jax. Outside of work, Liliana enjoys spending sunny warm days outside with her friends and family and cold days cuddled in bed with her dog watching Grey’s Anatomy.

Chasity is a caring and understanding resource center team member who will go above and beyond to assist pet families. She has worked at Anicira since August 2022 and is excited to learn more about veterinary medicine. Chasity is passionate about DIY projects, gardening, and growing her own food. For fun, she enjoys baking breads and desserts. Chasity is a mother of 3 kids and a wife. She recently rescued a four year old Plott Hound named Buster.

Growing up on a dairy farm, Jessica’s affinity for animals developed early in life. This upbringing instilled a profound love for livestock and pets, which has continued to shape her career path. Her favorite aspect of working with animals lies in the meaningful interactions she shares with them. Their unique behaviors and personalities never fail to bring a smile to her face.

Jessica describes herself as both motivated and caring. These qualities underscore her drive to serve and contribute positively to her community. Her unwavering dedication to learning, personal growth, and the well-being of those around her is a testament to her character.

Within veterinary medicine, Jessica finds profound satisfaction in the opportunity to make a difference in both the lives of pets and their owners. She is particularly drawn to Anicira due to its holistic approach, which places equal importance on addressing the needs of both animals and their caregivers.

Outside of work, Jessica’s life is rich and fulfilling. In her free time, she finds solace in reading, baking, and tending to her garden. These pursuits reflect her nurturing nature and her ability to find joy in various aspects of life.

Liz has always loved animals and grew up with many dogs. She enjoys working at Anicira because it lets her combine two things she loves: assisting people by providing awesome client service and helping pets get the care that they deserve. Liz loves coming to work every day and is proud to be a part of an amazing team that impacts many pets in the community. Liz enjoys taking her dog Suzy on adventures and going out to dinner with her husband outside of work.

Kaydy first became interested in animal welfare and veterinary medicine after rescuing her dog, Charlie, and after a trip to Mexico, where she saw many homeless pets on the streets. Her favorite part of working with animals is learning about each of their individual personalities. Kaydy is interested in learning more about veterinary medicine and plans to pursue further education. Outside of work, she enjoys hiking, baking, traveling, and hanging out with her dog.

Maria brings a wealth of experience and a genuine passion for animal welfare to the Anicira team. Maria finds great fulfillment in interacting with pet parents and assisting them in giving their beloved companions the healthcare they deserve.

Two words that perfectly encapsulate Maria’s personality are “friendly” and “outgoing.” She thrives on making new connections and forming lasting friendships. Her adventurous spirit is evident in her willingness to embrace new challenges, like her daring skydiving adventure.
Working in veterinary medicine has ignited Maria’s passion for advocating for the voiceless. She sees herself as a champion for pets, ensuring they receive the care and attention they require.

Outside of work, Maria’s world revolves around her four beloved grandchildren. She revels in spending quality time with them, cherishing every moment. Additionally, Maria nurtures her green thumb by tending to her impressive collection of 70 houseplants and finds solace in her gardening endeavors.

As a proud pet owner herself, Maria shares her life with a wonderful crew. Adessa Jade, a loyal Pit Bull, has been her faithful companion since puppyhood. Sugar Cookie, a charming Miniature Horse, was a heartfelt gift to her youngest daughter. And then there’s Hotdog, the stray cat who stole her heart and became a treasured part of the family.

Millie is an outgoing and friendly resource center team member. She knows how important pets are to people, and by taking care of pets, Millie sees how veterinary medicine also helps care for many people. Millie enjoys working with the team at Anicira and learning more about veterinary medicine. She is the mom of five wonderful children, one dog, and one cat. Outside of work, she stays busy caring for her children. When spare moments arise, you can find her crafting and reading.

Pets have always played a huge role in Jacob’s life. Working in veterinary medicine has allowed him to combine his love for animals with an excellent stable career. Jacob enjoys helping pets and their worried families because “pets are members of the family for a lot of people, and their concern and worry is equivalent in many cases to their own children.” Outside of work, Jacob prefers spending quiet time alone, playing video games, and creative writing. He has a five-year-old cat named Big Boy that he adopted from a shelter.

After high school, Teresa joined the Army where she served for a combined six years as an active service member and a reservist. She is passionate about providing excellent client care and helping pets receive the care they need. Teresa loves pets because they each have such unique personalities. In her free time, she enjoys camping with her two dogs: Max, an Irish Setter, and Rooster, a Yorkie. She lives on a farm that keeps her busy.