Staff

"I am very proud of our staff. Each of them comes to work every day with the goal of providing your pet with the best care veterinary medicine has to offer and you with exceptional service. Each of them is constantly working to improve their knowledge and skills and looking for ways to serve you better. If there is anything they can do to help you, please ask them."

— Robert Spencer, DVM

Practice Manager

Michelle Hemp

Michelle HempMichelle Hemp is the Practice Manager at Hillside Animal Hospital and has been a member of our staff since September of 1996.

"It has been an honor and a privilege to work at Hillside Animal Hospital for more than 20 years," she says. "I appreciate the exceptional level of care and commitment that the doctors and staff provide each and every day for our clients and their pets. I also enjoy working in an environment that celebrates the animal/human bond and recognizes the value of that bond."

At home, Michelle has a 3-year-old dog named Bella. Her interests include spending time with her husband Brian and their teenage son Samuel as well as camping, fishing, gardening and horseback riding.

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IT Director

Adam Spencer

Adam SpencerAdam Spencer has been the IT Director at Hillside Animal Hospital since October of 2000. He has wide ranging experience in small business networking and is Cisco Certified.

"The doctors and staff at Hillside Animal Hospital are truly compassionate to the patients and clients that come in the door," he says. "I have also enjoyed watching the advancement of technology and being part of the process of updating the Hospital to a new computer system."

His pets include two Yellow Labs named Aspen and Deklan, and two Chihuahuas named Basil and Willow. Adam's interests include golf and spending time with his family and friends on the river.

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Veterinary Technicians

Mandy Grams, CVT

Mandy GramsMandy Grams is a Certified Veterinary Technician who joined the Hillside Animal Hospital staff in April of 2008. She has an Associate's degree in Applied Science for Veterinary Technicians from Rochester Community and Technical College and she is certified in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

"I enjoy working at Hillside because I truly love the attention paid to patient care here," she says. "We have a very dedicated staff that enjoys making sure the animals are comfortable and I feel that our care for patients in the hospital or during and after surgery is exceptional."

Mandy has two cats named Milo and Oliver. Her interests include being outdoors hiking, fishing, and working in her new gardens and flower beds of her new home.

Melissa Dagendesh, CVT

Melissa DagendeshMelissa Dagendesh is a Certified Veterinary Technician; she has been with Hillside Animal Hospital since May of 2011. She graduated in 2013 from Globe University's Veterinary Technician program.

"I am from La Crosse and love the area," she says. "I grew up on the Southside and I enjoy the scenery where the hospital is located. It makes for an enjoyable time walking the dogs."

At home, Melissa has a Rottweiler named Bizzy Bone, a tuxedo cat named Burton and an orange tiger striped cat named Bruno. Her interests include snowboarding, wakeboarding, camping, hiking, and going on motorcycle rides.

Amanda Kay Ross, Veterinary Technician

Amanda WedemeierAmanda has been an active presence at Hillside Animal Hospital since April of 2013. With a wide range of responsibilities—from assisting with examinations to feeding, walking, and caring for the animals, to ensuring kennel cleanliness, administering medications, and even laundry upkeep—she is always engaged and making sure the pets that come to Hillside feel  safe. "Sometimes it's stressful and scary coming to a hospital away from home. I enjoy trying to make each stay as comfortable as possible," she explains (an easy feat for Amanda, since she treats each arrival as if he or she were her own pet!).

Years of volunteering with animals—from her past service at a sled dog shelter while living in Alaska (her inspiration to seek an animal related career) to her work at Coulee Region Humane Society and SCNAVTA membership—highlight her experience and animal loving nature.

A recent graduate of Globe University's Vet Tech program, she is passionate about coming to work each day at Hillside Animal Hospital. "Getting to work with people that love animals as much as I do is so wonderful," she explains. "It inspires me to do my best and learn more…"

And when she's not at work? Amanda loves concerts, traveling, and experiencing new things. Or, you might find her hiking, swimming, kayaking, or biking. She also enjoys reading, crafting, and relaxing with her pets (three cats and a dog): Dahlia, the 9-month-old calico; Alice, the 2-year-old DSH; Toothless, the 2-year-old DLH; and Norma, the 7-year-old pit bull-Labrador mix.

Jessica Bere, CVT and Exam Room Assistant

Jessica Bere joined the staff at Hillside Animal Hospital in July 2016 and has since become a CVT and Exam Room Assistant as of July 2017. Her daily responsibilities include taking care of our patients and clients, cleaning, assisting veterinarians during exams and collecting patient histories. Jessica is excellent at comforting nervous boarding pets, and her favorite part of the job is getting to work with all varieties of cute pets.

“I love the level of care all the patients receive at Hillside Animal Hospital,” Jessica says. “I also love the setting our facility is on. It makes it especially nice to walk our boarding dogs. Hillside is just located in a beautiful location!”

Jessica finished her veterinary technician degree in the Associate of Applied Science program at Broadview University. At home, she has a 4-year-old pit bull named Coco and a 6-year-old cat named Ellie. In her free time, Jessica enjoys reading, music and playing with her fur babies.

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Exam Room Assistants

Jackie Smith, Exam Room Assistant

Jackie SmithJackie Smith is an Exam Room Assistant who has been with Hillside Animal Hospital since February of 2001.

When asked what she enjoys most about her work, Jackie says, "My fellow staff members are so fun to be with that they are like family to me."

Jackie has three dogs, all of whom are Collies, as well as a cat, three parakeets, 10 rabbits and a turtle. Her interests include creating pet portraits, which has entailed painting the Hospital's large reception area window with seasonal/animal themes.

Brooke Zich, Exam Room Assistant and Kennel Attendant

Caring for the animals is what Brooke Zich likes best about her job at Hillside Animal Hospital, serving as one of our extraordinary Kennel Assistants and Exam Room Assistants. Brooke possesses an unparalleled set of organizational skills paired with a firm attention to detail that enables her to provide the best quality of care imaginable. She is responsible for taking care of boarding patients that come in to the kennel, but that’s not all. She also functions as one of our exceptional Receptionists who oversees checking in clients and answering the phones.

Brooke joined our team part-time in February 2016, and graduated from Broadview University in December of 2017. She then went on to attain her accreditation as a Certified Veterinary Technician in March 2018. Prior to working here at Hillside Animal Hospital, Brooke worked at a local animal day care facility, where she further developed her passion in caring for animals.

“I enjoy contributing to the well-being of the local furry friends,” Brooke Says. “I absolutely love the people I work with, it makes coming to work so enjoyable.”

At home, Brook likes to spend her free time by hiking, horseback riding, and going on runs with her dog. She has a chocolate lab, named Mocha, whom she adores deeply.

Maria Cox, Exam Room Assistant and Kennel Attendant

Maria Cox was welcomed to the Hillside Animal Hospital team as a full-time member in February of 2018. Since joining us, Maria has been working in our exam rooms during appointments to assist with clients and patients, showing our clients how to administer medications and educating them on the best routine care they can provide for their pet. She also helps look after the pets in our boarding facility.

The part of her job that Maria enjoys most involves getting to comfort the patients and making them feel better however she can. She has been working in the pet care industry for over 2 years, formally working for a doggy day care facility. Before working with pets, Maria obtained a degree from Globe University in December in 2017 as a Veterinary Technician.

“All of the staff is so nice and accepting,” Maria says “They are willing to help wherever needed. We put the health and wellbeing of our patients first and value each other as coworkers, they all know how to work together and in an efficient way.”

At home, Maria enjoys spending her free time by hiking, playing tennis, watching Netflix, biking and napping. She also loves to spend time with her King Charles Cavalier Spaniel named Milo.

Kennel Attendants

Rhonda Pichner, Kennel Attendant

Rhonda Pichner helps take care of your pet while you are away or they need to stay overnight! She helps clean the kennels, along with feeding and walking the animals. Rhonda enjoys spending time with all of the animals and playing with them. She always has a positive attitude and is incredibly devoted to making sure your pets get the best care. This is why she volunteers at dog training classes and Capable Canines! She was a client before being hired, and loves the team here! In her spare time, Rhonda enjoys spending time with her family (including her dog and two cats), mountain biking, going for walks and shopping.

Judy Todd, Receptionist and Kennel Attendant

Judy Todd is a key member of the Hillside Animal Hospital, serving as both a Receptionist and Kennel Attendant since November of 2017. Some of her daily responsibilities include answering phones, checking clients and patients in and out of appointments, scheduling appointments, and cleaning and taking care of the pets in our boarding facility.

“I like interacting with clients and their pets,” Judy says. My great love for animals is why I applied to work here!” She brings with her a positive attitude, strong work ethic, and a outstanding passion for animals. “The doctors and staff are really great to work with. Also the surrounding area that the clinic is set in is gorgeous.”

Judy graduated from UW LA Cross with a major in Psychology and a minor in Communications. She occasionally volunteers at the Coulee Region Humane Society in the dog area. When she is at home, Judy enjoys passing her free time by going biking, rollerblading, hiking, fishing, watching movies, and crocheting. She owns a Bearded Dragon, who she named Tootless.

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Receptionists

Laurie Copper, Receptionist

Laurie CopperReceptionist Laurie Copper has been with Hillside Animal Hospital since April of 2008.

When asked what she enjoys most about her work, Laurie says "We have a wonderful and caring staff and I enjoy meeting all of the families and their pets."

At home she has a handsome White Lab named Benny. In her free time, Laurie enjoys spending time with her husband Mike and their kids, Jared, Jenna, Katie and Kristen, as well as walking, biking, snowshoeing, tennis, cooking and baking.

Tori Latimer, Receptionist

Heather StoreyReceptionist Tori Latimer joined the staff of Hillside Animal Hospital in November of 2008.

"I was a client before I was lucky enough to be hired at Hillside," she says. "Hillside has a great reputation in the community and I take pride in being part of that. We give the best care and treat animals and people with kindness and respect. Hillside is a wonderful hospital."

Tori has a Border Collie named Jack and enjoys scrapbooking, writing, video games, and antique collecting.

Jacqueline Cernak, Receptionist and Exam Room Assistant

Jacqueline CernakAs both a receptionist and an exam room assistant, Jacqueline Cernak juggles many different roles at Hillside Animal Hospital. Among her duties include answering phones, checking clients into the hospital, scheduling appointments and assisting doctors with pet appointments. Her friendly personality and her positive attitude make pet owners feel welcomed as soon as they walk in the door.

Jacqueline graduated from Globe University in in 2011 with a veterinary technician degree and is passionate about animal care. "I love interacting with the animals. We have a great team here at the hospital and everyone is very caring and friendly," she said. She has been working at Hillside Animal Hospital since August of 2012 and shares her love for animals with her co-workers. "Everyone that works here is passionate about pets and they really care about every animal that comes in to the hospital. The veterinarians are fantastic at what they do," she adds.

In her free time, Jacqueline likes to kayak, read, cook, hike and travel. She shares her home with her two beagles, Halie-Bean and Qofi-ahn.

Marissa Wustrack, Receptionist and Exam Room Assistant

Providing excellent customer service is one of the many things that Marissa Wustrack is capable of here at Hillside Animal Hospital while working as one of our Receptionists and Exam Room Assistants. Some of Marissa’s other responsibilities include ensuring our clients’ questions and concerns are answered promptly and correctly, booking appointments for patients, answering phones, and assisting the doctors in exam rooms with patients and clients.

“I moved to La Crosse for school and ended up falling in love with the area. I wanted to gain more experience before applying to vet school, and Hillside Animal Hospital has given me the opportunity!” Marissa says. “I can’t wait to gather more experience and work with the awesome staff to help keep LA Crosse pets healthy.”

Marissa loves to clean and keep organized at home, as well as go hiking through the bluffs in her free time. She loves to partake at the track and field at UWL. She shares her home with a Golden Retriever named Gracie, a long hair Maine Coon cat named Mango, and a DSH cat named Stevie.

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