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

Trisha Bluske Trisha Bluske

Trisha Bluske joined the Hillside Animal Hospital team in November, 2020. She is responsible for making sure clients and their pets have a great experience every time they come in for a visit! Her duties include overseeing the wellbeing of the team, making sure business runs smoothly, and just making sure everyone is well taken care of! Trisha has an associate degree in Applied Science for Marketing. Her favorite part of working at Hillside is the team that she works with and the interactions she has with clients and their pets.

This is Trisha's first job in the veterinary field, but she has held previous management positions in the healthcare and food industries. While in school, Trisha volunteered at the Coulee Region Humane Society.

"Working at Hillside Animal Hospital I have a smile on my face each and every day. It is a fulfilling career where we make a difference in the lives of our clients and their pets. I'm proud to say that the Hillside Animal Hospital team treats each pet as if it was their own."

At home, Trisha has a 14-year-old diluted tortie cat named Kali, a 3-year-old German Shepherd named Lexi Lou, and a 2-year-old tortie cat named Finley! In her free time, Trisha enjoys going for hikes with her husband Jeff and their dog Lexi Lou. She also loves gardening, cooking, baking, and crafting. She enjoys spending time with her friends and family, and one of her greatest joys in life is being an aunt!

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Veterinary Technicians

Mandy Grams Mandy Grams, CVT

Mandy 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.

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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.

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Amanda Wedemeier Amanda Kay Ross, Veterinary Technician

Amanda 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.

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Diana Ornes Diana Ornes, CVT

Diana joined our team as a full-time Certified Veterinary Technician in June of 2021. She has an associate degree in Applied Science for Veterinary Technology.

Prior to joining Hillside Animal Hospital, Diana worked as a CVT at another clinic, owned a dairy farm with her spouse's family for 11 years, and was a Kennel Assistant here at Hillside when she was in college.

At home, Diana is a pet parent to Boykin Spaniels, sheep, goats, alpacas, and cats. Her interests include gardening, kayaking, and traveling with her kids to 4H and sheep shows across Wisconsin.

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Exam Room Assistants

Jackie Smith Jackie Smith, Exam Room Assistant

Jackie 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.

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Judy Miller Judy Miller, Exam Room Assistant

Judy Miller is a key member of the Hillside Animal Hospital, serving as a Exam Room Assistant since November of 2017.

“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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Maria Cox, Exam Room Assistant and Kennel Attendant

Maria CoxMaria 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.

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Jade Nolden Emily Orth, Exam Room Assistant and Kennel Attendant

Emily Orth is one of our wonderful part-time Kennel Attendants/Exam Room Assistants here at Hillside Animal Hospital. She is responsible for walking and feeding the dogs and cats, cleaning the kennels, restraining patients during procedures, and helping the technicians with whatever they need. Emily has been around animals throughout her entire life and loves being able to contribute to their high-quality veterinary care. She previously worked as a Kennel Assistant at another clinic before joining our team in August of 2019. Currently, Emily is attending the University of La Crosse. Emily has 6 cats: Stinky, Cheeto, Skunk, Autumn, Sammis, and Biff. She also has three dogs: Hank, Rosie, and Lady. During her free time, she enjoys drawing, hiking, doing yoga, and painting.

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Jade Nolden Emma Hetcher, Exam Room Assistant

Emma Hetcher is one of our excellent full-time Exam Room Assistant here at Hillside Animal Hospital! When asked why she chose to work at Hillside Animal Hospital, Emma said she adores working with animals and hopes to one day become a Certified Veterinary Technician. She also loves how friendly both the staff and the clients are every day here at the clinic! We are so happy to have Emma’s dedication to quality customer service and her passion for animal care! Emma has two cats: Elliot (6-year-old white domestic shorthair), and Rey (1.5-year-old calico domestic medium hair). In her free time, Emma enjoys cross-stitching, playing with her cats, eating, sleeping, doing yoga, doing goat yoga, and being outdoors! We are so lucky to have Emma as part of the team!

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Gwen Petrillo Gwen Petrillo, Exam Room Assistant

Gwen Petrillo joined our team as an Exam Room Assistant in March of 2021. She is responsible for gathering information from clients, handling and restraining patients, and communicating appointment details. She especially loves rats and has a professional interest in parasitology. Gwen has a BS in Biology from UWL where she graduated from in 2017.

Before joining our team, Gwen worked as an Animal Caregiver for Coulee Region Humane Society from January of 2018 through November of 2020. While there, Gwen helped with feeding, medicating, socializing, and cleaning the shelter animals as well as providing adoption counseling to prospective pet owners. She also volunteered at CRHS for about 2 years and recently returned there to volunteer.

At home, Gwen has three rats named Zarok (2 years), Rupert, and Wesley (9 months). She loves working here at Hillside Animal Hospital because the staff is so friendly and helpful with clients, patients, and fellow staff members. She also loves learning new things every day! In her free time, Gwen enjoys reading, writing, hiking, video games, gardening, and baking.

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Kennel Attendants

Rhona Pichner 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.

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Receptionists

Laurie Copper Laurie Copper, Receptionist

Receptionist 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.

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Jade Nolden Jade Nolden, Receptionist

Jade Nolden joined our team in September 2018 as our part-time Receptionist. She loves seeing all the wonderful pets and their happy owners as she greets and escorts them to the patient rooms. Jade also helps our clients over the phone, scheduling their appointments and answering their questions and concerns. She has a Bachelor's in Therapeutic Recreation with a minor in Sociology. Jade is currently enrolled in graduate school to further her education.

"I really love working at Hillside because of the family feel," Jade says. "You can tell that everyone who works here loves the animals we serve and want nothing but the best for them. We are here for every owner and pet to provide the best care possible for a long, healthy life."

Jade has two black lab mix puppies that are only five months old, Coco and Honey. She also has a hedgehog named Gertrude. She brings Coco and Honey to dog classes and is working towards certifying the dogs for Pet Therapy work. In her free time, Jade enjoys reading, going to the park with her puppies, traveling to new cities and states, volunteering with local organizations, and collecting knowledge on animal assisted therapy.

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Jade Nolden Holly Sauer, Receptionist

Holly Sauer is a part-time Receptionist here at Hillside Animal Hospital! She is responsible for answering the phones, making appointments, checking clients and their pets into rooms, and greeting everyone with a smile when they come in for a visit! Holly’s favorite things about working at Hillside include listening to our clients’ stories about their pets and being able to witness the special bond they share. We are so grateful for her calm demeanor and her experience as a dog trainer! Holly joined our team in May of 2019 and has 10 years of previous experience as an Animal Caregiver/Adoption Counselor at the local Humane Society. She has three boxers: Brody (7), Tripp (5), and Rory (1). In her free time, Holly shows her dogs at American Kennel Club Conformation dog shows and she is a member of the Minnesota Boxer Club as well as the Coulee Kennel Club. Holly enjoys working at our hospital because everyone is so compassionate and truly values the human-animal bond. The staff is dedicated to their profession and they make sure that patients receive the best care possible.

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Brianna Marcoux Brianna Marcoux, Receptionist

Brianna Marcoux is one of our amazing full-time Receptionists here at Hillside Animal Hospital! She is responsible for making sure all of our clients and their pets are well taken care of and are provided with a safe and loving environment every time they come into our office for a visit! She helps provide patients with quality care by making appointments, answering the phones, and checking clients in and out of their appointments. Brianna always brightens everyone’s day and keeps our office warm and inviting! We are so grateful for her unique computer skills and digital knowledge! In 2020, Brianna graduated from the Academy of Art University with an Associate’s degree in game development with an emphasis on concept art. When asked why she joined the animal care field, Brianna said she loves how Hillside Animal Hospital feels like one big happy family! Brianna was first introduced to our office when she was one of our clients back in 2017. She later joined our team in July of 2019 to help provide quality veterinary care to the pets in our community! Brianna currently has a cat, Saltzpyre. In her free time, Brianna likes playing video games, studying computers, creating art for gamers, spending time with her family and wonderful pets! We are so happy to have Brianna as part of the Hillside Animal family!

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Stephanie Thornton Stephanie Thornton, Receptionist

Stephanie Thornton is one of our wonderful part-time Receptionists here at Hillside Animal Hospital. She helps our office run smoothly by scheduling appointments, checking clients in and out, and answering phone calls. She also gives our clients excellent customer service every time they come in for a visit! Stephanie loves talking to people about their pets and is so happy to help in any way she can! We are so grateful for her energetic and friendly personality that lights up the room!

Before joining our team in July 2020, Stephanie earned a BS degree from Florida State University. This is her first job in the veterinary care field and she is so excited to help provide amazing care to all animals in our community! At home, Stephanie has a 9-year-old dog named Pancake, who is a "Teddy Bear". In her free time, she enjoys running, spending time with family, and watching and playing sports. She is also an avid baseball fan!

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Michaela Honnold Michaela Honnold, Receptionist

Receptionist Michaela Honnold joined the staff of Hillside Animal Hospital in June of 2021. Her responsibilities include scheduling appointments, checking clients in and out, answering the phone, and answering questions for our clients. Her favorite part of her job is seeing the love and compassion people have for animals. Michaela holds an associate degree in Agribusiness, Science & Technology as well as an Animal Science degree.

"I wanted to work at Hillside because I've heard how amazing the staff is and the care and compassion goes above and beyond! I have always wanted to be a part of something like that," says Michaela of joining the Hillside team.

Growing up Michaela was involved with 4H and FFA where she showed her animals at the local & state fairs. She also raised dogs, cats, horses, cows, pigs and chickens. In her free time, Michaela enjoys spending time with family, raising cattle, boating, and traveling with her boyfriend seeing new places!

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Abby Laughlin, Receptionist

Abby Laughlin joined the Hillside Animal Hospital as a Receptionist in September of 2021 with an associate degree in Environmental Science. Abby is responsible for scheduling appointments, checking patients in and out, answering the phones, and your questions.

“I really enjoy the fast-paced environment we all work in,” she says.

Abby has a cat named Samwise and a leopard Gecko named B.E. and enjoys hiking, gaming, writing, and swimming in her free time. She also enjoys traveling with her fiancé every chance they get.

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