St Francis Animal Hospital

   Our Team

Jennifer Blair
DVM, CVA, CVFT, Practice Owner

I began working at St Francis in December 1999 as a Veterinary Assistant. After receiving my Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in May 2002, I was hired as an Associate Veterinarian and went on to purchase the practice in December 2006. In 2015, I was thrilled to expand our services to include Integrative Services and Hospice & Palliative Care Services.

My professional interests include geriatrics, Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM), hospice/palliative care, and pain management, as well as internal medicine, preventative care, and cardiology. I am a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist (CVA), a Certified Veterinary Food Therapist (CVFT), and a Certified TCVM Palliative and End-Of-Life Practitioner (CTPEP). I am continuing my studies at the Chi Institute of Chinese Medicine in Reddick FL to earn my Certified Veterinary Chinese Herbalist.

(CVCH) and Certified Veterinary Tui-Na Practitioner (CVTP) certifications.

I am a proud member of the International Association of Animal Hospice and Palliative Care (IAAHPC), International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM), American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture (AAVA), Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement (APLB), Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA), and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

I share my home with my cats, Whitney and Raven. Outside of work, I love traveling, immersing myself in new cultures, exploring new restaurants, dancing, going to concerts, reading, writing, and spending time with family and friends.

What is your favorite aspect of veterinary medicine?
As a veterinarian, I get to spend my days doing work that I love caring for animals and building relationships with the humans that love them. As a general practitioner, I find great joy in caring for an animal throughout his or her life, from the eight-week puppy or kitten visit to the time we say goodbye as they cross the Rainbow Bridge. As a specialist, I am honored to provide additional therapies such as acupuncture or herbal therapy to help alleviate pain or anxiety or provide palliative care for patients with terminal conditions. I love being a veterinarian because each day I get to go to work and make a difference in someone’s life.

What do you think is special about St. Francis? Why do you love working here?
“I love working at St Francis because we have an exceptional team of veterinarians, technicians, assistants, and client service representatives who work together to provide the very best care for our patients and our clients. Everyone is always striving to learn more and to be on the cutting edge of patient care, allowing us to offer unique services such as acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, laser therapy, behavioral training, hospice/palliative care, and exotic pet medicine. Every day, I have the honor to work with dedicated, knowledgeable, caring, and compassionate individuals who inspire me and share my goal of providing excellent veterinary care to the pets in our community.

I am so proud to have been at St Francis for over 20 years. I love being a veterinarian, but I am also so passionate about my roles as a small business owner, an employer, a mentor, a teacher, and a leader in our community. I love that I have had the ability to wear so many hats, learn so many things and touch so many lives throughout this journey. St Francis truly is my second home, and I look forward to being part of its growth and transformation over the next 20 years.

Patricia Novak

Dr. Patricia Novak received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in 1997. She worked at Life Care Animal Hospital in St Paul for over 12 years before joining St. Francis Animal Hospital in 2009. In 2018, she completed her certification through the International Association of Hospice & Palliative Care to become one of the first veterinarians certified in Hospice & Palliative Care.

Patti’s professional interests include hospice care, palliative care and behavior. She is a member of the International Association of Animal Hospice and Palliative Care (IAAHPC), Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), and the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians (AEMV).

She shares her home with her husband, Dr. Ralph Weichselbaum, and two children, Kipling and Anton. They participate in the foreign exchange program by hosting international high school students during the school year. The family shares their home with 3 cats, Luna, Silver, and Conan; 1 guinea pig, Rue; and 1 cockatiel, Lucy. Dr. Novak volunteers at her children’s schools, teaches Sunday school, and is on the Church Council at the ELCA Lutheran Church. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, visiting Duluth, reading, swimming in the ocean, and traveling.

Why do you love being a veterinarian?
I always knew I wanted to become a veterinarian. I love the challenging aspect of solving both medical and behavioral problems. I especially enjoy talking with clients to learn the valuable information needed to help solve their pet’s problem. In addition, helping families build stronger bonds with their pets is such a joy and so rewarding for me. Veterinary medicine allows me to develop and utilize various skills — performing surgery and dentistry, providing medical treatments, educating clients, and interacting with animals are only a portion of what we accomplish each day.

Why do you love working at St. Francis Animal Hospital? 
I love working at St Francis because I get to work with such an amazing team. Everyone shows an abundance of compassion for our patients, our clients, and each other. In addition, St Francis feels like a neighborhood practice. I love getting to know our clients and their families and love to be able to use my skills to help them in their time of need.

While I enjoy the happy times, I am thankful when I am there to support and help families during the difficult times as well. Helping pets in their senior years or when their physical abilities decline can be a challenge, but there are many things that we can do to improve their quality of life during this stage. Saying goodbye to our pets is also difficult, but I enjoy helping our pet owners navigate these tough moments as well. It has been quite fulfilling to become certified in Hospice & Palliative Care and I am extremely excited to launch these services at St Francis.

Jessica Lewis
DVM, Medical Director

Dr. Jessica Lewis joined St. Francis Animal Hospital in the spring of 2011 as a veterinary assistant while she was obtaining her Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science. She was promoted to a veterinary technician in 2013 and continued to work at St Francis part-time while earning her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) at the University of Minnesota. She completed a one-month externship at St Francis during her clinical rotations and was elated to officially join the team as a veterinarian in May 2018. She became the Medical Director in November 2020.

Jessica’s professional interests include small animal internal medicine, preventative care, nutrition, and anesthesia/pain management. She has completed the Fear Free. The certification program and strives to reduce fear, anxiety, and stress-related to veterinary visits.

Jessica is a member of the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) and American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, being outdoors, practicing yoga, and throwing the frisbee for her Australian Shepherds, Tig and George Bailey.

Why do you love being a veterinarian?
To say that I love being a veterinarian is an understatement. It is such a rewarding career, and I feel so fortunate to be part of this profession. I cannot think of anything more fulfilling than helping animals and the people who love them.

Beyond the difference that you can make in the lives of people and their pets, this career challenges you to grow and learn with each and every patient that you see. Even if you see the same disease multiple times in one day, every patient is an individual and each case is entirely different. There is certainly never a dull moment as a veterinarian!

Why do you love working at St. Francis Animal Hospital? 
I am so grateful to have found St Francis many years ago when I was looking to gain experience in the field prior to applying for veterinary school. I quickly fell in love with the practice’s values and the close bonds formed with owners and their pets. With kindness and compassion, the team at St. Francis provides a level of care that is truly hard to find elsewhere. From the fellow doctors who have mentored me every step of the way to our incredible support staff who make my job so much easier, I am unbelievably honored to be a part of this team.

Megan Schommer
DVM, Communications Director

Dr. Megan Schommer is a 2010 graduate of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. After graduation, Megan completed her internship in exotic companion animal medicine, general practice, emergency medicine, and zoo medicine at Valley Animal Hospital in Tucson, Arizona. Following her internship, she returned home to Minnesota and became an associate veterinarian at Lake Harriet Veterinary in April 2011. She joined St. Francis Animal Hospital in March 2020.

Megan’s professional interests include general surgery, exotic companion mammal medicine and surgery (especially rabbits!), dentistry, and critical care. She is a member of the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians (AEMV).

Megan lives in Minneapolis with her husband, two young daughters, and a small menagerie including Winnie the corgi, Taiko the cat, Daffodil the rabbit, Lemon the parakeet, Tormund the chinchilla, and six pampered urban backyard chickens. Outside of the clinic, Megan enjoys camping in the Boundary Waters, running, baking, and playing the oboe with the City of Lakes Community Band. Megan is also active in the Student Initiative for Reservation Veterinary Services, providing volunteer surgical training to veterinary students at the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota.

Why do you love being a veterinarian?
My family remembers that I declared at the age of three that I wanted to be an “animal doctor” and growing up, I put a lot of energy into raising rabbits, training our dogs, and building ever-larger aquariums. After exploring other avenues such as public health, zoonotic disease research, and field research on small mammals, I ultimately came back to veterinary medicine as the best combination of my love for animals, biology, ecology, and medicine. I love observing and improving the relationship between people and their pets, as well as helping to promote animal and public health on a larger scale through preventative medicine. Every day in clinical practice is different and I embrace the challenges that come along which such variety.

Why do you love working at St. Francis Animal Hospital? 
St Francis Animal Hospital has a longstanding reputation for excellent client and patient care, high-quality medicine, and community engagement. I love being part of a team that emphasizes compassionate patient care, encompassing everything patients need from their first puppy or kitten visits through their geriatric years. St. Francis also has a decades-long history of offering specialized care for exotic companion mammals, and I am eager to continue to provide these unique species with the individualized medical expertise that they require.

Michael Petersen

Dr. Petersen is a 2012 graduate of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. He began his career serving rescue pets with MARS Veterinary Services in Brooklyn Park. He transitioned to Diamond Lake Animal Hospital in Minneapolis, where he was a lead veterinarian for nearly eight years. Dr. Petersen is especially passionate about surgery, dentistry, and ultrasonography. He is a respected voice in our local veterinary community and is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA).

He joined St. Francis Animal Hospital in February 2021. Outside of the clinic, Dr. Petersen spends most of his time at home with his wife, Erin, and three children, Hazel, Ivy, and Jasper. He shares this home with two amazing feline family members, Cocoa (pictured) and Luna, as well as a number of fish. In his spare time, Mike enjoys playing ultimate frisbee competitively, as well as disc golf. Drag’n Thrust, his ultimate frisbee team, won the US National Title in 2013 and 2014 and went on to win the World Title in 2014!

Why do you love being a veterinarian?
I came about the realization I wanted to be a vet more slowly than most. I had finished my undergraduate degree in Biology without a firm plan, and found my way into the pet industry, and realized that I wanted more challenges, more interesting work, and above all, more ability to help. I have always had an inquisitive mind, and love the diagnostic challenges that come along with the job. Above all, I love seeing the bonds grow between pet parents and their furry kids. The relationships built between me, your pet, and you are why I love what I do.

Why are you excited to join St. Francis Animal Hospital?
I am very excited to join such a knowledgeable, compassionate, and professional team at St. Francis. It’s so important to me not only to provide the best care I can for my patients but develop lasting relationships with their families. This is what really makes the work worthwhile. In the brief time, I have gotten to know the St. Francis staff, I have been very impressed with everyone working here. I will love having such a great team of doctors and staff with so much experience to make sure that all my patients receive the best care possible. I’m also excited to meet all of you and your furry friends!

Molly Moy
Practice Manager

Molly manages all aspects of St. Francis including employee management and training, human resources, information technology (IT), regulatory management, accounts payable, accounts receivable, marketing, social media, financial management, public relations, and community involvement. In addition, she serves as one of our most experienced technicians. We can always count on her to place a challenging catheter or fix our medical equipment when no one else can.

She is a member of the national WellMP Management Group for veterinary practice management as well as the Greater South Veterinary Practice Management Network (VMPN) and was named 2018 MN VPMN Practice Manager of the Year. She is currently working towards her Certified Veterinary Practice Manager (CVMP) certification.

She shares a home with her husband, Chad; daughters, Ellie and Mia; two cats, Eugene and Erwin; guinea pig, George; her Boston Terrier, Chibs; and her French bulldog, Boone.

What is your favorite aspect of veterinary medicine?
I love that in veterinary medicine and practice management nothing is ever the same. Each day new situations, challenges, and opportunities to learn to present themselves. In this field, you will never know everything and you get to truly embrace a lifetime of learning! I also enjoy educating clients and taking the time to listen, answer questions, and build the trust that develops lifelong relationships and strengthens the human-animal bond.

What do you think is special about St. Francis? Why do you love working here? 
Our team is amazing and they are the reason I’ve been a part of St. Francis for so long! I love working alongside others who love animals and are dedicated to providing compassionate quality care, who never stop learning, and who build each other up.

Abigail Torok
Certified Veterinary Technician, Director of Dermatology Services

I joined St. Francis Animal Hospital in 2014 as a Veterinary Assistant. I graduated from Globe University with my Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in Veterinary Technology in December 2015 and became a Certified Veterinary Technician in April 2016.

My main professional interest is in veterinary dermatology. I briefly worked at McKeever Dermatology but came back to St. Francis as the Director of Dermatology Services.

I live in the Como neighborhood of St. Paul with my husband, Nick; daughter, Elena; and three dogs: Bella, Tweenie, and Molly. Outside of work, I like walking or biking around Como Lake, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.

I have always loved animals from a young age and knew that I wanted to be in this field. I have grown up with dogs and cats, and to me, they were as much a part of the family as humans.

What is your favorite aspect of veterinary medicine?
I love caring for animals every day, from helping when they are sick to as small as giving them a well-deserved treat. My favorite aspect of this field is dermatology. Allergies in pets can be a challenge sometimes, but it’s so rewarding when I can help with managing our itchy, scratchy friends.

What do you think is special about St. Francis? Why do you love working here?

I truly love my job and feel so fortunate to work alongside our compassionate doctors and staff.

Even with all the changes during COVID, we do our best to make our patients feel safe, loved, and cared for as soon as they walk through the doors. They deserve the best quality care and that’s something that they will receive here at St. Francis

Allison Gedstad
Veterinary Assistant

Allison is a life long resident of Saint Paul, and she began working as a Veterinary Assistant at St. Francis Animal Hospital in 2012 following her junior year at Roseville Area High School. She graduated in 2017 from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Global Studies (BA) with a regional emphasis in Latin America, and minors in Animal Science and Biology. She is currently in her fourth year of veterinary school at the University of Minnesota (Class of 2022).

Outside of work, she spends her free time biking, reading, traveling, hammocking, and teaching her dog Foxy new tricks.

What is your favorite aspect of veterinary medicine?

There are so many aspects of veterinary medicine that I love, but I’d have to say my favorite one is getting to see a patient make a full recovery from illness because of our care. Our pets are truly members of our families, so it’s a privilege to be entrusted with their care and to help them get back to their full potential.

What do you think is special about St. Francis? Why do you love working here?

St Francis is unique in that they provide outstanding mentorship to people who want to pursue a career in the veterinary field. Dr. Blair generously started letting me shadow her when I was in high school, and I’ve been here ever since! Now, I’m a veterinary student and have been working at St Francis for eight years. The mentorship I and other veterinary students have received from the doctors and staff has been invaluable in our education, and they have gone above and beyond in making sure we will have the skills necessary to be great veterinarians. Mentoring veterinary students are no easy task, and the fact they take the time to do it says a lot about the character of the people who work here. I feel very fortunate to work alongside such wonderful people!

Amanda Mallek
Veterinary Assistant

I joined St. Francis Animal Hospital as a Veterinary Assistant in April 2018. I graduated in December 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point.

In my free time, I love traveling, painting, exercising, spending time with friends and family, and taking care of my cat, Sonny.

What is your favorite aspect of veterinary medicine?

What I enjoy most about being a veterinary assistant is having the opportunity to help both people and animals and being able to assist the doctors and technicians in getting animals back to living the healthiest lives they can. It brings me joy to help provide a safe and friendly environment for your loved ones.

What do you think is special about St. Francis? Why do you love working here?

I am happy to be a part of a clinic that cares about the individual owners just as much as their pets. Every employee I have the privilege of working with offers excellent service by forming close relationships with clients. They all truly care about the families that walk through the front doors of the clinic. St Francis also offers a wide range of care that is not available to other clinics such as acupuncture and massage therapy. For me, being able to observe and learn so much every day is rewarding!

Becca Harnack
Veterinary Technician

Becca graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Animal  Science with an equine management emphasis in 2015. While pursuing her undergraduate degree, she managed the University climbing wall, was president of the rock-climbing club and spent time as a wrangler in Glacier and Rocky Mountain National Parks. She joined the St. Francis team in 2016 as a Veterinary Assistant, and then was promoted to the role of a Veterinary Technician in early 2019.

She currently lives in her hometown of Lakeville with her fiancé, Travis; a red lab, Cedar; a border collie mix, Arrow; and a three-legged cat, Grim. When she is not at work, she spends the majority of her time at the gym, hiking with the dogs, rock climbing, biking, or trail running. In her downtime, she is usually reading a book, listening to music or podcasts, or planning her next trip.

What is your favorite aspect of veterinary medicine?
I grew up around animals of all kinds. Over the years, I’ve had a wide array of animal friends including pocket pets, birds, reptiles, and amphibians as well as various farm animals and horses. I truly love them all! My favorite thing about veterinary medicine is that I get to help animals in need and that every day is different and full of opportunities to learn or see something new.

What do you think is special about St. Francis? Why do you love working here?
I feel extremely grateful to have found such a dedicated and talented group of people to not only call my co-workers but my second family as well. I also really have enjoyed getting to know all of our wonderful clients and patients over the years. St. Francis really stands out because of the range of modalities that we offer in order to address every pet’s individual needs, as well as a passionate team who truly cares about kindness and healing.

Baylee May
Lead Veterinary Assistant

I’m Baylee, Lead Veterinary Assistant at St. Francis Animal Hospital. I’m from the Twin Cities area and I share my home with my green cheek conure, Jazz. In my free time, I enjoy being outdoors, bowling, playing softball and volleyball, and hanging out with friends. I joined St. Francis Animal Hospital in February 2018 shortly after receiving my Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Animal Science, with a Companion Animal emphasis, from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities in December 2017. I’m currently enrolled in a Veterinary Technology Associate’s Degree program with Penn Foster in order to become a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT).

What is your favorite aspect of veterinary medicine?

I love being a Veterinary Assistant because I enjoy working hands-on with animals while assisting our veterinarians and technicians with veterinary procedures. Animals have been an interest of mine for as long as I can remember and I enjoy knowing how different species are built as well as how their body systems work. No day is exactly the same in veterinary medicine which makes my job that much more interesting. As a pet owner, I know that our animals are considered family members and we want what’s best for them physically and emotionally. I have a passion for the health, care, and well-being of animals that we consider family members.

What do you think is special about St. Francis? Why do you love working here?

The staff members at St. Francis Animal Hospital are committed to core values of respect, integrity, compassion, excellence, and dedication. St. Francis Animal Hospital has an excellent reputation for having highly-trained, educated, and compassionate staff who maintain positive relationships with their clients. The staff members at St. Francis use Fear Free practices to decrease stress levels within the clinic for both you and your pet. By implementing Fear Free practices, animals are less nervous for trips to the vet. In turn, going to the vet can be a positive, rewarding experience. The veterinarians, technicians, and assistants truly care about you and your pets. I’m honored to work alongside such a great group of people!

Chris Capistrant
Certified Veterinary Technician

I am originally from Oakdale. I live with my partner and my 11-year-old lab mix. I love traveling, kayaking, biking, and hiking. I also just started learning to mountain bike and love it. I got into vet med after I got my dog and realized how special the human-animal bond can be.

What is your favorite aspect of veterinary medicine?
My favorite part of veterinary medicine is the variety of things you get to do. It’s never a dull day. I also love working with clients and helping them take the best care for their pets.

What do you think is special about St. Francis? Why do you love working here?
I love working at St. Francis because of how supportive everyone is. We have a great team and it’s an honor to work with so many amazing people.

Debranique Pitter
Veterinary Assistant

I’m currently finishing my undergraduate program in animal science at the University of Minnesota. 

I have an interest in companion and exotic species. When I’m not in school, I’m either traveling, spending as much time in the sun, or spending time with my loved ones; which include my senior dog and my mom.

What is your favorite aspect of veterinary medicine?
I love veterinary medicine because it gives me the opportunity to be a part of a community that gives a voice to those who don’t have one. Animals mean so much to me and being able to help them gives me a purpose.

What do you think is special about St. Francis? Why do you love working here?
St. Francis is special because of its genuine passion. The goals and ethics of this clinic are focus on improving veterinary medicine for both pets and owners. I love working here because it allows me to be a part of a community that shares a deeper love for animals. I also love that our clinic has integrative services and has become very fond of our acupuncture patients. Especially since I have a soft spot for our senior pets and enjoy engaging in palliative care.

Ellie Elsasser
Veterinary Assistant

I am a fourth-year veterinary student at the University of Minnesota with a background in wildlife and conservation biology research. In my free time, I love to clicker train my two cats, sew, read, and spend time outdoors.

What is your favorite aspect of veterinary medicine?
My favorite aspect of veterinary medicine is working with “spicy” animals, especially cats and exotics. I find it extremely rewarding to help animals have less fear and anxiety about veterinary visits. I currently plan to specialize in behavior after vet school graduation and I am certified in Fear Free and Feline Friendly techniques. I also love working with all of the exotic species we see at St Francis.

What do you think is special about St. Francis? Why do you love working here?
I have been a client at St Francis since 2012 and finally joined the team in 2018. I have always loved St Francis because of the kind, empathetic individuals that work here. They truly care about the patients and are just wonderful people to work with!

Heather Anderson
Certified Veterinary Technician

My husband and I have been married for over 26 years. We meet at UW River Falls. We enjoy visiting the area reminiscing on: our meeting and dating. Our son Thomas is a Seabee in the Navy, Ethan is training to be a Green Beret in the Army and Emma is still in high school. Please pray for us!
We enjoy traveling, frequently to the North Shore. We adopted two cats from Cause For Paws over 18 years ago. Scooby (we are big Scooby-Doo fans!!) died in 2020 and left a hole in our hearts. Silly (in the picture) is a true sweetheart and he is so funny. We have an adorable pitbull/chihuahua cross named Walter and a new cat to the family, Louie. He is a pet that belonged to Emma’s friend who lost her mom unexpectedly. Louie needed a new home and Walter needed a friend since Scooby and Silly didn’t like him. They love playing together.

What is your favorite aspect of veterinary medicine?
Pets calm you down. They are always there for you. I wanted to be able to help them any way I could. That ended up being a CVT. It’s amazing being able to do so many things in one day. Talking to owners, cuddling puppies/kittens (I am allergic to bunnies and guinea pigs), collecting samples, taking X-rays, monitoring during anesthesia, cleaning teeth, holding a scared animal, just to name a few. When I’m
stressed, I just need to turn around and there’s an animal to calm me down with just a pet. Who can ask for more?!

What do you think is special about St. Francis? Why do you love working here?
St. Francis has taken me in and given me a family. We care about each other and work as a great team. What first drew me was their doggedness to Fear Free. As pet owners, we all know our pet’s stress/fear is a big concern. We work hard at keeping that stressor at a minimum.

Jessie Pudil
Certified Veterinary Technician, Director of Laboratory Services

I grew up in Minneapolis, went to NDSU for a short time, met my hubby and crossed the river to St. Paul to start a family. We have 2 children (Steven Jr and Mariha), 3 cats (Wishbone, Midnight, and Charlie), and my Rottie girl, Shamrock. We love to play board games, especially Monopoly (we have quite the collection too) as a family every chance we get! We love our family time together, especially now that the kids are teenagers, you take whatever time you can get to make the memories.

What is your favorite aspect of veterinary medicine?
I knew from a very young age (like 1 or 2) that I wanted to go into veterinary medicine, like most in this field I wanted to be a vet. Though threw the years I learned that being a veterinary technician was my true calling. I graduated from Globe University in December of 2013 and have been loving the vet tech life ever since. I would say that my favorite part of veterinary medicine is making bonds with each patient that comes through and educating their people. Though I enjoy all of the bigger dogs, my heart is with the black and tan babies. I love having conversations with all the fur babies that visit us every day! Honestly, what’s better than having a furry friend to snuggle with when you are having a rough day? Love it!!!

What do you think is special about St. Francis? Why do you love working here?
I started here at St. Francis in April of 2020, why not change jobs in the middle of a pandemic? I would have to say that I am glad that I did. I love how nice everyone is, how understanding, and just the feeling that it is a family. Truly a home away from home. Everyone here is also willing to help you, some even know when you need help without you even knowing you needed the help! An added bonus is that our clients are amazing as well. I have never worked in a place that the owner cared so much about her employees. What an awesome place to work!

Lillian Schmitz
Veterinary Assistant

I am originally from Nisswa, MN and now live in Northeast Minneapolis. I am a northern girl at heart, but I’m loving the city! I have two cats, Gustav (orange) and Auggie (shoulder cat). They live with my boyfriend Ian and I at our apartment. In my free time, I enjoy biking, skiing (nordic and alpine), rock climbing, fishing, going to concerts, and sailing. I graduated from Bemidji State in the Spring of 2020 with a degree in Wildlife Biology. In my senior year, I participated in research with the MN DNR on Chronic Wasting Disease in white-tailed deer. I worked with several veterinarians and pre-vet students, and after spending time with them, I realized I wanted to pursue veterinary medicine. I’ve always wanted to work with animals, hence my Wildlife Biology degree, but was never exposed to veterinary medicine until this opportunity. I’m currently taking prerequisite courses online to apply to veterinary school in Fall 2021.

What is your favorite aspect of veterinary medicine?
My favorite aspect of veterinary medicine is being around animals and people that love animals as much as I do! I also love that there’s always something new to learn, whether it’s about animal behavior or anatomy and physiology. St. Francis puts a lot of emphasis on fear-free methods and I enjoy working with our pets to ensure their experience at the vet is as enjoyable as possible. I love a pet that takes treats and gives lots of snuggles but also enjoys the more “spicy” pets that require some creativity.

What do you think is special about St. Francis? Why do you love working here?
St. Francis is truly an amazing place to work. Our whole team lives by our values: excellence, compassion, dedication, respect, and integrity. In addition to this, our team is very supportive and caring to not only each other but also to clients and patients. Every day is a learning experience and I have gained so much knowledge regarding veterinary medicine. I have also found interests such as fear-free methods, animal behavior, acupuncture, and radiology that have emerged from my experience here at St. Francis. St. Francis has also secured my love for veterinary medicine and the people that work in this field. I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to work with great people and our pets every day!

Liz Gunter
Certified Veterinary Technician, Director of Hospice and Palliative Care Services

Liz joined St. Francis Animal Hospital in 2007 after graduating with an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in Veterinary Technology from Globe College. She is a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT). In addition to her technician duties at St. Francis, she has served as our Client Service Representative since 2010 and our Director of Hospice & Palliative Care Services since 2017.

Her professional interests include hospice and palliative care, Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, and pain management. She is actively involved with our Integrative Services department and is at the forefront of developing our Hospice & Palliative Care services at St Francis. She is currently working on her American Animal Hospital Association’s Animal Hospice & Palliative Care Certificate.

Outside of St. Francis, she has her Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Medical Laboratory Technology and is certified through the American Society for Clinical Pathology. She has been a regular volunteer at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center for the past 1½ years. She lives with her son, Derek; one cat, Cookie Monster; and two dogs, Floki and Jeloni. She enjoys traveling and spending time with her family and friends.

Why do you love being a veterinary technician?
I love being a veterinary technician because I love caring for animals and assisting clients in helping them care for their pets.

Why do you love working at St. Francis Animal Hospital?
I truly believe that we are the best and we are always striving to improve our practice. All of the doctors and staff are here for the right reasons — they truly care about their patients and clients.

Madison Baumgartner
Veterinary Assistant

Hello, my name is Madison Baumgartner and I am currently a second-year veterinary student at the University of Minnesota. I grew up in Bismarck, ND with animals all around! We have 150 Angus cows, goats, pigs, sheep, horses, cats, and dogs. I have five foster kittens that I have raised this summer, my family just got a new puppy to join the family, and our other dog is Bandit. My younger brother is 19 and my younger sister is 14. As for hobbies, I simply enjoy taking time for myself in such a hectic world. This could be anything from relaxing with a good book or taking an exercise class, hanging out with friends, or just catching up on my favorite television show.

What is your favorite aspect of veterinary medicine?
I absolutely love veterinary medicine because of the ability for us to help our four-legged “fur babies”. They cannot speak and I feel like people in veterinary medicine offer a voice to them. We are able to advocate for them and help ensure they have the best life possible. There is never a shortage of unique cases and mysteries that our profession is set out to tackle and solve. I love that it is always challenging me and my knowledge that I have learned while in veterinary college.

What do you think is special about St. Francis? Why do you love working here?
I think for me, I have never been surrounded by so many people who truly what to teach and help me succeed. I never worry about asking too many questions because I know someone will always be able to answer them. And with that, the knowledge of the staff and dedication to what they do is so amazing and inspiring for me who truly still has so much to learn and a long journey ahead of me within the veterinary profession. I know that working at St. Francis was probably the best decision I have made while in undergrad and there is so much that St. Francis has provided me to help tackle veterinary college!

Marie Oster
Senior Veterinary Technician, Assistant Practice Manager

Proud to call Minneapolis my home for the first 37 years of my life. I now reside in Monticello with my husband, cats and a wonderful flock of chickens. Our Bengal cat Walter is a curious creature, who loves to talk! Our beautiful barn cats enjoy playing, eating, and visiting us (and Walter) inside from time to time. Last but not least our flock – we have a variety of chickens ranging from Barred Rocks, Rhode Island Reds, Easter Eggers, and a stunning rooster name Newster. My favorite thing is to spoil each and every one of our animals as often as possible.

What is your favorite aspect of veterinary medicine?
My favorite aspect of my daily veterinary life is puppies!! Puppies will always put a smile on my face. The most rewarding and (sometimes) difficult part of my job is behavioral health. Fear Free is one of my new passions. Being able to make a difference in these pets’ lives is so rewarding. I also enjoy continuing education with pet parents and staff members. Lastly, I love being part of anesthesia for our surgery and dentistry patients.

What do you think is special about St. Francis? Why do you love working here?
I started at St Francis in 2003. St Francis has challenged and supported me throughout the years. The level of caring for their patients and employees goes well above and beyond. St Francis always strives for exceptional medicine. As an employee and pet parent, I so appreciate this. I want the absolute best for my animals as well as yours.

Mickayla Schulz
Certified Veterinary Technician

I am from the small town of Osceola Wisconsin. After graduating with my AAS, I became a certified veterinary technician from RCTC. I enjoy spending my time providing the best veterinary medicine to patients here at St Francis. Outside of work I spend time laughing with family and friends.

What is your favorite aspect of veterinary medicine?
My personal interests are dentistry and radiology.

What do you think is special about St. Francis? Why do you love working here?
The staff and doctors here at St Francis are passionate about the work we provide. We work as a team and are focused on the care of all pets.

Sabrina Reed
Senior Certified Veterinary Technician, Director of Behavior Services, Level 3 Fear Free Certified

I grew up on the greater east side of St. Paul but currently reside in Woodbury. My husband and I currently enjoy our two sons Jack and Vincent and our two older dogs, a Jack Russell named Tucker, and Pit Bull mix Gabriel. My time is frequently spent with my oversized family, doing craft projects, or at classic car shows.

What is your favorite aspect of veterinary medicine?
I had a tragic introduction to animal care at a young age. Since then, I had dedicated my life to taking the best care I could possibly offer to my pets and eventually expanded that into the community with veterinary care. I especially love being able to volunteer for non-profits that offer veterinary care for those that cannot afford it.

What do you think is special about St. Francis? Why do you love working here?
I love the quality of medicine and the level of care that comes from the heart of each of our staff members for our patients. You cannot find a more caring team for an animal, in my opinion.

Samantha Folger
Certified Veterinary Technician, RN

Hello! My name is Samantha Folger and I have been a CVT since 2014. I have worked in emergency medicine as well as small animal medicine and absolutely love working with furry critters and their humans; so much so that I am also attending nursing school to be able to truly help on both sides of medicine.

My husband Mitch and I have a busy house with our four fur babies of our own. Our two cats enjoy sunbathing, snuggling, and ‘hiding’ in boxes, and our two dogs enjoy just about everything in life, but especially a good game of tug-of-war, running around outside, snuggles, and of course, food. As for us humans, we really just enjoy spending time with our fur babies, family, and going hiking.

What is your favorite aspect of veterinary medicine?

I have a wide range of experience in veterinary medicine. I started out as a kennel assistant and working at a humane society at the beginning of the veterinary technology program. Towards the end, I also worked as a triage technician then CVT at an emergency facility while also working as a CVT at a second small animal practice until I finally found my home at St. Francis.

Although I am also going to nursing school, I don’t have any intention of leaving veterinary medicine. Working with animals and their humans is so humbling and rewarding, and will always hold a special place in my heart.

My favorite part of veterinary medicine is being able to learn something new every day to help the next pet better. I truly love education and teaching pet owners about the ins and outs of their pet’s care. I especially enjoy teaching nutritional topics and helping with surgery and anesthesia.

What do you think is special about St. Francis? Why do you love working here?

Working at so many other facilities, I can say with confidence that St. Francis is a very special place to work.

Each team member truly treats each pet as if they were their own with so much compassion and care. That care is extended to clients by showing empathy, understanding, and doing everything they can to go above and beyond for each person and pet.

The team dynamic is unmatched, and it is humbling to work at a place that is filled with so much positivity. 

Sarah Welch

Sarah Welch
Senior Certified Veterinary Technician, Director of Client Services

I joined the team at St. Francis in March 2012 after graduating from the Minnesota School of Business in December 2011 with an AAS degree in Veterinary Technology. I took a brief hiatus from St. Francis between 2017 and 2019. During this time I worked for a small, rural veterinary practice closer to my home, and also a veterinary ophthalmology specialty practice. But St. Francis is home, and I returned in October of 2019.

I share my home in the North Metro with my husband, Nick, and our daughter Brooklin. We also have an extended four-legged family including four horses, Ed, Mia, Magy, and Poky (a miniature horse!); four cats – Spirit, Rocky, Ditch, and HoBeau (a munchkin cat!); and one dog – a wonderful Pit Bull named Carrma.

When I’m not at the clinic, there are only a few other places you may find me. I might be curled up at the lake with a good book, out riding my horse, watching the Minnesota Wild play hockey, or curled up the couch with Carrma watching a good True Crime Documentary.

What is your favorite aspect of veterinary medicine?
My favorite aspects of veterinary medicine are hospice and palliative care, as well as geriatrics and pain management. I also very much enjoy surgery and anesthesia. My absolute favorite part of veterinary medicine is the communication and education portion where I get to help pets and their people every day!

What do you think is special about St. Francis? Why do you love working here?
St. Francis is unlike any practice I have worked for. They truly care for not only their employees but also each pet and pet owner that comes in every day. The level of care drives us to provide exceptional medical care for all of our patients, while also feeling like they are members of our own family. There is nowhere else I’d rather be!

Stacy Gustafson
Customer Service Representative

I have lived in Minnesota my entire life and yes, I love winter! I have a Bachelors’s degree from Hamline University, with a major in Psychology and Biology. I currently have 2 dogs, Dakotah and Gemma, as well as a gecko named Gizmo. When I am not working, I enjoy spending time outdoors with my dogs, yoga, running, weight lifting, and reading a good book.

What is your favorite aspect of veterinary medicine?
My favorite aspect of veterinary medicine is helping pets to have a positive experience at the vet and to let them know that it’s okay to be nervous, and reassuring them that they are safe and loved here. My biggest passion in life is helping animals and giving a voice to the voiceless.

What do you think is special about St. Francis? Why do you love working here?
St. Francis is a wonderful place to work. Dr. Blair and the management truly care about their staff and our well-being. I am grateful to be working with so many animal lovers. Everyone here appreciates, respects, and encourages each other.

Zack Zamora
Veterinary Assistant

I was born and raised in the West Seventh neighborhood of Saint Paul. I’m a proud father of 6 critters. As for furry friends, I have a calico cat named Mittens and a Jack Russell terrier named Beckman. I also have 4 bearded dragons who I plan on breeding in the near future (Tecate, Piña, Carmela, and Valentina). My connection with animals is natural and runs deep. I firmly believe that they are just as capable of helping us as we are of helping them, if not more. I ended up in vet med because of this belief, and because I want to honor the beings that make this land worth living on.

What is your favorite aspect of veterinary medicine?
My favorite aspect of veterinary medicine is the importance and implementation of ethology in our everyday practice. I’m very passionate about animal behavior and love working with particularly challenging cases. I strive to make every patient feel as comfortable as possible in the stressful clinic setting.

What do you think is special about St. Francis? Why do you love working here?
Having worked in vet med for a few years, I found out quickly how hard it is to find a clinic that has great management, a caring staff, and practices amazing medicine. St. Francis has all three! Animals are always amazing, but not every clinic is as accepting and loving as ours. The staff at St. Francis welcomed me with open arms and I have felt like family ever since.

Our first experience with St. Francis. Wonderful Staff. Did not try to sell me things I did not need.

Great Prices, Great Care!!!! Thank you so much for being so good with Katie!


Geneann, Google Review

Everything was amazing as always here!

Employees are always very friendly and polite. They were very efficient with the appointment and the social distancing guidelines were well laid out and easy to follow. Definitely recommend this location for Vet services!


Kirsten Wilson, Google Review

The curbside service was so convenient, I don’t think you could’ve made my visit any better!

This is the only veterinarian hospital we’ve ever taken our dog to. They have been caring for him since he was weaned. The staff is professional, responsive, and caring. I highly recommend them.


Vicky Fleming, Google Review