Operations Manager

Growing up in a rural area outside of Griffith, Shannon was constantly brushing, feeding, and riding her neighbor’s horses. By the time her parents finally got a dog and a cat, Shannon was fully immersed in the world of animal care. She knew that she would love to do it for a living!

In 1994, a former neighbor of Shannon’s called her parents to let them know there was a position available here at Southlake Animal Hospital. Shannon jumped at the opportunity to work in pet care, and has spent her entire professional career here at the clinic! She’s well-versed in all areas of the hospital, and especially enjoys seeing the joy on a pet owner’s face when the clinic team is able to take care of their beloved companion.

Shannon lives in the Crown Point area with her two children, Tristan and Josephine, who are already huge animal lovers themselves. The family shares their home with two cats— Pastel, and Pixie—and a dog named Bones.

In her spare time, Shannon enjoys spending time with family and friends. She’s also an avid bowler, a hobby she first picked up from her parents. Her most memorable moments include her all-time high-scoring game of 279 and the time she won a free bowling ball!

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Veterinary Technician

For as long as she can remember, Tara has been fascinated by animal behavior. Her desire to be up-close-and-personal with pets and witness their interactions with humans is what drew her to the veterinary field. As a Veterinary Technician here at Southlake Animal Hospital, she gets a front-row seat!

Tara was born on a Florida Navy base and moved to Indiana as a baby. She never had pets while growing up; she says this only made her want them more! Tara first applied here at Southlake Animal Hospital before graduating from high school, wanting to gain experience before heading off to veterinary technician school. She earned her degree from a school in Michigan City and graduated in 2013.

Tara’s love of animal behavior was only affirmed in 2014 after she rescued a dog named Jyl. Jyl became very attached to Tara and her own dogs, but eventually needed to be adopted out to a loving family. On her second night in her new home, Jyl slipped out of her collar and escaped. After many nights of organized searches and fruitless false sightings, Tara decided to take her own dogs out to the area where Jyl was last seen. Within five minutes, they’d tracked the missing dog down!

Tara lives with her fiancé, Michael, son Theodore and many pets of their own. They have two Border collies, two mixed-breed dogs, a German shepherd, and three Chihuahuas. The animal family is rounded out by two cats and a bearded dragon.

Outside of work, Tara’s interests include geocaching, canine sports, animal rescue, and camping with her family and dogs.

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Jennifer has been an animal lover since she was a child, but she’s a people person first and foremost. Getting to serve the people of Merrillville by helping their beloved pets is the perfect job for her!

Growing up in Crown Point, Jennifer kept everything from dogs and cats to fish and birds around her family home. She started working at a local animal hospital when she was only about 14 years old. After serving in various pet shops, she transitioned back into animal hospitals and has now been a veterinary receptionist for over 13 years! She joined the Southlake Animal Hospital team after working with Dr. Carlson at another practice in the area.

Exercising her strong people skills is one of Jennifer’s favorite aspects of her work. She never gets tired of chatting with pet owners and meeting their adorable furry companions! Jennifer also loves working alongside her fellow employees every day.

In her free time, Jennifer enjoys spending time with her young niece, Aja. She also loves to care for her three rescued cats, and her playful cockatiel, Charlie.

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Susie grew up in Hammond, Wisconsin, where her family kept everything from dogs, cats, and fish to hamsters, guinea pigs, and rabbits. She also spent plenty of time on her grandfather’s farm, where she would help care for cows and chickens. For Susie, animal care has always been a part of life—a career in the veterinary world is simply natural!

Susie started her pet-care career in 1990 at a Petland store, then began working for a veterinarian in Orlando Park, Illinois in 2002. She would remain there for the next 12 years before moving back to Indiana to be closer to family. After settling in this area, Susie visited Southlake Animal Hospital—right away, she knew that she’d love to work here! Susie has served as one of the clinic’s receptionists ever since.

Susie and her husband, Chris, live on Lake George, where she loves watching all of the wildlife that visits their backyard feeders. The couple has one daughter, Kendra, and lives with two dogs and two cats. Beatrix is a French bulldog who loves to snort; Bozco is a cuddly French bulldog/Boston terrier mix; Arthur the Siamese cat is very vocal; and Sphinx cat Deliah can always be found wrapped up in blankets.

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Veterinary Assistant

Ever since she was young, Alexis has been interested in science and animals. However, she didn’t consider getting a job in an animal hospital until her neighbor, who worked here at Southlake Animal Hospital, told her about the Veterinary Assistant position. Alexis jumped at the chance to apply, and has been here ever since!

Alexis is a native of Crown Point and was a three-year Vice President of the largest 4-H club in Lake County while growing up. She holds two Associate’s degrees in equine medicine and equestrian sciences, which she earned in 2009. In the fall of 2013, Alexis joined the team here at Southlake Animal Hospital and couldn’t be happier with her work. She’s particularly fond of getting to know each and every client and pet who walk through the clinic doors—no two animals have quite the same personality.

Alexis’ work in the animal care field isn’t just a lot of fun; it literally saved her dog’s life! One weekend, Alexis’ husky, Sky, wasn’t eating normally, so Alexis let Dr. Carlson know. When Dr. Carlson examined her at the beginning of the following week, they discovered a dangerous uterus infection! After emergency surgery, Sky was saved and is now a happy and healthy 11-year-old.

Alexis has a four-year-old daughter, Madison, who is shaping up to be just as big of an animal lover as her mother. In addition to Sky, Alexis also owns a 32-year-old Arabian horse named Tony who regularly gives rides to special-needs adults. Tony is so docile that even young Madison is able to ride her!

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Veterinary Assistant

Aubrey has always been inspired by the innocence of animals—pets don’t always have someone on their side, and Aubrey wanted to focus her efforts on changing that! Now she’s able to help pets every day as a Veterinary Assistant, Kennel Assistant and helping in the office here at Southlake Animal Hospital.

A native of northwest Indiana, Aubrey began her pet-care career by working for a small pet-sitting business called Crazy for Critters. She loved getting to work with animals every day, but wanted to learn more and expand her veterinary career. It was then that she came across Southlake Animal Hospital and decided to apply.

Around the hospital, Aubrey enjoys holding pets for examinations and helping the doctors prepare for surgeries. She also loves walking and playing with the clinic’s boarding dogs.

Aubrey and her husband, Gavin, have two beautiful young daughters, a pair of chinchillas, and three cats at home. When she’s not spending time with her family or tending to pets’ needs here at the clinic, she enjoys working on crafts and creating her own memorable projects.

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Veterinary Assistant

Mal’s own family pets have always been patients here at Southlake Animal Hospital—watching the team work their magic on her companions left a permanent impression on Mal. Ever since she can remember, she’s wanted to improve animals’ lives by serving as a veterinary professional!

Mal received a job offer here at the clinic in October of 2016, and gladly accepted. She’s been caring for the pets and animal parents of the area ever since—in the future, Mal plans to attend school to study veterinary medicine, and even hopes to become a veterinarian herself! Around the hospital, she particularly enjoys helping to prepare patients for surgery and seeing pets’ remarkable progress during follow-up appointments.

When time allows between her work and school commitments, Mal likes rescuing animals—she’s fostered nearly 100 pets over the years!—and listening to music. She’s also fond of drawing and has even won awards for her work. At home, Mal has six loveable pets: Sunny the parakeet; Bambi, a rabbit who runs the household; a social and rambunctious kitten named Olive; a blind Australian Shepherd who goes by Keller; a senior Dachshund named Molly; and Cavi the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

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Mascot, Stress Reliever, Entertainer, Client and Patient Greeter

Sweetheart is our comfort cat. If your pet is recovering from anesthesia, Sweetheart will be laying right there next to your pet to keep him/her warm. If you are worried or upset Sweetheart will go into the exam room with you. If your pet is sick, Sweetheart will wrap her body around your pet. Sometimes Sweetheart just needs a little attention herself and is not sensing any worry or sickness, so she will be sure to cuddle up to get the pets she needs. She is also great at socializing dogs and other cats and is used to test the 2×2 pets with other pets before placing them in a foster home.

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Mascot, Stress Reliever

Fajita is our second clinic cat. We got her from a shelter because no one wanted a 15 year old cat that needed to have her eye removed. We believe that once her eye was removed she would be pain free and could have a great life no matter how long it is. Fajita come to our clinic in September 2016 and had took up residence at the front desk soon after recovering from surgery. She has now lost sight in her other eye, but she still brings joy and comfort to our receptionist.

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