Let us make your experience at Cornell exceptional from start to finish!
OUR TEAM: Melissa Kawaja, Quinn Moyer, Jessica Miller, Laura Hill, Katrina Niederer, Aimee Gillis, Pat Sandford, Ellie Graham, Dr. Renee Jones, Dr. Kharli Friske, Dr. Mark Gemmill (Dr. Terra Wakeford, Katie Chabot, Kirsten Riepert, Randi Speziale, Melissa Farquhar missing)
As our official "Greeter", Tigger comes highly qualifed for the position with excellent animal communication skills. He serves as our in-clinic staff therapist and will provide high-fives on request. He is also highly skilled as a reception seat warmer and a paper weight. He is a professional napper and has shown extreme prowess at riding the dolly.
In his spare time, Tigger enjoys stealing food, chasing treaties, purring, catnip, bird watching, and providing moral support to those around him. His favourite movie is Narnia.
Dr. Mark Gemmill, Owner
D.V.M. (1993) Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph
Dr. Gemmill initially began a career as a dairy farmer on his family farm after graduating from agriculture college in 1984. Three years later, he decided that he needed to explore other options so he returned to the University of Guelph and graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College in 1993. Dr. Gemmill became a partner at the Cornell Animal Hospital in 2000 and has continued as the sole owner since Dr. Cornell’s retirement in 2005. Dr. Gemmill was president of the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) in 2015 and currently serves on committees in an advisory capacity.
Dr. Gemmill enjoys sharing his passions for windsurfing, cycling and skiing with his wife, son and daughter. He also enjoys hockey and woodworking in his spare time. He has three cats (Kai, Flotsam, andTiger) as well as a yellow lab named "Ryder".
Dr. Kharli Friske, Associate
B.Sc. (1999) M.Sc. (2001), University of Guelph
D.V.M. (2004) Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph
Dr. Kharli Friske is a graduate of the Ontario Veterinary College and joined the Cornell Animal Hospital in 2006. She also brings a Masters degree in Animal Nutrition from the University of Guelph to the team. She and her husband own and show quarter horses.
Dr. Terra Wakeford, Associate
B.Sc. Hons (2007), University of Guelph
D.V.M (2012), University of Guelph
We are very pleased to have Terra back at CAH again! Terra previously worked at the clinic while completing her undergraduate and D.V.M degrees, from 2004-2010. After completion of her D.V.M. degree she started work as a general practitioner in the Cambridge area prior to re-joining the Cornell Animal Hospital team.
In her free time, she enjoys hockey, dance, golf, travelling and spending time at the cottage. She shares her life with her husband Scott, their son Maverick, and their new baby girl Makenna. They also have a mixed breed dog named Carter and a cat named Hurley. Terra is currently on maternity leave enjoying life with her new daughter!
Dr. Renee Jones, Locum
B.Sc. University of Guelph
D.V.M (2005), University of Guelph
Dr. Renée Jones has been an avid animal lover and assured her parents at the age of 6 that she would become a veterinarian! Dr. Jones spent time developing her skills as a University student, which included various jobs at the University of Guelph, working at a beef and sheep farm, a dairy goat farm and as a pharmacy technician. She graduated in 2005 from the Ontario Veterinary College at The University of Guelph. Dr. Jones has practiced in Oakville, Burlington, Acton, Belleville and Waterloo. She is thrilled to be joining the Cornell Animal Hospital team. Dr. Jones is excited to be practicing in the Guelph community she calls home. She looks forward to meeting all the wonderful clients and neighbours from the area.
In her spare time Dr. Jones enjoys exercising, baseball, photography and travel. She shares her home with her husband and 2 sons which also keep her very busy, as well as their rescue lab cross Phoebe.
Registered Veterinary Technicians
Veterinary Technician Program, Georgian College, 2007
Mel has worked at a variety of vet clinics in the Waterloo area for many years before coming to Cornell. She brings with her many skills and experience as an RVT. As a spokesperson for the RVT profession, she volunteers as a public speaker with the Better Business Bureau. Mel and her partner Kyle share their life with her dog, Theodore (pictured left) and her cat Tumble, as well as Kyle's cat, Oskar. Mel just recently gave birth to a beautiful baby boy so she will be on maternity leave for the next while.
Veterinary Technician Program, Ridgetown College, 2013
Externship in the ICU at OVC Small Animal Clinic
Katrina joins us with a wealth of experience working with animals, first as a volunteer at the humane society, then as a Kennel Assistant and Tech Assistant, and finally as a Registered Veterinary Technician. She enjoys spending time with her spouse, her two pooches - a Coton de Tulear named Shasta (pictured) and a Yorkie named Aeries, and her four cats - Thelma, Earl, Kevin, and Neil Patrick Harris. Also, she gives a special mention to her passed and long time best friend, Rocky, a bichon frise. Katrina enjoys travelling, nature, and arts & crafts. She is also interested in expanding her knowledge of animal rights.
Veterinary Technician Program, Seneca College, 2018
Prior to becoming an RVT, Melissa did many years of volunteering in small animal practices in the York Region as well as a summer in Taiwan assisting a clinic with a Trap, Neuter, Release program for the stray population. Since graduating, she has worked at a small animal practice in York Region for 2 1/2 years, where she also worked with exotic pets, including small birds and pocket pets. While at Seneca, Melissa adopted her incredibly kind family dog, Tika. Sadly, she has left Tika at her family home now that she lives in Guelph. However, she has brought her sweet guinea pig, appropriately named Honey, with her. Both Honey and Moosie (Honey's sister who unfortunately passed away last year) were adopted from one of the labs at the University of Guelph during Melissa's time there. In Melissa's spare time, she enjoys cooking, arts and crafts, and watching movies.
Veterinary Technician Program, Georgian College 2019
Katie is currently employed full-time at MOVEH in the Neurology Department but comes to us in her spare time to work in a private practice setting. When not working, she likes spending time outdoors hiking and at the family cottage. She also has a new QH-Hanoverian x horse, Nash, and spends time at the barn, riding and training him for the hunter/jumper circuit. She has a kitten named Marcus whom she adopted while at school and a 10 yr. old cockapoo x (her first pet), Bailey, who loves to sit around the campfires at the cottage. Bailey is special because she is a parvo-survivor!
Veterinary Technician Program; Companion Animal Physical Rehabilitation - Northern College, 2016
Quinn joins the Cornell team with many years of experience working in both private practice and emergency medicine. As well as using her RVT skills at Cornell she also works at OVC HSC Primary Healthcare Centre in Animal Rehabilitation. When not working as an RVT, Quinn is a Senior Representative at Primerica Financial Services.
Veterinary Assistant Certificate with honours, Seneca College 2019
Kirsten is a great asset at the clinic and we will be sad to see her switch to part time hours as she continues her studies.
BSc in Biological Sciences from University of Guelph (2020)
We are very pleased to have Randi join us full-time for the summer after spending many evenings volunteering her time at the clinic. As well as volunteering at Cornell, she has given her time at a variety of other clinics and kennels as well as the Humane Society in Thunder Bay. When she's not at school or volunteering, she enjoys travelling, reading books, and spending time at her home and cottage in Thunder Bay. As well, she likes hiking, walking and snuggling with her 6 yr old Golden Retriever named Nash. She also has a hamster named Thor.
BSc, Honours in Animal Biology from University of Guelph (2018)
Jessica has worked previously as a veterinary assistant in a small animal practice and as a research assistant in swine nutrition at the University of Guelph. We are pleased to have her join the team at Cornell and bring her energetic and bubbly personality to her work. When not at Cornell, Jessica also works as a pet first aid instructor.
In her spare time, she enjoys hiking with her dogs, Maggie - a 6 yr old Boxer-cross, and Patrick - an 8 yr old miniature Pinscher. She also extends her love of animals into making polymer clay earrings of pets. She volunteers at local dog rescues and has fostered over 10 dogs. To keep her going with all these passions, she admits to drinking as much coffee as possible!!
Honours BSc in Animal Biology from University of Guelph (2019)
OVC Class of 2023
Mel joins us at Cornell as a part-time tech assistant while she continues her studies as a Phase 2 veterinary student at OVC.
BSc, Honours in Animal Biology from University of Guelph (2019)
Laura has been working in the veterinary industry for 5 years and comes to us with plenty of experience in Customer Service and as a Tech Assistant. In her spare time, Laura enjoys yoga, horror movies, travelling and hiking with her three year old shepherd mix, Merlot. She also trains service dogs for children with autism and frequently has foster puppies coming and going from her home.
Customer Service Representatives
Hotel & Catering Course, North Gloucestershire College, England.
Yoga Teacher Training, Maureen Rae’s Yoga Studio, Etobicoke.
Reiki, Reflexology, Animal Communication courses.
Adult Learning Course Teaching Certificate, Durham College.
Pat grew up in England where she loved to escape to the rolling hills, the moorland, or cliff paths beside the sea. Her favourite nature adventures invariably involved horses, cows, sheep, dogs and cats.
Years later in Canada, when her son went into grade one in 1989, Pat realized her dream of working in a veterinary hospital. She has been working in the veterinary profession ever since. Along the way she has cleaned kennels & floors, groomed dogs & cats, assisted in surgery, at the front desk and every other corner of the hospital! The part of working as a veterinary receptionist Pat enjoys most is being part of the beautiful relationship between pets and their people.
Pat has worked at several veterinary hospitals in Mississauga, including Park Animal Hospital where she worked as a receptionist for over 18 years.
When not behind the reception desk, Pat can be found in yoga studios (practising on her mat or singing), hiking in the woods with her camera, writing creatively and cuddling with her delightful kitty companion Penny. Sadly, Pat just lost her longtime feline companion Shanti, whom she misses greatly. However, she has recently welcomed a new furry friend, Michael, into her life as a companion to Penny.
B.Sc. (Agr) University of Guelph 1985
PhD. Botany, University of Guelph 1990
As the Practice Manager for the clinic, Melissa brings her knowledge and experience in website and graphic design to the clinic, as well as a thorough understanding of veterinary practice management and daily operations. Normally she works behind the scenes but occasionally she can be found at the front desk, helping out the reception staff.
When she's not at the clinic, she enjoys travelling, and a variety of sports including running, biking, windsurfing and skiing. She also plays the piano in her spare time, as well as gardens. She shares her life with Mark and their son and daughter - Declan and Bronwyn - and of course numerous cats (Flotsam, Kai and Tiger) as well as their yellow lab, Ryder.