Our Team

Let us make your experience at Cornell exceptional from start to finish!

OUR TEAM: Tigger, Dakota Halliburton, Laura Smith, Emilie Reid, Julie Dean, Katrina Neiderer, Pat Sandford, Whitney Bowes, Melissa Fickling, Dr. Terra Wakeford, Dr. Kharli Friske, Dr. Mark Gemmill, Melissa Farquhar




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 and their baby boy, Maverick, as well as a mixed breed dog named Carter and a cat named Hurley.

Registered Veterinary Technicians


Melissa Fickling

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 two cats, Mr. Beau and Tumble, as well as Kyle's cat, Oskar. 


Katrina Niederer

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 Coton de Tulear named Shasta (pictured), and her four cats - Thelma, Earl, Kevin, and Neil Patrick Harris. Also, she gives a special mention to her recently 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.


Julie Dean

Veterinary Technician Program, St. Lawrence College, 2011
Medical Emergencies Certificate Completion, University of Guelph, Ridgetown

Julie comes to us with a tremendous amount of experience working in a variety of settings including emergency and general practice with companion animals.  She will be joining us on a part time basis while she continues her work at OVC in the ICU. It will be a pleasure to have her as an addition to our team.

In her free time, Julie enjoys travelling and hiking with "the best dog in the world",  her 6 yr old Rottie named Vinnie. She also enjoys reading a good book, and painting.


Aaryn Murray

Veterinary Technician Program, Seneca College, 2019

Aaryn did her RVT placement at Cornell and we are pleased to now have her join us full-time. Prior to becoming an RVT, she worked as an Animal Care Attendant and in various customer service positions. When she's not at Cornell, she enjoys being outside - hiking and kayaking. In the winter months, she plays basketball and volleyball. She has a Black Lab cross, called Cleo but sadly she recently lost her "best boy" Bentley, a Shepherd/Husky cross.


Snaa Tirmizi

Veterinary Technician Program, Sheridan College, 2013

Snaa joins us at Cornell after 6 years of working in Toronto at a variety of small animal practices. As well as dogs and cats, she is experienced with pocket pets, wild life and emergency medicine. She also works as a rabies collection officer for the OAVT Rabies Response Program.  In the summer months she enjoys getting outside hiking, camping and canoeing whereas in the winter she can be found watching YouTube videos and snuggling with her many pets. These include Jade, her Husky/Shepherd X, two orange and grey tabby cats Wiki and Zuko, and her Butter Ball python, Shade. So who are those two little puppies with her in the photo? Here's the story... She was volunteering for a week in a remote community in northern Ontario,  spaying/neutering for the community to help stop the animal culling practice there. That's where she met these adorable pups and their mummy. Her team ended up spaying/neutering just over 60 dogs and a dozen or so cats in 1 week! And they flew back to Toronto with three puppies who all found nice homes. 🙂

Tech Assistants


Dakota Halliburton

Vet Tech Program, Northern College 2013 Certified Equine Massage Therapist Certified in Equine Vertebral Realignment

Dakota brings a wealth of experience working with both horses and small animals. She has ridden horses since she was 5 years old, is a qualified Equine Massage Therapist, and is certified in Equine Vertebral Realignment. She has taught riding and helped organize shows at an equestrian centre and then went on to work at an equine hospital as a vet technician.  

 Dakota completed the veterinary technician program at Northern College and now at Cornell she has turned her hand to working with small animals as a tech assistant and also on the front desk as receptionist.

She is passionate about being active, works out at the gym, and loves to ski. She is the proud mama of two happy kitties, Kuzco and Kronk, whose names are inspired by the Disney movie, ‘The Emperor’s New Groove.’ 

Emilie-Reid- vetTA-guelph-cornell

Emilie Reid


Emilie has worked previously as both a vet assistant and a kennel attendant. Her love of working with animals started at a young age when she got her first tattoo, which was cat-related. She grew up with a full house of dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, rats and rabbits. She has now added an exotic to her experiences, with her 1 year old pied ball python,  Pici (pronounced Peachy) which she describes as "super cuddly and friendly". She also has a talkative tabby  cat called Ravioli.

In her spare time, she enjoys driving her Subaru to car "meet-ups" and spending time with her family in New Brunswick. She also enjoys horse back riding and going to pet conventions.

Customer Service Representatives

Whitney Bowes

Sheridan College - Bachelor of Arts and Science
Certification in Emergency Canine CPR & First Aid
Certified Yoga Teacher RYT 200 - The Institute of Classical Yoga & Therapy

Whitney has worked in several animal hospitals over the years. She has volunteered her time fostering cats and kittens, and even rehabilitated small wild life. Whitney has a big soft spot for special needs animals, such as her cats Noelle, and Eddie Spaghetti both born with different mobility ailments. She shares her home with an additional 'foster failure' feline, Mimaw, and is remembering her two beautiful dogs Karma and Gabriel that she sadly lost this past year.

When not at work, she can be found painting, playing guitar, reading, practicing yoga or up north enjoying a sunset at the cottage.


Pat Sandford

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 companions, Shanti and Penny.

Practice Manager


Melissa Farquhar

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, Herman and Tiger) as well as their yellow lab, Ryder.