We’re one big family!

Get to know us!

 Our team is committed to educating our clients on keeping their pets healthy year-round, with good nutrition and exercise.


Dr. Adva Barkai-Ronayne

Owner / Veterinarian
Dr. Barkai-Ronayne's Bio

Since early childhood, there was never a doubt in anyone’s mind as to Dr. Barkai’s future career choice. After completing her military service, she went to Europe to pursue her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree. Dr. Barkai graduated from university in 1997 yet didn’t feel as though she was done being a student. In 1999 she went to England and, in 2000, completed her Masters of Science degree in wild animal health at the Royal Veterinary College in London, UK. Though she loved her years in university and the world of zoos and wildlife, Dr. Barkai felt it was time to explore private practice and small animals.

Since returning to Canada, she has worked as a locum vet in a variety of places, including a large 24-hour emergency hospital in Toronto, a small practice in Labrador City, and a mixed-practice in Ontario.

Dr. Barkai also worked for four years at Truro Veterinary Hospital, where she worked together with Lisamarie. Opening Russell Lake Animal Hospital is her opportunity to realise her dream and turn her vision into reality by creating a cutting-edge, high-tech hospital that can provide the best and latest medical care and is a warm and personal care environment at the same time.

Currently, her pet friends are Sir Francis the cat and Lulu Bell, her deaf, mixed-breed dog. Together with Lulu Bell, they are learning to navigate the world without sounds.

Dr. Amanda Estabrooks


Dr. Estabrooks' Bio

Dr. Amanda Estabrooks was born and raised in Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia. She attended and graduated from the Atlantic Veterinary College in 2008. She then moved to Southwestern Ontario and practiced there for 13 years in both companion and emergency medicine. She has a special interest in surgery, infectious disease and diagnostics, specifically ultrasound.

In early 2021 she decided it was time to return to her hometown and joined the Russell Lake Animal Hospital team in July 2021. In her free time she likes to read, hike and spend time on the water. Her pet family includes Monty the cat, and Lila the Labrador.


Dr. Monika Pangonyte


Dr. Pangonyte's Bio

Dr. Monika Pangonyte studied Veterinary Medicine at the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences. She joined Russell Lake Animal Hospital in 2021 for her final externship, graduated from her program in March of 2022, and is currently working towards becoming licensed in Canada. Her special interest includes internal medicine and laboratory analysis.

When she is not at work she loves spending time hiking with her husband and dog. or can be found reading and crocheting. She has a Bouvier des Flanders, named Agni and a Siberian kitty, named Fay.


Lisamarie Risser

Practice Manager

Lisamarie's Bio

Lisamarie has been working in the veterinary industry since 2002, after completing the Veterinary Assistant program at Maritime Business College. After graduating, Lisamarie worked with the Truro Veterinary Hospital as a Veterinary Assistant, where she stayed until joining Russell Lake Animal Hospital to become Hospital Manager in 2011.

The pets in Lisamarie’s world include two wonderful cats (Mickey and Stix), a Pionus parrot (Olive), two Cockatiels (Mellon and Nigel), one very goofy Cockatoo, and a flock of very interesting guinea fowl.

When not at work, Lisamarie can usually be found doing bird-related activities – anything from cleaning up after the messy bunch to making bird toys or enrichment items to just enjoying their crazy antics.

Katherine Ralph

Client Care Manager & Marketing Coordinator
Katherine's Bio

Originally from a small town in Newfoundland, Katherine has an innate love for nature, animals, and community. She attributes this to her rural roots and upbringing.

Before joining us in early 2020, Katherine received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Memorial University. She spent the next five years honing her customer relations skills in the technology sector.

Having always been creative, Katherine taps into her creativity by creating social media posts, signage and marketing content for us here at Russell Lake Animal Hospital.

On her days off, Katherine can be found hiking, reading a book, spending time with friends or family, relaxing at the beach or enjoying a good movie or show. She has 2 Havanese dogs, Skipper and Winnie, that are never too far from her side and a crested gecko named Stitch.

Melissa Kervin, RVT

Melissa's Bio

Before attending college, Melissa volunteered at Hope’s for Wildlife, where she helped care for various wildlife, including raccoons, squirrels, songbirds, and deer. Melissa graduated with a diploma in veterinary technology from Dalhousie Agricultural College in May 2015. She took her Veterinary Technician National Exam in 2015 and became a Registered Veterinary Technologist.

Melissa joined Russell Lake Animal Hospital in the fall of 2015. She plans to carry on her career in small animal practice there. Her special interests are in veterinary dentistry and anesthesia. Still, she is also very excited when she gets to spend time in the lab looking under the microscope at the wonderful world that can be found in blood smears, urine and poop samples or ear swabs.

The pet friends included in her life are five friendly Shih Tzu’s, Dot and Lou being her own.


Jen Bozowskyj, RVT


Jen's Bio

Upon moving to Canada from the UK, Jen decided it was also time for a career change. Wanting to stay rooted in science but be more beneficial for the society she decided to follow her love of animals and pursue a career in veterinary medicine.

Jen graduated from Algonquin College (Ottawa) in May 2019 and passed the VTNE to become a Registered Veterinary Technician later that same year.

Jen started her career in small animal practice in Ottawa and later moved to the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia. She joined Russell Lake in February 2022 and feels she has found a great fit here. Jen enjoys taking care of her patients, especially during surgery and anesthesia. She also really enjoys trying to make her patients’ visits as low-stress and enjoyable as possible for both them and their parents.

Jen has four adorable misfit cats that she’s picked up along the way; Wee-bey, Eddie, Dolly, and Snoop.


Ren Constable, RVT


Ren's Bio

Ren graduated from the Veterinary Technician program at DalAC Truro in 2020 before moving to BC where they became registered and worked in an Emergency/Specialty Veterinary Hospital primarily as an ICU technician until early 2022. Desiring a more well-rounded skill set they moved to general practice before eventually returning to Nova Scotia later that year to join Russell Lake Animal Hospital. Ren has always had a special interest in Fear Free practices after seeing the difference with their difficult cat, Thor, and has been a certified Fear Free Professional since tech school; adding the Low Stress Handling certification was a natural stepping stone for them. 


Hannah MacDonald, RVT


Hannah's Bio

Much like many people in the veterinary world, Hannah always knew she wanted to work with animals in some capacity. While working on her Bachelor of Science in biology at Dalhousie University, she began working for Hope for Wildlife. She started out working with a variety of species, but ultimately became the “bird mom” and focused on working with songbirds for the last year of her position there. Her favourite avian species to work with were Song Sparrows and Black Capped Chickadees. 

In 2021, she decided to pursue Veterinary Technology at Dalhousie’s Agricultural campus. She graduated in May of 2023. She accepted a position at Russell Lake Animal Hospital in July and passed her VTNE later that summer to become a Registered Veterinary Technician. Her special interests in the field include radiology (x-rays) and lab work. 

In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her pets. She has an Australian Shepherd named Finch, a cat named Bubba, three White’s Tree Frogs named Noodle, Kiwi, and Blueberry, and a Bristlenose Pleco named Scrat!


Jackie Harris, RVT


Jackie's Bio

Jackie decided to pursue a career in Veterinary Medicine after being matched up as a Vet Tech in a Career Bridges course a few years ago, a title that she had no idea existed before! After graduating with Honours from Oulton College in 2022, Jackie decided to see all the Atlantic Provinces by starting her journey in Newfoundland, at a very busy practice in Paradise. Here, she wrote and passed her VTNE – granting her the RVT title. 

After a few years, Jackie decided it would be best to move closer to her home in PEI to be able to see her family more often, and agreed on NS as the best middle ground. 

Jackie is currently enrolled in ASL classes and will have her Beginner’s Certificate in April. She is very excited to be able to bring in new clientele with this skill.

In her free time, Jackie enjoys playing sports and fixing up the truck. She has interests in furthering her RVT career by obtaining her PennHip Certificate, as well as one day specializing in anesthesiology. Her favourite spot to be is in the surgery suite.

Jackie has her own personal travel sidekick as well, her cat named Chewy! 

Jenna Miles

Veterinary Assistant

Jenna's Bio

Jenna graduated from the Maritime Busines College Veterinary Assistant program in January 2020. She completed part of her work placement here at Russell Lake Animal Hospital, and she is thrilled to be back. Jenna’s areas of interest include exotics and emergency care. She is also passionate about preventive and dental care.

Jenna has several animals of her own, including a cat, a dog, two bunnies, and two frogs. She also has a fluctuating number of foster animals. In her spare time, she volunteers at Hope for Wildlife, where she most enjoys working with the turtles.

Melissa Mason

Veterinary Assistant
Melissa's Bio

Melissa was born and raised in Tantallon, NS. Four years ago, she decided to make the switch from the hospitality industry to the veterinary industry. For over six years, she has actively volunteered with many cat rescues, including Healing Animal Scars, 9Lives, Spayday, & the SPCA. Melissa enjoys trapping feral kittens that were born outdoors and socializing them, so they can be adopted out. She has travelled pretty much all over the province to assist with kitties. Her pets are Midnight, Garfield, Sonny, Minnie, Pepsi, Rootbeer, Fancy, HissyPissyChrissy, Jack, Janet, Missy, Bagheera and Molly, a golden retriever who thinks she is a big cat. Yes, that is correct – 12 cats & one dog!


Hannah Courrier

Veterinary Assistant

Hannah's Bio

Hannah completed her work placement here at Russell Lake Animal Hospital in 2021. She recently graduated with her Diploma in Veterinary Technology and officially joined our team in 2022. She hopes to receive her official title as a Registered Veterinary Technician when she passes her examination in November.

When deciding on a career path, Hannah decided that she wanted to pursue a bachelor of science. However, after volunteering in veterinary medicine she decided to make a change and become a veterinary technician.

Her special interests include radiology and lab work. She especially enjoys puppy and kitten visits. She has two cats at home, Marilyn and Darth.


Veterinary Assistant

Denise's Bio
Denise graduated from the Veterinary Assistant program at Maritime Business College in 2015, and has been working as a Vet Assistant since. She has always had a soft spot for animals, especially small dogs, and couldn’t picture herself doing anything else. She joined the team here in March 2023. She has one Shih Tzu mix called Dexter, and two cats as well. She loves the outdoors, and spends her summer vacations hiking and camping. 

Julia Connors

Client Care Representative

Julia's Bio

Julia was born and raised in Dartmouth, she graduated high school in 2019 and is currently in school to pursue a career in social work. She has always had an immense passion for animals and helping others. When not at work she can be found reading or spending time with family and friends, as well as her dog Ellie. She thoroughly enjoys creating a comfortable experience for owners and their pets throughout their entire veterinary visit and developing personal connections with clients and their fur babies.

Amanda S

Amanda Stewart

Client Care Representative

Amanda's Bio

Amanda studied visual arts & photography for 3 years. She worked as a photographer and owned a busy cafe & art studio for many years. She has lots of experience working with people in unique and busy environments.

Amanda’s first experience with Russell Lake Animal Hospital was with a client. When she found out about it and was offered an opportunity to join the team she was excited! She enjoys working with and helping people and is an animal lover owner so the opportunity to help people and their pets felt ideal.

She enjoys greeting the patients and their people, seeing them get the care they need, and working with the team. The hard work and care that the team puts in to make sure our clients and patients are taken care of makes even the longest most difficult days rewarding.

Amanda strives to constantly learn new things so she can better help our clients and patients. She is fascinated by everything that goes on behind the scenes, especially the surgeries and our lab. The fact that our team can do so many amazing things in our hospital is amazing.

When she is not behind the front desk, she loves being outside or being crafty. You can find her on the beach or walking with (or cuddling) her 2 HUGE fluffy dogs. She also has 2 crazy but loveable cats, and a tank full of pretty little freshwater fish.


Beth Rose

Client Care Representative

Beth's Bio

Beth grew up in New Brunswick. She has had a passion for all animals, large and small, since she was a child. In 2007 she graduated from Nova Scotia Agricultural College with a BSc in Animal Science. Since then she has spent time working in the pet retail industry and spent some time as a zookeeper in Ontario. In 2021 she returned to Nova Scotia and joined Russell Lake Animal Hospital in the spring of 2022.

Outside of work you can find Beth in the barn with her 3 horses or training with her Rottweiler, Winnie & Cinna. She also shares her home with several species of snakes and geckos, Merv the cat, and a hedgehog named Scuttle.

Dru Lauzon

Client Care Representative

Dru's Bio
Dru grew up in Dartmouth, lived in various cities in Ontario from 2006 to 2019 and returned to Nova Scotia in January 2020. He has worked at Russell Lake Animal Hospital since August 2023. He has two cats, Ella and Luke.

Tessa Client

Client Care Representative

Tessa's Bio

Bio coming soon