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, Lila the Labrador and Benny the Jack Russell Terrier.

Dr. Samm Wambolt


Dr. Wambolt's Bio

Dr. Samm’s love for animals has been lifelong. From the time she was a little girl, she dreamed of the day that she could wear the white coat and save animals. She has always been driven to make a positive impact on the lives of both pets and their people.

Dr. Samm began her veterinary career at the Dalhousie University Agricultural Campus in Truro, Nova Scotia, where she attended a two-year Pre-Veterinary Medicine program. Later, she completed a four-year Bachelor of Science in Agriculture degree, majoring in animal science. She was accepted to the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program in 2012, where she then obtained her four-year veterinary medicine degree.

Her special interests in the veterinary field include public education through humour and the medicine side of client relations. She prides herself on using her skills to work with clients in a team-based approach. Also, she always strives to ensure a good experience for all of her patients and their guardians and will often use positive reinforcement and an individualized patient approach during examinations.

As a public educator, she can often be found doing interviews and educational videos on various topics. Dr. Samm loves all of her patients dearly and loves receiving photos of them. She keeps every card, photo, and gift received from clients, as they serve as a constant reminder of why she does what she does.

Be sure to check out Dr. Samm’s video blogs on her Facebook page: Dr. Samm, DVM!


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.

Christina Miller, RVT

Christina's Bio

Originally from Montreal, QC, Christina worked as a veterinary technician since 2004 while studying Animal Health Technology at Vanier College (Ville St-Laurent, QC). She graduated with honours and was awarded the Prix D’Excellence by the Quebec Association of Animal Health Technicians for her early career work in promoting high-quality medicine for exotic companion animals.

Christina returned to teach topics in reptile and amphibian care and medicine at Vanier College for the following decade.
While working full-time as an Registered Veterinary Technician in a large general/emergency practice (as well as side contracts in zoological collection management, teaching at conferences, and laboratory medicine), she completed her Bachelor’s of Environmental and Agricultural Science majoring in applied zoology from McGill University (Montreal, QC) in 2011.

Christina is the current Technician Committee Chair of the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians and is an active member of the Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians as well as the Association of Avian Veterinarians.

Christina has been living in Nova Scotia since 2014 and has worked both in general practice and emergency medicine. She joined Russell Lake Animal Hospital in the summer of 2020 and focuses on exotic animal medicine with this wonderful team. She is working hard towards her Veterinary Technician Specialty in Clinical Practice (Exotic Companion Animal).


Jessica Clare, RVT


Jessica's Bio

Jessica has always surrounded herself with animals since a young age, including dogs, cats, horses, livestock, fish, and exotics. She worked in a fish hatchery, a pet store, and a grooming salon before starting her career in vet med as a veterinary assistant while in high school.

After being mentored by an amazing RVT, she moved to Nova Scotia to attend Dalhousie Agricultural College, graduated in 2019, passed her VTNE, and became a proud Registered Veterinary Technician.

Jessica enjoys all aspects of her career but has a special love for clinical pathology, exotics, internal medicine, and end-of-life care. She has worked in both general practice and in emergency/critical care and loves jumping into difficult and advanced cases.

She lives in East Hants with her partner Ben, their bully mixes Odin and Cupid, Bee the ball python, Lazarus the bearded dragon, along with her collection of freshwater aquarium fish.


Kelsey Gillard, RVT


Kelsey's Bio
Bio coming soon!

Julia Lynch

Veterinary Assistant

Julia's Bio

Julia always had a great passion for animals from a very young age and knew that she would be pursuing her dream of a career in the veterinary industry one day.

In 2014, Julia attended the Vet Assistant program at Maritime Business College and graduated with her diploma the following year.
Julia became a Vet Assistant at Russell Lake Animal Hospital in 2015, during the last few months of her program, and is currently working toward becoming a Veterinary Technician.

She has quite a few pet friends at home, including a Beagle (Cooper), a Border Collie (Lexi), four cats (Chester, Jack, Milo and Simon), and two rats (Ted and Betty).

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!

Robyn Macdonald

Client Care Representative
Robyn's Bio

Robyn grew up in a small town in rural Ontario and moved to Nova Scotia in 2013 to pursue a new adventure with her military spouse. She has a background in culinary management and hospitality. Robyn spent most of her career working in restaurant kitchens and dining rooms. She enjoys genuinely connecting with people and creating a personal customer experience.

You can find her at the local thrift store, hiking, crafting or enjoying a local craft beverage outside of work.


Julia Connors

Client Care Representative

Julia's Bio
Bio coming soon!

Amanda Stewart

Client Care Representative

Amanda's Bio

Bio coming soon!

Beth Rose

Client Care Representative

Beth's Bio

Bio coming soon!

Alicia Boland

Client Care Representative

Alicia's Bio

Bio coming soon!

Cathie Bell

CPDT-KA Certified Professional Dog Trainer
Cathie's Bio
Cathie has been working with dogs for over 30 years. Her training methods are based on the principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis, a scientific approach to training. Cathie has studied with Doctor Bob Bailey, traveling to Hot Springs, Arkansas, and then to Maryland to perfect her training skill using chickens as a training model. Cathie has completed six levels of training with Dr. Bailey.

Her training methods are strongly based on Doctor Karen Overall and Sophia Yin’s work. She attends conferences and skills training yearly to update her knowledge and improve her skills. Most recently, Cathie traveled to Battleground, Indiana, to attend an advanced trainers seminar where she had the opportunity of working with wolves, coyotes, foxes, and bison as the training model.

For the past 12 years, Cathie has been the Facilitator of the Pawsitive Directions Canine Program at Nova Institution for Women in Truro, NS.