Please note: We will be closing at 2 pm on Saturday, December 24th, and we will be closed Sunday, December 25th and Monday, December 26th in observance of Christmas!

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.

Veterinarians

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

Veterinarian

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. Samm Wambolt

Veterinarian

Dr. Wambolt's Bio

Dr. Samm’s love for animals has been lifelong. From a very early age, she dreamed of the day that she could wear a 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 and the medicine side of client relations. She prides herself on using her skills to work with clients in a team-based approach. As well, she always strives to ensure a good experience for all patients and their guardians and will often use positive reinforcement and an individualized patient approach during examinations.

In her spare time, Dr. Samm loves spending time with her wife and son and is a foodie who loves a good Netflix binge. She herself has 4 dogs, 3 cats, a bird, and a fish and loves every patient like they are her own. Over the years, she has loved receiving photos of her patients and keeps every card, photo, and gift received from clients, as they serve as a constant reminder of why she does what she does.

Monika

Dr. Monika Pangonyte

Veterinarian

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.

Staff

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

Technician
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.

Jessica

Jessica Clare, RVT

Technician

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

Kelsey Gillard, RVT

Technician

Kelsey's Bio
Bio coming soon!
Jen

Jen Bozowskyj, RVT

Technician

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.

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).

Jen

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

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.

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

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

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. She also shares her home with several species of snakes and geckos, Merv the cat, and a hedgehog named Scuttle.

Alicia Boland

Client Care Representative

Alicia's Bio

Alicia studied and completed her Bachelor of Arts, with a double major in Anthropology and Asian Studies. She loves seeing our patients and greeting our clients. When at home she can be found spending time with and admiring her bunny, Tihlo.

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.