Meet the Team

Meet the Team

Hospital Staff

Kate Birthright</br> Practice Owner photo

Kate Birthright
Practice Owner

Kate and Dr. Birthright have been working together since designing, building and finally opening the hospital in July of 2005. In 2012 Kate joined the team at Maple Tree Veterinary Hospital on a regular basis working as the hospital manager.

Kate grew up in the panhandle of Florida and moved to Boone, NC to attend Appalachian State University. After graduating she spent the next two years in Honduras serving as a Peace Corps Volunteers. Upon returning to the United States she chose Asheville as her home. Working with Catholic Social Services and Children First were rewarding jobs but a love for Spanish and the move to Waynesville after marrying Dr. Birthright led her to obtain her certification as a Spanish teacher for Haywood County Schools. While working as a teacher Kate also did work on evenings and weekends for Maple Tree. After having their second child in 2012 it seemed like a good fit to move full time into a management position with the hospital.

Parker Austin</br> Practice Manager photo

Parker Austin
Practice Manager

Parker Austin joined the Maple Tree team in January of 2019. Parker grew up in Atlanta, Georgia and after graduating from Georgia State University, he moved to San Francisco, California. He lived in San Francisco for close to ten years before the pull of the mountains and family brought him and his wife back to the area. Outside of work, you can typically find him in the woods with his pup, Hobbes or enjoying the day on the golf course.

Brittany Heathman</br> Registered Veterinary Technician photo

Brittany Heathman
Registered Veterinary Technician

Brittany Heathman has been part of the Maple Tree team since 2014. She previously worked in the University of Tennessee Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Large Animal Clinical Sciences department. Brittany graduated with her A.A.S. in Veterinary Medical Technology Program at A-B Tech. She has a yorkie mix named Cecil. and a ball python named Tyki. Brittany’s hobbies include hiking, reading, snow skiing, and snowboarding.

Meghan Fortner<br> Registered Veterinary Technician photo

Meghan Fortner
Registered Veterinary Technician

Meghan Fortner has been part of the Maple Tree team since 2012 after completing her A.A.S in Veterinary Medical Technology program at A-B Tech. She left general practice for a little while in 2017 to teach in the vet tech program at A-B Tech. While she loved teaching, she missed the patients and clients in general practice and returned back to Maple Tree full time in 2019. Meghan moved to Waynesville from Boone, NC. She has a rambunctious hound mix named Fern, a sweet boxer mix named Patterson, and a very full of life kitty named Begley. Outside of work, Meghan enjoys going to music shows, reading, and enjoying all these beautiful mountains have to offer.

Megan Katzfey​​​​​​​</br> Registered Veterinary Technician photo

Megan Katzfey​​​​​​​
Registered Veterinary Technician

Megan Katzfey joined the Maple Tree team in 2015. She is originally from Dayton, Ohio. After obtaining her degree in English Literature, she moved to the Carribean and worked as a first mate on a snorkel tour. After returning to the U.S., she attended tech school in Pittsburgh. She has three lovely littermate kitties named Lily, Moose and Bean. When she is not at work or playing with her cats, she enjoys reading, gardening, cooking and kayaking.

Emiley Powell</br> Registered Veterinary Technician photo

Emiley Powell
Registered Veterinary Technician

Emiley Powell joined us in October of 2017 while completing her A.A.S. in the Veterinary Medical Technology program at A-B Tech. She grew up here in Waynesville, NC. Emiley has a sweet boxer mix named Annie. Outside of work she enjoys spending time at Lake Chatuge, reading romance novels, binge-watching Netflix, spending time with friends, and walking Lake Junaluska.

Christina Hepner</br> Veterinary Assistant photo

Christina Hepner
Veterinary Assistant

Christina Hepner is originally from Athens, Georgia. Her previous job was a phlebotomy tech and the University of Georgia Teaching Hospital. Christina has 10 chickens, 4 dogs, 3 cats, 2 horses, 1 donkey, and 1 pig. Outside of caring for her multiple pets, she loves being a mom to her 3 kids. Christina also enjoys kayaking, hiking, reading and listening to music.

Carie Casserino​​​​​​​</br> Veterinary Assistant photo

Carie Casserino​​​​​​​
Veterinary Assistant

Carie Casserino joined us in 2017 after moving here from Massachusetts. She has a precious cavalier named Murphy as well as 5 cats named Finnegan, Kylee, Liam, Logan and Mackenzie. In addition, Carie also has 31 chickens. Outside of work, Carie enjoys hiking and planning her homestead.

Brie Pope</br> Client Care Coordinator photo

Brie Pope
Client Care Coordinator

Brie Pope became part of Maple Tree’s family in 2016. She is from Candler, NC and used to work as a computer technician. She has two adorable Chihuahuas named Tito and Penny. Outside of work she loves to read scary books and spend time at the lake.

Julie Smith</br> Client Care Coordinator photo

Julie Smith
Client Care Coordinator

Julie Smith became part of Maple Tree’s family in 2018. She is originally from Putney, Vermont. She has been working in the veterinary industry for a long time. Outside of work Julie loves to spend time with friends and family and attend social events.

Julie <q>JO</q> Ott​​​​​​​</br> Client Care Coordinator/Dog Camp Counselor photo

Julie JO Ott​​​​​​​
Client Care Coordinator/Dog Camp Counselor

Joined Maple Tree in 2018 after retiring from a different career in her hometown of Kalamazoo, Michigan. She has two dogs, an Old English Mastiff, named Gus and her bestie, Eva, the Belgian Malinois. In her off time, Jo enjoys being with her family, wandering the woods, listening to music and is shamelessly addicted to puns of any and all types.


Dr. Brian H. Birthright</br> Doctor of Veterinary Medicine photo

Dr. Brian H. Birthright
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Birthright's love of the mountains, since childhood, brought him from Tuscaloosa, Alabama to Waynesville, NC. Since graduating from Auburn School of Veterinary Medicine, he has wanted to open his own hospital and practice a high level of medical care including internal medicine, surgery, and emergency/critical care.

When not working or spending time with his family Dr. Birthright can be found riding his bicycle on the scenic roads of Haywood County or on his mountain bike exploring the trails. He has completed the Assault on Mount Mitchell and several other challenging races that show his stamina and determination

Dr. Toria Boon McHarg </br> Doctor of Veterinary Medicine photo

Dr. Toria Boon McHarg
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

Toria McHarg started working with us in 2018. She had previous experience working as a relief veterinarian in the Asheville area. At home, she has two dogs and two cats. She has a husky mix and border collie mix, Kora and Loral. She also has two cats, Rasputin and Sumi. In her free time, Toria enjoys cooking, gardening, hiking, and spending time with her kids and friends.

Dr. Nancy East</br> Doctor of Veterinary Medicine photo

Dr. Nancy East
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. East attended Auburn University's College of Veterinary Medicine and settled down in Waynesville after graduating in 1997. She worked full time as a small animal veterinarian until she became a mother, trading in her stethoscope for a diaper bag. She continued to work part-time, working as a relief veterinarian in regional hospitals, ultimately working exclusively at Maple Tree Veterinary Hospital. She immensely enjoys working with Maple Tree's clients, patients, and the amazing staff.

Dr. East and her husband, Larry, have three beautiful children--Aidan, Paige, and Wogene (who joined their family through adoption from Ethiopia in 2012). She home schooled her children for five years but ultimately helped start a charter school where they now attend school. She enjoys being a member of Haywood County's Search and Rescue Team and she loves spending time with her family and their beloved dog, Josie, as well as hiking, backpacking, and traveling.

Dr. Rachelle McKinnon</br> Doctor of Veterinary Medicine photo

Dr. Rachelle McKinnon
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. McKinnon started working at Maple Tree in 2013. She obtained her bachelor’s degree from Meredith College in Raleigh and graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine in 2008. She is a native of Haywood County and is excited to be able to practice in her hometown of Waynesville. Outside of veterinary medicine, she and her husband Fred enjoy time with their 3 children- Caden, Annaleigh, and 1 yr old Tenleigh, traveling (they especially love visiting NYC), and Dr McKinnon loves flower gardening. She and her family share their home with 4 pets- two cats (Naomi and Emmett) and two dogs (15 year old Phoebe and their goldendoodle, Fenway).

Camp Staff

Spring McKenzie</br> Camp Leader photo

Spring McKenzie
Camp Leader

Spring McKenzie has been with Maple Tree Dog Camp since opening in October of 2013. She is an alumnus of WCU with a degree in psychology and biology. Spring lives in Balsam with her partner along with her full house of animals. She loves coming home to the zoo at home after leaving the zoo at work. Her home pack consists of Maple, a supermodel Catahoula from the shelter, Legba a Catahoula who was found in the woods, Ramble a mutt who as at a rescue in Charlotte, Arleene, a cane corso, and Sherpa, a husky rescued from Sarge’s. The cats who live in the mess of dogs are Zoe, Bayou, and Gumbo, the ring leader. When Spring is away from work she loves to hike, see live music, and travel while always eating good food.

Rick Best</br> Camp Groomer photo

Rick Best
Camp Groomer

Rick Best has been providing professional grooming with the team Maple Tree since 2010. Originally from Canada, Rick moved to the mountains after living on the west coast. Rick has a sweet retriever mix named Samson. When Rick is not at work he enjoys spending time hiking, running, and spending time with his grandkids.

Paige McClain</br> Camp Groomer photo

Paige McClain
Camp Groomer

Paige McClain has been grooming for Maple Tree since 2014. Originally from Indiana, she moved to go to school at Western Carolina University, where she got her degree in Forensic Anthropology. She is a mom of 5 pups and 3 cats. She has Oliver, a Papillion, Turbo the Chihuahua, Jolene the terrier mix, Sprite a rescue from a hoarding situation, and Gambit the frenchie/boston terrier. Her cats are Dexter, Theodore, and Kitten. When Paige is not grooming she loves to spend her time seeing live music and helping out at local rescues.

Jewel Shirey</br> Camp Counselor photo

Jewel Shirey
Camp Counselor

Jewel Shirey became part of the Maple Tree family in March of 2018. She moved to Waynesville from Cumming, Georgia with her twin sister and mother. She has 2 dogs, a black lab, shepherd mix and a dachshund, jack russell mix. Outside of work, Jewel loves to play bass guitar and go bowling.

Maddie Perry ​​​​​​</br> Dog Camp Counselor photo

Maddie Perry ​​​​​​
Dog Camp Counselor

Madeline Feigl has been with us since 2015. She started at Maple Tree as a Veterinary Assistant, but now works as a Dog Camp Counselor. She is originally from Centralia, Illinois, but loves living in the mountains! She has two cats, Falcor and Strider, who she loves very much. She also has a pit-bull/terrier mix named Deets and a boxer named Sadie. When she’s not at work, she spends as much time as possible outside hiking, camping, reading, gardening, and road tripping.

Ariel Justice</br> Camp Counselor photo

Ariel Justice
Camp Counselor

Ariel Justice just started working with us at Maple Tree. She was a groomer for 4 years and is looking forward to starting school soon for graphic design and game development. She has 2 dogs, Haji a border collie mix, Pixel who is a beagle mix, a cat, Pocky and a sugar glider, Muchkin. When Ariel is not at work she likes to spend her time playing digital and board games.

Nicole Rank</br> Camp Counselor photo

Nicole Rank
Camp Counselor

Amber McMullen</br> Camp Counselor photo

Amber McMullen
Camp Counselor

Laura Felanga</br> Camp Counselor photo

Laura Felanga
Camp Counselor

Maple Tree Veterinary Hospital
& Dog Camp

1855 Russ Ave.

Waynesville, NC 28786

For general information, questions, appointment requests, call us at:

Hospital: 828-452-5211
Dog Camp: 828-246-9770
To reach us through our App, click our Request Appointment tab!

Hospital Hours

Click Here to See Dog Camp Hours

Monday 7:30am - 5:00pm

Tuesday 7:30am - 7:00pm

Wednesday 7:30am - 5:00pm

Thursday 7:30am - 7:00pm

Friday 7:30am - 5:00pm

Saturday Closed

Sunday Closed