Meet the Team

Meet the Team


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 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 or motorcycle on the scenic roads of Haywood County, on his mountain bike exploring the trails or camping. 

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. 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).

Dr. Katie Justice</br> Veterinarian photo

Dr. Katie Justice

Dr. Justice joined our team in September of 2020. Dr. Justice grew up on a ranch with cows, horses, sheep, and lots of dogs. She completed her undergraduate degree at Clemson University, then moved to St. Kitts for veterinary school at Ross University, then to Oregon State for her clinical year. After finishing clinics, she moved to Colorado for a mixed animal internship, before moving to Asheville. She loves anything pertaining to the outdoors, especially hiking and going to Clemson football games. Dr. Justice also has a handsome tuxedo kitty named Jasper. 

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. 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 Volunteer. Upon returning to the United States she chose Asheville as her home. Her work history includes nonprofits in Asheville, a high school Spanish teacher for Haywood County Schools and as the practice manager at Maple Tree. Since 2019 she has worked as a support to the new practice manager and continues other administrative responsibilities remotely. She loves running, camping with her family and eating!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Bethany Krekelberg</br> Client Care Coordinator photo

Bethany Krekelberg
Client Care Coordinator

Bethany has been with Maple Tree since September of 2020 as a Client Care Coordinator. She is new to the veterinary industry, but she's eager to learn more! She is working on her Business Administration degree at Haywood Community College. Outside of work she enjoys studying, traveling, enjoying time with friends and family, and walking around Lake Junaluska with her dog, Dublin, a 4-year-old terrier mix. 

Alisha Weaver</br> Veterinary Assistant photo

Alisha Weaver
Veterinary Assistant

Alisha has been with Maple Tree since December of 2020. She has been in the veterinary field since 2014. She graduated from Warren Wilson College in 2017 with a degree in Biology and Environmental Studies focusing on Conservation Biology. She is currently in the Veterinary Technician Program through Penn Foster and in her spare time, she likes to hike and spend time with her pets. She has a cat named Eris and a dog named Reilly. 

Anna Goodfellow</br> Veterinary Assistant photo

Anna Goodfellow
Veterinary Assistant

Anna joined the Maple Tree team in July of 2020. She has worked in veterinary medicine on and off for 10 years. She went to Appalachian State University for Biology then to Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine for a Masters Degree in Conservation. She loves to run, ski, hike, climb, raft, and just generally loves being outside. Anna has three goofy dogs; a black lab named Fitz and two tree walking coonhound sisters named Tonks and Nessie. 

Haley Cole</br> Veterinary Assistant photo

Haley Cole
Veterinary Assistant

Haley is a native to Western NC. Haley joined our Maple Tree team in January of 2021.  Prior to working in the veterinary field, she worked in the ICU at Mission Hospital as a CNA. In her free time, she enjoys going on drives, hiking, and helping build her family farm. She has two cats, Jonas and Wiggle, and a Border Collie named Wilbur. 

Sheila</br> Veterinary Assistant photo

Veterinary Assistant

Sheila joined the Maple Tree team during the summer of 2020 when she decided to swap her early childhood education career for a career in veterinary medicine.  She lives at home with her three dogs Rusty, Lola, and Ruby and spends her time studying, hiking, and gardening.  Sheila plans to go back to school full time to get her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine in 2023.

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.

Loretta Bardo</br> Camp Groomer photo

Loretta Bardo
Camp Groomer

Loretta Bardo is our newest groomer.  We are lucky that she found us after recently selling her grooming business in Pennsylvania and moving to the NC mountains.  She had her own grooming salon for 4 years. She lives at home with her family and 3 dogs- Lucy the bloodhound, Rosie the Yorkie pom, and Jed her black lab.  When Loretta is not at work she enjoys exploring new outdoor places, seeing bluegrass music and spending time with her husband and her kids.

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.

Laura Felanga</br> Camp Counselor photo

Laura Felanga
Camp Counselor

Laura has been working at Maple Tree since September 2019. She left the hospitality industry and immediately knew her future would be with animals.  Moving to the mountains from Charleston she found Maple Tree when she had to board her dogs and then pursued a job opening at Camp.  She has 2 dogs, Lunarae and Milo, both rescues and retriever mixes, she also has 2 kitties, Jaxy and Toby.  Laura’s passion is for helping animals who need extra care and love to help them blossom into happy pets.  When she is not at work she loves to spend time camping with her husband and dogs and cooking new fun food at home.  

Nicole Rank</br> Camp Counselor photo

Nicole Rank
Camp Counselor

Nicole Rank has been working with Maple Tree since 2020. She moved to NC from Charleston but is originally from Atlanta.  Before working at Camp she was a bartender at Balsam Mountain Inn.  Nicole moved to the area to explore future work with the forest service but has recently changed career path and just got accepted to WCU to major in psychology.  She lives with her 2 dogs, Bender the bulldog mix and Marley a retriever/terrier mix.  When Nicole is not working she is an enthusiastic reader and likes to explore new outdoor adventures. 

George</br> Camp Counselor photo

Camp Counselor

George just recently came to work for us for the 2nd time. He started his journey in animal care 3 years ago when he found us and started as a camp counselor. Due to family needs he moved to Florida and just came back after 3 years. Prior to working with dogs he was in the hospitality business for 20 plus years, working at Biltmore Hotel. After leaving the hotel he knew right away he wanted to pursue his love for animals and tried grooming for a couple of years before getting into luxury animal care. When he is not working at Maple Tree he is spending his time rescuing cats and being a caregiver for his dad.  

Anthony</br> Camp Counselor photo

Camp Counselor

Anthony has been with Maple Since March 2018.  Before working for Maple Tree he was an integral part of Creature Comforts.  Bringing over 10 years of experience to us he is able to use his expertise with all the dogs here to make them feel comfortable and at home for boarding or day camp.  Prior to moving to NC Anthony worked with the greyhounds in Florida at race tracks. He later worked for animal control and was able to see the other sides of dogs and their interaction with owners.  When he’s not working he spends working on his property with his family and animals.  

Dipa Patel</br> Camp Counselor photo

Dipa Patel
Camp Counselor

Dipa came to work at Maple Tree Dog Camp in July of 2020.  Before moving to the mountains in 2018 she lived in Chicago for most of her life. Working with animals has been a huge part of her past experiences, gaining most of her knowledge working in rehabilitation facilities where she focused on birds of prey rehab and with a focus on enrichment.  When she is not at work she enjoys cooking exotic foods and spending time with her dachshund, Bunson.  She currently lives outside of Sylva with her boyfriend and does some volunteer work at the Community Table. 

Amber Kent</br> Camp Counselor photo

Amber Kent
Camp Counselor

Amber Kent has been with Maple Tree since 2019. Amber originally found us by taking our puppy socialization class with 2 of her dogs.  Later, she participated in a volunteer program with us when she was still in highschool.  She is currently getting her dog training certification with the Animal Behavior College.  She has 2 dogs, Elijah the hound mix and Bella the retriever mix with David Bowie eye lashes and a rabbit named Cinnabun.  When Amber is not at work she enjoys taking her dogs for walks and traveling with her family.

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