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).

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.

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.

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.

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