Our veterinary specialty and emergency team are led by veterinarians whose focus is on the welfare of patients first and foremost.
Specialty Director Jeff Phillips, DVM, MSpVM, Ph.D., DACVIM, leads a team of five additional board-certified specialists, and a dynamic team of highly-trained emergency veterinarians and veterinary interns. This incredible medical force is supported by the best team of veterinary technicians, technologists and support staff in eastern Tennessee.
As specialty director, Dr. Phillips helps guide and grow Animal Emergency & Specialty Center, ensuring a standard of care and the selection of specialists that best meet our client’s needs. As head oncologist, Jeff takes great pride in being able to serve patients with cancer.
“I treat people’s pets as if I was going through the same thing as an owner. If I give it any less effort, I wouldn’t be happy, so I try to maintain that level of attention,” says Dr. Phillips.
Phillips graduated from Pomona College with a bachelor of science in chemistry in 1992. He then attended Tufts University, completing a combined Ph.D. (Medical Genetics) and DVM program at the Sackler School of Biomedical Sciences and the Veterinary School, respectively. In 2001, Jeff attended North Carolina State University for a rotating internship in small animal medicine and surgery. In 2002, he began a residency in medical oncology while simultaneously completing his master’s in preventative veterinary medicine.
After completing his specialty training in 2005, Phillips accepted a position as an assistant professor of oncology and medical genetics at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. There, he served as director of clinical research from 2009 – 2011 while running the college’s medical oncology teaching and clinical program.
In 2011, he accepted a clinical position as head of oncology at the Animal Emergency and Specialty Center, where he has focused on clinical practice. Throughout his career, Dr. Phillips has also upheld the importance of teaching and research. Thus, since 2011, he has also served as the chair of biomedical sciences and associate dean of research at Lincoln Memorial University. In this position, he hopes to continue research for his specialized field, recruit strong faculty members to run an oncology program and create a robust curriculum for budding young veterinarians.
Jeff Phillips, DVM accepted the position of specialty director in 2017.
He lives on a 20-acre farm in Mascot, TN, with his wife, two sons and daughter, nine cats, four dogs, and 18 horses, one of which was a rescue blood donor horse.
Dr. Bohling is a California native; however, he has been in East Tennessee for ~11 years. Dr. Bohling is a 1986 graduate of the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis. After working as a food animal veterinarian for six years, he began working in small animal general and emergency practice in 1992. In 2004, he completed residency training in small animal surgery at Auburn University, and has been board certified since 2006. In 2007 he finished a PhD, also at Auburn, where his dissertation work focused on comparative wound healing, specifically regarding how wound healing in cats differs from wound healing in dogs.
From 2005 to 2012, Dr. Bohling served on the faculty at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. He entered private surgery practice in 2013 (RIVER in Chattanooga) where he served as the Chief of Surgery and practiced as both a general and orthopedic surgeon. Within the field of general surgery, he has a strong interest in surgical oncology with expertise in reconstructive surgery, wound management, and surgery of exotic species.
Dr. Mitchell, a Tennessee native, was born and raised in Knoxville, TN. She began working with animals when she was 16 years old at Cedar Bluff Animal Clinic. She received her bachelor's degree in Animal Science from the University of Tennessee in 2012. Dr. Mitchell graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine in 2016, where she received awards in surgery, internal medicine, emergency & critical care, and pain management. She completed her rotating internship at the Ohio State University the following year. She then pursued a competitive surgical internship at Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists in Houston, TX. She received an award from the Veterinary Orthopedic Society for the research she presented on total hip replacements in dogs. She then went on to complete a 3-year surgery residency at a busy private practice in Los Angeles, California at VCA-Animal Specialty Group.
Following the completion of her residency, she became a staff surgeon at VCA-RIVER in Chattanooga, TN. She became a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons during this time. Dr. Mitchell’s professional interests include wound management and reconstructive surgery, surgical oncology, ACL surgery, and minimally-invasive surgery including arthroscopic and laparoscopic procedures.
In her free time, Dr. Mitchell enjoys spending time with her husband, family, and friends, in addition to weight lifting, being outdoors and staying active. Dr. Mitchell has a 3-legged pitbull and one cat who also occupy a significant portion of her free time. She is very excited to be back home in Knoxville, TN.
Dr. Whittemore was raised in the Midwest, living everywhere from Minnesota to Tennessee. After graduating from Purdue University in 1995, she moved to California where she discovered her true calling in veterinary medicine. She received her DVM from the University of California, Davis College of Veterinary Medicine in 2000. After two years in small animal general practice, she completed a residency in small animal internal medicine at Colorado State University in 2005, followed shortly by a PhD. Dr. Whittemore joined the faculty at the University of Tennessee, College of Veterinary Medicine in 2007. She was promoted to Associate Professor in 2012 and served as the Acree Research Chair from 2016-2021.
Dr. Whittemore particularly enjoys the way clinical practice intersects with research, drawing inspiration from her patients and their owners to advance veterinary care. To this end, she maintains a partial appointment at UT as a Clinical Associate Professor. Her research includes developing minimally-invasive and endoscopic techniques to improve patient outcome; decreasing negative effects of drugs on the gut of dogs and cat, particularly through the use of probiotics; and detecting systemic effects of canine endocrine disease.
When not hunkered over records in the clinic, Dr. Whittemore can be found developing new resources for use in her immersive endoscopy courses for small animal specialists and technicians. Her online-only and small group on-site courses have been taken by more than 1,500 veterinary professionals, representing over 60 countries around the globe. Though highly skilled in advanced endoscopic procedures, what often stands out to peers is Dr. Whittemore’s knack for improvisation.
Dr. Whittemore lives in South Knoxville with her husband, daughter, dog and two cats. In her free time, she enjoys backpacking in the Smokies with her family, crafting, doing construction work with Habitat for Humanity, and swing dancing.
Dr. Morré grew up in New England, working in animal rescue prior to pursuing a career as a veterinarian. She has an extensive resume in both academic and private practice veterinary medicine. She completed her undergraduate training at Murray State in KY and pursued her veterinary degree at Iowa State University. Following veterinary school, she completed a competitive small animal surgery and medicine internship at Oklahoma State before embarking on a career in private practice.
Dr. Morré’s private practice experience in the Northeast ranged from associate DVM to practice owner. After building a successful practice in New Hampshire, Dr. Morré decided she wanted to specialize in internal medicine and so she pursued a Specialty Internship with the Veterinary Specialists of Rochester, NY. She was then offered a prestigious residency slot in Small Animal Internal Medicine at Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. She excelled in her residency program and finished a concurrent Master’s degree in June 2017.
Dr. Morré is board-certified in internal medicine. She is well recognized by her mentors and peers for her clinical expertise and her compassion. Her clinical interests include feline geriatric diseases (hyperthyroidism, renal disease) and respiratory diseases.
Dr. Hodgson lived in upstate NY most of her life. After finishing undergraduate studies at Syracuse University, she worked for a year in the toxicology department at a pharmaceutical company. She then attended veterinary school at Cornell while working in Cornell’s small animal ICU during nights and weekends.
After veterinary school, Hodgson pursued a one-year rotating internship at Carolina Veterinary Specialists in Charlotte, NC. After completing a masters degree and three-year residency in emergency and critical care at University of Illinois, she joined Animal Emergency & Specialty Center.
Dr. Hodgson’s clinical interests include mechanical ventilation, hemodialysis, coagulopathies, and traumatic brain injuries, among others.
She moved to Tennessee with her six dogs and fiancé, who is also a veterinarian.
Raised in Knoxville, Dr. Rutherford graduated from the University of Tennessee with his bachelor’s in biology. His first taste for working with animals was as a kennel technician for Fountain City Animal Hospital.
He also worked as a marine mammal's keeper at the Knoxville Zoo and eventually decided to consider vet school.
Dr. Rutherford obtained his doctorate of veterinary medicine from the University of Tennessee before working at a specialty and emergency practice in Indianapolis. “After I got a taste for emergency work, everything else paled in comparison,” he says. He then completed an emergency and critical care residency in California before returning to Knoxville to begin working at the Animal Emergency and Specialty Center in 2009.
Dr. Rutherford and his team actively manage each patient’s situation on a case-by-case basis. “With each patient I think ahead and make decisions about treatment, not only based on the here and now, but what I can expect will happen within the next six to 12, to 24 hours,” he says.
Despite all the advanced technical equipment used on-site, Rutherford believes some of the best service he and his team provides day-in and day-out is basic, fundamental nursing care. “Not only do we treat what physically ails your pet, we also care and provide for your pet’s mental wellbeing. We encourage owners to come by and spend time with their pets during recovery.”
Brian Rutherford, DVM lives in Knoxville with his wife Jennifer, daughter Olivia, and their multiple pets. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, working in the yard and is an avid sports fan.
A University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine graduate, Dr. Parker has always had a passion for emergency and critical care medicine. She pursued a rotating internship focusing on emergency and critical care in Thousand Oaks & Ventura, CA and then joined R.I.V.E.R. in Chattanooga where she worked as an emergency clinician.
With 7 years of emergency medicine experience under her belt, Dr. Parker joined the AESC team in May 2017 when she moved to Maryville with her husband, Bobby and step-daughter, Andi. She has a special interest in ultrasound and echocardiography, cytology, surgery, and CPR training.
Outside of work, she enjoys performing improv comedy, playing piano, gardening, refinishing wood furniture, and playing with the family pets: Birdie (Blue Heeler), Elsa (lilac point Siamese), and Mouse (black domestic shorthair).
Dr. Waller was born and raised in Knoxville, TN. Although she ventured to North Carolina and even St. Kitts and Nevis for her veterinary education, coming home to Knoxville was always part of her long-term plan. After working for a year at a private practice in Kingsport, TN, Waller came to work for AESC in the winter of 2010 as an emergency veterinarian.
After just a few months on the job, Dr. Waller performed a late-night emergency surgery on a dog, keeping him alive in the process. “I went out to talk to the owner and they thanked me for saving their pet’s life. That is when I realized that I had made a difference in the owner’s life, and that this is definitely what I want to be doing,” she says.
In addition to practicing emergency medicine, she enjoys working with the other compassionate and caring veterinarians at the Animal Emergency and Specialty Center. “In working here, we want to do what’s best for these animals. To me, going above and beyond to take care of them is what stands out about this animal hospital. I’ve learned so much from the other veterinarians. I’ve learned more in one year than most learn in five years.”
Jennifer Waller, DVM lives in Knoxville with her husband, Brian. In her free time, she enjoys catching up with her friends and family, reading and spending time with her pets.
Dr. Leah Kasmark was born and raised in Virginia. She received her BS and MS in Animal and Poultry Sciences from Virginia Tech where she rode on the intercollegiate riding team and served as a college ambassador. Dr. Kasmark completed her DVM at Iowa State University where she held executive roles in the Iowa State chapters of the pathology and equine practitioners club, and received the Dermatology Senior Student Award. Her special interests include dermatology and pathology. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her fiancé and their dog, cat, and horse. She is excited to continue her learning and clinical experience with the Animal Emergency and Specialty Center of Knoxville.
Dr. Kelly Mayfield was a New Jersey resident that moved down to Tennessee for vet school, and realized then that she would never leave. She has a small sheep farm and enjoys working her border collies in her free time.
Dr. Mayfield is ecstatic to be part of the AESC team and has a special interest in sports medicine and rehabilitation. She is excited for the challenges and learning opportunities she'll take on during her internship.
Dr. Lauren Fansler grew up in Southwest Virginia. During high school, she capitalized on her love for animals by working in the profession as a veterinary assistant at a small animal clinic in her hometown.
Over vet school summers, she worked in small animal medicine and acquired her first taste of emergency practice. In addition, she conducted research on the diversity of Borrelia spp. and Babesia spp. in rodents in the Cumberland Gap area.
In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with her dog, Lincoln, cooking, and being on the water. She is excited to join the AESC Team!
Dr. Rachel Ripley grew up in West Tennessee. She received her BS in Animal and Dairy Sciences from Mississippi State University, where she worked at the university's dairy farm. Dr. Ripley completed her veterinary training at The University of Tennessee, where she fell in love with The Smokies and all things UT. After working for seven years in private practice in Memphis, Dr. Ripley is thrilled to have made her way back to Knoxville.
Her special interests include surgery and wound management. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter, reading, and trying new restaurants. Dr. Ripley is beyond excited to be a part of the team at Animal Emergency and Specialty Center of Knoxville.
Dr. Lindsay Hopper is a Florida native who moved to Knoxville to attend veterinary school at the University of Tennessee. Dr. Hopper and her family decided to leave the hustle and bustle of Florida behind and remain in Knoxville after she completed veterinary school. Dr. Hopper’s professional interests include emergency medicine, surgery, internal medicine, neurology, and shelter medicine. She enjoys spending time with her husband and dogs in her spare time. Dr. Hopper is excited to learn and be challenged during her internship at AESC over the next year.
As a child, Dr. Stone was always curious about creatures great and small. She would spend countless hours watching nature shows and reading books on animals. Still, it wasn’t until she was in college that she decided becoming a veterinarian was where her passion lies.
Dr. Stone obtained her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from The University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine in 2008. At an internship at a private practice and emergency hospital in Tucson, Arizona, Sharon gained experience in exotics, wildlife, and zoo medicine. She soon fell in love with emergency and critical care.
Sharon met her husband, who lived in Las Vegas, and moved there in 2010. In Las Vegas, Sharon worked at a very high volume general practice that saw a large amount of critical cases and emergencies. In addition, she gained experience in surgery, endoscopy, and ultrasound, but she always knew she would return to where it all started and move back to Knoxville.
Sharon lives in Knoxville with her husband and two daughters. Her household also includes one cat (Havoc), two huskies (Maya and Malek), and a corgi (Mace). She is a proud geek and loves all things Star Wars, sci-fi, and comics. Outside of work, Sharon enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, cooking, and making crafts.
Dr. Chelsea Conner is a Tennessee native and a University of Tennessee Knoxville alumni. Not only did she complete her undergraduate degree there, but also received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine. In addition, Dr. Connor completed her anesthesia and analgesia training at Texas A&M University in College Station, TX.