Our Team


Jennifer Peterson, DVM

Jennifer Peterson, a graduate of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia, is a knowledgeable and compassionate member of our staff. Her studies took her through the completion of a Bachelors degree and a Masters degree in Science. Dr. Peterson especially enjoys the ophthalmology side of small animal medicine!

Becoming a veterinarian was her childhood dream that was even further sparked by a childhood pet Siamese, Crystal. She now has a full house with her husband Ryan. Together they have two beautiful children, Hunter and Taylor. She also has Ruger, a one-year old black lab, Flip the tabby cat,  and a horse named Stetson.

Aside from veterinary medicine, her passions include spending time with her family, cooking, horseback riding, watching Georgia football, and being outdoors. Jennifer is very active in her church community teaching bible school and helping lead a “Life Group” on the weekends. She also likes to volunteer at local schools to teach children about veterinary education and animal care. Most recently, her family adopted a sea turtle named Mahi through the Georgia Sea Turtle Center who has since been released back into his habitat!

She feels incredibly blessed to be doing what she loves each and every day and has a deep desire to keep animals healthy and happy so they can continue to enrich the lives of their owners and all those around them.


Kelly Laas, DVM

Kelly Laas (McCarty) originally dreamed of being the next James Herriot – both an author and a veterinarian. She received her bachelors degree in journalism but found that her true passion was with veterinary medicine and returned to school to pursue that calling. Dr. Laas went on to graduate first in her class from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. She feels that veterinary medicine is a wonderful blend of science, animal contact, and community relationships. Dr. Laas recognizes the importance of the bond between people and their pets and feels very blessed to be able to work in this profession.

Dr. Laas recently returned to Athens with her husband and two daughters, Lillian and Olivia, as well as the family cat, Chester, a crazy young dog named Sven, and a whole herd of sheep and chickens. When she is not working or running after toddlers, Dr. Laas enjoys cooking, gardening, reading, and outdoor activities.

Dr. Middendorf

Karen Middendorf, DVM

After a childhood filled with various dogs from Sealyhams to Setters, veterinary medicine was the logical career path for Dr. Middendorf.  She received her veterinary degree from Purdue University and has been practicing veterinary medicine for over twenty years.

Dr. Middendorf enjoys spending time with her husband, four children, their spouses, and one perfect granddaughter when she can catch them. She and her husband live in Athens on a farm that boasts a horse boarding facility and houses a cart pulling Morgan horse named Giddeon, a German Shepherd named Seneca, Hattie, the Sealyham, several cats, koi, and several chickens that are very productive. Dr. Middendorf also spends a good bit of time tending their beautiful garden. She is also an accomplished cook, a talented quilter, a member of a book club, and loves being part of the Athens community!

Dr. Karen Middendorf opened Firehall 4 Animal Hospital with a passion to serve Athens and their pets with care and compassion.


Dot Conklin
Head Veterinary Technician/Practice Manager

Dot joined our team in 2012. She hails from Savannah and stayed in Athens after attending UGA. She graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor’s in Poultry Science.  Dot has been in the veterinary industry since 2008 and offers a wealth of knowledge to our team and clients.

Since starting at Firehall 4 Animal Hospital, she has gotten married to her husband, Jason, and had her first baby, a sweet boy named Lucas. Together, they have a Dachshund/Chihuahua mix named Logan, a Corgi named Delilah, and a Cattle Dog named Maverick.  With whatever spare time motherhood gives her, Dot enjoys reading (anything and everything Harry Potter related), crocheting, playing board and card games, and queso dip! We do sell her crocheted coasters at the front desk.  She has an affinity for interjecting Harry Potter references into everyday conversations.  

sam cannon color

Sam Cannon
Veterinary Technician

Sam has been a pillar in the veterinary community and a guiding force at Firehall 4 Animal Hospital since it opened. He brings with him more than forty years of experience as a veterinary technician. If you have ever had the chance to meet him, he is one of the nicest individuals that anyone could ever have the pleasure of being introduced to. He lives in Athens with his lovely wife, Agnes, and his happy-go-lucky Labrador, Ragan.

He is a very active member of his church, Ebenezer Baptist Church West. Sam likes to use his time to volunteer in the community, including the inmate program in Athens-Clarke County. He likes to fish as well.

Hannah Sims

Veterinary Technician

Hannah joined our team in June of 2018.  She loves all animals, especially horses.  She is obsessed with German Shepherds and has recently gotten her own, a squirrelly little puppy named Link.  She is very athletic and enjoys playing softball.  She is originally from Newnan, Georgia and was home schooled all through school.  She has an Associate’s Degree in Biology.  She eventually wants to become a Registered Veterinary Technician.

IMG_0181Nicole Ridgeway

Veterinary Technician

Nicole joins us in May of 2018 coming from Decatur with a broad background in animal hospitals.  Starting by working in the kennel at 20 years old and eventually moving to reception and now teching, Nicole has built a broad knowledge of the veterinary field and looks forward to learning more as the years go on.  This is truly a passion of hers!  She has an 11 year old named Weston with her partner Lauren, and two dogs and one cat at home.  With an aversion to red meat, poultry and Mexican food is the way to her heart.  In her spare time, she enjoys hiking (as long as there is an exciting destination), going to concerts and attending sporting events, especially the University of Georgia football games.   



Hollie Blasen

As an experienced groomer, Hollie is familiar with all standard breed cuts and grooms cats as well. She can cater to any specific needs that your pet may have. Hollie began her career with animals at a boarding kennel years ago and then decided that she wanted to become a groomer.  After becoming certified at a grooming school in Buckhead, Georgia she worked as a professional groomer for 5 years before joining our team.


Ashley Withrow

Head Receptionist

Ashley joined the Firehall 4 team in August 2016, however, she has worked in the veterinarian field for over three years. She has four cats named Anakin, Padme, Saphira, and Elva who she loves to play and cuddle with. Most recently, she has adopted a chihuahua and calls him Cotton-Headed Ninny-Muggins.  Outside of work, Ashley enjoys spending time with her husband Avery, reading, baking, and watching Netflix!  If she has the time, Ashley could eat an entire jar of pickles in between playing board games with friends.  She and her husband also enjoy going to the movies every chance they get.


Candace Adams

Receptionist/Veterinary Assistant

Candace joined our team in September of 2016.  She is a transplant from Hall County and has been living in Athens since January 2016.  She has two dogs, Sam, who is a corgi mix and Solo, who is a dachshund mix.  In addition to the pups, she has a cat named Muffy and a blue and red Beta fish named Kit.  She enjoys watching TV, especially Law & Order SVU, hiking, and eating, but is a long-time vegetarian (and she’s dabbling with becoming a vegan).  We are excited that Candace has gotten married as of July 2017!

31527Katlyn Henderson


Katlyn joined our team in June of 2017.  She originated from Florida but moved to Athens from Texas.  Her father is a veterinarian with his own practice, so she has been working in an animal clinic since she could walk!  A Florida State University graduate, she is currently pursuing a nursing degree.  She has a newly adopted lab mix named Clementine from Athenspets, and a cat named Gandalf.  She enjoys hiking, camping, and traveling.  She brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience and we are so happy to have her on our team.

AmberAmber Willis

Kennel Technician/Veterinary Assistant

Amber joined us November of 2016.  After moving to Athens from Sugar Hill, she spends the majority of her time volunteering at Bear Hollow Zoo, working with the deer, turkey, and bobcat.  She enjoys traveling, most recently returning from South Africa after interning at a veterinary clinic there.  She has been a staunch vegetarian for 12 years now and most recently a vegan.  She aspires to be a wildlife veterinarian, specializing in wildlife management and conservation.  She can recite every line from The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Abbey Parsons

Veterinary Assistant

Abbey joined the Firehall family in January of 2018.  She hopes to get into veterinary school starting Fall of 2019, so she’s hoping to get more veterinary experience in the interim.  Her hometown is Fayetteville, Georgia and she enjoys running with her dog, Kali, and reading in her free time.  She spent a study abroad trip in 2017 in South Africa working with a variety of wildlife, snakes, and community clinics.  While in South Africa, she was able to practice shooting a tranquilizer gun out of a moving helicopter.  She is an Animal Science major currently at the University of Georgia.  She hopes to learn more about surgery and she has a specific interest in emergency care.  She could eat an entire red velvet cake by herself if you dared her to.  She has an amazing talent of interjecting The Office and Park & Recreation quotes and references into everyday conversation.


Elizabeth Simmons

Veterinary Assistant

Liz has recently moved from Kennesaw to Athens. She has three dogs, Arrow, a German Short-haired Pointer, Kyro, a Great Dane mix, and a newly adopted Beau (formerly known as Hitch), who came to us through Athenspets needing a rear leg amputated.   Liz fell in love with Beau while he was recovering, and adopted him before somebody else could steal him away. She has been in the veterinary field for over three years now.  She likes to swim, read, and eat.  She enjoys spending free time at the lake with Arrow and catching up on her TV shows by Hulu binge-watching.


Shahean Barzegar

Kennel Technician/Veterinary Assistant

Shahean joined the Firehall 4 team in March 2016.  He is a university student and animal lover, and enjoys cooking and reading in his free time.  Shahean works to ensure that your pet has the most comfortable experience possible, and always looks forward to being greeted by familiar furry faces each morning.  If he had the time, he could play video games for 48 straight hours.


Julianna Putman

Kennel Technician

Julianna joined our team in April 2018.  She hails from Rossville, Georgia (right below Chattanooga). With aspirations of being a veterinarian, she is enrolled at the University of Georgia currently.  With a herd of three cats and two dogs at home, she enjoys travelling to visit her fiancee in Huntsville, Alabama with her pets as companions.  Due to her need to always keep her hands busy, she makes bracelets in her spare time.  Her favorite food is watermelon, and she wins the annual watermelon seed spitting contest every year.

IMG_0810Halley Psathas

Kennel Technician

Halley joined our team in May 2018.  She has two dogs, one cat, and one guinea pig.  She has traveled extensively, including most recently to Thailand to work with elephants and dogs.  She is a Biological Sciences & Animal Health major at the University of Georgia.  She is an Assistant Chair of UGA Miracle, a student organization that raises money for children’s healthcare of Atlanta.  She secretly enjoys dipping her potato chips in ketchup and mustard mixed together.

IMG_0928Michaela Bird

Kennel Technician

Michaela joined our team in April 2018.  She is originally from St. Louis, Missouri.  She was once a snowbird, but she fell in love with Athens and the Georgia weather, so she became a permanent resident here.  She is a senior at the University of Georgia with hopes of either going to veterinary school or getting her Master’s degree.  In her free time, she enjoys hiking or binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix.  Feta Fries from The Grill is her weakness.  She has trained a service dog who is getting evaluated this summer.  We are so excited to have Michaela on our team!


Hannah Kemelmakher


We welcomed Hannah to our team Summer of 2018.  Hannah’s fascination with diagnostics, molecular medicine, and public health is pulling her down the long path of becoming a veterinarian in academia. She will finish degrees in biochemistry & molecular biology and animal science from UGA in the Spring of 2019. To ensure minimal sleep, Hannah rock climbs, hikes, conducts research, mentors students on campus, and interprets for Spanish and Russian speakers, among other activities. If you ever need her to do you a favor, all you need to bribe her is Mediterranean food or a good concert.


Christina Park, DVM

Associate Veterinarian

Christina Park grew up in Apex, North Carolina and always enjoyed being outdoors and riding horses. She went to North Carolina State University to pursue her dream of being a veterinarian. After graduating from NC State’s College of Veterinary Medicine she moved to rural Georgia to practice at a busy mixed animal practice. She joined our Firehall family in June 2018 to continue practicing in Athens. She enjoys ophthalmology and soft tissue surgery. When she’s not working she loves cooking, traveling, and being around cattle and horses. Her dog Deacon and mini donkey Pepe keep her company at home.


*Gone, but never forgotten*

Clinic Cat

Chester has been Dr. Laas’ family cat for 17 years.  Most recently, he has become our clinic cat, so if you see him roaming the halls, don’t be alarmed!  He is a sweetheart with no teeth.   He spends the majority of his time sleeping in window sills and on computer keyboards basking in the sunlight.  He is a chow hound, so he will always come around looking for food, but don’t let him trick you!