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, crocheting, and queso dip! We do sell her crocheted coasters at the front desk.  

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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 at 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.


CaseyCasey Wilkes 

Veterinary Technician

Casey is our newest addition to the Firehall family! She started off in animal rescue and has been in the veterinary field for about four years.

She has a border collie puppy named Callie and likes to spend her spare time playing soccer, hiking, or catching up on Netflix.  She is a student at UGA with hopes of continuing on to veterinary school.  Her favorite donut is the glazed with chocolate and vanilla swirl topping.  She also has an unhealthy addiction to Starbucks.


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.


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.


Elizabeth Simmons

Veterinary Assistant

Liz has recently moved from Kennesaw to Athens. She has two dogs, Arrow, a German Short-haired Pointer, and Kyro, a Great Dane mix. 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.



Ashley Withrow

Head Receptionist

Ashley recently 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! 


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.  We are excited that Candace has gotten married as of July this summer!

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 dachshund, Penelope, 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.

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Shannon Weeks

Kennel Technician

Shannon joins us in June of 2017 with an extensive background of working in kennels and with boarding animals.  We are looking forward to updating the kennel with all of the knowledge she has brought with her.  Her favorite music is country and she loves going to country music concerts.  She is originally from High Point, North Carolina but lives in Athens while attending the University of Georgia. She is a marketing major in the Terry College of Business. When she is not working, she enjoys hanging out at home and spending time with her roommates, visiting her family in North Carolina, and going to concerts.

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Alissa Luthart

Veterinary Assistant

Starting this summer, Alissa has joined our team and is hoping to get experience in the small animal industry as she prepares for applying to veterinary school.  She loves to hike and loves to eat cashews.  Francis, her yellow lab, loves to go everywhere possible with Alissa.  Her favorite music is country and she loves to watch Grey’s Anatomy in her spare time.

Anna SAnna Studebaker

Veterinary Assistant

Anna joined the team in May of 2017.  She came to us after moving to the Athens area upon her acceptance to the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine.  Anna has worked in the veterinary field since middle school.  She graduated with her Bachelor’s in Microbiology and Biological Science from UGA in 2016.  She is now one of our part-time team members while being a full-time veterinary student.  At home in Conyers, Anna has two Basset Hounds, Daisy and Suki, a Chow Chow mix, Cookie, and three cats, Isabella, Abner, and Ginger.  Along for moral support on her ride in Athens, Anna has a shepherd/terrier mix named Evie (shown in the picture).  When Anna has free time, she spends it hiking with Evie, mountain biking, reading, and catching up on the newest Xbox games with her brothers.


Cody Laas, DACVR, DVM

Board-Certified Radiologist 


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!