Meet Our Team

Doctors

Michael Gorra, DVM

Dr. Mike grew up in Washington, CT, attending Judea Nursery School, Washington Primary and Shepaug Valley Middle and High Schools. He is a graduate of Colby College (Class of 1992 and where he met his wife Michelle) and Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine (Class of 1997). After vet school, he completed an internship in small animal medicine and surgery at Veterinary Specialists of South Florida in Cooper City, FL before spending 5 years in North Carolina. It was in North Carolina where Michelle and Michael’s 2 daughters, Madeline and Abigail were born. He worked in emergency and critical care at the Veterinary Specialty Hospital of the Carolinas in Cary, NC and was also the staff veterinarian for 3 years at the Carnivore Preservation Trust, which is a rescue and captive breeding compound for exotic cats and other carnivores such as tigers, leopards, jaguars, servals and binterongs. In 2003, Dr. Mike and his family returned to his hometown to work with his father, Dr. Ferris Gorra, at Aspetuck Animal Hospital and took ownership of the practice in 2005. In addition to taking care of the areas pets, Dr. Mike is also the head coach of the Shepaug High School Varsity Ice Hockey team. He is a member of the board of the Shepaug Friends of Music as well as the Village Improvement Society in Washington. As well as hockey and soccer, he enjoys playing tennis and golf and in his spare 15 minutes per week, he has been known to help his wife, Michelle, in the garden.

 

Patricia Grinnell, DVM, CVA

Dr. Trish graduated from Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine in 1997. She practiced small animal veterinary medicine in Chapel Hill, NC for nine years before returning to the Northeast to join Aspetuck Animal Hospital in 2006. She became a partner in January of 2012. Dr Trish is certified in Veterinary Acupuncture through the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society and has a special interest in Chinese Herbal Medicine. She lives with her family in New Milford and is an active member at the First Congregational Church in Washington. Interests outside the clinic include singing, volunteering with the New Milford Lions Club, watching her daughter, Katie, sing and play soccer, and watching her son, Andrew, play baseball, basketball and soccer.

She also shares her home with a French Bulldog named Trey and three cats, Mufasa, Patches and Mota, a very peaceable kingdom.

 

Ashley Manari, DVM, MS

We are pleased to introduce to you Dr. Ashley Manari! She is currently seeing patients every Wednesday afternoon from 1-6pm, as well as during the occasional Saturday. Including Dr. Manari into our team of doctors allows us to better meet the needs of our clients. We have been able to expand our office hours while allowing Dr. Trish and Dr. Mike to maintain precious time with their families. Furthermore, by adding Dr. Manari to our team, we are ensuring that the next time you seek care for your pet(s), you will be greeted by a doctor who knows our practice and adheres to the quality of service you have come to expect from Aspetuck.

Dr. Manari has been in the companion animal field for over 15 years. She graduated from Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (Virginia Tech) in 2011 and has gained valuable experience practicing all along the East Coast over the past 5 years. She has settled down in the Candlewood Lake area with her fiancé, Sean, and their two hound dogs and three cats.

Dr. Manari also has a Masters degree in Conservation Medicine, focusing on elephant and rhino conservation in Africa. This has allowed her to be a part of some wonderful African conservation efforts, which continue to this day!

As Dr. Manari continues to settle in at Aspetuck Animal Hospital and becomes a more familiar face at our practice, we encourage you to take any opportunity you are given to meet her.  Our staff has come to know and appreciate all that she brings to Aspetuck, and we are sure that you will feel the same way!

 

 

 

Management

Michelle Gorra
Business Manager

Michelle grew up in Wisconsin and went to school at Colby College in Maine where she met her husband Michael. She graduated with a B.A. in Economics, minors in Public Policy and Education and a teaching certificate. After college she taught, substitute taught and worked in the Cornell libraries as well as completed her Masters in Education. In 2003, Michelle, Dr. Mike and their two girls, Madeline and Abigail, moved back to Connecticut to take over the family business. After overseeing the house renovations for their first year in Washington, CT, Michelle dusted off her Econ skills and became the part-time Business Manager at Aspetuck. In her “free” time she has served on the Board of Education, coached soccer, served as a member of the Judea Nursery school board, helped found a local children’s choir, served as member of the WPS PTO and as treasurer, volunteered to teach Learn to Skate and helped with other various activities that enrich the lives of children in our community. Her daughters Madeline and Abigail are currently enjoying being part of Shepaug Valley School and keep Michelle very busy with their various sports and musical endeavors. When not helping the girls, Michelle likes to participate in her own athletics playing hockey for the local women’s team, tennis in the summer and participating in the Lake Waramaug triathlon in the spring. Her dream is to play in the Pickin’ & Fiddlin’ contest in Roxbury some day.

 

Rebecca Rebillard
Practice Manager

Rebecca joined the Aspetuck Animal Hospital team in November of 2005. She was a junior at Shepaug Valley High School and eager to get into the working world. Her family is local to New Preston and had a dairy farm in the area until the late 1980’s. Dr. Ferris Gorra had been the vet for her grandfather’s dairy cows for years and they had developed a close friendship, which is how Rebecca began working as a kennel attendant in high school. Over the years, Rebecca has been trained to work in all areas of the hospital. Rebecca graduated in May 2012 with a B.A. in Business Management. She enjoys having the opportunity to put the business skills she has learned in school to work at the clinic. Rebecca lives in Washington with her two dogs, Vern & Diesel.

 

Support Staff

 

Kristen Bradle, CVT
Head Technician

Kristen graduated from Northwestern CT Community College Veterinary Technology Program in 2005. While attending this program, Kristen completed an externship at Aspetuck Animal Hospital and was hired in January 2005 as a certified Veterinary Technician. Kristen currently holds the position of Head Technician. She has special interest in ultrasonography. Kristen has 3 dogs, Kayleigh-Jade, Bubba and Jack. Kristen’s hobbies include hiking with her dogs, boating, spending time at the beach, and visiting The Hamptons with her friends.
 

Lara Barr

Lara began her career at Aspetuck Animal Hospital working as a kennel attendant while attending Shepaug Valley High School. During high school, Lara completed a home study course in animal science. Lara has been at technician at Aspetuck Animal Hospital since 2003 and has a special interest in our feline patients as well as in surgery. She chose this field because of her love of animals and her gentle ways and patience make her a perfect fit! In her time away from work, Lara enjoys horseback riding. Lara also owns two cats, Andy, who she has raised since he was 4 days old, and Thor, a three legged feline who was rescued from a traumatic injury. Lara also enjoys being outdoors hiking and pet-sitting for many of our clients.

 

 

Ashley Conway

Ashley joined the Aspetuck Animal Hospital team in April of 2008. She is a very dedicated employee who goes above and beyond to help our clients and their pets on a daily basis. She chose a career in the veterinary field after growing up with family pets such as dogs and horses. Ashley has a special interest in laser therapy and orthopedic surgeries. She is also CPR certified. Ashley has two Austrailian Shepherds, Rocky and Dallas and a Thoroughbred horse named Bentley.  In her free time away from work Ashley enjoys spending time with her husband and two children doing outdoor activities such as hiking and participating in equestrian competitions.

                                                       

Emma Lord

Emma joined the Aspetuck Animal Hospital team in April of 2014.  She had previously worked at Aspetuck Animal Hospital in our boarding kennel during high school and then left upon graduation to pursue other endeavors.  Emma has spent the last 5 years at Union Savings Bank in New Preston, CT, making her a familiar face in the community.  An animal lover, she regularly volunteers her time with the Passion for Paws Rescue in New Milford, CT.  She has three furry family members of her own, Gus, a German Shepherd mix and two cats, Timmy and Jackson.  She usually has a foster or two running around her home in Roxbury as well!  In her free time, Emma enjoys hiking local trails and cooking for family and friends.  Emma and Christopher welcomed their daughter, Ava, in May of 2015.

 

 

Jessica Fairchild, CVT

Jessica graduated from Northwestern CT Community College Veterinary Technology Program in 2015, completing her final externship here at Aspetuck Animal Hospital. She officially joined our team in April of 2015. Also during her final semester, she obtained the Veterinary Technology Award for her graduating class. Jessica has had a love for animals beginning at a young age, growing up with a horse boarding facility in her back yard. She gained experiences with equine and emergency veterinary medicine before Aspetuck, but here is where her love for small animal medicine grew. Aside from being a certified Veterinary Technician, Jessica enjoys creative writing and spending time with her pets. She owns a miniature horse Gem, two turtles Pebbles and BammBamm, and two cats Mitty and Willow.

 

 

Kira Taylor

Kira graduated from Northwestern Connecticut Community College Veterinary Technology Program in May of 2016 with A.S. in General Studies, A.S. in Veterinary Technology, and a Marketing and Sales Certificate.  Kira completed her first externship at Aspetuck  in the summer of 2015 and has since joined our team as a full-time Certified Veterinary Technician. Although she has always had an interest in working with animals, it was during her involvement with her high school FFA that she decided she wanted to turn this passion into a career. In her free time, Kira enjoys camping, fishing, and most importantly spending time with her friends, family, and fur children: a cat named Lola, an Aussie Mix named Buddy, and a Lab Mix named Porkchop.

 

 

Nicole Smith

Nicole started working for Aspetuck in 2011 as a Veterinary Technician. Her love for animals started at a young age, with a special interest in horses.  She began her career in the veterinary field at an animal hospital in Massachusetts, where she started as a kennel attendant and gained the knowledge and skills necessary to advance into the medical setting. Her passion and drive to always learn more has allowed her to take advantage of many opportunities for expanding her knowledge base and she has an especially strong understanding of anesthesia safety, obedience training, Fear Free Practices, and Low Stress Handling.  Nicole’s love for animals is especially evident when she speaks of her own pets.  Her Pit Bull, Titan, came into her life when he was just a few weeks old, and knows commands in sign language.  In his younger years, he could turn on lights in the home, and even at his older age can still manage to open his cookie drawer to sneak some snacks.  She also has a rescued Himalayan cat named Guy.  In addition to finding joy in working with animals, Nicole adores spending time with Scott and their daughter, Makayla, born in June of 2014. 

Michelle Bennett

Michelle joined our team as a full-time Veterinary Technician in April 2017, bringing with her seven years of experience in the veterinary field.  She grew up in Bridgewater, graduated from Shepaug Valley High School, and has always had a love for animals as demonstrated in her passion for her work.  She has two sons, Seann and Jeremy, and two step daughters, Carley and Amber.  She and her family enjoy sharing many activities together, including soccer, camping, hiking, and an annual trip to Hershey Park in Pennsylvania.  While she loving cares for the medical needs of the patients at Aspetuck, she also has a beautiful and sweet rescue dog of her own at home, named “Pretzel.”

 

Jennifer Clark

Jennifer joined the staff at Aspetuck Animal Hospital in August 2008 as a receptionist. Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Messiah College. Prior to working at Aspetuck, she worked as a teacher in various schools in the New Milford area. During her college years, Jen did a semester-long study in Nancy, France studying the French language and culture in a university setting. Jen enjoys working in the veterinary field because of her love for animals and passion for helping others keep their pets healthy and fit. She owns two dogs, Annie and Tucker, and a cat, Samantha. In her free time, Jen enjoys relaxing with her husband, Steve, and two children, Wesley and Natalie.

 

 

Kate Reising

Kate joined the reception team at Aspetuck in February 2015.  Having grown up on small family farms in both Goshen, CT and Cornwall, VT, she has always had a love for animals.  After taking Animal Science and Business Management classes, Kate discovered her passion for working with animals as well as with people.  At Aspetuck, Kate strives to know our clients and their pets in order to give the best possible experience for each visit.  Whether through asking questions or peeking in on procedures, Kate is always eager to expand her knowledge of the veterinary field.  Her own pets, ranging from numerous cats to Belgium Draft Horses, reside in Vermont on her family’s farm, which she enjoys visiting at least twice a month.  Kate and her husband, John, live in the Litchfield area and welcomed their daughter, Hailey, in April 2016. 

 

Lauren Straub

Lauren returned to Aspetuck in July 2015 as a Receptionist and has since expanded her knowledge and skills, allowing her to now also serve as a Technician’s Assistant.  Prior to working at Aspetuck, she worked as a dog groomer and also owned her own fitness studio.  Her mischievous Aussie Mix, Rollo, keeps her on her toes and also ensures that her grooming skills stay sharp! Along with Rollo, Lauren resides in Harwinton with her husband (and high school sweetheart), Tom, and their two rescued cats, Odin and Loki.  For two and a half years, Lauren and her husband lovingly cared for their special needs son, Finn. They now remain dedicated to keeping his memory alive and find meaning and purpose in walking alongside other families in similar situations. In her spare time, Lauren enjoys keeping fit through dancing, skiing, hiking, and training in a local studio.

 

Taylor McLaren

Taylor joined our team as a Receptionist at Aspetuck in January 2016.  With her pleasant attitude and upbeat personality, Taylor is always eager and willing to do anything she can to help out and increase her knowledge and skills at Aspetuck Animal Hospital.   Upon graduating from Wamogo High School, she attended Northwestern Connecticut Community College and obtained an Associate’s Degree in General Psychology.  After deciding that was not the path for her, Taylor became a licensed hairstylist in 2009 and now balances her hairdressing career at Etre Beau Salon & Spa with her time working here at Aspetuck.  Taylor has grown up with and around dogs her whole life.  The main canine in her life is a three-year-old rescue Pitbull/Boxer Mix named Ruger. He loves to sleep, go for rides in the jeep with his head out the windows, and go on hikes.   Taylor lives in Torrington with her boyfriend, Joshua. In her spare time, she enjoys refinishing furniture and remodeling their new house.

 

Jenni Suchecki

Working with animals has always been a passion for Jenni, who joined our team as a Receptionist in July of 2016. Prior to beginning her employment here, she worked with an animal rescue and at a doggie daycare facility. After growing up in New Milford and spending some time away from the area, she now lives locally with her boyfriend and his two sons.  Together, they have five dogs: Jack, Lieu, Goldie, Big Lou and Honey. They certainly have a full house but wouldn’t have it any other way! In her free time, Jenni enjoys hiking and biking with her family and friends.

 

Kevin Espitee

Kevin joined our kennel staff in the summer of 2009. Kevin has been a tremendous addition to the Aspetuck Animal Hospital staff, bringing with him many years of experience working at a doggie daycare. Kevin loves spending his days with our boarding pets and ensuring that each and every one of them is happy and enjoying their stay! He has a very outgoing personality and enjoys meeting and talking with our clients. Kevin also assists the technicians when needed and helps around the hospital with handyman jobs. During his time away from work he is busy raising his two sons, Mason and Jake. They enjoy spending time outside, swimming in the lake, and hiking on the family property with their dogs, Jack, Lieu, Louie, Goldie and Honey.

 

 

Eric Howe

Eric has been working at Aspetuck Animal Hospital since 2007 as both a kennel and veterinary technician assistant, and is currently our Kennel Manager.  Raised in Washington, CT, he graduated from Shepaug Valley High School and continued his education at the University of Connecticut, earning a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resouces. At the heart of his work is his love for dogs, and his ability to calm and nurture those in his care has made him known as Aspetuck’s “Dog Whisperer.”  Eric finds deep satisfaction in knowing that the animals in our kennel facility are well cared for, and he hopes to own his own kennel someday. He has two dogs, Puck and Mugsy, who were both adopted from shelters. His cat, Gypsy was a stray that wandered into his yard and stayed.  When not working, Eric enjoys playing hockey. 

 

 

 

Chester & Monkey

Chester and Monkey are our resident clinic cats. They enjoy “assisting” our doctors and staff in their daily duties as well as helping our patients feel more comfortable during their hospital visits.