Meet Our Veterinarians
We look forward to seeing you soon! Get to know the amazing veterinarian team at Veterinary Care and Specialty Group and why we love what we do so much.
Billy Pullen, DVM, DACVIM (SAIM)
Dr. Pullen grew up in the Chattanooga area, where he attended elementary and high school. He continued a Pullen family tradition by attending the University of Georgia, where he earned a B.S. in Biology in 1996 and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 2000. After leaving Athens, he completed a rotating internship at Garden State Veterinary Specialists in New Jersey. He dove back into General Practice but soon realized that his primary interests were finding solutions to the mysteries of Internal Medicine. He soon went on to complete an internship at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and then a small animal internal medicine residency at the University of Pennsylvania. Since that time, he has practiced in academia and predominantly private specialty practices. His interests include gastrointestinal, autoimmune disorders, and critical care. Dr. Pullen is married to Claudia, and they have two young sons, Luca and Connor. In September of 2016, Dr. Pullen opened Veterinary Care and Specialty Group with the primary focus of providing the best medical care possible for pets.
Jessica Larson, DVM, DACVIM (SAIM)
After graduating from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine with honors, Dr. Larson completed a rotating small animal internship at Michigan Veterinary Specialists in Southfield, Michigan (now Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners), and then a residency in Small Animal Internal Medicine at Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Larson is Board Certified through the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. She worked in private clinical practice for many years, including home hospice and euthanasia. Dr. Larson then moved into an industry position as part of the education team for an innovative pet therapeutics company. She was most recently with a national mobile specialty company serving the metropolitan Nashville area. Currently, Dr. Larson is entering the solopreneur world and providing various internal medicine service options, including relief internal medicine.
Jennifer Stokes, DVM, DACVIM (SAIM)
Dr. Stokes grew up in Virginia and went to the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (Virginia Tech). She graduated with her DVM in 1995. Dr. Stokes then completed a one-year rotating internship at Washington State University followed by approximately two years as a primary care veterinarian (small animals and exotics) outside of Washington, DC. She was then accepted into an Internal Medicine residency program at Michigan State University. Upon completion of her residency, Dr. Stokes joined the faculty at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. After twenty years as a clinical professor, she has transitioned to a part-time position, so she could have new experiences, including devoting her time to providing Internal Medicine consultation services and working for non-profit veterinary groups. In addition to teaching, Dr. Stokes particularly enjoys Gastroenterology, Endocrinology, Feline Medicine, and performing minimally invasive procedures. When Dr. Stokes is not working, she enjoys working in her garden and spending time with her lovely chickens and cats.
Emergency Critical Care
Samantha Bilko, DVM, DACVECC
Dr. Bilko grew up in Connecticut, just outside of New York City. She attended Oklahoma State University for undergraduate studies and veterinary school, graduating with her veterinary degree in 2016. She then moved to the cold north for a small animal rotating internship at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Bilko remained at UMN for a specialty internship in emergency/critical care followed by residency. She completed her training and became a board-certified emergency and critical care specialist in 2021. Since then, she has moved around the country working at hospitals in New York, North Carolina, and spending some time teaching at her alma mater. Dr. Bilko is excited to settle in Chattanooga with her husband, Daniel, and two dogs, Froggert and Tater Tot. She enjoys hiking, birding, and hopes to have a small hobby farm in the Tennessee countryside.
Reid Groman, DVM, DACVIM (SAIM), DACVECC
Reid Groman is originally from Long Island, New York. He completed his undergraduate studies at Binghamton University and earned his veterinary degree from Colorado State University in 1994. After completing an internship at Texas A&M, he spent two years in general practice. Dr. Groman went on to complete a three-year residency in Internal Medicine at Texas A&M, followed by a two-year fellowship in Critical Care Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and a one-year fellowship in Nephrology and Hemodialysis at UC-Davis. Dr. Groman then spent eight years as clinical faculty at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine. Most recently, he spent six years working at two large referral hospitals in New Jersey where he developed and implemented critical care as a dedicated and collaborative service. Dr. Groman happily sees dogs and cats with routine emergencies, in addition to patients with life-threatening illnesses or injuries requiring urgent stabilization and critical care.
Kaila Rizzo, DVM, DACVECC
Dr. Rizzo is originally from upstate New York (Rochester). She received her DVM from the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine followed by a rotating internship at Tufts University. She finished her Emergency and Critical Care residency at UPenn in June 2020. After completing her residency, she moved to San Diego as a criticalist. Outside of work, Dr. Rizzo and her boyfriend enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and bouldering. They have a puppy named Haze and a Maine Coon named Jada.
Jake Barnett, DVM
Dr. Barnett grew up on a farm in Chattanooga. He began his college experience at Tennessee Wesleyan in Athens and received his bachelor’s degree in biology and played college baseball. As a college student, Dr. Barnett quickly began to fall in love with veterinary medicine and soon decided to chase that dream. He attended the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine and received his degree in 2015. After school, Dr. Barnett practiced general medicine near Sacramento, California. He soon learned, however, that he missed the South and returned home to begin emergency practice. He has been interested in the more critical aspects of medicine and highly enjoys the larger impact he can make in animals that need help. His primary interests are surgery, internal medicine, and spending extra time with clients to help them understand the situation. In his free time, Dr. Barnett enjoys kayaking, hunting, fly fishing, mountain biking, and hiking. He is also scuba certified and has a passion for all animals on the land and in the sea. He has three dogs (a chocolate Labrador named Cabela, a Dachshund mix named Goose, and a mixed breed named Smush).
Theresa Hess, DVM, DACVS
Dr. Hess grew up in New Jersey. She graduated with her DVM degree from the University of Illinois in 2011 and completed a one-year private practice internship at Oradell Animal Hospital in New Jersey. Dr. Hess moved to Las Vegas for a one-year surgical internship and stayed to complete a three-year surgical residency. She had the opportunity to operate on several exotic species, including lions, capybaras, a camel, a fox, and a sugar glider. Interests include thoracic and abdominal surgery, surgical oncology, neurologic surgery, wound management, and regenerative medicine. Dr. Hess worked as a small animal surgeon in Gainesville for four years and, most recently, at a private practice specialty and emergency hospital in Syracuse. She played four years of collegiate basketball at McDaniel College and made three NCAA tournament appearances, including the Sweet Sixteen round. She enjoys playing basketball, volleyball, tennis, and outdoor activities. She currently has two Labrador Retrievers, whom she adores.
Jeffrey Peck, DVM, DACVS, Founding Fellow, Joint Replacement Surgery
Dr. Peck grew up in South Florida. He attended the University of Florida for his undergraduate education. Dr. Peck went to veterinary school at Tufts University and graduated in 1992. In 1996, he completed a Surgical Residency at Iowa State University and then became a clinical instructor at the University of Missouri. Dr. Peck has been a staff surgeon at Affiliated Veterinary Specialists in Maitland, Florida, for 23 years and has also served as the surgical residency program director at AVS. He has been very involved in the ACVS as President and Chair of the Board. Joint replacement surgery has been his primary area of research and is the subject of numerous published articles and a textbook. As a Major in the U.S. Army Reserves, he will be transferred to the Individual Ready Reserve in 2021. Dr. Peck is married to Kathy, his high school sweetheart. Their daughter’s name is Kayla. Two pugs (Asha and Peaches) and a Boston (Juno) complete the family. His main hobbies are running (17 marathons!) and woodworking.
Jake Tidwell, DVM
Dr. Tidwell grew up in Southwest Florida and attended Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine. He received a veterinary scholarship with the US Army and after graduating in 2015, Dr. Tidwell completed a one-year military internship in Colorado. He was stationed on Guam where he headed a military veterinary clinic and conducted official trips through Southeast Asia and Oceania. In 2019, Dr. Tidwell was assigned as a Special Forces Unit Veterinarian in Colorado and cared for multipurpose canines. Dr. Tidwell was selected to attend a surgical internship/residency at VCSG. Dr. Kristen Hinatsu, his wife, is an ER doctor at VCSG, and they have a toddler daughter and three dogs and two cats. He enjoys spending time outdoors, especially in and on the water.
Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
Daniel Almeida, MV, MS, DACVAA
Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
Dr. Daniel Almeida was born and raised in Brazil, where he earned his veterinary degree. After a few years practicing in different capacities, Dr. Almeida decided to pursue specialty training, which led him to the University of Minnesota. There, he completed his residency in Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia, a Master of Science degree, and became a Diplomate of American College of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia. The University of Minnesota continued to be his home for several years, where he achieved the rank of Associate Professor of Veterinary Anesthesia. Since leaving, he has worked in a specialty hospital in North Carolina. Dr. Almeida is excited about the move to Chattanooga. Outside of work, Dr. Almeida dedicates his time to his wife and two dogs. They enjoy hiking, traveling, or sometimes just lounging outside.
Christiane Massicotte, DVM, MS, PHD, DACVIM (NEUROLOGY)
Dr. Massicotte received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Montreal in 1994. She completed an internship program at the University of Minnesota and a residency program at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. While participating in her residency program, Dr. Massicotte concurrently earned a Master’s degree in Neurotoxicology. While at Virginia Tech, she obtained her Ph.D. and then earned her board certification as a Diplomate in Neurology at the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. Dr. Massicotte served as Assistant Professor of Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania and has been Director of the Neurology/neurosurgery Department at Animal Emergency and Referral Associates in Fairfield, NJ, since 2005. She enjoys farmland, the outdoors, walking with Crescendo and Maestro (her Collies), riding her mares (Stella and Amber Moon), and taking her morning coffee enjoying her Figaro, her bird. Dr. Massicotte owns a black belt in Taekwondo.
Jason Strasberg, DVM, DACVR-RO
Dr. Strasberg grew up in Memphis prior to attending the University of Georgia for undergraduate and veterinary school graduating in 2019. He then went on to complete a one-year rotating internship at a Blue Pearl Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. Following his internship, he finished a three-year residency program at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine in 2023 in Radiation Oncology. Outside of work, Dr. Strasberg enjoys rock climbing, grilling out, board games, and basketball. He recently married his wife Laura, and they have a miniature poodle (Anya) and an orange tabby (Mr. K) at home.
Katelyn Marlowe, DVM, DACVIM (ONCOLOGY)
Dr. Marlowe grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee. She received her bachelor’s degree from Maryville College and her veterinary degree from the University of Tennessee. After veterinary school, she completed a small animal rotating internship at VCA Alameda East in Denver. Dr. Marlowe then pursued a three-year medical oncology residency at the University of Wisconsin and achieved her board certification in 2019. Her special interests include histiocytic sarcoma, lymphoma, and palliative care for cancer patients. She believes in the importance of the doctor-client relationship and maintaining a good quality of life for all her patients. Her study on pulmonary histiocytic sarcoma in dogs has been published in the Veterinary and Comparative Oncology journal. Dr. Marlowe enjoys hiking, reading, craft breweries and spending time with her family.
Olya Martin, DVM, DACVIM (ONCOLOGY)
Dr. Martin received her DVM from the University of Tennesse College of Veterinary Medicine in 2005. She did an internship at the University of Illinois and then returned to UTCVM for her oncology residency. Dr. Martin is passionate about the field of oncology. She has done research with novel anti-cancer treatments for mast cell tumors, lymphoma, and osteosarcoma. Outside of work Dr. Martin spends most of her time rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, and skiing. She lives in Knoxville with her husband, a scruffy terrier mix rescued from Hawaii, and two cats.
DAVID LEVINE, PT, PHD, MPH, DPT, CCRP
Dr. Levine grew up in New York. He attended the University of New England and became a physical therapist in 1986. He completed postgraduate work in orthopedics and exercise science at Boston University and the University of Tennessee where he received his Ph.D. in 1994. Dr. Levine is also a professor at UTC and an adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Levine has been working and conducting research in animal physical rehabilitation since 1993 and is co-editor of multiple veterinary books, including Canine Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy, Essential Facts of Physiotherapy in Dogs and Cats, and Gait Analysis: An Introduction. Dr. Levine has been married to Allison for 25 years, and their children are Lauren, Sarah, Hadley, and Ava. Two dogs and three cats complete the family. Dr. Levine’s main hobbies are boating and exercising.
Ashley Wheeler, LVMT, CCRP
Ashely began her career in veterinary medicine as a veterinary assistant in 2013. She graduated from San Juan College, where she earned an associate’s degree in Veterinary Medical Technology in 2017 and became a Licensed Veterinary Medical Technologist (LVMT) in 2018. Ashley has had the good fortune of working in many areas of veterinary medicine, enabling her to discover her true passion in the area of physical rehabilitation. In 2022, Ashley received her credentials as a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner (CCRP) from the University of Tennessee.
Jonathan Goodwin, DVM, DACVIM (CARDIOLOGY)
Dr. Goodwin is a graduate of Cornell University and received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Tuskegee University. He also completed an internship at Coral Springs Animal Hospital. At Purdue University, he completed a Master’s degree in Cardiac Physiology and a Cardiology residency. Services offered at VCSG by Dr. Goodwin include full comprehensive consultations with complete cardiac evaluations to help diagnose and treat congenital or acquired heart disease and malformations.
Nicole Bailey, DVM
Dr. Bailey is from Huntsville, Alabama. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and Sociology from the University of North Alabama. After graduation, she worked at Alford Avenue Veterinary Hospital in Birmingham, where veterinary medicine sparked a new passion. While working part time, Dr. Bailey obtained her veterinary prerequisites at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She graduated from Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2021. She has an interest in wildlife and exotic medicine and went to South Africa to practice field medicine. She completed an externship at the Denver Zoo and a rotating internship at VCA Alameda East Veterinary Hospital in Denver. Following her rotating internship, Dr. Bailey completed a neurology specialty internship at Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists in Houston. Dr. Bailey enjoys hiking with her dog named Sperry and loves anything Halloween or true crime related. She is an amateur skier and loves to cook Chicken Marsala.
Kristen Hinatsu, DVM
Dr. Hinatsu earned her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Oregon State University in 2015. She then completed a one-year rotating internship in San Diego before moving to Guam. She helped open the only spay and neuter clinic on the island and was the lead surgeon of the animal shelter, GAIN. She worked general practice on the two military bases providing veterinary services for military families. In 2019, Dr. Hinatsu moved to Colorado and spent three years in general practice and worked for the National Mill Dog Rescue. She is passionate about surgery and homeless animals.
Dr. Hinatsu is married to Dr. Jake Tidwell, a VCSG surgery resident, and they have a toddler daughter. Dr. Hinatsu enjoys hiking, traveling, nature/wildlife photography, new foods, movies, and houseplants.
Stefanie Sullivan, DVM
Dr. Sullivan is a Chattanooga native. She graduated from Ooltewah High School and obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Dr. Sullivan subsequently made her way to Grand Cayman where she studied Veterinary Medicine. After three years of living on island time and completing her course work, she made her way to Indiana and finished her clinical year at Purdue University. In 2009, she received her Veterinary degree from St. Matthew’s University. Dr. Sullivan moved back to Chattanooga and began working at an emergency and specialty practice. She did a one-year rotating internship and then worked for a year as an emergency clinician. Dr. Sullivan has spent the last few years working and training for a residency in emergency and critical care. In her free time, she enjoys getting outside, traveling, and spending time with friends and family. She and her boyfriend have five dogs that keep them busy (Timber, Piper, Ziggy, Remi, and Ashe) and a very special cat, Chad.
MJ Sun, DVM
Dr. Sun graduated Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2019. After working with a variety of species in school ranging from cows, goats, horses, marine mammals, and bison, Dr. Sun found her passion in emergency medicine. Having used pet emergency service herself, Dr. Sun understands the emotional and physical stress undergone by both owners and pets during an emergency. She chose this career specifically to guide and soothe owners through a crisis and to make sure the pets receive the best medical care possible. In her free time, Dr. Sun likes cooking, walking her cats, and cycling. Her cats each know more than ten tricks!
Wayne Zuvers, DVM
Dr. Zuvers is a 1999 graduate of Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine. He received his BS Degree in Agribusiness and Environmental Resources from Arizona State University. Before veterinary school, he served as a Public Health Chemist for the State of Arizona. Having served as a practice manager in Phoenix, Dr. Zuvers has practiced for 21 years with an emphasis in emergency medicine and critical care. For the past several years, he has been the Medical Director at Northwest Georgia Veterinary Emergency Center in Rome. Special interests include snake envenomations, internal medicine, and soft tissue surgery. Another interest includes working for the City of Surprise Fire Department in Crisis Response. Dr. Zuvers is married to Amy, and they have six children and a Great Dane named Millie. He enjoys horseback riding, hiking, movies and is an avid collector of Al Hirschfeld lithographs and Star Wars memorabilia.
Natasha Jones, DVM
Dr. Jones is a 2007 graduate of the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. Before becoming a veterinarian, she was a high school and middle school band director. After graduating, Dr. Jones and her husband moved to North Georgia, where she worked in small animal practice. Her special interests include surgery, internal medicine, and emergency medicine. In 2018, Dr. Jones started her own company, Paws and Relax Veterinary Services, which provides relief services for veterinarians to allow them to have time off from work and foster a positive work/life balance. Dr. Jones and Brendan, her husband, have a daughter named Aubrey and two dogs, Hazel and Boone. She enjoys college football, living in the mountains, reading, music, spending time with family, and traveling.
Katie Koss, DVM
Dr. Koss received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Tennessee in 2008. She currently is a full-time relief veterinarian and enjoys helping out in different practices throughout the area. Before moving to Chattanooga, Dr. Koss resided in East Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, and Southern New Hampshire. She enjoys activities such as rock climbing, running, skiing, and traveling. Dr. Koss enjoys spending time with her family, which includes two mischievous Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
Michael Krigbaum, DVM
Dr. Krigbaum is a 2012 graduate of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. He is a general practitioner at a couple of clinics in the Chattanooga area. Dr. Krigbaum also enjoys working emergency shifts on some weekends. He is married, and he and his wife enjoy live music, watching sports, traveling and spoiling their dog and cats. Dr. Krigbaum also enjoys distance running.
Kim Lucy, DVM
Dr. Lucy attended veterinary school at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. She continued her education with a rotating internship at a specialty and emergency hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. Since that time, Dr. Lucy has worked exclusively in emergency medicine. Dr. Lucy lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with her dogs named Bert and Shanti. Her cat’s name is Diadema. In her free time, Dr. Lucy enjoys being outdoors and traveling to pursue her favorite outdoor activities.