Dr. Lisa Preston
Dr. Lisa Preston graduated from Purdue way back in 1988! She is a “Regionite” and grew up in Highland. After graduation, she worked at the Calumet Emergency Veterinary Clinic and also did relief work at various local clinics. She started working at St. John part-time in 1989 and full-time in 1995. Dr. Preston became part owner of the clinic with Dr. Dave Austin in 1999 as they planned a large expansion of the then small clinic.
Dr. Preston is very proud of the growth and expansion of St. John Animal Clinic over the years. “We have kept up with advances in veterinary medicine with state-of-the-art equipment and a beautiful building. This enabled us to hire many top-notch veterinarians and staff who have contributed to this being a Best of the Region Winner for many years. The daily collaboration between veterinarians really contributes to the high-quality care we are able to offer.”
She truly looks at practice as a partnership between the client, pet, and veterinarian. The more involved and educated the client is about their animal, the better they can make choices regarding care. She welcomes questions and discussions and sometimes even learns from her clients. Dr. Preston takes her time working with scared and reactive pets and has earned the nickname “the cat whisperer” for her ability to work with fearful and fearless felines. Dr. Preston has a special interest in acupuncture and has used it with success, especially for arthritis pain and intervertebral disc disease.
Not only is she an amazing veterinarian but she won the distinction of NWI-IWA’s “Most Influential Woman of the Year” for business in 2019!
Dr. Preston is married and has two grown children, two cats and two dogs- all rescues (except the children 😊). She enjoys cycling, hot yoga, and is trying to like working out at the gym. She has a passion for adventure. Given the opportunity she will kayak, snorkel, and zipline among other outdoor activities. A few years back she hiked and camped in the Grand Canyon to see the amazing Havasupi village and waterfalls. She loves planning vacations, especially oceanside, to rest and recharge.
Dr. Melissa Buggie
Graduated from Purdue’s School of Veterinary Medicine in 2001. While attending Purdue Dr. Buggie was involved with the SCAVMA and AAHA. After graduation, she had many offers for employment and we were lucky she chose us! She has worked here at St. John Animal Clinic since graduation and is now one of the owners!
She is an active member of CAVMA, IVMA, and AVMA. Veterinary medicine is her passion; she enjoys preventative medicine and soft tissue surgery. She is our resident Heartworm Treatment Doctor, plus worked very hard to help our clinic to attain Fear Free Certification!! She has attained the Elite status within her individual Fear Free certification.
Dr. Buggie loves spending time with her family (especially her amazing son and amazing daughter), and her pets. She also loves to go fishing, boating, doing crafts, is an avid reader, and enjoys beekeeping. She even finds time to volunteer as a 4-H assistant leader, and mini 4-H leader.
Dr. Christina Cooper
Dr. Christy Cooper graduated from Purdue’s School of Veterinary Medicine in 2003. She also received a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology in 1999. While attending Purdue she received the Bastien Award for exceptional care of canine patients. She held the position of Treasurer for the Exotic Club for two years and was involved in SCAVMA, AAFP, Pet Safe and SVECCS.
Dr. Cooper started hanging around here back in 1995 straight out of high school. She spent time shadowing the doctors and helping out where and whenever needed. After a couple of years, we hired her as a veterinary assistant! The rest is history; now she is part owner! Dr. Cooper likes the puppy/kitten visits, setting up the human-animal bond. She also enjoys preventative medicine, ultrasound, and surgery. She is currently a member of AVMA, IVMA, and is Fear Free Certified.
While not at work, you’ll probably find Dr. Cooper spending time with her family on a sports field, either supporting her children or playing soccer herself. She enjoys spending time outside doing activities, like family swim time, sand volleyball, hiking, and scuba diving. She has a dog and 2 cats.
Dr. Melissa Dunn
Dr. Melissa Dunn is one of the associate veterinarians working at St. John Animal Clinic. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Butler University in 2010 and her doctorate degree from Purdue’s Veterinary College in 2014. She is a member of the IVMA and AVMA.
Dr. Dunn loves all types of appointments and surgeries, but she loves preventative care in a fear free environment.
She knew she had an interest in the veterinary field from a very young age. SJAC felt like home when her family brought their dog for yearly visits back when she was in 4th grade. She started working at SJAC in 2008 during her summer and winter breaks as a receptionist and veterinary assistant. She has always loved the family atmosphere and support throughout college that she wanted to return after finishing her DVM.
Outside of the clinic, she loves spending time with her family outdoors fishing, gardening, and walking her two energetic dogs, Lila (Catahoula) and Morgan (German Shepherd).
Dr. Kim Michels
Dr. Kim Michels is one of the associate veterinarians here at SJAC. She graduated from Purdue University with her B.S. in Animal Sciences and later her D.V.M in 2017. Dr. Michels is also a member of AVMA, INVMA, and Fear Free Pets (Level 3 certified).
Dr. Michels has always had a love for science and found veterinary medicine is a rewarding career for her. Each day is different, and she loves all the different roles she can have as a veterinarian such as dentist, surgeon, or a primary care doctor. Dr. Michels has diverse interests in medicine, behavior, and surgery. She enjoys building bonds with her clients and patients and cherishes those opportunities to interact with them.
Dr. Michels grew up in Northwest Indiana and came to SJAC for an externship during her final year of veterinary school. She enjoyed her time here and returned after working in Illinois for a few years. Some perks at SJAC are the short commute to work, the awesome team members, and the loyal and grateful clientele.
In her free time, Dr. Michels enjoys attending fitness classes, baking, crafting, and spending time with her husband and rescue Dutch Shepherd, Leia and a Belgian Malinois named Rogue.
Registered Veterinary Technicians
Emily Shilling, RVT
Emily received her Associate degree in Applied Science in Veterinary Technology from Joliet Junior College in 2009. While there, she was an active member of the Veterinary Technology Club. St. John Animal Clinic was lucky that when Emily was finishing up her externship at another clinic, she came to us eager and ready to be a part of the team. She’s been a perfect piece in the SJAC puzzle since 2009! Her fur baby is a pittie named Yukon. But if you ask her about her most exotic animals she’s worked with she’ll probably tell you her kids! (On a serious note she had owned several exotic species including an iguana, turtle, and a tortoise!) Outside of working with animals Emily enjoys reading and attending supercross races with her husband. Now that their 3 young children are getting older she and her husband are enjoying getting back into camping. Fun facts about Emily: she is obsessed with polka dots, and of course turtles!
Holly Hart, RVT
Holly is a 2013 graduate of Purdue University with her AS in Veterinary Technology. Holly has been with the clinic since 2003 when she was in high school and started out as a receptionist. We are lucky to have her talents, compassion, and tender heart. Holly loves all animals but has a special place in her heart for Mastiffs.
When she is not here at work, she enjoys spending time with her pets, family and friends!
Jessica Bates, RVT
Before deciding to fully immerse herself in the animal world, Jess received an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and a Bachelor in Elementary Education from Purdue University Calumet. Her journey with veterinary medicine, and us, started here when she needed a job while finishing her degree.
Throughout her time teaching, she continued to work as an assistant at SJAC (where we’ve been proud to have her on the team since 2004!), but after teaching 6th-grade science for a year she felt she wasn’t spending enough time working with animals. Between her love for animals and her love for the science behind veterinary medicine, she was compelled to go back to school again and received her Associate in Veterinary Technology from Penn Foster in 2018.
Her four-legged children include Scout and American Bulldog/Boxer mix, and 3 kitties: Scar, a Japanese Bobtail, Clark a domestic shorthair, and her newest addition Cosmo, a domestic shorthair.
She is also a single mom to 3 two-legged children that she is proud to have raised while attending the veterinary technician program and also working full time. In her spare time, she takes her children to the bowling leagues and on camping and hiking trips at state parks.
Shannon Nowak-Johnson, RVT
Shannon Nowak-Johnson is an RVT here at SJAC. She graduated from Purdue University Calumet with a BS in biology and then continued her education at Fox College where she obtained her degree to take the states boards to become Registered Veterinarian Technician.
One of Shannon’s favorite things about her profession is not only working with the fur babies, but helping comfort our human friends as well!
She began her employment with SJAC in 2020, right before the pandemic began! She loves working with her SJAC family and getting to know her clients and patients!
When she clocks out after her busy day, she loves going home to her “zoo.” Her 5 cats (Fireball, Whiskey, Riot, JBell, and Beanie) as well as her 2 dogs (Ace and Hazel) give her reasons to smile all the time.
Of course, being the animal lover she is, if she could have one super power it would be the ability to talk to animals. What else could possibly compare?
Jill Kaminsky, Practice Manager
Jill has been a member of the St. John Animal Clinic family since 2016. She grew up here in St. John and played softball for Lake Central High School and Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Purdue.
She has moved up from leading our super-star reception crew to leading the whole clinic!! She continues to lead with empathy, care, attention to detail, and fairness to all. She wears many, many hats and we are so very fortunate to have her at the helm!
She has always had a passion for animals, so she absolutely loves her job. She feels it is an honor and a privilege to be able to come into work with this amazing team.
She continues to reside in St. John with her son and two fur babies. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, watching her son play sports, traveling, gardening, and taking her dogs for walks!
Kelly Kwilosz, Practice Manager
Kelly joined SJAC in 1999 and has worked in all areas of the clinic. Currently, you can find her working behind the scenes as Inventory Manager as providing support for staff and clinic in many capacities. Kelly is a proud graduate of Purdue University. She Fear Free Certified Elite and loves all animals, but has a soft spot for Black Labrador Retrievers and black cats. Kelly resides in Chesterton with her husband, young son and pets (Labrador, black cat, eclectus parrot and leopard gecko). She loves to stay active and enjoys running, hiking, camping, scuba diving and rally with the dog. She taught barre for 5 years and was also a wildland firefighter for 2 seasons.
Magdalene Amanatidis, BS, RVT
Maggie received her associate in applied science in 2002 and her bachelor’s in science in 2003 from Purdue University Veterinary Technology Program. While there, she was a member of the student chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Her studies focused on animal behavior and management.
Maggie has a Pomeranian mix named Mr. Fluffypants, known as ‘pants’ here in the clinic who was rescued from an overcrowded shelter in China. Some fun facts about Maggie are that she loves to sing, she is a published author, loves to travel, and her favorite place is Disney World.
Zone Lead – Reception Supervisor
Liz DeCarlo is our Reception Supervisor here at SJAC. She is originally from Illinois but in May of 2021 she hopped over the border and began her career here as a receptionist.
She feels her professional accomplishment was proving her work ethic and capabilities to become the leader of her zone after just 10 months on the job. Liz is very empathetic, caring, hardworking, and very determined. Her approach to new tasks is to tackle it head on and to make it fun for all involved. She puts her whole heart and mind into everything she does and loves to laugh and make sure every one is enjoying life and happy.
Liz was born and raised in Illinois, where she was a nanny for 3 kids for 4 years, the kids grew up and went to school full day so they no longer needed a nanny. This gave Liz a chance for change so she followed the love her life to St. John and thought she would try a career in Vet Med as a receptionist. Boy, were we lucky she walked into our clinic, and we snatched her up!
Liz will tell you she lives here at SJAC, but when she does have free time, she likes to travel, craft, and spend time with friends, family and her dog, Tucker!!
Veterinary Assistant Supervisor
Sheena is the lead veterinary assistant here at SJAC. She has worked as an assistant at our clinic for 8 years and has been cross trained in reception and surgery, always willing to lend a helping hand in any area when needed. She started working in the veterinary field when she was 16 years old and has continued to grow and show her value within the field. Her family noticed her great interest in the field when she began performing practice exams on her childhood cat, Nightmoon, on a nearly daily basis. With previous experience at a few different clinics, Sheena has comfortably settled into SJAC due to the quality of care given to patients, as well as the numerous learning opportunities provided to expand her knowledge and skillsets. She has the biggest heart and finds great joy in helping clients, patients, and her fellow coworkers. When Sheena is not working, she greatly enjoys participating in outdoor activities with her brother and nephew, Hunter, visiting other family members and friends (especially her sweet Grannie), and cozying up to watch movies with her German Shepherd, Keira, and her 3 cats, Charlie, Harold, And Dolly.
Elizabeth Mazur is the Surgery Supervisor here at SJAC. She has worked in the Veterinary Field since 2005, and came to SJAC in 2012 looking to expand her knowledge. Liz has worked her way up the ladder from receptionist to veterinary assistant, and eventually into her new position as Surgical Manager. Even though she is the Surgical Manager, she still enjoys working as an assistant, and occasionally works as a receptionist when needed. Liz loves the interaction between the clients and the patients. When Liz is not at work, she enjoys spending her time with her husband and son! They love to travel, and their favorite place to visit is Disney World! When she is not traveling, she loves to be outside with her son going for walks and swimming! She also has two dogs, Beemer a mini dachshund, and Levi a border collie. She also has two dogs, Gus a golden retriever, and Levi a border collie.