Meet Our Doctors & Staff

Dr. George Ghneim

Dr. George Ghneim | DVM, PhD


Dr. George ghneim graduated from the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 1998.

Throughout the four years of veterinary school he became interested in infectious disease and went on to complete a Masters in Preventive Veterinary Medicine and Epidemiology (MPVM) and a PhD in Ecology with an emphasis on the environment and infectious disease. His dissertation work was on determining environmental risk factors for infection with leptospirosis.

Throughout his PhD, Dr. Ghneim worked as an emergency/critical care clinician at a 24 hour referral hospital in Sacramento, California. After completing his dissertation he moved to Raleigh, NC to manage the state health department’s infectious disease surveillance system. He then went to RTI International to work on more primary infectious disease research. He continued to work part time in emergency hospitals on the weekends and in 2008 elected to go back to clinical practice full time. Dr. Ghneim became a partner with Care First Animal Hospitals and was with them until 2017.

Dr. Ghneim is married to Carrie Ghneim with whom he has two children, Isadora and Simon, and a Rhodesian ridgeback named Hex. His other passions in life are food, wine, and Kendo. Dr. Ghneim is also passionate about preventive health in veterinary medicine and the use of advanced technologies, such as ultrasound and laparoscopy, to aid in the treatment of our beloved companions.

McKenzie Paschal

McKenzie Paschal, RVT

Field Operations Director

McKenzie was born and raised in Ashveille, NC. 

After exploring different career paths, she discovered that she could bring her passion for animals and interest in medicine together to give her a fulfilling life in Veterinary medicine. She graduated from Asheville Buncombe Technical College in 2013 with her A.A.S of Veterinary Medicine and is a Registered Veterinary Technician in the state of North Carolina. She has worked in several different areas of small animal practice, including emergency, general, and rehabilitation. Although she loves all kinds of companion animals, she has a special place in her heart for senior pets. McKenzie loves educating pet owners on different ways to help keep their older pets comfortable and maintain their quality of life as they age.

McKenzie and her husband relocated to Raleigh in 2014 to be closer to family. They have a beautiful daughter and a senior Shih Tzu. They enjoy cooking, hiking, craft beer, kayaking, attending their church, and doing home improvements during their free time.

Dixie Trail

Dr. Virginia Brown

Virginia Brown, DVM

Dr. Virginia Brown graduated from UNC-Charlotte with a degree in English and then began working in the education office of the Charlotte Nature Museum. 

This is where Dr. Brown became passionate about working with wildlife. Dr. Brown then went back to school and obtained her DVM at the NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine. After working for several years at Wake Veterinary Hospital in Knightdale Dr. Brown purchased Dixie Trail Animal Clinic. While in veterinary school Dr. Brown also became interested in birds and exotics, including small mammals, and has been a member of the Association of Avian Veterinarians for 30 years.

Dr. Virginia Brown was married to John C. Brown, a founding partner of Brown Jurkowski Architectural Collaborative, for 39 years. Together they enjoyed travelling, hiking, and photography. Dr. Brown continues to be an avid equestrian and in her spare time enjoys photography and gardening.

Dr. Brown has been part of the Raleigh community since 1991 and has developed a loyal and devoted clientele. She is excited to continue her role with us at Oak Heart Veterinary Hospital at Dixie Trail

Dr. Virginia Brown

Khusboo Dass, DVM

Dr. Dass received her Bachelor’s of Animal Science and Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from NC State, GO PACK!

After graduating, Dr. Dass moved to Tampa for work, but is now back and very happy to be home. She loves oncology, senior care, nutrition and exotics. When she is not working, she loves to try new restaurants, cook new recipes, read, do yoga and spend time with her fiance and two cats; Kevin and Arya.


Colleen Brunston

Carolyn Hines, DVM

Dr. Hynes grew up just outside of Charlotte, NC. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Animal & Veterinary Science from Clemson University in 2018 (Go Tigers!) 

She then completed Veterinary School at NC State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Hynes has a special interest in integrative medicine, nutrition, and rehabilitation. She trained in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) through Chi University and completed her veterinary acupuncture certification (CVA) in May 2022. She loves having more “tools in her toolbox” to help provide the best possible care.

Dr. Hynes is also Fear Free Certified and aims to make every appointment a positive experience for her patients.

In her spare time, Dr. Hynes enjoys eating sushi, cooking, traveling, and hiking with her dog, Rhemy!

Colleen Brunston

Colleen Brunston

Practice Manager

Colleen graduated from Central Carolina Community College in 2003 with an associate degree in veterinary medical technology.

Before becoming part of the Oak Heart family, she spent 11 years in an all-feline practice learning about basic feline behavior and how to treat them with the gentleness and respect that they deserve.  Prior to that, she helped open an emergency hospital at the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2005.   

She has always had a passion for helping those that cannot help themselves.  Colleen has one cat, Ricky, and a dog, Annie, that she loves with all her heart.  She enjoys spending her free time with her husband Richard and her three children, Ryan, Sarah, and Reid. Colleen spends her weekends on the baseball field, volleyball court, or soccer field cheering on her favorite people.  


Dr. Karima Ekblad

Karima Ekblad, DVM

Dr. Karmina Ekblad is originally from Dublin, a small suburb in the San Francisco Bay Area.
She obtained a Bachelors of Science in Biological Sciences at the Univeristy of Carlifornia, Santa Barbara She then attended the University of California, Davis where she earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 2017.

Following graduation, she completed a small animal rotating internship program at a large hybrid general practice/specialty/emergency hospital in Loomis, CA. She moved to North Carolina in 2018, practicing in Chapel Hill.

Her professional interests include internal medicine, urgent care, analgesia, and chronic pain management, and behavior.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Outside of work, Dr. Ekblad enjoys road biking, hiking, canoeing, traveling internationally, and cooking. She lives in the College Park neighborhood of Raleigh with her husband Jonathan and their two Boston terriers, Benny and Scarlet

Dr. Jake Clements

Jake Clements, DVM

Originally from Poolesville, MD, Dr. Clements received his Bachelor of Science from University of Maryland, College Park before moving to Raleigh to attend NC State College of Veterinary Medicine.

During his time as NC State he fell in love with the city of Raleigh and the community and decided to make the move permanent.

Dr. Clements’ favorite part of veterinary medicine is building relationships with his clients and working with owners to optimize patient care. He loves working with animals of all shapes and sizes, but his personal favorites are the tiny cats and giant breed dogs.

Outside of the office you can find Dr. Clements relaxing on his “catio” with his two cats, Little Mouse and Monkey Butt, or hiking at Umstead State Park with his fiancé and rescue dog, Butters.



Sami Britton

Sami Britton, RVT

Practice Manager

Sami was born and raised in the Raleigh Area. She graduated in 2017 from Central Carolina Community Commity College of Veterinary Technology.

She started in Veterinary Medicine in 2011, because she’s always had a place in her heart for animals and has a special drive to help save lives and educate clients on how to keep their pets healthy. Sami has experience in many different areas of veterinary medicine and has a special interest in orthopedics.


She lives in Clayton NC with her 3 dogs , Sophie (Corgi mix), Reynolds (Dachshund), and Mac (Labrador) and a sweet domestic longhaired cat (Mufasa). During her free time, she enjoys camping, going to the mountains or the beach, and cooking (eating too) Sami is known for her friendly and warm personality. She always keeps everyone smiling and laughing as much as she can. Her love for animals began at a very young age and has always known the veterinary field is where she belongs.

Person Street

Dr. Rebecca Hamilton

Rebecca Hamilton, DVM

Dr. Hamilton grew up in  central jersey, where she had countless childhood schemes to have a farm, but only convinced her family to have a dog and two cats. She attended college at Delaware Valley University in Pennsylvania where she majored in Microbiology and minored in nutrition and large animal science.

After graduating, she spent a year working at a veterinary hospital in downtown Philadelphia, where she learned she loved the community engagement of urban medicine.

Dr. Hamilton’s favorite part of her job is getting to know her clients. She thinks it is her greatest privilege to guide them in deciding what is best for their four-legged family members. Her interests are in nutrition, preventative medicine, and hospice care.

Dr. Hamilton shares her home with her high school sweetheart and two cats, Juniper and Aspen (named for Philly streets where they were found). In her spare time, you can find her loitering in her favorite Raleigh coffee shops, making her next camping or travel plans, trying a new local restaurant, or testing out a new recipe. And always plotting to get a dog (or five).

Dr. Ellyn Sawyer

Ellyn Sawyer, DVM

Dr. Ellyn Sawyer completed her undergraduate and doctoroal degrees at North Carolina State University. After Veterinary School, she completed a small animal intership at the Univeristy of Georgia. 

Next, she moved to Los Angeles to work at a busy 24-hour clinic in West Hollywood. After 4 years on the west coast, she and her husband headed back east to Atlanta. There she worked in a great clinic for the past 7 years. It was a hard place to leave, but she finally convinced her husband to move home to North Carolina this spring.

Her husband is also a veterinarian and together they have two young children and a very senior miniature poodle. She enjoys almost every part of veterinary medicine, but the part she values most is building relationships with pets and their families. She is so excited to start this next chapter in such a wonderful part of Raleigh.

Kiara Winkley

Kiara Winkey, RVT

Practice Manager

Kiara is a native of Newark, NJ, but currently resides in Raleigh. She has always loved animals. Pitbulls and shy pets have a special place in her heart.

Kiara began her journey in Veterinary medicine in 2013 when she completed her certification for the Certified Veterinary Assistant program at Penn Foster. She landed her first job at a small animal hospital in 2014 and continued her veterinary journey from there. Throughout the years she has dabbled in several small animal practices including General Practice, Internal Medicine, Dermatology, and small exotic pets.

She is currently enrolled in Ashworth College to complete her studies of becoming a Registered Veterinary Technician. She loves to educate pet parents and their families on keeping their forever companions healthy. Kiara relocated to Raleigh in 2020 with her two dogs Icis & Nola to be closer to her grandmother. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, dogs, traveling, dancing, and bowling.

South Saunders

Dr. Una Stone

Una Stone, DVM


 Dr. Una Stone got her undergraduate degree at NC State University in Chemical Engineering.

She decided to make a career change and started working at a veterinary hospital, which was when she realized that she wanted to be a veterinarian. Dr. Stone graduated from the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in St. Kitts and Nevis and completed her clinical year at the NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine. She has worked in emergency medicine and general practice and equally appreciates both the rush of saving a life as well as building lasting relationships with patients and clients. She especially enjoys soft tissue surgery, minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery, endoscopy, and ultrasound. She is expanding her abilities this coming spring by learning acupuncture to provide further benefits to her patients.

Dr. Stone is a North Carolina native, growing up in Carrboro, NC. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family (she recently became an aunt!), running, and traveling. She recently completed several triathlons and is running in the City of Oaks Half Marathon. She’s been to New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, Guatemala, and several places in Europe, Canada, and the Caribbean. She also loves to relax at home with her four pets: her dog Apollo, her two cats Gus and Eve, and Kirby her parrotlet.

Dr. Rachel Blackburn

Rachel Blackburn, DVM

Biography Coming Soon! 



Dr. Tracy Borst

Tracy Borst, DVM

Dr. Borst’s career path has focused on both small animal surgery and medicine. She has worked in high quality high volume spay neuter clinics as well as in general practice and emergency.

Dr. Borst combines a practical approach to problem solving with compassionate care to ensure the lifetime wellbeing of her patients. She has a particular interest in surgery, clinical pathology and building relationships with her clients.

Outside of work Dr. Borst helps lead a local dog rescue in Wilson, NC. She lives on a small hobby farm with her husband (who is also a veterinarian), 2 kids and their menagerie of horses, dogs, cats and birds.


Dr. Aubrey Brown

Aubrey Brown, DVM

Biography Coming Soon! 



Dr. Cody Crawford

Cody Crawford, DVM

Dr. Cody Crawford is originally from Southwestern Connecticut where she lived until she moved to a very small town in Northwestern Wisconsin at the age of 10 where she gained a love for ice hockey and softball.

She then attended the University of Vermont where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences in 2014. She then decided to check out Los Angeles where she spent a year working at a general practice hospital until she moved to Raleigh in 2015 to be closer to family.


She worked at a surgical practice and then an ophthalmology practice until she attended Midwestern University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2018. After receiving her doctorate in 2022, she completed a rotating internship at The Ohio State University in 2023, which was weighted heavily in emergency medicine. Dr. Crawford was initially interested in pursuing a residency in internal medicine so she also did a specialty internship in interventional radiology and endoscopy at The Schwarzman Animal Medical Center in NYC. She ultimately decided to moved back to Raleigh to be closer to family and start her career in general practice. Dr. Crawford enjoys working up more complicated cases and is interested in advanced diagnostics such as ultrasonography and endoscopy. Her favorite part of veterinary medicine is forming long-term relationships with her clients and their pets.

In her free time, Dr. Crawford enjoys working out (recently started F45!), hiking, going to concerts, checking out new restaurants, spending time with her friends and family, watching movies and TV shows, and hanging with her two cats, Nori and Mochi! She has hopes to adopt a dog this Summer/Fall!



Dr. Michala Freiderick

Michala Frederick, DVM

Dr. Michala Frederick received her Bachelors of Science from Western Kentucky University in 2019 and her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Auburn University in 2022.

She chose to enroll in the Vets Pets ER focused internship program before coming to the emergency department of Oak Heart at South Saunders. Her professional interests include emergency medicine, soft tissue surgery, ultrasound, and nutrition.

Michala has two Labrador Retrievers named Gauge and Archer, as well as a cat named Odin. Her hobbies include dog training, Krav Maga, hiking, and generally anything outdoors or with her dogs. She enjoys house plants, visiting local coffee shops, and American history.

Dr. Katie Oden

Katie Oden, DVM

Dr. Katie Oden attended Kent State University for her undergraduate classes and completed her veterinary degree at North Carolina State.

After graduation, she worked as a GP vet in Ohio for 2 years, NYC for 1 year, and Montreal for 1 year. She finally decided that NC was where she belonged, and came back to start her career as an ER vet. She lives on a horse farm with her two horses Maybe and PJ. She also has a Painted Turtle name Harmon and a Sulcata Tortoise named Alex. In her free time, she loves taking walks with her Red Lab Paddington and spending as much time outdoors as possible. She also enjoys reading and attending concerts.

Dr. Shannon Raboin

Shannon Raboin, DVM

Dr. Shannon Raboin is one of our Emergency Veterinarians. Dr. Raboin is originally from Connecticut but moved to Florida as a boy. Originally planning to be a lawyer, his bachelor’s degree is in Criminology and Law from the University of Florida. A tragic accident involving his beloved Dachshund lead him to switch career paths and meet his wife, Dr. Kristin Raboin. Dr. Shannon Raboin completed post-graduate classes and worked as a research assistant at Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine and then graduated from TUSVM as salutatorian in 2011. His internship in small animal internal and emergency medicine lead him to the Triangle. His professional focus is emergency and critical care medicine, but he also has a strong interest in wound management, cardiology, and endocrine and infectious diseases. He is a huge fan of the UFC and enjoys gardening and spending time with his girls.



Dr. Skylare Smith

Skylare Smith, DVM

Dr. Skylare Smith graduated from North Carolina State University. 

with a Bachelor’s degree before completing her veterinary medical degree there in 2021. Dr. Smith has a strong interest in soft tissue surgery, ultrasonography, ophthalmology, and cardiology in an emergency setting.

In her spare time, she enjoys being active, spending time with her Border Terrier mix named Bear, hiking, kayaking, swimming, or playing sports. When not at work or enjoying the outdoors, Dr. Smith enjoys working on home improvement and repair projects.

Dr. Samantha Zeitler

Samantha Zeitler, DVM

Biography Coming Soon! 



Phen Wolfe

Phen Wolfe Jr. 

Hospital Administrator

Phen Is A Compassionate Individual Driven By The Belief That Unconditional Love Is Not Just A One-Way Street, But A Powerful Force To Be Shared And Acted Upon. With A Strong Purpose To Add Value To Every Interaction, Phen Has Dedicated His Life To Animal Welfare And Advocacy.

Phen’s educational background is diverse, holding a BS in Theology and being a published author. He has been an active voice for animal welfare, speaking both nationally and locally, while also making a tangible difference in local communities through hands-on work.

With over a decade of experience in Veterinary Medicine and Management, Phen joined Oak Heart at South Saunders as a knowledgeable and passionate team member. His extensive expertise in rescue work and rehabilitation includes involvement in puppy mill raids, dog-fighting rings, cruelty and abandonment cases, and labeled dog rehabilitation.

Phen founded Paperbag Pitbull, which began as a think-tank for animal welfare education and legislation and has since evolved into a dog-coaching adventure.

Phen’s home is a haven for a pack of formerly-unwanted misfits, including Alou, an auctioned-won puppy, and Anderson, a news-worthy cruelty-case survivor. There is always room for one more at Phen’s residence.

Serving on the Board of Directors for numerous non-profits across local counties, Phen remains committed to making a difference. He continues his advocacy by consulting and educating countless local and national animal welfare organizations and veterinary hospitals.


Lena Smith

Lena Smith

Emergency and Critical Care Manager

Lena Is Originally From Clearwater, Florida.  She Received Her As Degree In Veterinary Technology From St. Petersburg Junior College (Now St. Petersburg College) In 1996.  She Is A Registered Veterinary Technician In North Carolina. She Knew Very Early That She Wanted To Work In The Veterinary Field.

After getting her AS degree, she decided that she wanted to stay in the nursing aspect of veterinary medicine to be the voice of her patients. Lena has spent her 25+ years growing her veterinary nursing skills in all aspects of general and specialty veterinary medicine. Her first love is for neurology and the seizure patient. Second to that, specialty surgery has her heart. She enjoys being in a leadership role because it allows her to mentor and watch other veterinary technicians grow in their skills and knowledge.

Outside of the ER, Lena and her husband are ruled by their 6-pound Chihuahua, Tito. They also spend time with the other family pets that have moved out to live with their adult children. Bill, the 15yr old Chiweenie (chihuahua-dachshund), Gronk, the 8yr old Pug, and Murphy, the 4yr old Pyrenees mix.

Patty Ramirez

Patty Ramirez

General Practice Manager

Patricia Ramirez, A Florida Native, Made The Move To The Raleigh Area In 2021 With Her Loving Fiancé, Eddie.

With a passion for animals and a dedication to service, she has spent the last 8 years in the veterinary field, gaining experience in kennel management, reception duties, and veterinary assistance. Currently enrolled in Penn Foster’s Veterinary Technician program, she is committed to furthering her education and skills in the field.

In her role, Patricia strives to create a warm and compassionate environment for clients and their beloved pets, ensuring they feel valued and cared for throughout their veterinary experience. She takes pride in providing exceptional care and support to animals and their owners, making a positive impact in their lives.

Outside of work, Patricia shares her life with two cherished feline companions, David and Linus. In her free time, she and Eddie enjoy exploring new culinary experiences at local restaurants, visiting markets, traveling to new destinations, and immersing themselves in the beauty of nature.

Patricia is excited to continue her journey in the veterinary field, building connections with clients and their pets, and creating meaningful relationships along the way.

Our Locations

Oak Heart Veterinary Hospital at Dixie Trail

3044 Medlin Drive
Raleigh, NC 27607

Phone: 919-781-5977

Mon – Fri: 7:30AM-5:30PM
Sat: 8AM-12PM

Oak Heart Veterinary Hospital at Longview

2116-F New Bern Avenue
Raleigh, NC 27610

Phone: 984-200-3759

Mon – Fri: 7:30AM-5:30PM
Sat: 8AM-12PM

Oak Heart Veterinary Hospital at Person Street

619 N Person St.
Raleigh, North Carolina 27604

Phone: 919-307-8843

Mon – Fri: 7:30AM-5:30PM
Sat: 8AM-12PM

Oak Heart Veterinary Hospital & Emergency at South Saunders

1600 S. Saunders Street
Raleigh, NC 27603

Phone: 984-222-0039

General Practice Hours
Mon – Fri: 7:30AM-5:30PM
Sat: 8AM-12PM

Emergency Hours
We are open 24 hours a day for Emergency Care.

Resort Hours
Mon- Fri: 7AM-7PM
Sat: 8AM-1PM
Sun: 4PM-6PM

Let us show you around!
Take a virtual tour here.