The team at Shepherd Spring Animal Hospital is comprised of highly trained and experienced animal health professionals who have a genuine love for working with pets. Our staff treats every patient with the highest quality of medical care as well as a gentle touch.
Dr. Norm Griggs
I grew up in Memphis, TN with my 3 brothers, sons of a machinist and a “stay at home” Mom. As a child and teen of the 60’s, I struggled through school. After high school, I enlisted in the US Marine Corps. As it turned out, those 4 years changed my life far more than any formal education after that. Self determination, responsibility to myself and others, and a structured life, where effort and excellence was recognized, profoundly changed my personal view of myself. I learned about life, death and the personal rewards for a job well done. My peers hailed from all over the United States; farm kids, getto kids, rich kids, smart kids and semi-insane kids. I say “kids” because, looking back, we really were kids. I “grew up” with this incredibly diverse mix of peers. I learned my “place” in life from these buddies from everwhere. But, most of all, I learned that I could do something meaningful with my life if I was willing to work to make my dreams come true. As cheesy as it sounds, that is where I was forged. By nature, I am hard headed about what is right and wrong. Honor, to me, is the most important virtue a person can possess. I don’t propose that makes me special or different. It is simply what is in my heart.
I love caring for animals. I feel their discomfort, both physical and emotional. I admire the brutal honesty of children, cats, dogs and other animals. Each can tell you that they don’t feel well, but the challenge that I enjoy so much, is learning and understanding what is wrong with them, and doing something to help them.
I try to surround myself with caring, like minded people. They all work hard, often under very difficult circumstances, to help our patients enjoy a better life. Their expectations inspire me to be my best, each day, to lead our team in making a meaningful difference in the lives of those trusted in our care.
Not a single patient of mine has ever “thanked” me with words. But they do thank me. No words are needed. But just as important to me, it is the expressed appreciation from their owners, those who care so much about them, that is moving beyond words. So, it is for you great people, and your profound love for your furry, feathered, or “other” friends that I dedicate Shepherd Spring Animal Hospital. It is, and will continue to be, our mission, to partner with you to ensure your pets enjoy a long and healthy life. And, I promise to always see that mission fulfilled with grace, honor, dignity and compassion.
Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.
Dr. Julia Whited
Dr. Julia Whited Gerrell earned her bachelors in Animal Science from the University of Florida and her DVM in 2013 from Tuskegee University in Auburn, Alabama. She met Dr Griggs her freshmen year of veterinary school, late one night when her dog Dixie injured her eye. Dr Griggs repaired and saved Dixie's eye, and when it came down to the bill, he told Julia to just "pay it forward one day." Julia spent the summers learning under Dr. Griggs, and could not wait until graduation to start her career at Shepherd Spring Animal Hospital. Her interests are small animal internal medicine and surgery. She loves being part of this community, helping it's citizens and animals live a healthy, happy life, and continuing to "pay it forward."
Dr. Cassandra Manuel
Dr. Cassandra Manuel was born and raised in Sanford, North Carolina. She attended North Carolina State University and studied biochemistry and biology. She stayed on at NC State to attend veterinary school and graduated with her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine in 2011. Following graduation, Doctor. Manuel worked in mixed animal practice in Monticello, Florida for four years. She is a wonderful asset to the Shepherd Spring Animal Hospital family and the Crawfordville community. Dr. Manuel, her husband and daughter built a home in Crawfordville. They have two dogs, Roo and Goose, three cats, Finn, Margot, and Scully, and a small flock of laying chickens.
Dr. Julie O‘Brien
Dr. Julie O‘Brien was born and grew up in Massachusetts. She received a bachelor’s in Marine Biology at the University of New England where she worked extensively with a local marine animal rehabilitation center caring for seals, sea turtles, and small cetaceans. Longing... for warmer weather, she chose Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine for her Doctorate, where she continued to explore her interests in wildlife, working everywhere from Mississippi to California. While she misses her wild patients, she absolutely loves taking care of companion animals and has special interests in preventative care, surgery, internal medicine, and emergency medicine.
Dr. O‘Brien lives with 2 rescued cats, a rescued boxer mix, and a rescued Boykin Spaniel "chronic foreign body eater" who she's had to save many times. In her free time, she loves anything outdoors – boating, fishing, hiking, kayaking, and beach activities. She is looking forward to an exciting career at Shepherd Spring and looks forward to meeting your furry family!
Jeanette Burdette - Certified Veterinary Technician
Don’t let that sweet smile fool you,” Dr. Griggs warned, “Jeanette is as tough as a nickel steak!”
Jeanette has dedicated her adult life to bettering her skill as a veterinary technician. In addition to working full time she spent her “off duty” time studying and learning the science of veterinary care and the business side of a veterinary hospital.
Dr. Griggs continued, “My efforts to bring her on board were hampered by her incredible loyalty to her previous veterinary hospital. Despite my offer, she declined but I suppose our relationship was born out of mutual respect and friendship.”
“Months later, Jeanette wanted to talk, so I asked why don’t we go fishing?”
“After a long pause she agreed, we made a date and a few days later we went fishing. We never spoke of work or conflicts of the heart. We just went fishing and had a nice Summer afternoon.” Dr. Griggs remembered.
“ After a heart to heart talk in my office Jeanette surprised me and made my day when she said “you’ve got me!”"
“ A great day that was!”, Griggs remembered.
Jeanette coordinates all of the business parts of patient care in addition to being a technician. Inventory management, selection of products, and keeping us current and legal on the regulatory side of running a veterinary hospital are all her responsibility. It is a big job and she works it efficiently and effectively.
Jeanette is a graduate of Wakulla High School and graduated from Tallahassee Community College in 2008 with an AA degree. She also attended St.Petersburg College and graduated in 2012 with an AS degree in veterinary technology. After completing the VTNE, she became a Certified Veterinary Technician in 2013.
She has been married 5 years to her High School sweetheart Christopher.
In her free time, Jeanette enjoys spending time with her family and friends, volunteering with various organizations like PAWS of Wakulla, attending River of Life church, and taking photos. Jeanette has always had a strong connection and deep love for animals, and she enjoys being a part of their lives when they come to our hospital.
Leigh Harless - Technician
Leigh came on board to the staff as an experienced veterinary technician. Our clients and patients know her as she works directly with the doctors in the exam rooms. We all know and enjoy her as a caring, happy person who really enjoys her job.
A good sense of humor is needed in our workplace and Leigh was blessed. She was quick to become part of our team of caregivers. Her duties involve direct support to the doctors from patient restraint in the exam rooms, running the machines in our in-house laboratory, and accurately filling prescriptions for our patients.
She and her husband Corey are parents of a delightful little boy named Fisher. He is ALL boy and brings smiles to our faces when he is here at the hospital. Leigh’s skills as a multi-tasker at work are certainly an asset when wrangling a young boy running through the house twirling his underwear overhead like a lariot.
Lorena Pearson - Customer Care Specialist
Lorena Pearson is a real piece of work. It is often her kind face you see first when you enter our hospital. It will probably be her empathetic voice by which you are greeted when you call. We are very proud that she is a part of our staff, (an integral part).
Dr. Griggs offered, “Lorena is the best person on the planet at multi-tasking. That girl has 4 brains working at one time. I don’t know how she does it but I get dizzy watching her run that front desk.”
In addition, Lorena has somehow coupled a “no nonsense” side of her personaliy to a “charming, free spirit” side. She displays a disarming smile, a quick wit and is always ready to enjoy a good laugh. She is big-hearted when it comes to our patients and enjoys the “people” side of a veterinary hospital.
An avid outdoors gal, she loves to fish and hunt. She can often be heard speaking with clients about the latest fishing trip. She and her husband Dennis spend much of their free time in a boat or in the woods.
It was a great day indeed when she joined our staff in 2013.
Mariya Pearson - Kennel Technician
Mariya first joined our staff while she was still in high school in 2016. She would help us restore the hospital after arriving after school when the rest of the clinical staff was tired and beat from a long day! Over the years, she has learned and grown as a technician and now works alongside the doctor in the exam rooms, helping with treatments and surgery as well. Her great attention to detail is beneficial in our hospital and she is constantly looking to lend a hand where needed. She is now a mother to a sweet little girl named Emery. Her beautiful smile and quiet disposition make her a good fit for her position on the staff.
Olivia Tooke - Technician
Olivia began working at Shepherd Spring Animal Hospital in October of 2012. She was born and raised in Wakulla County. She has since graduated at Florida State University with a degree in Biology and plans to pursue a degree in veterinary medicine in the near future. Her pets include 3 Labradors (Mack, Cora & Ice). In her free time, Olivia enjoys spending time with her family and being outdoors including being on the river.
“I anxiously await the day I get to welcome Olivia as a veterinarian to my staff.” Dr. Griggs sincerely offered. “She will be an incredible asset, not only to our clinical staff, but most of all, to our community.”
Olivia serves a a veterinary technician at SSAH. She’s a Scorpio like Dr. Whited and Dr. Griggs so there is great passion and a strong sense of “right and wrong” and not much middle ground on issues of honor.
Dr. Griggs continued, “ I met Olivia when I first moved here, as an eleventh grader at Wakulla High School. Never a person to be short on words, Olivia gave me a “Cliff’s Notes” version of her entire life, her family history, her dogs and her Dad’s fishing business all in one brief sitting.”
He continued, “She’s not shy, she did most of the talking.”
She joined the staff as a floater (everywhere, all the time) where she excelled . Now, she serves as a senior technician and, because of her incredible attention to detail, the person who performs almost all of the dental cleaning for our patients.
“To know Olivia is to love Olivia.” Dr. Griggs continued, “Her focus, passion and willingness to learn and grow will carry her far in life. It is a sincere pleasure to work with her and watch her grow.”
Maria Steurer - Head Surgical Technician
“I was anxious at first, but quickly became fascinated with my job. We spend most of our time in routine surgeries, but the orthopedic and neuro work is the most challenging. We spend very long hours, oftentimes into the night, repairing injuries to cats, dogs, turtles or whatever comes through the door. It is a very rewarding feeling to know that there are so many critters out there whose lives we have touched.” Maria smiled, “It’s what we do. I get tired but I never get tired of it.”
Maria is very meticulous by nature. Her surgery suite is always spotless, completely stocked and efficiently organized. While patients under her care are anesthetized, she mothers them, constantly monitoring their “numbers” (heart rate, temperature and oxygen saturation) while staying one step ahead of Dr. Griggs anticipating the next instrument needed and having it at the ready.
Explained Maria, “For over seven years I have stood opposite Dr. Griggs at the surgery table. I pretty much can “hear” him thinking as he works on his patients. “
Maria was born and raised in her native Austria. She is married to a childhood sweetheart, Mischa. He is a PhD electical engineer at the FSU Center for Advanced Power Systems. She plays bass in a bluegrass band and Mischa plays the Mandolin. Her personal pets include 4 horses, 3 cats, 6 dogs and a mix of chickens and goldfish.
“ She has a really cool accent too!”, smiled Dr. Griggs
Megan Wright- Technician
Megan came to Shepherd Spring in October of 2017 with years of previous experience in the veterinary field. She completed her AA degree at Tallahassee Community College and plans to attend Florida State University and major in Biology. Her fur children include a Chihuahua/Jack Russell Terrier named Lilly, two Chihuahua's Zoe and Ollie, and a cat named Ace. It's no wonder why Megan is often called "the chihuahua whisperer" around the hospital :) In her free time, Megan enjoys being around any kind of water. Her most recent adventure included an all day affair shark tagging with experts at FSU Marine Lab. Megan also plans on learning how to dive soon so she can get a closer look at those underwater creatures she enjoys being around! Megan is a wonderful part of the Shepherd Spring family and we are thankful to have her!