Meet the Staff
Get to know the veterinarians and staff that will make your stay comfortable and have your pet feeling brand new!
Coming from a family of doctors, I always felt I would find myself as a medical professional but it was my love of animals that drew me to the veterinary field. While still in school I always found myself being pulled towards the operating room as my primary interest and many of my electives were surgical.
I was inspired to go out on my own, not only because of my desire to limit my scope to surgical procedures, but also to provide quality yet affordable surgical procedures beyond what many of the low cost clinics offer which are often limited to simple spays and neuters.
I received my D.V.M. at Virginia Tech in 1998 after completing my undergrad work at The University of Florida, James Madison University and Old Dominion University. Before opening Helping Hands, I worked full time at Locke A. Taylor DVM and part time for Prevent A Litter and Cat Nip. The experiences I have gained have both sharpened my skills and led me to fulfill my need for more advanced surgeries. Dentistry also runs deep in my ‘genes’ as my father and brother are both human dentists. So in combination with surgery, I am excited to provide pets with affordable dental care.
Special thanks to my wonderful husband, Jake, and colleague and friend, Jackie. Without my own personal cheerleaders, Helping Hands might still be only a dream
Like many people, I have always had a passion for animals and fortunately have always found a way to surround myself with them. With this passion comes a desire to help those in need, which brought me to Locke A. Taylor’s office many years ago. After much on the job training I found myself in the hands on position working alongside Dr. Lori Pasternak in surgery. When Dr. Lori decided to venture off on her own to pursue her dream of a surgical center for animals, it was only natural for me to follow.
Dr. Pasternak and I have always said we held hands, closed our eyes and jumped together when we started Helping Hands, and neither of us have ever looked back. The idea of offering affordable surgical and dental care for pets in need is very exciting.
Helping Hands now has several veterinarians, technicians and support staff who help make a difference to animals on a daily basis and I am very proud to work alongside such amazing talent and devotion.
A native of Montreal, Canada, I moved to the United States in 1991. Richmond has been home to my family since 1998. Along with Dr. Lori, I am excited to be able to provide the same love and attention to the animals we treat as we do for our own.
Dr. McKercher spent his childhood years in Staunton, VA and his high school years in Newport News, VA. He met his wife Liz at Virginia Tech and both received a BS in Wildlife Science in 1993. Between 1993 and 2000, Dr. McKercher worked as a veterinary assistant at numerous zoos, wildlife facilities, and small animal clinics. He was also the director of Peace River Wildlife Center in Punta Gorda, Florida. During this time, he compiled thousands of hours working with wildlife. This includes raptors, primates, reptiles, and many large Asian and African animals, including rhinoceros, giraffes, lions and Elephants. He has handled a very diverse number of wild animals, and his favorites are Bald Eagles, Great Horned Owls, and American alligators. Dr. McKercher graduated from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in 2003, having completed his final clinical year at the University of Florida. He spent 6 years practicing as an equine veterinarian before transitioning to small animal medicine and surgery. He truly enjoys all types of surgeries, especially orthopedics. He lives in Mechanicsville and enjoys spending time with his wife Liz and his daughters Hailey and Heather. His extended family includes 2 dogs named Fiddle and Sandy, a puppy named Otter, 3 cats named Skiddy, Gorilla, and Marmalade, and a Blue-tongued Skink named Oxford. In his spare time, Dr. McKercher enjoys drumming, carpentry, surfing, hiking, and off-road adventures. He also loves football and soccer. Go Gators! Hail to the Redskins! Go Manchester City!
Kristen graduated from Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine in 2006. Along with working at Helping Hands she practices equine emergency medicine locally. While in Virginia Dr. Talbott has practiced at a high volume spay/neuter clinic and general practice hospital for the Richmond (low income) community. She is an avid photographer and artist. Her current project is renovating their city home built in 1903! Dr Talbott is active in international veterinary volunteer groups and has traveled many times to Mexico and the Dominican Republic. Dr Kristen has a soft spot for giant breed dogs and is a long time Great Dane rescuer/owner.
Mark is originally from Scotland where he graduated from the University of Glasgow School Of Veterinary Medicine in 2013. He first worked in Scotland at a very busy group of practices seeing all small animals, including exotics. In 2015, he moved to Virginia to be closer to his girlfriend (now wife), Katie. He worked in rural Virginia for three years providing care for all animals (including exotics), as well as serving as a Guest Speaker at the Veterinary Technology Program at Blue Ridge Community College. His passion for surgery and dentistry, and his drive to make sure all pets receive the care they require led him to join the Helping Hands team in 2018. He and Katie have 3 cats, two ferrets, two rats, and a very special rescue dog named Pippin. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling, cooking and baking, enjoying music and movies, and exploring Richmond.
Leland was born in Hawaii and has lived in numerous places across the country, though North Carolina was home longer than anywhere else. He attended Veterinary School at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. After graduating in 2018, he practiced in small animal practices seeing dogs and cats in both Illinois and Indiana. Leland has a passion for dentistry and was excited to join Helping Hands in 2020 so that he could help all pets receive the care they deserve. He has two small rescue dogs, Reuben and Quincy.
Veronica started at Helping Hands as a volunteer. She moved to Richmond from New York to help care for a family member. An avid cat lover and owner, she wanted to help make a difference. She was such a kind spirit and hard worker that when we needed more help, we knew she was the one we wanted. Her warmth and compassion for both people and animals is infectious. She helps in many ways, but her primary job is to help spread the word about Helping Hands and our Mission, so pets in need of our services can find us. She is our biggest cheer-leader and is so grateful to be a part of the Helping Hands team. She is a parent to Trillius, a very handsome cat. She can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Elaina came to work at Helping Hands at first as a volunteer. Her own dog needed veterinary care and in exchange for care she offered to volunteer to answer the phones when Helping Hands first opened. It wasn’t long before she was a full time member of the team (and our first official employee!). Elaina fit right in with the enthusiasm, spirit and ethics of what Helping Hands is all about. She has grown with us through the years, starting as our very first receptionist and now holding the title of Practice Manager. Her unyielding devotion, and passion for our mission has helped us become who we are today. You will feel her kindness and warmth not only when you meet her, but even through the phone when you call. Elaina was born and raised on the South side of Richmond. She is Mom to “M.J.” and “Cat”
Chilly joined the Helping Hands team in July 2011. He came to Helping Hands through B.A.R.K. as a rescue in need of veterinary care. Lori and Chilly had an instant attraction for one another and it was decided that they could not live without each other. In October of 2011 Chilly became rainbow colored so he could be cotton candy for Halloween. Chilly pranced around up and down the East Coast with Jake handing out Chilly Cards to help promote the work we do at Helping Hands. Unfortunately, Chilly crossed the Rainbow Bridge in December of 2018.
Jake is leading the charge to encourage medical tourism to Richmond for pets – the Veterinary Vacation. Enjoy the history, culture, food & drink of Richmond, VA while ensuring your pet gets surgery or dental treatment at an affordable price. You can also relax in Chilly’s Chill Zone Client Lounge while waiting for your pet. For more information on activities for your Veterinary Vacation, please contact Jake at email@example.com.