Meet our Doctors

In order to provide 24/7 emergency services to our community we have a team of emergency veterinarians, technicians, assistants, and highly trained client care professional. Our doctors and staff care for over 15,000 emergent and urgent care cases annually. Because of this caseload, AERC has developed a triage index system to help prioritize incoming cases which allows our doctors to exam patients based on criticality, in conjunction with time of arrival. This system has helped save countless lives because it reduced the wait time for these emergent cases. Some of the conditions that our emergency veterinarian treat include trauma, shock, respiratory distress, seizures, bleeding disorders, allergic reactions, fractures, vomiting and diarrhea.


Ashley Sides, DVM – Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Sides is originally from North Carolina and received her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She then moved to Gainesville, FL and graduated with honors from the University of Florida with her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine (DVM) in 2002. An internship in small animal medicine in surgery at Veterinary Specialists of Northern Colorado brought her to Ft Collins in 2002 after graduation from vet school. She moved to Colorado Springs in 2003 and has been a part of the team at Animal Emergency Care Centers ever since. She is especially interested in soft tissue surgery and critical care medicine.

Outside of work, Dr. Sides enjoys traveling, camping, photography, hiking, painting, rock climbing, and snowboarding. She has 3 dogs (Kobie, a lab, and Lance & Luke, Chihuahuas) and 4 cats (Moses, Sammi, Talus and Coolie).


AERC Doctor Supervisor Team

Danika Hayden, DVM


Dr. Hayden grew up in Colorado and obtained her Bachelor of Science at Colorado State University-Pueblo. She then completed her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. She has practiced in several states, including Indiana and New Jersey, but is happy to call Colorado home.

In her free time, Dr. Hayden enjoys rock climbing, hiking 14ers, traveling, and reading. Her family includes a yellow lab, a black lab mix, and a very fuzzy orange kitty.


Kara McArdell, DVM

Dr. McArdell is a 2009 graduate from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. Following graduation she completed a one-year rotating small animal internship with a focus in emergency medicine, at Ocean State Veterinary Specialists in Rhode Island. She joined Animal Emergency Care Centers in the summer of 2010, and has strong career interests in emergency medicine and critical care, cardiology, and soft tissue surgery. The beauty and wealth of outdoor activities brought her to Colorado, where she loves to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Outside of work she enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, running, participating in races, and exploring the outdoors. She also has recently discovered a love for CrossFit.


AERC Emergency Veterinarians

Heather Becker, DVM, RECOVER Certified Instructor (BLS/ALS)

Dr. Becker is a Nebraska native. She got her B.S. in Veterinary Science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and received her D.V.M. from Kansas State University. After working for a year in private practice, she opted to get more advanced training by completing a small animal rotating internship at the Metropolitan Veterinary Hospital in Akron, OH. During her internship, she acquired her passion for emergency and critical care medicine and upon its completion, she followed her dream to live and work in Colorado as an emergency veterinarian. Her interests in emergency medicine include diagnosis/treatment of shock and CPR, and she is certified in RECOVER CPR Basic and Advanced Life Support.

Outside of work she can be found hiking in the mountains, stand up paddle boarding with her dog Mercy, agility training with her dog Ollie, running, snowboarding, visiting a local microbrewery, or traveling abroad to new destinations. Mercy is a certified therapy dog with the Go Team Colorado, so Heather spends countless volunteer hours driving Mercy to local hospitals, colleges, high schools, libraries, and other miscellaneous venues for visits. She is the co-owner of Animal Emergency Medical Training, which provides small animal first aid and CPR training to firefighters, first responders, police K9 units, search and rescue teams, and dog boarding facilities.


Cathryn Doyle, DVM

Dr. Cathryn Doyle is happy to be joining the AERC team. She is originally from Baltimore, MD and just recently moved the Colorado Springs area. She received her undergraduate training at Northland College in Ashland, WI, completing her Bachelors of Science in 3 years. She then went on to pursue a dual Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) and Masters of Public Health (MPH) through the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine and Virginia Tech. She graduated with her dual degrees in December 2013, then went on to complete a rotating small animal internship in Veterinary Emergency and Internal Medicine at the Greenbrier Veterinary Emergency Center in Chesapeake, VA from June 2014 to June 2015. After completing her internship, Dr. Doyle moved back home where she was working in private practice emergency medicine until her move to Colorado Springs.

Dr. Doyle is especially interested in wildlife and conservation medicine and enjoys working with the exotic and more “creepy-crawly” critters in veterinary medicine. She also is a big advocate for client education and enjoys working on challenging medicine cases. In her free time, Dr. Doyle enjoys running and hiking, reading everything she can get her hands on, and traveling to exotic locations. She has visited India, South Africa, Great Britain, Spain, and Italy. When she’s not traveling or enjoying the outdoors, she also enjoys snuggling with her cat and her snake and gecko.


Clay Johnson, DVM

Dr. Clay Johnson was born and raised in the heart of Virginia on a beautiful Black Angus cattle farm. As soon as he was old enough to understand what a job was, he had already decided on pursuing veterinary medicine. Dr. Johnson was surrounded by animals from a young age, being a farm boy, and began working at the local Veterinarians office and farm in 6th grade. Here his interest in becoming a vet was further influenced by bottle feeding fawns to hatching ostrich eggs. Dr. Johnson went on to study Biology with a focus in cytogenetics at Virginia Tech and received a Bachelor’s of Science. After graduation, he continued working on his research at VT studying the molecular mechanisms of cancer cell physiology. The following year, he was then accepted to the Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech, where he tracked companion and food animal medicine.

Dr. Johnson is excited to join our practice and give back to the community by upholding the AERC’s mission of providing your animals with the highest standard of care. He has a special interest in internal medicine and surgery. As a lifelong caver and avid backpacker, Dr. Johnson enjoys all outdoor activities with a focus on rock climbing, hiking, and fly fishing. He thrilled to live in the beautiful state of Colorado and be able to practice veterinary medicine while enjoying the vast wilderness the Mid-West has to offer.


Heather Matz, DVM

After growing up in Washington state, Dr. Matz attended Georgia Tech for her undergraduate and received her degree in biology in 2007. She then graduated with honors from Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine where she received her DVM degree in 2011. Following veterinary school, Dr. Matz moved to Colorado to explore the mountains. She has been practicing in Colorado Springs since graduation in both emergency and general medicine where she specialized in critical care and surgery. Outside of work, she enjoys ironman triathlons, 14ers, skiing, and playing with her two dogs, Splash and Uli, and her cat Meowface.


Jennifer Price, DVM


Dr. Price is a southern USA native, growing up in Louisiana and Alabama. She moved to Colorado after graduation from LSU with a degree in biochemistry. She spent six years working as an organic chemist in Boulder, Colorado, and then went on to pursue her lifelong goal of becoming a veterinarian. Dr. Price attended CSU School of Veterinary Medicine where she earned her DVM degree in 2009. After traveling the country for a few years, she moved to Colorado Springs in 2011 and has been practicing emergency veterinary medicine ever since. Her passions within this field include shock resuscitation and cardiology.

In her spare time, she enjoys biking, hiking, skiing, and climbing with her exceptionally energetic son and spending time with her multitude of rescued pets (dogs, cats, and guinea pigs).


Michelle Smith, DVM

Dr. Michelle Smith graduated from Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1999. Directly following graduation, Dr. Smith completed a one-year internship in Critical and Emergency medicine. She then moved to Colorado Springs and has been very happy to call Colorado Springs home since.

Dr. Smith very much enjoys general practice and maintaining close relationships with her patients as they progress through all stages of life. In addition to general practice, Dr. Smith has spent more than 10 years in the fast-paced life of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Smith has also pursued advanced training in small animal acupuncture and chiropractic care. Dr. Smith enjoys utilizing these additional treatment options to relieve chronic pain conditions for her patients.


Rachael Thielmam, DVM


Dr. Rachael Thielmann was born and raised in Goleta, California and attended Texas A&M University for both her undergraduate and veterinary training. She moved to Colorado Springs in 2017, following her husband who currently serves in the Air Force. While she has always enjoyed emergency medicine, she comes to us with a background in small animal general practice.

Outside of work, Dr. Thielmann enjoys running, yoga, and riding horses. At home, she has two Quarter Horses, a Sheltie, a Corgi, and a sassy orange cat.


Angela Van House, DVM

Dr. Van House grew up just outside of Houston, TX and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Texas Tech University in 2004. She completed her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at Texas A&M University in 2008, where her primary areas of interest became cardiology and emergency medicine. She then moved on to a small animal rotating internship at Kansas State University. After focusing on emergency medicine in San Antonio, TX, Dr. Van House finally got the opportunity to move to Colorado in 2012. She has been practicing both emergency and general medicine since then, but emergency and critical care have always been her passion. Outside of work, Dr. Van House enjoys spending time with her daughter, two dogs, and a cat. She is a life long Houston Astros fan, and her favorite activities include hiking, skiing, musical theater, and exploring the beautiful state of Colorado


Bonnie Wright, DVM

Dr. Wright was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She accomplished her DVM at Colorado State University and a residency in Anesthesia and Critical Patient Care at The University of California, Davis. She has lived in Colorado since 2001.

Dr. Wright is board certified in Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia. She has earned certificates in Medical Acupuncture, Veterinary Pain Practitioner, Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner and Therapist and canine musculo-skeletal imaging.

She works and teaches in the areas of anesthesia, pain medicine, medical acupuncture, and regenerative medicine and rehabilitation. She has two adult sons, several wonderful dogs and a retired horse. She spends time exercising and building her off-grid Hawaiian farm with her life partner.


Jessica Carie, DVM

Dr. Jessica Carie hails from New Orleans, LA and graduated from the University of Miami in Florida with her Bachelors of Science in Biology. She had always loved animals, particularly wildlife and exotics, and after graduating she ventured up to Alaska to work with US Fish & Wildlife Service. What was supposed to be one summer turned into five years of living in Alaska, doing research with walrus, sea otters, sea lions, fisheries and polar bears!

Dr. Carie finally pulled herself away from adventure in Alaska to fulfill her life-long dream of becoming a veterinarian by attending Colorado State University. She is thrilled to join Animal ER Care and help support the Springs community and their furry, feathered or scaly loved ones during stressful situations. She is especially happy to be able to work with exotics animals.

When Dr. Carie is not at the hospital, she enjoys time with her husband, 2 baby boys and 2 dogs. She loves gardening, cooking and most anything outdoors.