Our Staff - Your Team

Veterinarians – (Athens, Merrickville, Smiths Falls Locations)

Dr. Gus Stringel

Dr. Gus Stringel

Dr. Gus Stringel graduated from OVC in 1998 and also has an undergraduate degree in Biology from U. of Guelph. After vet school, Gus took an internship in large animals at the Atlantic Veterinary College in Charlottetown for one year. He and his wife Andrea, also a DVM 2000 worked in equine practice for two years in the Guelph area before moving to Merrickville in 2001. They have been breeding horses as a hobby since moving to the area and enjoy raising and selling young riding horses through their farm business Merrickville Equine. Gus is a passionate skier and loves windsurfing and working on the farm with his three kids.

Dr. Terri MacKenzie

Dr. Terri MacKenzie

A graduate of the Atlantic Veterinary College in 2002, Terri spent 14 years in Upstate NY in dairy/large animal practice before returning home to Canada and settling in with the Smiths Falls Vet Services family.  This is her third career after spending time at Queen’s and Guelph in research, then 10 years in pharmaceutical sales & marketing before going to vet school.  In addition to the usual herd health duties, Terri enjoyed working with a large group of sheep dairies as well as equine clients in NY.  She co-owned a 600 ewe sheep dairy sending milk off to be made into fabulous yogurt and soft cheeses.  Terri is happiest driving around the country with her trusty border collie Shirley doing farm calls on all variety of farm species.

Dr. Robert Rinfret

Dr. Robert Rinfret

Dr. Robert Rinfret, DVM.   Dr. Rinfret grew up in Toronto and studied veterinary medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, graduating in 1998.   Robert spent his first five years of practice in southern Ontario and has been happy to call the Ottawa Valley his home since 2004.   As a partner in the Smiths Falls, Merrickville and Athens Veterinary clinics, Robert takes a particular interest in mentoring recently graduated veterinarians as well as students. In order to further his interest in Dairy animals, Robert completed the Dairy Health Certificate Program at the University of Guelph in 2005. Now a father of three, Robert enjoys curling and travelling.

Dr. Hester Grodde

Dr. Hester Grodde

Dr. Hester Grodde has spent the last 17 years at Merrickville Vet Services, initially as a mixed animal practitioner. After the arrival of four energetic sons she turned her focus to looking after the many wonderful dogs and cats the area has to offer. She has a special interest in nutrition and how it effects overall animal health; from a newborn animal to supporting them through their senior years. She also has a personal interest in canine breeding which can be seen as she walks her two gorgeous dogs around her farm where she raises beef cattle. Hester also enjoys growing and eating her own food on the farm and watching BBC programming.

Veterinarian Support Staff

Heather Foster


Heather is a Smiths Falls native and a favourite with clients after an amazing 37 years here at the clinic. She enjoys working with all of our small animal clients, especially the furry senior patients who need that little bit extra amount of attention. Heather enjoys boating in the Upper Rideau Lake and spending time with her yellow lab Annie along with her grand-dogs and cats.



JC is a Registered Veterinary Technician, graduating from Saint Lawrence College. She has been contributing her knowledge to the practice for over 5 years. Working with animals who require special dental care and going out on the road to help with Equine calls are her special interests. She is also the Healthy Weight Coach at the clinic; don’t let your pets cheat with one foot off the scale when she is around!

Melanie Maitland


Melanie is a veterinary assistant at Athens Vet Services. She studied Equine Agriculture at the University of Guelph, Kemptville Campus. Her passion is horses, and she enjoys spending time training and competing on her dressage gelding, McCoy. In her spare time she can be found working on her farm which houses both sheep and horses, with entertainment provided by her three crazy hound dogs; Calvin, Stanley, and Cinnamon.

Jessica Crate

Jessica Crate

Jessica grew up on her family’s horse farm in Brockville area, and spent eight years working at a local veterinarian there. After take a few years off to raise her daughters, she joined our practice and can be found bouncing between our Smiths Falls and Athens locations.

Jessica loves spending the day on our front desk greeting all the clients, and helping in appointments when needed.

When not at work, she spends as much time with her family as possible, and it seems no amount of fresh air can tire out her two daughters or her Chocolate Lab, Kolby!



Fabienne is the smiling receptionist at the Smiths Falls clinic and is likely your first point of contact there.  She previously spent 20 years working as a Veterinary Technician, and is now enjoying her new role interacting with our fabulous clients.  She also loves the great outdoors, camping and canoeing with her two dogs.


Ann is our Administrative support staff who manages client accounts, billing, payments, records and day-to-day functional operations of the clinic.  Ann came to us after retiring from Global Affairs and travelling and living in over a dozen countries.  She has two grown up adopted children, Sara from India and Derick from Ghana.  No matter where she lived she worked with local orphanages as well as fostered animals and supported local animal shelters.  Currently she has two rescue dogs and cats.  As a side activity Ann is a qualified ESL tutor and teaches students from around the world online early in the mornings.  She is also a graduate of the Wilton Cake Decorating Program and keeps her hand in making designer cakes for our staffs’ birthdays.

Jessica Crate


Cindy joined the clinic in 2023- fresh from college and soon after obtained her RVT designation. After years of raising a family and caring for her own animals she is thrilled to finally be in the field she’s always wanted to work in.



Samantha is a veterinary technologist who graduated from St. Lawrence College. Her humble abode is just outside of Athens, where she lives with her 3 big dogs, a cat, and her horse Amigo. Samantha is in the process of writing fantasy novels and enjoys singing, reading, and listening to Korean pop music. You can find Samantha helping with tech and vet appointments and running around making sure the clinic is well stocked.

Athens Vet Services

548 County Road 42, Athens, ON  K0E 1B0
Phone: 613-924-2009

Existing Client Emergency: 613-284-6108

Regular Hours
Monday/ Tuesday 8:30- 5pm
Wednesday 9am- 4pm
Thursday/ Friday 8:30am- 5pm
Saturday/ Sunday Closed

EMT Payments: please send to payment@avet.ca

Merrickville Vet Services

105 Wellington Street West,
Merrickville, ON K0G 1N0

Phone: (613) 269-4779
Existing Client Emergency: (613) 284-6108

Regular Hours

Monday - Friday 8:30am - 5pm
Saturday/ Sunday Closed

EMT Payments: please send to payment@avet.ca

Smiths Falls Vet Services

250 Lombard Street (Highway 15)
Smiths Falls, (ON) K7A 5B8

Phone: (613) 283-4531
Existing Client Emergency: (613) 284-6108

Regular Hours

Monday - Friday 8am- 5pm
Saturday 8am- 12pm
Sunday Closed

EMT Payments: please send to payment@avet.ca