Animal House of Chicago's Dedicated Team
The staff at Animal House of Chicago operates as a team. We take pride in our staff's veterinary training, knowledge and capabilities, and we want you to have the same confidence as we have. The members of our staff frequently attends or hosts seminars about new medicine and technology; they never want to stop learning. Our veterinary team has been specifically trained in handling all exotic pets with an emphasis on birds. Each individual client and pet has special needs, and our staff will do its best to meet each and every one of those needs.
Tracy de la Navarre — Hospital Manager
Tracy de la Navarre has also always loved animals, especially birds. She received her BS degree from Northern Illinois University where she studied Biology and Behavior specializing in birds. She worked for several years for the USDA Quarantine Station for exotic animals as well as managed a Noah's Arc Pet Store specializing in birds. Tracy worked as head veterinary technician at Niles Animal Hospital & Bird Medical Center as well as at Misener-Holley Animal Hospital and Exotic Creatures Care Clinic.
Erica Buchanan — Receptionist
Born and raised in Arizona, Erica has spent a great amount of time around a variety of animals – including horses, dogs, cats, lizards, and fish. Marine life quickly became her passion and she is continuing to pursue her dream of studying behavioral ecology of marine mammals. She graduated with dual degrees from Marquette University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations.
Prior to working at the Animal House of Chicago, Erica was an intern at the Shedd Aquarium. She worked in the marine mammals department, practicing husbandry behavior with beluga whales, California sea lions, and pacific white-sided dolphins. Her furry friends back in AZ consist of two German shorthaired pointers named Pistol Pete and Packer (Go Pack, Go!)
Lucia Freas — Receptionist
Growing up in Texas near a wide variety of animals – whether it was dogs, cats, horses, small mammals, or the frequent roadside turtle relocations – Lucia has always had a great love for animals. As an Air Force veteran taking a turn from learning languages, she now deeply enjoys meeting new and old animal friends every day. Soon, Lucia will be adopting her first reptile, a bearded dragon, after having fallen in love with them at AHOC. She also shares an apartment with her fiancé, tabby cat, and a five-gallon fish tank.
Susie O'Toole-Corbett — Marketing Director, Veterinary Technician
Susie is all about the "Wooja"(the LOVE)! For over 22 years she has taken pride in making sure all animals are not only receiving quality care, but are made to feel as comfortable as possible while in her care. Susie graduated from University of Dayton with a BA degree in Interior Design, but soon realized her calling was to work with animals. She has worked with Dr. Byron and Tracy for over 20 years and along with them is an Animal House of Chicago original team member. Susie wears many hats including Marketing Director, Veterinary Technician, Boarding Coordinator and Receptionist.
When she isn't working, she's spending time with her family or singing. Susie's "animal family" consists of a Yorkie-Poo, a Chi-Weenie, a cat, finches, a Blue & Gold Macaw, and her Amazon Parrot of 22 years.
Linda Rosenthal — Veterinary Technician
Linda has never met an animal she didn't like! She has been working as a veterinary technician since 2006 after earning her BA degree in Theater from Middlebury College and spending several years on the National Horse Show Circuit. Linda particularly enjoys turtles and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. She is the proud mother of many wonderful critters, including a Cavalier, cats, Guinea Pigs, a gerbil, turtles, snakes and birds.
Paige Davies — Veterinary Technician
Paige has loved animals all her life. Before becoming a veterinary technician, she worked at a pet store for three years. She is also currently volunteering at the Shedd Aquarium and plans to do many volunteer programs for wildlife in other countries such as the Bolivian Animal Sanctuary. She has a large family of pets including two Belgian sheepdogs, a kitten, three rats, a bearded dragon, and an eyelash crested gecko.
Sara Hohmeier — Veterinary Technician
Sara has loved animals her entire life and began her career working with them at a family-owned pet store. She earned her certification as a Veterinary Assistant in 2009, and is currently working toward her Veterinary Technician degree. Although Sara loves working with all the animals, she is especially fond of working with rabbits and reptiles. Her pets include 4 dogs, a Blue Tongue Skink, a Map Turtle a Water Dragon, Fire Bellied Toads and Polypterus Fish.
Michelle Barnett — Veterinary Technician
After earning an Associate Degree in Elementary Education, it was very clear that all Michelle wanted to do was work with animals. Growing up in a home known as the "Wild Animal Kingdom" (thanks to Michelle), it is no surprise that she ended up where she is today.
Michelle currently shares an apartment with six cats, a bearded dragon (complete with her own dubia roach colony) and a lovely bunch of fish.
Grant Kugman — Veterinary Technician
Grant has always had a passion for helping animals and people. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Traditional Animation from Columbia College Veterinary Institute in Tinley Park, Grant decided he wanted to follow his passion and love for animals and become a Veterinary Technician. He graduated with an Associate’s Degree in Applied Sciences in Veterinary Technology in May of 2016.
Grant has worked with numerous species of animals, including marine mammals at The Shedd Aquarium. He has a great appreciation for working with rabbits and other small mammals as well. He especially loves working with reptiles, dogs and cats. He enjoys dentistry and microscopy and hopes to one day work with his favorite animal, the platypus. Grant has a black Labrador Retriever named Charlie and two Eastern Box Turtles, Kaa and Barney.