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.
Susie O'Toole-Corbett — Marketing Director, Vet Tech
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.
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.
Lauren Brandt — Veterinary Technician
Lauren's love of animals began at a young age while growing up with two Devon Rex cats and pet sitting for neighbors. She found her passion for helping Chicago's pets during her four years at Loyola University Chicago, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in English. She has volunteered with multiple animal shelters and the Humane Society of the United States. She worked at Red Door for two years before becoming interested in veterinary medicine. She shares her home and personal space with three black rescue cats.
Jackie Bucio — Veterinary Technician
Jackie joined our team after completing a 2-year Veterinary Technician Program at Fox College and is on her way to being officially licensed as a Certified Vet Tech. She has a special interest in surgery and enjoys working with exotics. She is a loving owner to a lovebird and cat. Jackie’s aspirations are to work in a zoo setting. She is also fluent in Spanish.
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.
Sara Parker — Receptionist
Sara has always been an animal lover and grew up with cats, dogs, a rat, tadpoles, and anoles. After graduating with a BA in Psychology, she worked at a doggy day care and volunteered at several animal shelters before moving to Chicago, where she shares her home with a cat and two hermit crabs.
Sofia Lee — Receptionist
Growing up a frequent traveler, Sofia always wanted pets of her own. She worked as a translator and interpreter between Mandarin Chinese and English while studying art in college, then proceeded to work as an independent artist specializing in custom leather products where she incorporated many animals and pets into her designs. Her love for animals brought her to search for associated jobs when she came to Chicago. She is the proud mom of two medium haired cats.
Melanie Mateo — Kennel Attendant
Since childhood, Melanie has lived around animals and had a passion for learning about them. Throughout high school, she volunteered at Chicago Canine Rescue center, cleaning kennels and walking dogs. She's always loved animals, especially dogs and reptiles. She enjoys observing animal behavior and various forms of communication.
Melanie is currently working on her bachelor's degree in Biology and she hopes to one day work on developing new medication to treat psychological conditions. At home, she has two French Bulldogs, two fishtanks, and a budgie.
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.