Who We Are

Our Mission Statement

Veterinary Emergency Center strives to operate a superior and ever-advancing emergency veterinary hospital at which patient health and well-being are of paramount importance, with the satisfaction of our pet owners and referring veterinarians, and the fulfillment of our employees, following as a natural extension of our primary goal.

Our Staff

Veterinary Emergency Center is staffed by skilled veterinary professionals dedicated to the complete, compassionate care of injured or ill animals.

Dr. Shannon Bertolino, Emergency Veterinarian, Canton CTDr. Shannon Bertolino, MS, DVM- Founder

Dr. Shannon Bertolino received her Master’s degree in molecular biology in 1997 and her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Minnesota in 2003. She has practiced in Connecticut ever since, first in East Hartford, then in Farmington, where she partnered in ownership of a private small animal clinic. After that clinic was sold, Dr. Bertolino decided to pursue wholeheartedly her interest in emergency medicine. She identified a need in the Canton area for urgent care and established the Veterinary Emergency Center in late 2012. Her colleagues in veterinary centers throughout the area rely on Dr. Bertolino and the Center for expert care and collaboration around the clock.

Dr. Bertolino is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, and the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society.


 SuzanneDr. Suzanne Gerber

Dr. Suzanne Gerber was born in Pennsylvania and completed her Bachelor Degree in Animal Bioscience at the Pennsylvania State University.  She went on to Cornell University, where she received her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine in 2000. She had been a general practitioner in small animal medicine and surgery since graduation until she joined the Veterinary Emergency Center in September of 2014.  She has been enjoying practicing emergency medicine immensely and is thrilled to be part of such a knowledgeable and compassionate veterinary team.  When she is not busy practicing veterinary medicine, she loves the time that she spends with her husband, two sons, and pets.  She also likes singing (with both a choral group and in a band) and is an avid college sports fan.




BEABeatrice Kalajian, CVT- Veterinary Nurse, Inventory Supervisor

I have always had a love for animals, an interest in medicine, and a desire to help others, so in 2002 I embarked on a career in small animal veterinary medicine.   I received my bachelor’s degree in pathology and veterinary science from the University of Connecticut in 2003 and went on to become a Certified Veterinary Technician in 2006.  I have been with Veterinary Emergency Center since its opening in November 2012, where I strive to provide quality care with compassion to all our patients and their families.

In addition to my husband and children, my family currently includes three cats (Aria, Forte, and Legato) and a golden retriever (Rhythm).   I cannot remember what it was like to be without these companions, and their presence has enriched my life greatly.

Although I enjoy veterinary medicine as a whole, I am especially interested in pathology, histology, immunology, integrative medicine, and critical nursing.



BrittBrittany Benoit- Veterinary Nurse, Laboratory Supervisor

Since 2007, Brittany has been working with livestock and small animals. Since 2008, she has worked in the veterinary field, starting as a kennel assistant and working her way up to veterinary nurse.  Her passion for animals started when she was a young girl, helping her grandmother take care of baby squirrels and rabbits, and saving those who were attacked by the cat.  Brittany graduated from Tunxis Community College in 2011 with an Associate’s Degree in Visual Fine Arts- Photography. Even though she still dabbles in photography, veterinary medicine is her real passion.

Brittany has been with Veterinary Emergency Center since the practice opened in November 2012.  This is the first time she has worked in an emergency facility but feels this is a great way to help save even more lives.  At home Brittany enjoys cooking, hiking, knitting, painting, and photography while enjoying the company of her four cats, two dogs, three rabbits, and Leopard Geckos.  She also foster kittens for Animal Friends of CT.


pam Pamela Andross, CVT- Veterinary Nurse

Pam has over 30 years of experience as a veterinary nurse, several of those years spent in veterinary specialty practices including emergency and critical care.  She became certified in 1992 while attending Capital Community College and the University of Connecticut majoring in Animal Science and business.  Pam also became a human Emergency Medical Technician in 1992 in an effort to decide between ‘human’ or animal medicine.  For several years, she did both.

Pam has been with Veterinary Emergency Center since the practice opened in November 2012.  Along with her husband, Pam spends time with her son, dogs “Cash” and “Credit Card,” and provides foster care to several kittens every year (for Animal Friends of CT).


caitlinCaitlin Footit- Veterinary Nurse

Caitlin attained her first position in a veterinary clinic at the age of 16 as a kennel assistant.  With her love for all animals combined with a nurturing personality, working in veterinary medicine only seemed natural.  She graduated from Middletown High School’s Vocational Agricultural program in 2006 with her major in Animal Science.  Since then she has worked in emergency and specialty medicine, where her true passion lies.  She is currently seeking her Bachelor’s Degree in nursing at Goodwin College.  She is owned and loved by her son Carl, chihuahua Tego, cats Beryl & Redden, tarantula Christine, and some odd goldfish.




imageLeslie Rivera- Veterinary Nurse, Night Shift Supervisor

Leslie started working as a veterinary nurse in 2006 at a general practice hospital in Puerto Rico.  She moved to CT in 2013 with her husband and their two little boys. Shortly after they introduced Rocco (a male Ragdoll) and Taylor (a female Great Dane) to their family.  She started working at the Veterinary Emergency Center on February of 2014 as a veterinary nurse. She has always enjoyed working with small animals.  She loves to care for critical patients and their families when they needed.  In her spare time she enjoys going out with her family. Her hobbies include boating, fishing, water sports, and gardening. When she is not in town she is in PR visiting her family.







IMG_0133Melissa Covino, CVT, VTSCP

Melissa Covino has been with the Veterinary Emergency Center since August of 2014.  She has a bachelors degree from the University of Connecticut in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.  Melissa became a certified veterinary technician in 2005 and has been an accredited Veterinary Technician Specialist in Canine/Feline Clinical Practice since 2012.  She is lead nurse at a general practice in Northeast CT and works at VEC for fun on the weekends!  She lives with her two dogs ‘Mojo’ and ‘Liesl’, two cats, and two young children in Lebanon, CT.




RuthRuth Stoeckert- Veterinary Nurse

Ruth started in the veterinary field in 1992 as a kennel attendant at Olde Towne Animal Hospital on Long Island. She moved to Massachussetts in 1996 and worked at Rowley Memorial Animal Hospital as a technician until 2001, then at Catzablanca Cat Clinic from 2001 through 2007, Meriden Veterinary Associates from 2007 through 2014, and Yalesville Veterinary Hospital from 2014 through 2015. She was in the Army National Guard from 2001 until 2010 as an army cook. She has five cats, Ninja, Luci, Lilly, Calvin and Hobbes, and her dog Peanut. In her spare time she loves to cook, go for long hikes, and plant flowers.





scarlettScarlett Szaley- Veterinary Nurse

Scarlett graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2008 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology.   From 2011 to 2013, she attended Northwestern Connecticut Community College, and graduated with a degree in Veterinary Technology.   During her time at NWCCC, she interned here at VEC, as well as  volunteered and worked in another local veterinary hospital.    Upon graduation, she lived abroad in England, and since returning in the fall of 2015, she happily joined the team here. Scarlett currently resides in Connecticut with her English kitty Colin, whom she loves very much, despite his lack of expected politeness!





April Walker- Veterinary Nurse

In 2004, April received her Associate’s Degree from Ocean County College, where she studied print broadcast and journalism.  She has always had a passion for animals, and in 2006, she began her journey in veterinary medicine by joining Berkeley Veterinary Center in New Jersey as a Veterinary Assistant. She then moved to Connecticut to be with her boyfriend in 2013, and continued in the veterinary field by working as a Veterinary Nurse at Animal Medical Clinic.  April joined the Veterinary Emergency Center family in October 2015, and is really enjoying emergency medicine because you never know what kind of cases will come through the door.  She shares her life with her significant other JR.  Together their family consists of their cat Hayzael, American Pitbull Terrier Lycan, chinchilla named Acadian, a 40 gallon fish tank of African Cichlids, and a variety of lizards, frogs, and toads.  April doesn’t like to play favorites with her reptiles, but her Blue Tongue Skink named Perdue holds a very special place in her heart.  April is very passionate when it comes to reptiles and enjoys reptile education, fostering and adopting them, and would someday like to work at a zoo caring for them.  She is also a huge Godzilla fan and collects everything from old-school monster movies to Godzilla memorabilia.  In her free time you can usually find her at comic conventions, renaissance fairs, the movies, hiking with the dogs, gaming with her boyfriend, or down in New Jersey spending time with family and friends.