Owen Jacob Watterson Burke
Owen Jacob was the founding CEO of Little Friends of Ferndale Veterinary Care and Owen Enterprises, LLC. Dr. Burke and Kathryn Watterson founded Little Friends’ philosophy based on how they felt their beloved Owen’s experience at the vet should be a confident, positive, respectful, fear-free, enjoyable, and memorable experience. Although Owen Jacob is no longer with us, his profound, noble, majestic, tranquil presence and essence remains a permanent part of Little Friends of Ferndale Veterinary Care. A constant and continual reminder that our little friends, in their companionship, change and shape our lives towards our highest good and betterment. For that reason, we shall always remain with deep and unwavering gratitude, always striving to practice the highest quality of progressive, compassionate, and loving care for all of our “four” legged friends on behalf of our dear Owen.
Dr. Bonnie Burke
Dr. Bonnie Burke graduated from Michigan State College of Veterinary Medicine in 1998. She continued her education and career with a rotating internship in medicine and surgery at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Burke returned to Michigan and worked for a group of veterinary hospitals for six years.
Dr. Burke was living in the fabulous city of Ferndale with her partner, Kathryn Watterson while commuting to different cities to work. Astonished that Ferndale did not have an existing veterinary clinic, they founded Little Friends of Ferndale Veterinary Care in June of 2005. Their goal was to create a unique, warm, and inviting clinic. Dr. Burke remains thrilled and honored to have the support of such a vibrant, diverse, and inclusive community. Together they created a practice that embraces a progressive, holistic, and compassionate approach to and for every patient.
Dr. Burke is a certified Fear Free practitioner. She remains committed to creating a positive and individual approach for all welcomed Little Friends. Dr. Burke maintains immense gratitude to her incredible staff and terrific clientele. “I truly embrace every patient with respect and admiration. My life is forever improved and enriched by the simple, authentic, and unconditional love I am showered with every day.”
Kathryn Watterson had the distinct pleasure of opening Little Friends of Ferndale Veterinary Care in 2005 with her partner Dr. Bonnie Burke. Kathryn graduated from Michigan State University Veterinary Technology program in 1992. As a Licensed Veterinary Technician, she spent 13 years of service at Leader Dogs for the Blind in Rochester, Michigan. Kathryn became one of the first LVTs in the state of Michigan to specialize in canine semen cryogenics and canine reproduction. In 2003 she finished her Bachelor of General Studies at Oakland University in Rochester, Mi. In conjunction with performing duties as an LVT, she spent ten years in upper management at Leader Dogs with a keen interest in the practice and implementation of positive animal husbandry.
Although Kathryn utilizes her LVT skills at Little Friends of Ferndale Care whenever necessary, she spends most of her time behind the scenes as the Practice Administrator, making sure LFOF is running smoothly, efficiently, and effectively. Kathryn became a Fear Free certified practitioner in the fall of 2019 and is currently expecting to receive her MA in Consciousness and Human Potential from Maharishi International University in Fairfield, Iowa, in June of 2020.
When she is not at LFOF, she enjoys spending time with her partner, her dog Pippa Roux, and cat Kipper. She enjoys Transcendental Meditation, Sanskrit recitation, cooking, gardening, and spending time outdoors. “I feel incredibly humbled and lucky to be of service every day. Since I was a small child, I have always had a profound affinity and deep connection with animals. To be of service every day and do what I feel my soul was meant to do, to fulfill my dharmic purpose, leaves me with an unwavering sense of satisfaction, peace, and immense gratitude.”
Dr. Sarah Wentela
Dr. Sarah Wentela grew up in Michigan and spent much of her free time in 4-H, pet sitting, and volunteering at local animal shelters. She received her bachelor’s degree in Biology from Aquinas College. She then went to St. George’s University in Grenada, West Indies, to pursue a dual degree Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine and Masters of Public Health. She completed her final clinical year at Ohio State University in January of 2022. While in veterinary school, she also completed certification in Veterinary Acupuncture through Chi University.
Dr. Wentela joins LFOF’s team of Fear Free certified practitioners. She is thrilled to be back in Michigan, and LFOF welcomes her passion for veterinary medicine, her compassion for our four-legged friends, and her fresh, complementary, holistic approach. “My life has been forever changed by the animals in my life, and it is my hope that I can give the same support back to my patients.” Dr. Wentela enjoys hiking, kayaking, traveling, and spending time with family and friends outside of veterinary medicine. She currently resides in Warren with her cat Jade.
Rhonda has had the privilege to have been a Little Friends employee for the past 12 years. She is a leading veterinary receptionist, who’s calm demeanor and presence creates a peaceful and welcoming environment at LFOF. She has a sound knowledge base of the field, and she recently completed her Fear Free certification, which has strengthened her commitment to helping create a positive experience for all of our Little Friends. “I have enjoyed being in the pet care industry for a combined 36 years now in clinics locally as well as Florida. It has always been fulfilling to see happy and well cared for pets, and to know I played some small part in it.
Nancy became a member of Team Little Friends in July 2008 as a veterinary assistant. “With her cheerful disposition, she has been a positive force within our facility.” Previously a manager at an insurance company and then a ‘stay-at-home-mom,’ she is driven, meticulous, and has a natural nurturing ability. “Her positive and nurturing disposition helps Little Friends provide our patrons with exceptional nursing care, as well as provides Team Little Friends with a positive and supportive work environment.” Nancy is Fear-Free certified, and her experience and strong knowledge base is an asset in mentoring new and existing employees. She enjoys reading and scrapbooking in her pastime. Nancy also happily devotes care to her husband, three grown children, and Charley, her Puggle, as well as her many fur-grand-kids.
Abby has been working in the pet care industry for over a decade. She happily joined our team here at Little Friends of Ferndale as a veterinary assistant at the beginning of 2017 after managing a daycare and boarding facility for nearly ten years. “Abby very easily gained a strong knowledge base of veterinary medicine, and her natural nurturing, love, and passion for the welfare of all animals make her an exceptional assistant and patient advocate.” Her hard work, dedication to the craft, and exceptional to be of service attitude have gotten her recently promoted to a Clin Tech position where she has very easily become an invaluable team player.
She became fear-free certified in the fall of 2019 and enjoys utilizing those tips and techniques every day to create the best possible experience for every pet that enters the facility. When she is not an attentive caregiver here at work, she enjoys the outdoors and spending time with her Fiance Rich, family, friends, and her fantastic dog Fonzie. “I am delighted and extremely grateful to be able to do something that I am so passionate about for a living. I thoroughly enjoy providing the best care and comfort for animals.”
Starting at a very young age, Marla has been around animals her entire life. Early on, she recalled feeling inspired by doing animal rescue and rehab work with her mom. Such interactions led her to fulfill her dream of helping animals in need. When she was old enough to volunteer independently, she started volunteering at the Dearborn Animal Shelter. Then, as a young adult, she began fostering animals on her own. Since then, she has worked in a variety of ways with numerous rescues groups and veterinary clinics. She started out working as a kennel technician in the veterinary field and quickly became a veterinary assistant. She absolutely fell in love with the job and intuitively knew this was what she was destined to do. She strongly feels that these experiences will help her one day to be able to own and run her very own animal rescue facility.
Her college pursuits include the University of Texas and Schoolcraft College, where she obtained Associates’s degrees in Small Business Entrepreneurship and Business Management. In conjunction, she pursued classes geared towards the pre-veterinary medical program. During this time in Texas, she became even more entrenched in the rewards of animal rescue work during one of the hurricanes that hit there. She ended up teaming up with local rescue groups and helped play an integral role in helping reunite separated pets with their distraught owners. Such experiences during college inspired her to facilitate a group to bring student awareness to the importance of animal welfare and the benefits of volunteering and fostering animals.
Marla currently has three pets of her own. She has two rescue cats named Burner and Karma and her first foster-fail dog named Stella. Marla loves traveling, being outdoors, and takes her fur-babies everywhere with her. When she is not working or traveling, she enjoys physical exercise and interior decorating. Marla’s excitement when talking about working with animals is like watching a kid in a candy store; it’s a beautiful reminder of the innocent joy that naturally is ignited by working with animals and being of service.
Lesley began her career in the veterinary field as a receptionist in 2013 and quickly decided this was the career path and explored her skills as a veterinary technician. She spent eight years working for North Main Animal Hospital before applying her emergency technician skills at Oakland Veterinary Referral Services. Although emergency medicine was exciting and rewarding, Lesley decided that she greatly missed being an integral part of building client relationships and sought to work in general practice again. Lesley’s immense appreciation for the human-animal bond and her years of veterinary expertise made her a welcomed receptionist to LFOF’s team.
In her spare time, she enjoys watching documentaries, staying abreast of the latest information in Veterinary Medicine, gaming, and spending time with her boxer (Addie), cat (James), and ferret (Lilith).
Chiara has always had an affinity for animals and a driving desire to learn more about them. This desire led her to pursue Bachelors’s in Zoology from Michigan State University in 2019. While attending MSU, she expanded her knowledge of animals and their behaviors while working in the Holekamp lab for two years, extracting DNA from spotted hyenas and doing their study abroad program in Kenya, Africa, where she observed and researched African mammals.
We welcome Chiara’s natural bond with animals, her strong animal behavior background, and her desire to pursue a career where she can have more daily “hands-on” experiences with animals. She is currently taking her certification to become an LFOF Fear-Free practitioner to promote our little friends’ low-stress handling and positive vet experiences! She has two dogs, a pit bull mix named Jack and a chow mix named Lady, a betta fish named Phillip, two leopard geckos, Skinny Dude and Alli, and a horde of pet mice. She takes care of her animals in her spare time and plays video games.
Sharon has done many things in her career thus far, from working in human medicine, owning a tool business, retail, and being a caregiver for 15 yrs. However, having had a variety of animals her entire life and working directly with greyhound rescue adoption for the past eighteen years has sparked a genuine desire to have an animal-related career.
Her true love, passion, and compassion for animals led her to find her niche as a veterinary receptionist. She became an LFOF Fear-Free certified practitioner in March of 2022. We gracefully welcome Sharon’s inherent natural guardianship thus, her soul’s dharmic duty to help our four-legged friends and their companions. She is a blessed addition to our team.
When she is not at LFOF, most of her spare time is spent running greyhound events, picking up greyhounds from the track in West Virginia, and all the aspects of running a non-profit greyhound rescue group. “ I am married to a wonderful man who has an equal passion for animals that helps me with greyhound adoption events and a son who is my treasure with his greyhound furbabies. I have two rescued cats and three greyhounds of my own, and over the years, I have fostered and cared for at least 40 greyhounds in my home. I love being a team player and am excited to join the LFOF team/family.
Kirsten’s background is deeply rooted in the service industry. With a Bachelor of Science in Education, she has dedicated her time helping others as a resident advocate in a homeless shelter and a career coordinator/internship advisor for students at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. In evaluating the next chapter in her career/ journey, with this innate service-oriented mindset and her passion for animals, she decided to help contribute to the wellbeing of animals. Taking a leap of faith, Kirsten answered our receptionist posting here at LFOF; the rest is herstory!
Kirsten recognizes the importance of excellent customer service, emphasizing the importance of the companion animal relationship/bond. Thus our four-legged friends and their owners. “Whether routine or critical, vet visits can cause anxiety and stress, not just on the pet, so practicing compassion for everyone is key!” She became a Fear-Free certified practitioner this April of 2022. She greatly enjoys utilizing those tips and techniques daily to create the best possible experience for every pet and owner entering our facility. She is a dog mom of Jacks and Nancy, who greatly enjoy walks, visiting their grandma, and road trips. Besides spending time with her pups, she enjoys spending time with her partner Kevin on bike trails, visiting wineries, and camping. We openly welcome her compassion, positivity, and enthusiastic nature to Team LFOF!
Joanna has always had a special connection with animals and a fascination with medicine. She combined her interest and started a career in veterinary medicine in 2011. She worked as a Veterinary Assistant at a small private practice while attending the Veterinary Technician program at Wayne County Community College. She graduated with her degree in Veterinary Technology in 2013 and became a Licensed Veterinary Technician. She spent the next 9 years working for Michigan Humane, 2.5 of those years were spent in a management role.
Her time at Michigan Humane helped her develop a strong set of technical and interpersonal skills. She has a special interest in anesthesia, dentistry, and education. She also has a special fondness for felines. She is currently working on her Fear Free certification. Joanna also currently serves on the Michigan Board of Veterinary Medicine, which helps regulate the practice of Veterinary Medicine in the state.
Outside of work, Joanna enjoys spending time outdoors, she is an avid hiker and enjoys kayaking. She also enjoys going to concerts and has seen her favorite band live 25+ times. She loves exploring Michigan with her boyfriend and checking out new breweries and wineries. She currently shares her home with one very special kitty named Sentry.
Born and raised in Metro Detroit, Steven has a deep personal connection with the LFOF community. Growing up only a few miles from the eventual location of LFOF, he was always fascinated by animals and the incredible amount of diversity in the animal kingdom. He would even spend some of his free time as a child researching animals and creating “book reports” to share with his family and friends. The oldest of 3 children in his family, Steven also took on the role of caretaker from an early age, learning the value of patience, diligence, and humility which he brings with him into his role as a veterinary assistant. He enjoys meeting, taking care of, and learning from every animal that he encounters.
Steven’s educational and professional backgrounds are diverse. He earned an Associate of Arts Degree from Oakland Community College in 2018 before completing a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and History from Wayne State University in 2022. Professionally, he has worked in a variety of industries including the medical field, the service and entertainment industry, and, most recently, at a non-profit in Detroit. In addition to Steven is currently continuing his educational pursuits by taking the remainder of his required prerequisites before eventually applying to veterinary school himself.
Steven currently shares his home with his rescue dog Gus. When he’s not at work or at school, Steven enjoys going to the gym, cooking, and watching or playing sports with his family and friends.