Dr. Erin Heck, Veterinarian
Hello! Thanks for checking out who I am. I love to share my story and how I came to founding Happy Paws Veterinary Clinic.
I grew up in the agricultural town of Olds, Alberta with three sisters and an older brother. My two amazing parents allowed me to have many opportunities to interact with animals and even have a multitude of pets. This of course brought trips to the local veterinary clinic, which I ended up volunteering at when I was 14. After high school, I decided to become an Animal Health Technologist (the equivalent of an animal nurse). I worked in an emergency practice for two years before deciding to go back to school to become a vet. This decision was fuelled by the desire to work more closely with pet guardians, focusing on communication and shared-decision making. After two years of undergraduate studies, I got my acceptance phone call to go to the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine! This set me up for the next four years of learning and adventure, leading to graduating with my DVM degree.
My next steps were into a fast-paced emergency and primary care clinic in Calgary. I honed my technical skills and relied heavily on my communication skills to help clients through difficult emergency situations with their pets. I moved next into a mobile practice, traveling to people’s homes and building relationships. It taught me more about what amazing bonds you as a pet parent have with your fur child.
I finally felt ready to create a veterinary clinic that captured the veterinary experience that I felt that I would want for my pets. That was when Happy Paws Veterinary Clinic was created.
I am blessed with two happy, silly, golden retrievers (Sam and Sherman) who have been an inspiration for the veterinarian I want to become. My animals have comforted me in difficult times and taught me new things about living for the moment. I also have a cat named Dizzy, adopted from the Calgary Humane Society, and I love her quirks. I have an amazing human family in my life, too, who you may see around the clinic as the clinic manager (Jeff’s bio below). His support has been unmeasurable as I have pursued my dreams. We have an amazing daughter named Fiona who at the time of editing is 23 months and an energetic son named Ethan who is now 11 months. You don’t really see the world until you see it through the eyes of developing kids. They have already taught me so much.
My passion is making a stress-free experience at the vet clinic for both you and your pet. As your veterinarian, you can expect an open, judgment-free zone where you can ask all the questions you want. I believe in offering you options and choice in care as nobody knows your pet better than you do.
It is always an honour when someone selects me to be their veterinarian. I hope to meet you soon!
Dr. Kristi Jacobson
Hello, I am Dr. Kristi and am one of the Veterinarians here at Happy Paws. I grew up north of Airdrie and always dreamed of working with animals. In 2005, this came true when I graduated from The Western College of Veterinary Medicine. Upon graduation, I moved to Lethbridge where I practiced for 3 years. After that, we moved to Airdrie to be closer to family. We fell in love with the Airdrie community spirit and I have grown to enjoy practicing here. I currently live in Airdrie with my family and enjoy hiking, skiing, and camping. I have two cats, Thunder and Boone (brother cats that make us laugh at their antics) and a dog named Tilly who I love to take on walks and hikes. My professional interests are senior pet medicine, palliative care, and dentistry.
Dr. Rebecca Jackson, Veterinarian
Hello! I’m Dr. Rebecca, a vet here at Happy Paws, and I love working with this amazing team!
I graduated from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (University of Saskatchewan) in 2014. Prior to veterinary school, I earned a Bachelor of Science with Honours from the University of Alberta. While in vet school, I volunteered with Veterinarians Without Borders in Southern Chile, working with the local community to improve the welfare of stray dogs and reduce transmission of Echinococcus parasites to humans. My time there required me to use my limited Spanish-language skills, which resulted in the odd miscommunication!
After graduation, I worked for 3 years at the Lomsnes Veterinary Hospital in Red Deer, Alberta. I was lucky to have a wonderful mentor in my first years of practice and learned many skills that I use daily today. From Red Deer, I moved to England, where I worked for 1.5 years, primarily in Yorkshire, but also in North Wales and Dorset. After working in England, I briefly worked in Malawi, Africa. The work involved mentoring veterinary students, vaccinating stray dogs in remote villages against Rabies, and assisting the resident veterinarian with wildlife work.
I have two handsome senior cats, Simba and Seti. Seti has Inflammatory Bowel Disease, pancreatitis flare-ups, and was diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus in 2016. He’s taught me a lot about managing these conditions first-hand, and the joy that comes with keeping pets healthy to enrich the human-animal bond. Simba is a generally healthy boy, but has had the odd issue that has required treatment from his veterinarian mum in the past. Although the cats try to keep me home, I love travelling and have backpacked in over 40 countries, on every continent except Antarctica (still on my bucket list!).
My favourite thing about the clinic is the wonderful team that we have here. We are a busy clinic and we have fun. There is also wonderful support for the more difficult parts of our jobs. We all love working with animals, and our shared love of music gets us through our busy days!
I look forward to meeting you and helping care for your furry family member!
Joni Klaassen, Your Registered Veterinary Technician
Hello! Welcome to Happy Paws!
I have been incredibly lucky in my life, knowing what I wanted to be from a very early age. I have always been drawn to animals of all types, from bumblebees to farm animals, and feel my best when I’m with them and helping them. Sherwood Park was where I grew up, but I moved to Calgary at 16. I started volunteering at Veterinary Clinics at 16, and as soon as I was done high school, I applied to Tech school> I attended Animal Health Technology at N.A.I.T in Edmonton, graduating in 2004.
My dream had come true! I immediately moved back to Calgary and started my career as a Registered Veterinary Technologist. I was fortunate enough to spend a few years working alongside Dr. Erin Heck, as a fellow Technologist before she started her journey to become a Veterinarian.
I found great passion in diagnostic medicine and worked in Ultrasound and Endoscopy at an Emergency Clinic in Calgary. I love how informative noninvasive medicine can be, and ultrasound was like a window into the amazing working of the body.
I moved to an acreage in 2010 and switched gears to locum work so that I could spend more time with my own animals, and garden. After 5 years of part-time locum and emergency work, I was ready to dive back into my career full steam ahead. I began working at a Specialty Hospital in Calgary, immersing myself in internal medicine, surgery, and finally Anesthesia. The Last 5 years have been intense. I got to see so many amazing things and experience the depth of what Veterinary Medicine can achieve.
In 2019 I got pregnant and had my beautiful son and moved to Airdrie where I reunited with my friend Erin! I started at Happy Paws in June 2020 and have been so in love with this city and the people here. It is the most wonderful place to raise a family and continue to do what I love. My family and I live in the heart of Airdrie with our beautiful senior dog Bow, our feisty cat Leelou, our 4 backyard chickens (Donna, Rhonda, Maple, and Sugar) and our Beehive with 10,000 beautiful honeybees.
Justine Poirier, Your Registered Veterinary Technician and Clinic Manager
Greetings fellow animal lovers!
I am sure you are wondering what kind of person is going to be looking after your pet during their stay at Happy Paws Vet Clinic. My role is similar to a nurse’s as I look out for the well being of your animal, perform diagnostic tests and assist the veterinarian especially during surgical procedures.
So let me share with you my adventures and experiences that helped shape me into the Animal Heath Technologist (AHT) that I am today.
I grew up in a small town in rural Nova Scotia by two incredible parents who taught me strong family values and gave me the privilege of taking care of my own animals as a child. At an early age I developed such a passion for all animals that it was clear I wanted a profession in the veterinary field. I was fortunate enough to be able to take the Animal Health Technology course at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College where I graduated in 2007. As I new grad I decided I wanted to embrace the beginning of my young adulthood, so I moved across the country to Victoria, BC. From one coast to the other, where I worked in a 24-hour emergency clinic. This is where I learnt the ropes and further developed my skills and confidence as an AHT.
As most new grads know, it is hard to get ahead starting out into the working world after school, so this is why I moved to one particular town in Alberta… You guessed it, Fort McMurray. I was able to finally save some money and work for two great veterinary clinics before moving back to the east coast but only this time to locate to Prince Edward Island. I worked at a mainly small animal clinic that did a bit of large animal as well. From here my gypsy gene got the best of me and I decided to take three months to backpack through Australia all on my own. That was the experience of a lifetime. If you cannot tell already, I enjoy traveling and the life lessons it brings. After Australia and their beautiful beaches, I moved to the polar opposite on the weather scale and moved to the Northwest Territories (above the Arctic Circle!) in a small town called Inuvik. Unfortunately, there was not a full-time vet there, so I worked a few random jobs and helped volunteer at a non-profit organization that fundraised to bring a veterinary team up a few times a year to put on spay/neuter clinics for the people in the town.
I realized after a couple of years that I belonged in a veterinary clinic which initiated my move to Calgary where I have finally made some roots for the past 7 years in this wonderful city. I have since been married and have a toddler who is also an animal lover like me.
I have been fortunate enough to know Dr. Erin Heck since the beginning of my move here and was delighted to join her team upon the opening of Happy Paws!
So please come by and share yours and your pet’s story with us :)
Danielle Coombs, Your Amazing Assistant!
My name is Danielle and I am the newest Veterinary Assistant to join the Happy Paws team. I grew up here in Alberta and always had animals in my life and have always had a passion for them. I spent a couple of years at the University of Lethbridge before I realized that something was missing from my life, so I left and traveled to Australia where I volunteered at a wildlife rehabilitation centre. That is where I decided that I wanted to spend my life working with animals. I graduated from the “Veterinary Technical Assistant” program at Olds College in 2017. From there I worked as a dog walker and in a few small clinics before I started at Happy Paws.
I really enjoy being a Vet Assistant and love being able to not only help animals but also help the amazing people who are part of this great team.
I currently live in Calgary with my husband Ryan and our dog Newt. If we aren’t at home you can find us out camping, hiking, or off-roading with Newt by our side.
Taelor Kosman, Your Amazing Assistant!
Hello, I am Taelor! The newest Happy Paws Veterinary Assistant, resident crazy cat lady, and chatty Cathy. Don’t worry, I love the pooches too!
A little about me… I was born in British Columbia but have spent much of my life in Alberta. In my free time, I play slow-pitch, golf and love refinishing old furniture. Animals have always been a big part of my life. Growing up I had fish, reptiles, small animals, birds, cats, dogs, and horses as part of the family or was able to care for them in some way. Working with animals was a career path that I was interested in pursuing, however, I was not sure that I would be able to handle the inevitable sad side of it so I went into the beauty industry instead. I had been in the cosmetics industry and doing freelance makeup for a little over 10 years when I decided that my true passion was working with and helping animals so I changed gears and started looking into how I could make that a reality. I researched a few different courses and programs that I’d be interested in taking which required a minimum amount of volunteer hours under a Veterinarian before even being able to apply so I began reaching out to clinics, rescue groups, and anyone I knew (or didn’t know) that might be able to help me with this. Luckily for Facebook, I’m in numerous animal-related groups that allow me to contact like-minded strangers, and one day I felt a connection to a post from a woman in one of these groups. I could tell that she was in the industry, she seemed like a fantastic person and so I reached out to her with a big long message about me and my life and what I was trying to accomplish. Joni (one of our amazing Vet Techs here) promptly got back to me and offered to help in my journey in any way she could. I was ecstatic beyond words. Fast forward almost two years later and after countless chats, I get a message one day asking me to send my resume to Dr. Erin at Happy Paws Vet Clinic. A week later I have a new job in the industry I have always meant to be in, and I could not be more grateful for the Happy Paws team and Joni for making that happen.
So here I am, taking it all in, loving and learning more every day, and thankful for the trust that you give us in taking care of your fur family members. I can promise you that I will always go out of my way to do everything I can to make them as comfortable as possible. If we haven’t already spoken or met, I look forward to doing so in the near future but first and foremost I look forward to giving your pets all the cuddles, treats, and love when they are in our care.
Trina Kettridge Client Care Coordinator
Hello! My name is Trina. I am one of the Client Care Coordinators at Happy Paws. I grew up in a house where we always had pets, from Kadie the Cocker Spaniel to Gin and Tonic, our family’s two Dobermans.
I started working as a veterinary receptionist in 2006 at an emergency hospital in Thunder Bay, Ontario. I quickly realized how much I enjoyed working with people and their pets. I consider myself lucky to have started in a practice that allowed me not only to work with clients but also to assist in other aspects of the hospital. From working in the pharmacy to working with pets on a daily basis gave me the opportunity to learn and experience many different and interesting cases.
In 2011 my daughter Taylor and I moved to Airdrie to be closer to my siblings and nephews. Since moving, I have continued to work in the veterinary industry and have met many wonderful people in our community. We have also had the opportunity to welcome Maverick into our family. He is one of the goofiest and most loveable Dobermans I have ever meet and we could not imagine our lives without him.
I joined the Happy Paws Family in the Spring of 2020 and I consider myself lucky to be working with such an amazing team of people, such wonderful clients, and the most adorable patients.
Hello! I’m Deanna, I am the part-time Client Care Coordinator at Happy Paws, so you’ll likely see me working in the evenings and on weekends. I was introduced to the Veterinary Industry in 2009 when I started as a Client Care Coordinator at a 24-hour Emergency and Specialty hospital where I worked for the next 9 years. I currently reside in Crossfield with my boyfriend, 3 dogs, and our cat. My dog’s names are Bella, Murphy, and Ruby. They are all small white-ish (Ruby is a little more tan than white) fluffy dogs. Apparently small, white, and fluffy is my dog type! My cat’s name is Lexi and she is a DSH brown tabby. In wintertime, I love to get out snowmobiling or hibernating inside with my furry children (they aren’t fans of winter). In the summertime, we all love to head out to the river to hang out or take off on a camping adventure. I am a big animal lover and if you were to ask anyone I know they would tell you that, if I could, I would probably adopt every dog possible. It’s a good thing I have people in my life to reign me in, instead, I get my fulfillment by meeting, playing, and cuddling with my pets instead. I am lucky to work with this amazing team of people who are incredibly supportive, and who I can laugh and have fun with at work (although it really doesn’t feel like work). I look forward to meeting you, and your families (4 legged and 2 legged members) and getting to know you!
Hailey Sauve Client Care Coordinator
Hello! My name is Hailey.
I am the newest member of the Happy Paws Team. I am originally from a small town in British Columbia called Cache Creek, I moved to Airdrie in 2012 where I started working in customer service. I have always had different types of animals in my life, from bearded dragons to my furry Husky Shepherd named Monte Carlo. When I am not at the clinic, I like to explore the mountains with my best pal Monte. I recently graduated from the Veterinary Office Assistant Program, I then started volunteering at a small veterinary clinic in Calgary, I was able to get a position at Happy Paws and finally work in my community. I am super excited to be a member of this amazing team! I look forward to meeting you and your furry family members.
Jeff Boucher, Clinic Manager Extraordinaire!
Hello, you may see me around the clinic from time to time. My role is behind the scenes administration, such as payroll, HR, and management. You will see me helping out upfront when needed and potentially loving, petting and snuggling your pets. I worked at Scotiabank for seven years predominantly as a Small Business Advisor. My background in business banking helped transform this clinic from an idea to a reality.
Dr. Erin is my spouse and we recently started our family. We have two beautiful children at home, Fiona my daughter, and Ethan my son. They were born one year apart so we have our hands full with two kids and managing our business. However, we have an amazing team at the clinic and they have really helped us while we started our family. I truly believe that a great business starts with great staff and I know when have amazing staff.
When I met Erin she introduced me to the joy animals can bring. The day we got our first golden retriever Oakley, I fell in love with that little ball of orange fur from the first day. He is my best pal and companion and I could not imagine my life without animals. This relationship allowed me to truly understand how important your animal is to you. I appreciate everyone that trusts their family member in our care and believe me we do not take that trust lightly. I have a passion for caring for your pets like I would want someone to care for my Oakley. There is no one I would rather start this journey with than my spouse and best friend Dr. Erin.