Animal Ark Veterinary Hospital Team
At Animal Ark Veterinary Hospital in Elkin, North Carolina, we have a staff that is passionate about veterinary care for the health and wellness of our patients. Click on a team member to learn more about them!
Dr. Richard Brinegar
Dr. Greg Dugan
Dr. Debra Garing
Dr. Richard Brinegar – Veterinarian
A native of Elkin, Dr. Richard Brinegar returned to his hometown to build a practice that expresses his love of animals and his passion for veterinary care.
Dr. Richard Brinegar earned his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from North Carolina State University. He has practiced in Winston-Salem and Mount Airy before returning to his native town of Elkin.
He and his wife Ava have three sons – Joshua, Daniel, and Paul.
Dr. Brinegar serves his community in several capacities, including as a member of the Elkin City School Board of Education.
Shelby joined the Animal Ark in May 2013. He spends his time writing, both creatively and freelancing, for the Elkin Tribune. Shelby enjoys his time with his family and dog, Sadie.
Madelyn Crews is a receptionist with Animal Ark Veterinary Hospital and has been practicing vet-med for a year now! She attended Lenior-Rhyne University and loves getting to know the pet owners that come through the door to ensure their fur babies get the best care possible. Madelyn loves to be outdoors, swim, and spend time with her family and three dogs in her free time.
My name is Nathaniel Burchette, and I’m currently a Kennel Assistant with the hospital. I’ve been practicing since July of this year after graduating from East Wilkes High School. As a Kennel Assistant, I strive to ensure that each pet under our supervision is safe and properly cared for. I love to play tennis, spend time with my family, and play my saxophone outside of the hospital.
Dr. Greg Dugan – Veterinarian
Dr. Greg Dugan does relief for the Animal Ark Veterinary Hospital in Elkin on the weekends.
Dr. Dugan is an assistant professor of pathology/comparative medicine at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Dr. Dugan is a native of Pfafftown, North Carolina, and has been practicing small animal medicine for 16 years. He attended North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University for his undergraduate and graduate school and earned his doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine. He has practiced in Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and now does relief work in the Elkin area.
He and his wife have three adult children, Christopher, Shara, and Kendall, and one grandson, Christopher. Also part of their family is a dog, Murphy, a 5-year-old goldfish named Halloween, and a bearded dragon named Sheldon.
Dr. Dugan is a member of the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association and currently resides in Rural Hall, North Carolina. In his spare time, he enjoys gardening, sports, and spending time with his family.
Hi, I’m Rebecca Messick. I have been a Veterinary Assistant with Animal Ark Elkin Veterinary Hospital for 1 and 1/2 years now. I started my career path after attending Louisiana State University and obtaining my BS in Kinesiology. I love the great sense of humor and patience in the environment when working with our clients and my fellow team members. In my spare time, I really enjoy creative writing along with visual storytelling and digital art. You can also find me watching movies and TV shows from time to time!
Dr. David Ackerman – Veterinarian
Dr. Ackerman has been practicing veterinary medicine for over 30 years. He earned his doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from VMRCVM at Virginia Tech. He owned a veterinary hospital and practiced in Western North Carolina until moving to the town of Elkin with his wife, Alison, in 2016. Dr. Ackerman is currently the laboratory director of the Northwestern Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture in Elkin. Dr. Ackerman’s love of animals compels him to continue to work in practice with Dr. Brinegar at the Animal Ark. He and his wife have two grown children, Rob and Chris, living in Charlotte and Raleigh, respectively. Prior to moving to Elkin, Dr. Ackerman was on the Cherokee County NC School Board, a sheep farmer, beekeeper, owner of Andrews Veterinary Hospital and North Georgia Animal Emergency Hospital. Dr. Ackerman and his wife, Alison, currently reside in Elkin and are members of the Elkin First United Methodist Church. They are beekeepers who also enjoy their pets, hiking, kayaking, and visiting with their children.
Dr. Debra Garing – Veterinarian
Garing has joined Animal Ark after owning Elkin Veterinary Hospital for 37 years. Dr. Garing graduated with a BA from Tufts University and received her DVM from UGA College of Veterinary Medicine. She wants to continue to provide the community with compassionate veterinary care and is happy to have joined forces with Animal Ark.
Dr. Garing has a son, Leverett, a daughter Laura, and a granddaughter, Halle. Completing her family are her dogs, Betsy and Bernie, and her cat Mason.
Dr. Garing is a member of Yadkin Valley Rotary and served as past president, is past secretary of the board for Grace Clinic, and is past president and secretary of the board for Foothills Art Center. Besides her civic involvement, she enjoys reading, yoga, Zumba, hiking, and her exercise class.
Melanie began working in the veterinary field 11 months ago. She attended Appalachian State University. Melanie takes pride in providing compassionate customer service. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and baking.
Sara began working in the veterinary field in 2007. She attended Golden West College in Huntington Beach, CA. Sara takes pride in her dedication to service, as being a natural nurturer defines her essence. She finds the greatest fulfillment in extending a helping hand to both people and animals in need. In her free time, she enjoys kayaking, hiking, and embracing holistic living. Additionally, she makes natural skincare products, which is my small business since 2015.
Jackie has been working in the veterinary field for 36 years. She received her vet tech degree from Central Carolina in Sanford, NC. Jackie prides herself in having compassion for patients and owners. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, and yoga.
Adanna Gonzales – Receptionist
My name is Adanna Gonzales, and I’m the receptionist for Animal Ark Elkin Veterinary Hospital. I started working here in July of 2021 and absolutely love it. I began my veterinary career after attending the Surry Community College. I love that I’m able to ensure every pet and family member is satisfied while being taken care of. In my spare time, you can find me decorating cakes or spending time with my daughters, Irie and Norie.
Kayla Harmon – Receptionist
Kayla Harmon has been practicing vet-med since August of 2021 and has joined the Animal Ark family as a receptionist that prides herself on delivering great customer service. She ensures all guest needs are taken care of to the best of her ability. In her free time, Kayla enjoys reading books, listening to music, and spending time with her family and pets.
Carissa Carter – Kennel Assistant
Carissa is a member of the Animal Ark team as a kennel assistant and has been practicing since August of 2021. She attended Starmount High School and takes pride in making sure all her patients have the best experience possible while receiving excellent care. She loves to go on walks with her dogs and her kids during her spare time. She also loves art, drawing, and food!
Ashley is a Receptionist/Vet Assistant and has been working here since June 2022. She went to school at West Virginia. She loves watching and helping animals become healthy. In her free time, Ashey likes to ride her horse, hunt, and go to the gym.
Abbegayle has been practicing for 1.5 years. She is currently enrolled in the Vet Tech Program at Appalachian State University. She loves every animal she sees and has always had a passion to become a vet. In her free time, Abbegayle enjoys hunting, fishing, working on a farm, hanging with friends/family, and spending time with her Dolly Mae.
Bio coming soon!
Bio coming soon!
Bio coming soon!
Tori has been working in the veterinary field since 2017. She received her bachelor’s degree from East Carolina University and wants to work toward applying to vet school. Tori prides herself in ensuring that the patients are healthy, safe, and comfortable. Also, empower owners by educating them about their pets’ needs. She wants to make sure every visit is a positive experience for everyone involved. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her dog, Oliver, and cat, Sylvester. She also enjoys painting pictures on canvas and loves to go shopping.
Braxton Easter is a Veterinary Assistant here at the Animal Ark Elkin Veterinary Hospital. He started working here in March 2022 and plans to go through a Veterinary Technician program soon. Braxton loves what he does here and all the creatures, especially the kittens! In his free time, you can find him outside, traveling, or with all of his animals.
Summer is a Kennel Assistant and has been with us since August 2021. She goes to Elkin High School and loves seeing the patients get better and learning a lot about how to treat different illnesses. This job makes her want to continue her education to become a vet. In her free time, Summer likes to play with her cats and dog.