Our team

Dr. Sandra Newbury, Program Director

Dr. Newbury is the Director of the University of Wisconsin Shelter Medicine Program in Madison, WI and Clinical Associate Professor of Shelter Medicine in the School of Veterinary Medicine – Department of Medical Sciences. Dr. Newbury helped to build the Koret Shelter Medicine Program at the University of California, Davis from 2006-2014. Dr. Newbury served 6 years on the Board of Directors of the Association of Shelter Veterinarians and was the Chair of the Shelter Standards Task Force. Dr. Newbury “saves lives and stomps out disease!” by focusing on partnerships between shelters, veterinarians and the community to decrease shelter intake and improve health, welfare and positive outcomes for homeless animals. Her academic work has focused on clinical studies in infectious disease, immunology, and population medicine to improve understanding of shelter animal health, disease response and animal welfare. Dr. Newbury travels through the year working with shelters and communities of all kinds across the US, and in Canada, Europe and Australia. Dr. Newbury and her son share their home in Madison with several minimally compliant and beloved pets.

Dr. Erica Schumacher, Outreach Veterinarian

Dr. Erica Schumacher (she/her) fell in love with shelter medicine in 2003 when she joined the medical team at Dane County Humane Society (DCHS) in Madison, Wisconsin as a certified veterinary technician. Following her lifelong dream of becoming a veterinarian, she attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine and worked with Dr. Sandra Newbury to create the school’s first shelter medicine elective in 2004. Upon graduation in 2008, Dr. Schumacher took a short break from shelter medicine after being accepted for a competitive Wildlife and Conservation Medicine internship at Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. Upon completing her wildlife internship, Dr. Schumacher sought to find a place where she could pursue both of her veterinary passions- shelter medicine and wildlife. After traveling and working in Arizona, Alaska and Africa, she returned to her roots at DCHS as the Chief Shelter Veterinarian where she oversaw the medical team as well as the shelter’s wildlife center for seven years. She particularly enjoyed supervising the clinical training for the UW Shelter Medicine Program interns, residents, and veterinary students. In 2018, Dr. Schumacher joined the UW Shelter Medicine Program as an Outreach Veterinarian. She enjoys using her clinical background in shelter medicine as well as her love of teaching to help other shelters reach their lifesaving potential. When not at work Dr. Schumacher enjoys gardening (outdoor edibles only, she can’t keep a houseplant alive to save her life and any flower outdoors better have strong genes and good luck), cooking, nature and spending time with her family and their 3 cats, 2 fish, and 10 chickens (animal numbers subject to change without notice).

Dr. Sarah Hicks, Outreach Veterinarian

Following years of working in veterinary practice as an assistant, Dr. Sarah chose to pursue a B.S. in Animal Science at Louisiana State University and then went on to complete her DVM at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine. After graduating, she split her time practicing at a rural mixed animal private practice and working with two regional shelters. After realizing her true passion for shelter medicine, she joined the medical team at the East Baton Rouge Parish Animal Shelter, overseeing veterinary care for a high volume of patients and teaching veterinary students on their clinical rotation. In 2018, she spent 6 months serving as the Interim Executive Director for the shelter, giving her better insight into the “big picture” of shelter management. She became the Medical Director in 2018 and continued to serve in that role before joining the UW team as an Outreach Veterinarian in 2022. Dr. Sarah has a particular interest in veterinary equity and community engagement, High Quality High Volume Spay/ Neuter practice, implementing low stress animal handling, and teaching veterinary students. She is thrilled and grateful to be a part of such a fantastic program with so many wonderful shelter professionals. Outside of work, Dr. Sarah enjoys seeking out all types of new adventures with her husband, her three children, and their foster-failure dog Libby.

Dr. Aleisha Swartz, Outreach Veterinarian

Dr. Swartz graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine in 2002. Practicing first in a small animal hospital before following her passion into shelter medicine. She has worked with large, nonprofit and municipal shelters, spay-neuter programs and smaller rescue groups. She has implemented shelter medical and surgical protocols, conducted staff trainings, and participated in animal cruelty investigations.A 2014-2015 HSUS UW Shelter Medicine fellow, Dr. Swartz is excited to be back working with the UW team. In 2014 she was recognized by the University of Georgia as one of the Top 40 Under 40 graduates and participated in the AVMA Future Leaders program in 2015-2016. She is currently the President of the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association and a member of the Association of Shelter Veterinarians.Dr. Swartz's goal is to improve the level of care for animals in shelters as well as animals living in the community and has a special interest in encouraging shelter staff to become effective and engaging leaders who make a positive impact. She currently shares her home with her husband, 2 dogs, 2 cats, several fish, and a variety of foster animals.

Stephanie Koester, CVT, Assistant Director

Stephanie joined the University of Wisconsin Shelter Medicine Program team in May 2015 as the program manager after having worked in the field for 5 years. She was drawn into the shelter world with a part-time job at Dane County Humane Society as an undergraduate at University of Wisconsin-Madison. After graduating with a degree in Animal Science with a business focus, she worked in a variety of positions at Dane County Humane Society while achieving her veterinary technician license and eventually taking the position of Medical Clinic Supervisor. During her time working at the shelter she took special interest in high quality high volume spay/neuter operations, increasing efficiencies in daily procedures and developing a valuable medical volunteer program. She is pictured here with her foster failure, Bruno, a sweet and sensitive pit bull mix. The two of them often host a flow of foster cats and kittens at their house. Her hobbies include skiing, paddle boarding, running, volleyball, and trying all sorts of new hobbies.

Dr. Emily Pellatt, Maddie’s Clinical Instructor at Dane County Humane Society

Dr. Pellatt graduated from the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in 2019. Following graduation she completed a Shelter Medicine Internship through UW-Madison and the Dane County Humane Society. Dr. Pellatt has returned to the UW Shelter Medicine Program after working as a shelter veterinarian at a private non-profit shelter with robust access to care and community support programs. Prior to joining the veterinary field Dr. Pellatt worked as a paramedic in rural Alberta and during this time became aware of the inequalities and barriers that exist within healthcare access. As a veterinarian she is passionate about helping to increase access to veterinary care for pet owners who need support and encouraging students to explore a spectrum of care approach to veterinary medicine. Dr. Emily has a hound named Rico and a cat named Frederick who is a DCHS alum. When not teaching students she enjoys getting outside and exploring Wisconsin’s waterways and parks.

Gina Maniak, Research Specialist

Gina joined the University of Wisconsin Shelter Medicine Program in December 2016 as the Research Specialist after working at Dane County Humane Society sparked her passion in the shelter field. She graduated from Minnesota State University, Mankato with a degree in Zoology and has an interest in improving the lives of animals in any way possible. She shares a small home with her husband and 2 cats in Green Bay. Her hobbies include crocheting, reading and spending time with friends and family.

Dr. Carrie Allen, Maddie's Shelter Medicine Research Fellow

Dr. Allen is a transplant from California’s Central Coast who lives in Plymouth, MI. She has a bachelor’s degree in Ecology, Evolution, and Population Biology from Purdue University and a master’s degree in Physiology from San Jose State University. Dr. Allen graduated from UW SVM in 2007 with a mixed practice background hoping to work with a variety of species, including wildlife. After a year in general practice she entered a one-year internship program in small animal and emergency medicine offered by a regional referral and specialty hospital in Southeast Michigan. She followed her internship year with a transition to working in the outpatient clinic attached to a large non-profit animal shelter. Over several years, she became familiar with low-income veterinary practice and with shelter medicine. By 2012, she became the lead shelter veterinarian, a role that entailed intense time-management, creative problem solving, herd medicine, managing care for a variety of animals (happily, including wildlife), cruelty investigation, and research and development of protocol to expand the life-saving capacity of the shelter. She followed her full-time shelter position with a transition to high volume spay and neuter practice at The PAWS Clinic in Taylor, MI, in 2016. In 2017, Dr. Allen began having shortness of breath and was diagnosed with occupation related allergic airway disease. By 2018, despite intensive treatment, it became too difficult to breath around animals to continue working in direct patient care. Being a practicing veterinarian who has to give up animal care has been a really difficult transition but it has also provided Dr. Allen with a unique perspective on veterinary medicine. Dr. Allen has traded her stethoscope for a keyboard and now applies her unique perspective and past experience to the vital task of creating original research publications detailing the life-saving work of the UW Shelter Medicine Program. When not working, she enjoys spending time with her husband, being a mom to two curious kids, gardening, cooking, painting, and walking.

Kristin Speth, Program Assistant

Kristin has called Madison home for many years. She has also been fortunate enough to live in the Twin Cities, Oconto (along the western shore of Green Bay), Poland, Germany, and Taiwan. Before joining the Shelter Medicine Program, Kristin's focus was on languages - teaching English and German in Madison and abroad, researching heritage Norwegian and American dialects in the Midwest, and interning with the University of Wisconsin Press, and she earned her MA in German with an emphasis on historical linguistics from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Kristin can often be found wandering the Lakeshore Nature Preserve areas along Lake Mendota, probably staring at birds. Her other interests include history, books, old music, and puzzles.

Dr. Elizabeth Roberts, Maddie's Shelter Medicine Resident

Elizabeth completed her DVM at the University of California, Davis in 2005, and a Master of Public Health from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in 2006. She worked in a variety of animal shelters in California and as a public health veterinarian at the county and state level, including a fellowship with the California Epidemiologic Investigation Service with the CA Department of Public Health's Veterinary Public Health Section. Prior to joining the University of Wisconsin, she participated in the UW/UCD Shelter Medicine Fellowship focusing on capacity for care and interorganizational cooperation. She joined the UW team in July 2019 as a shelter medicine resident, excited to learn more about her special interests in infectious disease and shelter leadership.

Dr. Allie Stevens, Maddie's Shelter Medicine Resident

Dr. Allie Stevens is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and graduated from Michigan State University with Bachelor’s degree in zoology. She then attended the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Upon graduation in 2016, she worked as a mixed animal Veterinarian in Richland Center, Wisconsin. She then moved to the Twin Cities while her boyfriend completed his residency, where she worked at a low income, non-profit full service veterinary clinic for the last three years. Dr. Stevens has always had a strong passion for shelter medicine and has maintained that through her time working in private practice. When not in the clinic, Dr. Stevens enjoys traveling, hiking, running, and spending time with her family and her pups Pepper, Boots, Rory, and kitty, Emma.

Dr. Sarah Hefferan, 2021/2022 Maddie's Shelter Medicine Intern

Sarah Hefferan hails from Tucson, Arizona and obtained her undergraduate degree in physiology from the University of Arizona. It was during undergrad that she first developed an interest in shelter medicine through working with community cats and volunteering at the local humane society. Sarah then attended veterinary school at Washington State University. She is especially passionate about all things cats as well as working to minimize fear and anxiety in her veterinary patients. In her free time, you can find Sarah taking photos or hanging out with her cat, Storm.

Haley Lin, Student Hourly

Haley grew up in Appleton, WI. In 2017, she graduated with a Bachelor's of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from University of Richmond. She volunteered at the Richmond SPCA in Richmond, VA, and discovered her passion for shelter medicine. She then worked at a zoo in Greenville, WI and interned at the N.E.W. Zoo in Green Bay, WI, where she discovered her other passion for animal welfare and zoological, exotic, and wildlife medicine. Her dream is to combine these passions into one. Currently, she is a third-year DVM student at UW-Madison who is involved in VOICE and Broad Spectrum, DEIC, and the school's SAVMA chapter. In her free time, Haley enjoys working on art projects, thrift shopping, and spending time with friends and family, including her cat, Sputnik.

Joseph Varela, Student Hourly

Joseph is originally from Chicago, IL. He graduated from Northeastern Illinois University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology. He first discovered his interest in shelter medicine when he began volunteering with PAWS Chicago and it was this work that lead him to pursue a future career in veterinary medicine. Currently, he is a second year veterinary medical student at UW-Madison with the goal of becoming a small animal veterinarian. In his free time, he enjoys playing video/board games, watching scary movies, and spending time with his little army of chihuahua mixes—Andy, Scrappy, Jack, and Jewel.