Meet the Team

The Dandenong Veterinary Hospital provides team based care, and truly believe in our moto of ‘The Caring Professional Team.’ Many of our staff have been with us many years, and over that time we have enjoyed getting to know our clients and their pets, caring for them like part of our own family. To learn more about our lovely team and get to know us a little better, then please read on:

Our Lovely Veterinarians:

Dr Darren Shortt BVSc

Dr. Darren was born in Ireland, and grew up locally, attending Eumemmerring Secondary College. He was actively involved in the school curriculum, local community and local council and as a result was recognised for his contributions with a Community Service Award in 1993 and was nominated as Casey ‘Young Citizen of the Year’ 1995.

His general interest for science of all descriptions ranges from entomology (insects) to cosmology (space) and much more. A fundamental interest that Darren pocessed was his desire to become a veterinarian for as far back as he could remember.

His pursuit culminated with his graduation from the University of Melbourne, Bachelor of Veterinary Science in December 2001. Dr Darren thereafter joined the team at Dandenong Veterinary Hospital.

Dr. Shortt enjoys teaching clients and students about health and disease, and on occasion educates pupils of the local primary schools as part of the Australian Veterinary Association’s PetPeP program. As a complimentary teaching role within the formal Veterinary Science training course, Dr. Shortt is a Senior Fellow of the Faculty of Veterinary Science, Melbourne University, in his capacity as an Academic Associate.

In January 2006, Dr. Darren Shortt joined in partnership with Dr. Robert Jones at Dandenong Veterinary Hospital. Darren is pictured here with his former cheeky tabby, Leroy.

Dr Jessica Morse BVSc (hons)

Dr Jessica joined the team at Dandenong Veterinary Hospital after her graduation from Melbourne University in December 2004, and joined the partnership with Dr Darren Shortt in July 2009. She is the first female owner that Dandenong Veterinary Hospital has had in over 80 years of servicing the pet owners of Dandenong and surrounds.

Dr Jessica grew up on a Hereford stud in country Victoria near the small town of Corryong. Growing up with many pets and animals prompted her as a child to wish for a job as a Veterinarian, which she worked towards making a reality. She left the farm and made the move to Melbourne to study Science, transferring then to Veterinary Science, and hasn’t left this wonderful city since.

Dr Jessica works part time within our Veterinary Team, and is otherwise kept busy at home with her three young sons. She currently has a Cairn Terrier called ‘Hunter,’ and looks forward to expanding the number of pets at home as the kids get older. They have requested a cat, lizards and turtles, and seem to have inherited their mother’s love for animals!

Dr Jessica is pictured here with her former cat – a lovely Birman called ‘Safi’. She has recently welcomed a new cat to the family, a cheeky ginger tabby called Cheeto.

Being one of the owners of Dandenong Veterinary Hospital has been a very rewarding experience for Dr Jessica. She is very passionate about the high level of care offered to the ‘fur babies’ that visit us, and being a leader of such a wonderful team of vets and nurses.

Dr Maureen Anderson BVSc

As far back as she can remember, Dr Maureen had always wanted to be a veterinary surgeon. Growing up surrounded by dogs, budgerigars, rabbits, horses and guinea pigs might have influenced this decision. She was born and raised in Namibia, one of the least densely populated countries in the world, and a typical family holiday often involved camping in the middle of no-where, going on nature walks or stalking wild animals. Studying to be a vet meant saying goodbye to friends and family and familiar surroundings, to attend the University of Pretoria in South Africa. Hard work and determination allowed her dream of becoming a veterinarian to come true in October 2004.

Traveling is a great passion and working in Europe as well as Australia had always been the plan, so a few months after graduation the backpack was packed and she was on a flight to London. Working in England allowed her to gain important experience in all aspects of small animal medicine and surgery, but also learn a lot about England’s third most popular pet – the rabbit. Since then she has developed a special interest in all so called small furries. Other interests are skin diseases and behaviour problems, and she enjoys doing surgery.

Four years later Australia was calling and with her husband, she put her belongings into storage and flew to Darwin via Singapore. After a trip to the magnificent Kakadu National Park, they bought a camper van and drove to Perth via the amazing and often very desolate Coastal Highway. After working in Fremantle and visiting the rest of WA, they crossed the Nullabor, explored some of South Australia and came to Melbourne for 6 months. By this time they had decided to emigrate to Australia because they had fallen in love with the country. To finish the year of camper van-ing off, they visited Tasmania and then drove to Sydney via Alice Springs and Cairns, and sold the camper. They are now back to stay, choosing Melbourne as their new home.

In her free time Maureen enjoys horse riding, getting out into nature and reading. She has adopted a young epileptic Beagle Cross dog called Anoosheh which is an Afghan name meaning lucky or happy.

Dr Alyssa McKee BVSc

Dr. Alyssa joined the DVH team in February 2017. She was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia in the United States. Her passion for animals and veterinary medicine started at a young age. When surrounding herself with dogs, cats, and horses wasn’t enough she got her first job at the local vet clinic at just 15 years old! Alyssa also worked at the University of Georgia’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital through out her time at university.

Dr. McKee completed her Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with an emphasis in Animal Science in 2008 and her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine in 2012, both at the University of Georgia. After graduating in 2012 Alyssa immigrated to Australia to be with her husband, who is Australian, and has been working in Australia ever since.

In her free time, Dr. McKee enjoys working in her vegetable garden, traveling, and knitting. She is currently on Maternity Leave and we look forward to welcoming her back when her baby is a bit older.

Dr Rebecca Francis BVSc

Dr Rebecca was first inspired to become a vet from the James Herriot stories she grew up reading. Later in life, it was a highlight for her to work in the UK and visit the practice where these tales originated. She had the privilege of joining the DVH team in 2016.

She has always been a cat person, and this has culminated in additional qualifications in Feline and Small animal medicine. Aside from the challenges of making a difficult diagnosis, the most rewarding aspect of her work day is witnessing the devotion DVH clients show to their pets.

Dr Rebecca works as a casual, and when not vetting, she is busy undertaking further study. She still, however, makes time for her other loves of bushwalking and photography.

Our Wonderful Nurses:

Cassandra Goldsmith

Cassandra joined the DVH team in November 2011, she has always had a very big love of and passion for animals! This passion comes from her mum, whose own love of animals was something the two shared together as Cassandra grew up. Her mum especially loves horses, even taking Cassandra for her very first ride in the backyard on their pet horse Sam at the tender age of 6 months old! Growing up Cassandra always had a household full of pets including horses, dogs, cats, rabbits, turtles, lizards, guinea pigs, rats, mice and even a pet galah and that’s not to mention the habit she has of bringing home stray and injured animals!

Cassandra has carried the love and respect for animals from her childhood into adulthood and has always known she has wanted to work in the Animal Welfare Industry. This has led her into completing Certificate 1 in Animal Studies and she is currently continuing her education to become a fully qualified Veterinary Nurse. Eventually she would like to specialize is Equine Nursing with the dream of one day opening her own Equine and Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre.

Cassandra currently shares her home with many much loved pets including her cats Xavier, Xander, Sasquach, Zoey and Aries, her 2 Siberian Huskies, Arizona and Indiana and her goldfish! This doesn’t include all the cats and kittens she fosters.

Abbey Rumble

Abbey joined the DVH team in April 2013, starting out as our trainee nurse. Previously, Abbey had worked at, and managed, a large pet store. She has extensive experience with animals of all shapes and sizes, from pythons and tarantulas to ferrets and guinea pigs, and of course cats and dogs! Abbey’s priority throughout her work revolved around caring for, and focusing on, the wellbeing of all animals.

Every Tuesday night, you will find Abbey running our Puppy Pre School. It is one of Abbeys’ passions to educate new owners on how to help their puppies start off on the right paw, as well as teaching responsible pet ownership. She absolutely loves seeing the graduates grow into thriving adults as they return to DVH over the years.

Abbey is often the first to put her hand up to when it comes to fostering and/or hand rearing many of the kittens and cats that are brought into our clinic. She has managed to rehabilitate and rehome each of them, with the philosophy that every animal deserves the best start to life, and a second chance.

Outside of work, Abbey enjoys dancing at her local calisthenics club, spending time with her family, and indulging in culinary delights. Abbey lives with her Maltese Cross, Harlow, who she affectionately refers to as her ‘little sidekick’, and her adored cat, Odie, who is Harlow’s best friend. Abbey is extremely grateful that they are both very tolerable of all the animals that take up temporary residence with them!

Connor Van Doorn

Connor joined the DVH team in September 2018 and in 2019 started studying to get his Certificate IV in veterinary nursing. Connor is changing pace with us to focus on domestic animals and the furry creatures within our homes rather than the larger critters in the jungle that he has worked with in the past.

Since completing high school Connor has travelled and worked around the world, with all of his trips centred around wildlife rescue projects and rehabilitation centres in third world countries, spending large periods of time in China, Costa Rica, Bolivia and Thailand. Developing skills in behaviour modification specialising in enrichment and reducing stereotypic behaviour Connor has run research projects on bears and managed departments of howler and capuchin monkeys. In his second photo here, Connor is in Bolivia, spending time with his two favourite monkeys – Mema and Mamout.

 

Apart from the “big cuddlies” as he would call them, Connor also spends much of his free time in Australia contributing to research projects looking at everything from migratory shore birds, to insects and has even caught and microchipped Tassie Devils. On his way to getting his A-Class banding license he has had the privilege to catch and handle some of Australia’s most elusive birds.

For fun Connor practices fire-based performance art around Melbourne and has taught at a circus school for backpackers in Northern Thailand.

Connor has dreams to one day start his own wildlife rescue project working with communities in third world countries to raise awareness for injured and trafficked wildlife and believes we need to be the change we want to see in the world.

Chantelle Watt

Chantelle did her year 10 work experience with us in November 2009 and joined the team as a Nurse’s assistant in February 2010. Chantelle is currently kept busy looking after her two young children, Scarlett and Reece.

Chantelle continues to enjoy working with us on a regular casual basis. Chantelle took time off University to have her kids and spend some of the early years with them, but she will return to study [human] Nursing at the beginning of 2019.

Chantelle grew up surrounded by many different types of animals including birds, cats, dogs, mice, hermit crabs, fish guinea pigs, rabbits and even ferrets! She developed a soft spot for them before she could even talk. She knew from a very young age that animals would be a significant part of her life, and she loves that she gets to go to work and spend time with them every day.

At home, Chantelle owns four goldfish (each lovingly named by her daughter- Emma, Lachy, Simon and Anthony. The Wiggles!) who live in an outdoor pond, and a seal-mitted ragdoll called Crunchii (pictured).

Chantelle currently works as our Sunday and Public Holiday Veterinary Nurse and does extra shifts during the week as a casual.

Elisabeth Haacke

Elisabeth was born and raised in Dresden, Germany. During an exchange to Australia at age 16 she fell in love with the country and someone special and decided to move out here at the age of 22 after finishing her Veterinary Nursing studies in Germany.

Growing up Elisabeth was always surrounded by many pets. Her first ever pet was her fish “Boris” and soon to follow were cats and amphibians. One of her cats “Nurry” was her most loyal and loving friend from age 6 up until 21, they practically grew up together and had a very special bond. Elisabeth knew then she wanted to work with and help animals.

In march 2012 she joined the team at DVH in a part time capacity while also caring for their first son. She has since welcomed a second son to the family, returned to work with us again part time, and is currently on maternity leave again as she has now welcomed their third child to the family, a little girl! We wish her all the best and look forward to her coming back when the newest arrival gets a little older.

Now Elisabeth lives in the Dandenong Ranges with her partner, her children and their hyperactive German Shorthair Pointer “Izzy”.

Julia Groves

Julia is one of our casual veterinary nurses. She is usually with us at least weekly.

Julia has been nursing for 20 years, although it shocks her to admit it. She is kept very busy working between two different clinics, as well as being a mum to two boys aged 10 and 7.

Of course we must mention the ‘fur babies’ of the family as well – she also has two Cavaliers – Jemima (pictured) and Maya.

Outside of work she enjoys camping trips away with the family, having recently upgraded to a camper trailer, and beach days, basketball coaching and spending time with her family.

Laura Grinblat

Laura initially joined the Dandenong Veterinary Team in June 2018, having previously worked at another small animal clinic in the south east for a number of years. Laura works full time with a clinic closer to home now, but still comes in to fill shifts for us in a casual capacity.

A career with animals was always on the cards for Laura, having an animal obsession from a very early age. After graduating High school, that passion for animals led her into the horse racing industry.  This saw her travelling the Victorian countryside ensuring the care and welfare of the horses whilst attending races. After 6 years of very early morning starts, Laura decided a career change was needed and made the move into small animal veterinary nursing, completing her Certificate IV at Boxhill Tafe in 2017.

Laura currently lives on the Mornington Peninsula with her 4 Thoroughbred horses Bert, Sam, Integra and Akihito. As well as 3 cats Pepper, Noddy and Madonna, which keep her extremely busy.

Our Fantastic Professional Groomer:

Melissa Allen

Melissa began her working life as a primary School Teacher.  Her early years teaching began in Melbourne and then took her to London where she spent a couple of years working and travelling around Europe. Upon returning to Australia she commenced studies in graphic design and thus began her career as a designer, along the way meeting her partner and raising two children.

Melissa grew up with many pets as a child and always had a special love for and rapport with animals. After becoming increasingly involved in animal welfare and volunteering with several rescue groups working at shelters and fostering, she decided to follow her heart and persue a career in working with animals.

Melissa completed her Cert III in grooming in early 2016 and now thoroughly enjoys her job as a groomer. She shares her home with her three rescue babies – a cat “Ninja”, a Kelpie X “Daffy”, and a greedy little pug “Puggles”.