what makes us different

Our Approach to Veterinary Specialty Care in Gilbert, AZ

We believe there is a reason it’s called ‘Specialty’ Medicine. Yes, we’re board-certified specialists, but it is the very special families and pet’s we have the privilege of caring for that make our profession so fulfilling.  We sincerely appreciate the dedication of the primary care veterinarians  who entrust the care of their patients to us, this unique collaboration provides outstanding care for our patients.  We receive referrals from veterinarians across Arizona and the southwest and appreciate being called upon to provide specialized care.

To become a specialist, one must obtain a four-year veterinary degree and then pursue additional training in an accredited program. This typically includes a one-year internship, followed by a two to three-year residency in a particular medical discipline. Gaining acceptance into a residency training program can be quite competitive, therefore only those with the highest academic and professional achievement gain entry. In addition to the clinical training, a veterinarian may also publish original research and pass a series of rigorous examinations to earn this designation.

At DVMS, every patient is special, and every patient’s family deserves the time, compassion, and information they need to make decisions that are right for their pet. Please know that our goal is to assist you, in any way we can. We are glad you chose Desert Veterinary Medical Specialists.

Affordable Veterinary Care

Meet Our Doctors

Dr. Whit Church

Dr. Whit Church

DVM, DACVIM (Cardiology)
Dr. Church earned his veterinary degree from Oregon State University in 2002. After graduation he completed a one-year internship at Cornell University followed by a cardiology residency and Master of Science degree at the University of Illinois.
Dr. Melissa Riensche

Dr. Melissa Riensche

DVM, DACVIM
Dr. Riensche has particular interests in nephrology, gastroenterology, infectious disease, respiratory medicine, and endocrine diseases. She shares her home with her husband Bryan, son RJ, 2 dogs named Monroe and Barrett Jackson, and 1 cat named Shelby.
Dr. Angie Mexas

Dr. Angie Mexas

DVM, PhD, DACVIM, DACLAM
After training in North Carolina State University, Dr. Mexas returned to Arizona in 2014. Her areas of most interest include immune medication and infections of dogs and cats. She continues to practice, teach and do research. She also shares her home with 4 cats.
Dr. Victoria L. Heffelman

Dr. Victoria L. Heffelman

DVM, DACVR
Dr. Heffelman special areas of interest include abdominal ultrasound, CT, and nuclear medicine. She lives with her husband Richard, Welsh Corgie named Quinn, and tabby cat, Piccolo, and enjoys traveling, spending time with family, movies, hiking, and enjoying all that Arizona offers!
Dr. Amy Roth-Jones

Dr. Amy Roth-Jones

DVM, DACVR
Dr. Roth-Jones became a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Radiology in 2017. Amy developed the first comprehensive veterinary ultrasound education program for industry. Her special interests include echocardiography and interventional radiology.
Dr. Sasha Naugler

Dr. Sasha Naugler

DVM - Radiology Resident
After work hours, Dr. Naugler enjoys her amazing dogs, a one-eyed chug (pug-chihuahua mix) named Chalupa and her unknown breed, red-haired step-mutt named Gumbo. She also enjoys gardening and exploring nature.
Dr. Emery Jones

Dr. Emery Jones

DVM - Residency Trained in Internal Medicine
Bio Coming Soon
Dr. Casandra Jacobs

Dr. Casandra Jacobs

DVM - Residency Trained in Internal Medicine
Bio Coming Soon
Dr. Whit Church
Dr. Melissa Riensche
Dr. Angie Mexas
Dr. Victoria L. Heffelman
Dr. Amy Roth-Jones
Dr. Sasha Naugler
Dr. Emery Jones
Dr. Casandra Jacobs

Meet Our Team

Kathy Wilson

Practice Manager - Gilbert
Since she was a child, Kathy knew she wanted to work with animals. In high school she was involved in FFA (Future Farmers of America) and grew up with a variety of family pets. As Kathy began her career, she found herself in management in the retail and food industry. But her passion for the animals motivated her to move into veterinary medicine where she has worked for over 20 years. Beginning as a veterinary technician, Kathy continued to pursue additional training and responsibilities and now enjoys business administration by working as a practice manager. Outside of work Kathy enjoys reading, volunteering at Angel Acres Inc. and spending time with her husband and two daughters as well as her family pets, 1 dog and 1 cat (all rescues).

Bryan Riensche

Director of Operations
Bio Coming Soon.

Darlene Wetzstein

Customer Care Representative
Darlene is originally from East St. Paul, Minnesota, and moved to Arizona 15 years ago. Darlene has been a veterinary receptionist for 10 years and joined Desert Veterinary Medical Specialists in 2012.  We are happy to have her as part of our team as she is always smiling and enjoys assisting our clients and patients. She is a mother of two great girls, Krissy and Tina. She has a Border Collie mix named Charger, a chocolate lab grand-dog named Sadie, and has had the experience of owning and riding horses.  In her spare time, she enjoys reading and riding motorcycles.

Ashley Cox

Customer Care Representative
Although originally from Florida, Ashley has lived in Arizona for most of her life. She has always had a passion for animals and while growing up there was always family pets in the house. While in High School, Ashley was enrolled in EVIT, a technical school where she had the opportunity to take both the Veterinary Assistant and Multimedia programs. After graduating, Ashley worked in various roles at a general practice animal hospital. Two years later, in August 2019, Ashley joined the DVMS team. In her free time she enjoys photography, traveling, and spending time with family. Combining her love for animals and art, Ashley is currently learning animal photography. Ashley is happy to share her home with 2 Maine Coons (Flynn and Katniss), and a Beta Fish (Pinto).

Courtney Sadler-Atabari

Customer Care Representative
Bio Coming Soon.

Mikaela Mora

Bio Coming Soon.

Danette Alley

CVT - Internal Medicine
Danette grew up in Montana and graduated from the University of Montana with a BS in Business Management. She moved to Arizona in 1994 and worked for several years as an Office Manager before deciding to change career paths. She attended and completed the Veterinary Technology program at Pima Medical Institute and has been working as a technician in general practice since 2004. She joined the Desert Veterinary Medical Specialists team in August of 2012 and thoroughly enjoys working in our Internal Medicine department. We are fortunate to have her on our team, as she always has a positive and determined attitude. Danette currently has 1 cat, Wyle, and 2 dogs, Moon and Starla. She enjoys walking and training her dogs, is an avid reader and likes to spend her leisure time with her friends or relaxing at home.

Dina Berriochoa

CVT - Cardiology
Dina grew up in Chicago and moved to Arizona in 2003 to escape the Midwestern winters.  She has been working as a veterinary technician since 1997, and originally joined Arizona Veterinary Specialists in Surgery.  Two years after Dr. Church joined Arizona Veterinary Internal Medicine, now Desert Veterinary Medical Specialists, we were lucky to have Dina join us to keep Cardiology running smoothly.  Dina is such an asset since she is organized, can handle a large workload, and is always positive.  She is married to Dave, and they have two wonderful children, Sophia and Jack, and 2 pit bulls, Petunia and Violet.

Megan DeMarco

CVT - Radiology
Megan grew up in New York. She graduated with her AAS in Veterinary Technology from SUNY in Delhi, and her B.S. in Biology from SUNY Old Westbury. She has been a veterinary technician for over 12 years. She shares her home with 2 cats (Azazel and Angwyn) and 1 dog (Baltsaros). She has a passion for behavior and exotics. She works with DVMS part-time since 2018 as well as the emergency service at AzVECCC.

Allison Hagy

CVT - Cardiology/Radiology
Allison was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. She attended Western Michigan University and received a B.S. in Psychology with an empasis in Behavior Analysis. Allison knew she always wanted to work with animals at a very early age. I guess you could say her 1st job in the veterinary field was veterinary clinic in her basement. Her first patients were extremely tolerant Brahms, a Golden Retriever and 2 rabbits, Laces and Shoes. She then enrolled at Bel-Rea School of Veterinary Technology the next month. Allison started her veterinary technology career in 2010 as a surgery technician at AHSC in Denver, CO. After a few years as a surgery technician she switched specialities and joined Rocky Mountain Veterinary Cardiology. We are so fortunate to have another Cardiology tech join the team with Cardiology and Radiology! Allison had been with Desert Veterinary Medical Specialists since April 2019.

Jennifer Miller

CVT - Cardiology
I'm an Arizona native, grew up in Tempe. I went to college in Oregon but missed the sunshine so after 2 1/2 years, I moved back to Arizona. I love animals and decided I wanted a career working with them. I have been a veterinary technician since 2003. I currently have 4 dogs (Cosmo, Sage, Blackie and Foxy) and 1 cat (Buckaroo). I have a wonderful husband and son. When I have free time, I enjoy hiking, fishing, camping and off roading.

Megan Miller

CVT - Internal Medicine
I have lived in Arizona for 6 years, lived in Colorado for 23 years where I was born and raised. I went to school at Colorado Mountain College where I got my associates in veterinary technology and graduated in 2009. Prior to that I worked in general practice for 2 years in Colorado, and then worked in general practice here in Arizona for 5 years before joining the DVMS team. I share my home with a chihuahua named beret, three cats ( Smokey,Penelope, and Maverick) and a boyfriend named Kyle. I have been with DVMS since Sept. 2014.

Bailey Oppedisano

CVT - Internal Medicine
Bio Coming Soon

Amber DeOliviera

CVT - Director of Technicians
I was raised in the military and have moved around quite a bit. My family settled in Arizona, in which I attended Pima Community College in Tucson for my Associates in Veterinary Technology. I have been working as a Technician for about 10 years throughout the US. I just recently relocated back home to Arizona from New Mexico after being away for 8 years. I have two pets of my own, Dodger, a German Shepherd mix and  Spaztaztic, my cat. In my free time I enjoy working out/running,crocheting, hooping, and reading. I have been with DVMS since July 2015.

Amber Echelberger

CVT - Internal Medicine
Bio Coming Soon.

Nicole Lauer

CVT - Internal Medicine
Nicole has been a technician for 6 years. She has 2 dogs (Max and Mya) and 3 cats (Lefty, Jade and Alice). I have lived in Arizona my whole life.  I enjoy hiking and indoor rock climbing. She is engaged and lives in Gilbert. She has been with DVMS since Jan 2014.

Lauren Pysher

CVT - Internal Medicine/Radiology
Bio Coming Soon.

Rebecca Smith

CVT - Internal Medicine
Bio Coming Soon.

Katie Herlehy

Veterinary Technician - Cardiology
Katie was born in Germany and, as a military child, has lived in many places throughout the U.S.  Her family eventually settled in Arizona. She has wanted to work with animals since she was a child when she discovered her dog loved her back rubs! She completed a nursing and veterinary technician program through her high school and began work as a veterinary technician in 2004. She joined Arizona Veterinary Internal Medicine, now Desert Veterinary Medical Specialists, in 2007. She has loved learning more about Internal Medicine every day and we love that she is so sweet and caring to our clients and patients! Katie and her wonderful husband, Sean, have 3 dogs, Red, Seamus and Camber, and 2 cats, Wesley and Butters.  Recently, they have added 2 new member to their family – a son, Izaak, and a daughter Khloe. We  are sure Izaak and Khloe will love animals as much as their parents. In her spare time, Katie enjoys going out to eat, watching movies, and riding dirt bikes with her husband.

Chelsea Fletcher

Veterinary Technician - Internal Medicine
Bio Coming Soon.

Jordan Harvill

Technician Assistant
Bio Coming Soon.

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Patient Stories

Our pet stories tell our story, one of dedication to improving pet lives through compassionate care.
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Over 150 5-Star Reviews
Find out What Your Neighbors Are Saying About Us

Sandy Harmsen
5.0 ★★★★★
It looked like a great place to work.  Very clean and organized without a long wait.  I knew this but still think its a bit expensive.  But everyone was very nice and polite and professional.
Andi Rosado
5.0 ★★★★★
Dr. Heffelman was fantastic as was our tech Allison. Top notch team where I feel 100% confident referring clients and patients. Thanks for all your wonderful care of Porkchop!
Michelle Brust
5.0 ★★★★★
Amazing vet care and they follow up with you as expected. As soon as they get results from lab work, they call you the same day you are expecting it. Front office staff and techs are all super nice and professional, and the vet (also super nice and professional) always seems readily available to answer questions.
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Maryann Gagliano
5.0 ★★★★★
I just live the compassionate manner that Dr. Church has with my BabyDoll. I can see he is a dedicated doctor to our fur babies. Having spoken to him in person on our first visit, I felt secure in the fact my dog was in the best hands to save her life. The technician and office workers are very kind and loving to BabyDoll because she can be very scared. Than you Dr. Church and staff for loving my BabyDoll as if she were yours.
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Kathy McCaffrey
5.0 ★★★★★
During this time of extra difficulties with Covid, the staff and doctors try to make the process of taking care of your pet as easy as possible. I have great faith in Dr. Church in their cardio division and look forward to sharing in his expertise as we work to help my dog.
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Barb Adams
5.0 ★★★★★
ou communication with me was excellent. You kept me informed of the tests, results and discussion of the problems my pet was facing.  I felt my pet was in very hands with your staff and doctors.
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