Meet the Pekin Veterinary Clinic Staff

Pekin Veterinary Clinic staff

Doctors

Dr. Allisun Bennett
DVM

Allisun Bennett

Dr. Joel Jess
DVM

Joel Jess

I am a 1986 graduate of Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine. I acquired my love of animals growing up on a cow-calf farm in western Iowa. I have known I wanted to be a veterinarian since I was ten or eleven years old. I guess I was lucky to know what I wanted to do with my life at an early age. Although I enjoy all aspects of veterinary medicine, my areas of special interest include gastroenterology, soft tissue and orthopedic surgery, and canine rehabilitation. I became certified in canine rehabilitation through the University of Tennessee in 2005. Practicing medicine gives me a great deal of pleasure when I can help not only our four legged friends but the owners as well. I strive to offer an array of options according to the owners’ desires. Flexibility is the key when consulting clients, and I try to provide the most current options and treatments available. I continue to update my professional skills to meet those demands.

My pets include an independent orange cat named Cooper, one slightly overweight feline named Chloe, and a very soft hearted yellow Labrador Retriever, Kevin. When not practicing medicine I enjoy spending time with my family, playing "over the hill" baseball and basketball, racketball, and coaching baseball and football. I've been practicing veterinary medicine for 20 years and love doing so more now than when I started.

Dr. Stone
DVM

  Stone

Dr. Winston
DVM

  Winston

I graduated from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in 2013. After graduation, I worked for a year at a small animal clinic near Indianapolis, IN. My husband and I moved to Pekin in the fall of 2014 to be closer to our families.

I've known that I wanted to be a veterinarian since I can remember (except for a brief phase where I wanted to be a magician). Growing up on a grain farm near Decatur helped foster my love of animals; we always had stray cats and kittens that needed taken care of, a farm dog to play with outside, and / tadpoles in the creek that I would catch and keep until they were frogs. I married my husband, Brett, just before starting veterinary school and we had our first daughter, Michaela, shortly after I graduated.

The four-legged members of our household include a German Shorthaired Pointer named Gauge, a medium-sized mutt named Dixie, and a leopard gecko named Garfunkel. In my time away from the clinic, I enjoy spending time with family and friends, exploring the outdoors, painting, deer hunting, and cooking.

Office Administrators

Tammy Jess
Hospital Administrator

Tammy Jess

I am one of the farmer's daughters of this team. Growing up on a dairy farm in western Iowa I was surrounded by animals, and could often be found tagging around under the feet of the veterinarian. How funny that I ended up married to one!

A 1982 graduate of Iowa State University, I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Interior Design. I enjoyed my design career for several years until Dr. Jess and I purchased the Pekin Veterinary Clinic in 1990. At that time I began my second enjoyable career in management. Many classes and seminars later I have grown into this career as the clinic has grown. I now work as the Hospital Administrator managing our team of professionals, overseeing hiring and training, keeping tabs on the financials, assisting in the purchase of equipment and keeping our team up with the latest in continuing education and training.

Dr. Jess and I have three wonderful children that keep us busy with a multitude of activities. They have moved out of the "little kid" stage and into the “young adult” stage. We are enjoying fun watching them grow up and make their way in the world.

Our practice has been both challenging and fun over the years. One of the things I have enjoyed the most is the opportunity to get to know many of our wonderful clients and their pets. I have also enjoyed the challenge of designing and overseeing the building of Aboard the Ark in 1998, and the designing and renovation of the veterinary hospital in 2007. These projects provide me with the necessary "right brain" creative thinking I need to survive, combining my interior design expertise with my knowledge of veterinary medicine. The result is our beautiful facility designed to make us more efficient and able to practice better medicine for you and your pets.

I am looking forward to many more years serving you at Pekin Veterinary Clinic, even though I am a bit more isolated these days. Please say “hello” when you are here and feel free to ask for a "behind the scenes" tour - I am always happy to show you around!

Shelly Laux
Practice Manager

Shelly Laux

I’ve lived in Pekin all my life. I have two great kids of my own, and married Michael in 2009, and now we have five great kids combined. As for my animal family, we have four dogs, Toby, my wonderful lab, my collection of poodles, Jackson, Tucker and Buckley, and then there is Giles, who doesn't know he is a cat.  He can sit, shake paws and even roll over. I enjoy crocheting and taking care of flowers in my yard, but I spend most of my spare time taking care of my animals. There is always someone wanting to go for a walk if not all of them.

I have been with Dr. Jess and Tammy here at Pekin Veterinary Clinic since 1996. I have had many duties through the years: technician, inventory, ordering, scheduling and managing. From our great staff to our wonderful clients and our adorable patients I am very lucky to have a career that I can truly say I enjoy coming to work every day.

Technicians

Joy Hinrichsen
CVT

Joy Hinrichsen

Jennifer Dill
CVT

Jennifer Dill

I am a Certified Veterinary Technician. I graduated from Parkland College in 2007 with an Associate's degree in Veterinary Technology. Some of my veterinary interests include anesthesia, radiography and phlebotomy. I chose to become a technician because I have always had animals and felt compelled to help them.

I got married in August of 2010 to my high school sweetheart and we have a son named Brayden who keeps us on our toes. Our house is overrun by our three dogs, Rex, Rosco and Reese and our cats Dusty and Maverick. We also have our three horses, Copper, Derby and Faith as well as two goats. In my free time I am a volunteer firefighter/EMT and enjoy spending time with my family, horseback riding, and anything else outdoors.

Amanda Fogal
CVT

Amanda Fogal

I am a certified veterinary technician. I graduated from Parkland College in May 2010 with an Associate's in Veterinary Technology. I started working at Pekin Veterinary Clinic in August 2012. I chose to become a veterinary technician because growing up I have always had a love for helping and working with animals. I love seeing how helping someone's pet can not only change the pet's life but also the owner's. My pets include two American Quarter Horses named Scotty and Cash, a pony named Dorothy, and a cat named Vinny.

In May 2014 I married my husband and we have one son. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my family, barrel racing, canoeing, and many other outdoor activities.

Angela VonDerHeide
CVT

Angela VonDerHeide

I have lived in central Illinois most of my life and have always been around animals - I grew up with them and now I have my own in my home. Currently, I have a big orange cat named, "Jack," and a crazy small dog named, "Miss Pickles".

I was married in 2002 to Ben and I consider him one of my best friends.  We have two boys: watching them grow and change has become our favorite pastime. Our kids love and respect animals as much as we do. I also enjoy camping, playing games, watching TV, some sports, food, blue jeans, and chewing gum.

I started out as an art student in college at Illinois State University and worked drawing portraits for several years, but soon found myself in Vet Tech school. I graduated from Parkland College in 2006. I have been working as a Certified Veterinary Technician since then and love it. I truly enjoy educating our clients about their furry family member; it can greatly improve the relationship between the pets and their owners.

Danna Davis
CVT

Danna Davis

I am a certified veterinary technician.  I attended Parkland College and obtained my Associate’s Degree in Veterinary Technology in 2008.  I became a veterinary technician because of my love for animals.  My veterinary interest includes Emergency, Critical Care and Cardiology.  I was recently married in September of 2011.  We currently have only one furry friend in our household named Isabell. She is a gray and white long haired cat.  She is very playful and has a personality a mile wide.  Some things I enjoy during my spare time are biking, rock climbing, traveling, reading, ice skating and shopping.

Tracy Wehmeier
CVT

Tracy Wehmeier

I am a Certified Veterinary Technician and a 2007 Parkland graduate. I have been working in small animal medicine since 1999. My love and compassion for animals only intensified after getting my very own dog named Lucy at the age of 13. Some of my special interests within the field are anesthesia, surgery, and imaging. I find the advancements in Veterinary Medicine truly amazing and dedicate myself to educating and implementing changes that will help aid in the aging process of your loved one.

Some things I enjoy doing with my free time include reading, watching my nephews Jayden and Wesley grow as well as pet sitting for loved ones.

Two things that are very dear to my heart include Lyme disease awareness and Lung Cancer Research; including an annual Pool Tournament held locally in January.

The completion of our family consists of Scuttle Bug a 9 year old golden retriever. Who in 2006 was a Christmas gift from my husband. Also a spunky couch potato named Ruby Red who is 5 years of age.

Michaela Friedrickson
CVT

Michaela Friedrickson

I grew up in the small town of Carrollton, IL and went to Parkland College to achieve my dream of becoming a certified veterinary technician. I graduated in 2015 and then started working here soon after! I absolutely love working with the staff here. Some interests in the job are radiology, dentistry, and physical therapy. The best part of the job is watching owners come in with their adopted pets (young or old) and seeing them get attached so quickly to their new family member. During my free time I enjoy shopping, hiking, reading, playing games, and hanging out with friends and family.

Assistants

Gina Bickett
Veterinary Assistant/Exam Room Assistant/Receptionist

Gina Bickett

I am from Stark County and have lived there most of my life. It may be a very tiny town but it’s home.

I have been in the veterinary field for well over 10 years and I can’t picture my life without it. I have enjoyed having animals in my home and can’t picture never having some sort of 4 legged child in my family.

In my spare time I am normally running around with my son playing truck or finding bugs. We love to get dirty. He has taken after me in his love for animals already. Even SNAKES! EEKK. This makes me very proud he shares my interest in animals. I also enjoy reading and bowling in my spare time.

Kelly Pennell
Veterinary Assistant/Exam Room Assistant

Kelly Pennell

I've been in the veterinary field since 1982 with experience in all technical areas including emergency, clinical, and surgical. I enjoy making a difference in my patients' lives, and helping an ill animal become a healthy pet again. Watching pet owners (especially their kids) take their special pet back home is all the thanks I ever need.

You name it, I have had it as a pet: horses, dogs, cats, chinchillas, guinea pigs, and fish. My favorite ‘pets’ are my two sons, Ben and Sam, and my first grandkids, Trent and Olivia. I am active in my church, Richwoods Christian Church—Parkway Campus. I'm also a brown belt in karate and trained as a Military Police Specialist. Hoo-raa! Go, Army! If you cause trouble at my clinic, you'll run into me sooner or later...

My most current hobbies are Egyptology, archeology, backyard birding, and anything on Scyfy or History Channel. Yes, I am a geek and a nerd.

Lorin Heiser
Veterinary Assistant/Exam Room Assistant

Lorin Heiser

Hello! My name is Lorin, and I love what I do! I grew up in Bartonville, IL, and always knew I wanted to work with animals when I was older. Growing up, I had just about every small mammal, bird, and reptile you could have as a pet. I also grew up with two dogs that were very dear to me. I graduated from Eureka College with a degree in Psychology. From there, I completed an internship at Peoria Zoo, working in animal care. Peoria Zoo hired me and I was a zookeeper working with primates, reptiles, and amphibians for a short time. I have since worked at two other veterinary clinics before coming to Pekin Veterinary Clinic in 2014. I currently have two dogs, an English Bulldog and Otterhound mix, and a guinea pig. I love to educate clients on the health of their beloved pets, and puppies! I love puppies! My plans for the future include going back to school and one day attending veterinary school.

Tracy Chasteen
Veterinary Assistant/Exam Room Assistant

Tracy Chasteen

I started working at Pekin Veterinary Clinic in November of 2010, but have been in the veterinary field since 1990. I grew up in Marquette Heights and now live in Pekin with my husband, Shannon, and my daughter, Brooke. We also share our home with three dogs and two cats. I have had a love for animals as long as I can remember and enjoy working with them every day. I love being able to help owners keep their pets healthy and happy. I have fostered and bottle fed too many puppies and kittens to count and enjoy watching a new pet go to a great home. In my spare time I enjoy camping, spending time with my daughter, as well as reading, gardening and doing counted cross stitch.

Val Zuercher
Veterinary Assistant

Val Zuercher

I started work as kennel attendant in 1972 here at Pekin Veterinary Clinic. Throughout the years I have worked at different local area vet clinics and landed back at PVC to work again as veterinary assistant.

My hobbies include bicycling and walking in Pekin’s parks. I enjoy fishing and the outdoors.

My personal pets right now are a 12-year-old budgie named “Pete” and his younger brother, 3-year-old “Jimmy.” I have always enjoyed veterinary medicine and love being back to work at PVC, where it all began for me.

Receptionists

Diane Chamberlin
Receptionist

Diane Chamberlin

I have been involved in the veterinary industry my entire life. Dr. Jess and Tammy are my parents and, as a result, I spent a good portion of my childhood at the office. I started working at Aboard the Ark when I was 14 and continued working regularly until I went to college. Even then, I came back home and worked at the Ark over the summer and during holiday breaks. I stepped away from PVC for a few years while pursuing my graduate degree and working as a therapist; however, I just couldn’t stay away. I am now working as a receptionist and exam room assistant, and I truly enjoy what I do!

My husband Tommy and I recently moved back to Pekin, and have three furry children. Martin, our oldest kitty, is a sweet cuddle bug, who spent hours helping me study during graduate school. Pepper is our youngest kitty. She is a spunky, tiny tabby who loves to play. Our newest family member is Finn, a 6 month old English Shepherd puppy who is very smart and loves attention. They keep us very busy when we’re not working, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Emily Turner
Receptionist

Emily Turner

I have been working as a receptionist at Pekin Veterinary Clinic for about a year and I cannot believe how much fun I still have every day. I grew up in Central Illinois; after graduating high school, I moved the Colorado and then to Oregon. My husband and I moved back to Pekin so our two boys, Cole who is 7 and David who is 4, can be close to their grandparents. We have two guinea pigs, Sir Lancelot and Felix Felicis, that are deeply love (and spoiled) by our entire family. I am currently attending the University of Illinois Springfield online to get my Bachelor's Degree in English with a concentration in Secondary Education, so in a few short years, I may have a hand at teaching some of your children. Until then, I am very grateful that I have been lucky enough to find a family here in the clients, patients, and coworkers at Pekin Veterinary Clinic. 

Ellen Slack
Receptionist

Ellen Slack

I have worked as a receptionist at Pekin Veterinary Clinic for 19 years. I grew up in Peoria and later married and moved to the Manito area. We have 4 children and 12 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren. We are very proud of them. My hobbies are gardening, kayaking, and boating with our grandchildren. We have 2 dogs- "Humphrey" a Sharpei mix and "Jack" a Lab. I enjoy working at the clinic with our staff, our clients, and my favorite - our patients.

Stacia Munge
Receptionist

Stacia Munge

I've been with Pekin Veterinary Clinic for a little over a year now, and still love working with the customers and their furry kids that come through the door every day. Ever since I was young, I've been fascinated with all types of animals, from ferrets and rats to dogs and cats, and I brought home any I could! Currently, I own a very energetic Jack Russell/Chihuahua named Boyd Tinsley, who constantly keeps me on my toes! When not at work, I spend many of my evenings at the bowling alley, or catching up on my favorite TV shows. I also enjoy spending time with my family and friends, listening to music, and going to concerts. I'm so glad and grateful for the opportunity that's been given to me here at Pekin Veterinary Clinic. Seeing team members and customers that love and care about their animals as much as I do is a wonderful feeling that I look forward to every day!

Larissa Lopez
Receptionist

Larissa Lopez

I started working for Pekin Veterinary Clinic in March of 2015. I have grown up in the Pekin area all my life. I graduated from Pekin High School in 2006. I now live in Manito.

In my free time, I like to play games with friends and family, go to concerts, & make people laugh. I am a very outdoorsy person. I love going on hikes, discing, or just being outside in general. I grew up playing all kinds of sports, my favorites being basketball and softball. In fact, I attended Georgetown Middle School where I was the only girl on the guy’s basketball team. I have always been a competitive person. My one true passion is shooting pool. I have been to Vegas on multiple occasions, most recently taking 3rd place. I am also an Illinois state champion. I have always enjoyed working & interacting with animals.

At home I have two dogs & three cats. Penny Lane is my 5 year old Pitbull. Olive is my 2 year old Greyhound mix. My cats are Jerry, 10 years old, Jack, 7 years old, and Jimmy, who is 6 years old.

I love my coworkers, our clients, and our patients. There is not a better feeling than seeing the love people have for their 4 legged furry babies.

  • They got my dog in right away when I called. Everyone is courteous and seem to genuinely love animals. Took good care of my dog and kept me informed.

    —Bruce Green

  • Doctors and staff are always kind and extremely efficient. Our pet loves going there which says a lot for their care.

    —Lori Bennett

  • Very professional, wonderful treatment!! I would recommend this facility to anyone who loves their pets

    —Lora King

  • Everytime I come here for any treatment they ALWAYS treat us like family. They show a deep concern for the pet and the owner. I tell everybody I know to bring their pets here!!! Thanks!!

    —Dawn Wade

  • "Best place I've ever been to! Everyone was extremely nice and helpful, I couldn't have asked for better!"

    —Tiffany Larson

  • "I'm always very happy with my interactions with the staff and doctors at Pekin Veterinay Clinic. I feel as though my concerns are addressed, and that the staff really cares about me and about my furbabies."

    —Sylvia Shults

  • "You can tell the Vet loves the animals. She got on the floor and played with the puppy and put her at ease. I thought that was very sweet!!"

    —Sheri Jones

  • "Great service. My dog was in need of care due to her condition and I was able to take her over right away and they worker her in. This is the kind of care and reaction I need for my dogs, and I received it."

    —Jacque Hess

  • "I have referred them to all my friends and family. They are great. There willing to work with you and are also fantastic with my dogs."

    —Diane Canizzo

  • "Wonderful as always! The people are always so nice and friendly. I feel our pet gets quality health care here."

    —Maribeth Kilbride

  • "You’re all the kind of people that make the world a better place for critters of all kinds."

    —Pekin family members Jody, Ed, Alyssia, Jake, Sweet Pea, Pippy, Simba, Cuddles, and Kera.