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Our Team

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Veterinarians

Rick Garcia

Dr. Rick Garcia, BS, BVSc, MRCVS
Lead Surgeon and Hospital Director

Dr. Rick Garcia, BS, BVSc, MRCVS,  our Lead Surgeon and Hospital Director has been providing veterinary surgical services for over 20 years in the greater Los Angeles area.  He graduated from the Royal Academy of Veterinary Surgeons in London, England. Prior to moving back to the US, Dr. Garcia worked in a private practice with great mentorship and support to gain expertise in veterinary surgery. He has completed hundreds of advanced procedures, and developed advanced skills including the Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO), Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA.) and Advanced Locking Plate System (KYON ALPS).

Dr. Garcia and his supportive wife have 4 small children, 4 pups, 16 chickens, many snakes, lizards, and a tortoise. If Dr. Garcia isn't practicing his life long passion performing surgery, then you'll find him with his family, cheering on one of his kids at one of their activities.

Crystal Gerards

Dr. Crystal Gerards, BVSc, BVMS
Director of Preventative Medicine

Dr. Gerards, our Director of Preventative Medicine, is a Ventura County local with a love for travel, running, and swimming. She comes to us with over a decade of experience as a small animal veterinarian. She has lived and practiced veterinary medicine in many places, including Northern California and Perth, Australia. She has traveled to Europe, Asia, Africa, Canada, Alaska, and New Zealand. She has a Dutch husband, 2 young boys, 5 Fur-babies, and a tortoise!

Dr. Gerards loves taking care of people and their beloved pets. She has a special interest in internal medicine cases, soft tissue surgeries, dentistry, and dermatology. She has also completed speciality training in Abdominal and Cardiac Ultrasound (Echocardiography).

She can’t wait to meet you and your furry friends.

Heather K. Mineo

Dr. Heather K. Mineo, DVM, DACVECC
Director of Emergency & Critical Care

Bio coming soon!

Aubrey Malott

Dr. Aubrey Malott, DVM
Preventive Medicine

Dr. Aubrey Malott grew up on a farm in a rural village near Cincinnati, Ohio. It was there that she found her love for animals and veterinary medicine. She graduated from Wilmington College where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Biology. Dr. Malott then moved north to receive her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine at The Ohio State University. After making close friends in vet school that were from the west coast, Dr. Malott decided to pack up her things and travel back with them to California. She has not regretted her decision to come enjoy the California sunshine! Dr. Malott’s special interests include feline medicine and welfare, internal medicine, geriatric medicine and big cat conservation. In her free time, Dr. Malott enjoys hiking in national parks, gardening, making pottery, and spending time with her cat, Goose.

Julia Cohen

Dr. Julia Cohen, DVM
Preventative Medicine

Dr. Julia Cohen knew she wanted to be a veterinarian since she was four years old, largely influenced by the numerous farm animals and stray cats and dogs she used to play with during her childhood summers spent with her family in Moldova. Dr. Cohen grew up mostly in the Conejo Valley before leaving to attend the University of California, Davis, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Biology, followed by her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine. She always knew she wanted to return to the Conejo Valley, and she is thrilled to serve you and your pets here at Western Veterinary Center! Dr. Cohen is passionate about holistic and preventative care, and strives to ensure the best possible health and happiness for our beloved pets. She adores all animals, but has a soft spot for cats and feline medicine.

Dr. Cohen is bilingual, speaking English and Russian fluently, and hopes to use this to serve even more members of the community. Outside of the hospital, Dr. Cohen enjoys traveling, learning languages, swing dancing, listening to live music, fostering kittens, and training and playing with her cats, Mishka and Twilight.

Sarah Alwen

Dr. Sarah Alwen, DVM
Emergency Medicine

Dr Alwen started her career as a conservation mammalogist conducting research on African Wild Dogs in South Africa for several years. Her research focused on progeny outcomes based on social hierarchies. In 2012 she attended UC Davis and subsequently completed a rotating internship with a heavy Emergency and Critical Care focus at a busy specialty veterinary hospital in Los Angeles, CA. She can currently be found at Western Veterinary Center on Mondays. Which adds to her weekly service at several trauma tier I (highest tier of critical cases) specialty vet hospitals across L.A. Here at Western, she is able to practice high quality ER medicine with some of the best veterinary specialists in the field. This truly is one of the most challenging and fulfilling jobs in the world!

Priya Thakkar

Dr. Priya Thakkar, DVM
Emergency Medicine

Dr. Priya Thakkar graduated from Michigan State University in 2011 after completing her undergraduate degrees in Animal Science with a minor in Chemistry from CalPoly Pomona. Upon her graduation from Michigan State University, she participated in a one-year rotating internship at the Animal Specialty Group. Since 2012, she’s worked exclusively in the ER, and specializes in emergency medicine.

Dr. Priya Thakkar lives with her husband, young daughter, and her two rescue pups. When not saving lives, she enjoys traveling, yoga, hiking, and spending time with her family.