Meet Our Avian & Exotic Veterinarians & Staff
Our team in Grapevine is a group of people whose veterinary medicine is fueled by a love of animals. We have extensive experience in exotic animal care and we thoroughly enjoy the diversity and complexity of these amazing animals. You can meet our team of exotic veterinarians and support staff below, but we’d love to see you! Give us a call to schedule an appointment and meet us in person!
Our Avian & Exotic Veterinarians
Dr. Lauren Thielen, Diplomate ABVP (Avian Practice)
Dr. Lauren Thielen graduated from Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine in 2013. From there, she completed an internship at Broward Avian and Exotic Animal Hospital in Florida and then a 2-year avian residency at the Veterinary Center for Birds & Exotics in New York. After finishing her residency, Dr. Thielen returned to Broward Avian and Exotic Animal Hospital to practice full-time, then moved to Texas for a new career with Texas Avian & Exotics Hospital. Dr. Thielen became a Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners in avian practice in 2020.
She is the marketing committee co-chair for the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians. Additionally, she is an adjunct professor at University of Miami Avian and Wildlife Laboratory, providing case consultations to veterinarians around the nation. Dr. Thielen is also featured on the television shows "Dr. K’s Exotic Animal ER" and "Dr. T, Lone Star Vet" (her own show!) on NatGeo WILD, which is her platform for educating people all over the world about exotic animal care.
In her free time, she enjoys training jiu-jitsu, hiking, and traveling. She also loves spending time with her pets: cats Theo and Kit-10, rabbits Benjamin and Livvy, and bronze wing Pionous parrot, Evie.
Dr. Sharman Hoppes, Diplomate ABVP (Avian Practice)
Dr. Sharman Hoppes is a Clinical Professor in the zoological medicine service at Texas A&M University (TAMU). Dr. Hoppes earned her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Oklahoma State University in 1993. Prior to that, she worked as a registered nurse for 10 years caring for human patients. She completed an avian medicine and surgery residency in 1999 at North Carolina State University and became a Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners in avian practice in 2000.
She is a past-President (2012-2013) of the Association of Avian Veterinarians and is also an active member of the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians, the Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians and the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior. Dr. Hoppes joined TAMU in 2006 and her research interests include avian analgesia, avian behavior and enrichment and Avian Bornavirus in parrots through her work at the Schubot Exotic Bird Health Center.
Dr. Sydney Jones
Dr. Jones graduated from Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2020. While in vet school, she gained experience in multiple areas of exotic animal medicine while working with the Texas A&M Small Animal Hospital Zoological Service, the Houston Zoo, the San Antonio Zoo, Tufts Wildlife Center, and Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. She also completed two externships at exotic animal veterinary practices including our own Texas Avian and Exotic Hospital. She traveled to Peru on a study abroad program during vet school to work with macaws in the amazon rainforest alongside Dr. Hoppes, and did a two month veterinary internship at a wildlife sanctuary in Costa Rica. Following veterinary school, she completed a 1 year small animal internship at Neel Veterinary Hospital, a 24 hour emergency hospital in Oklahoma City.
Dr. Jones enjoys working with all exotic species but has a special interest in birds (of all types!). In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, traveling, reading, and spending time with her family in Houston along with her pets (lab mix, Pixie; two cats, Toad and Charlie Boy; and Black-headed Caique, Little Foot).
Dr. Katie Dowling
Dr. Katie Dowling graduated from The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2019. As a veterinary student, she worked with the Nashville Zoo, Vancouver Aquarium, Toledo Zoo, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, and the Wildlife Center of Virginia to gain more experience working with exotic species. After veterinary school, Dr. Dowling completed a Small Animal Medicine and Surgery Internship at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine, prior to starting an internship position with Texas Avian & Exotic Hospital. After finishing her internships, Dr. Dowling has started a residency with us in preparation to becoming a Board Certified Specialist in Exotic Companion Mammals.
When working with exotic species, Dr. Dowling has interests in population medicine, preventative medicine, and nutrition. In her free time, Dr. Dowling enjoys hiking, trivia night, baking, and spending time with her cat, Captain.
Dr. Natalie Antinoff, Diplomate ABVP (Avian Practice)
Dr. Antinoff obtained her DVM from the University of Wisconsin in 1992 and continued on to do an internship in small animal medicine and surgery, followed by a residency in avian and exotic pet medicine and surgery. Following ABVP board certification in 1997, she established the first specialty exotics practice operating as part of a referral center in the country. She has authored chapters and articles in veterinary texts and journals, and has spoken locally, nationally, and internationally to veterinarians and pet owners. She served as a consultant for online veterinary groups, providing interactive information to veterinarians nationwide, and has served on the editorial boards of several veterinary journals. She has also mentored over 25 veterinary interns in exotic pet medicine.
In her spare time, Dr. Antinoff enjoys travel, rollerblading, and bicycling, often combining all of these in a trip! She also loves spending time at home with her pets – Mojo, a terrier mix; Louie, a Miniature Dachshund, and Kaiya, a Great Dane; Zephyr and Zuzu, two cats; and Gracie, the African grey and Big, the macaw.
Our Veterinary Staff
Shelby, Licensed Veterinary Technician, Technical Director
Shelby’s passion for animals was instilled in her at a very young age. Her toddler years pretending to be Mowgli led to a bachelor's degree in animal sciences, graduating from the veterinary technology program of Texas A&M University-Kingsville. Although her passion for animals was evident, her exotic animal interests peaked after her externship at the Birmingham Zoo. Upon graduating in 2016, she dove deeper into exotic medicine as a licensed veterinary technician at Texas A&M University’s Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital in the zoological medicine service.
Outside of work, Shelby competes in bodybuilding, enjoys time with her family, and loves to eat. She is married to her husband, Rashad, and they share a home with six loving pets; three dogs, Cheyenne, Koda, Leah, and three cats, Charles, Binx, and Briar also known as “Kitty.”
Tonya, Senior Technician
Tonya grew up in Dallas where she loved animals from a young age, from playing with goats at her grandparents' farm to the small mammals, reptiles, cats, and dogs she had as a child. She comes to us with 14 years of experience and six years being at an emergency hospital. Tonya is also a licensed wildlife rehabilitator with a love for helping birds. Outside of work she likes going paddle boarding and hiking when it is cool enough. She has three dogs, three cats, and a ferret of her own.
Nikki, Certified Veterinary Technician
Nikki has been a veterinary technician for over 21 years. Nikki knew she wanted to be a technician when she was pregnant with her oldest son and read an article about this line of work. She became certified in veterinary technology and specifically studied and trained in reptile husbandry and medicine while pursuing her bachelor's degree in criminal justice. She has owned and worked with exotics for most of her adult life. Nikki has worked in the zoological field for almost 10 years and hand-reared primates, otters, and little blue penguins. Nikki owns horses, mini cows, hedgehogs, sugar gliders, a sulcata, a terrapin, salamanders, and dogs. Nikki enjoys spending time with her husband and two boys and riding horses.
Aubry, Licensed Veterinary Tech
Aubry’s love for animals is rooted in a childhood spent on a small ranch in Dime Box, Texas. At an early age she had a passion for nature and science. Aubry found her place in the veterinary medicine field in 2013, after she got her first dog. She completed her Associate’s degree in Veterinary Technology at Cedar Valley College in 2019, and later went on to become a Licensed Veterinary Technician. Aubry came to us with six years of experience working with exotic pets.
Today, her passion for science and love for animals inspire her growth as an LVT. She spends her free time caring for her two small dogs, Tucker and Petunia, her cat Matilda, and her Green Cheek Conure, Huey.
Meredith, Registered Veterinary Technician
From a very early age, Meredith knew she had a passion for helping those who could not speak for themselves. She was born and raised in Southern California and grew up with dogs, cats, small mammals, and exotics. Her love of animals and veterinary medicine led her to pursue a bachelor's degree in animal science and later on, an associate degree in veterinary technology. Throughout her 12 years as a veterinary technician, she has worked with small animals and exotics, including in the zoo field. She just recently moved to Texas to continue to dedicate herself to the care of exotics.
In her free time, she enjoys outdoor activities, reading, painting, and playing piano. She also loves spending time with her two cats, desert tortoise, and yellow-headed amazon bird.
Jacob, Veterinary Technician
Jacob grew up here in Dallas with multiple pet bearded dragons and an interest in reptile wildlife. After graduating high school a year early, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and served four years, being stationed in Japan, Guam, and North Carolina, respectively. With his enlistment over, he realized a career without animals is no career at all, so he broke into the veterinary field as soon as possible. He has since worked in wildlife rehabilitation, a dog and cat day practice, and is now with our family here! Outside of work, Jacob enjoys playing music, cooking, and taking care of his pets. He currently has his childhood bearded dragon, Falaffel, his cat, Kara, and snakes, Kuni and Mr. Banana.
Ashley, Hospital Manager
Ashley has always had an interest in animals from a young age. She has an Associates degree in Applied Sciences for equine production & management. After college she worked on a variety of ranches before switching to working & training dogs. She is currently enrolled to become a Certified Veterinary Practice Manager (CVPM).
When away from the hospital, Ashley enjoys spending time with her husband & son. She also travels to compete in dog shows with her Beaucerons, Atlas & Laveau.
Brittney, Customer Service Coordinator
Brittney has always had a passion for animals starting at a very young age. In high school, she would house-sit a variety of pets with her focus being horses, and she also volunteered at a wildlife rehabilitation center whenever she could. She comes with experience in equine medicine and worked as a receptionist for the Montgomery County Animal Shelter for four years before pursuing a career in exotics here at Texas Avian. In her spare time, Brittney enjoys going on adventures with her dog, Daisy, and playing video games.
Megan grew up in a military family and has moved around the country for the majority of her life. Most recently she moved to Texas from Colorado Springs, Colorado to be closer to her parents. Her passion for animals led her to work in veterinary hospitals and boarding facilities for dogs and cats. She also has experience as a pet sitter and dog walker. While eager to learn from her co-workers about exotics, she is also looking forward to connecting with clients who share her love for animals.
In her spare time, you can find Megan hanging out with her two dogs. A Catahoula Leopard Dog named Aspen and an Australian Shepherd named Hayden. She also likes to read fantasy, play video games, draw, and go out for food.
Sara grew up nestled in the Piney Woods of East Texas and recently moved to the Dallas metroplex area for more opportunities. She has an associates degree in general studies and is working on pursuing her education. She loves the arts and being around animals is her “happy place”. She spends most of her time off with her Persian cat, Chai, and loves to be creatively active in everything she does.