Meet our Staff

Meet Our Veterinarians and Care Team at Mills River Animal Clinic.

We’re pleased to provide exceptional vet care for your pets.


Please contact us at (828) 891-9685 to speak to one of our Veterinary staff members or use our online form to Make an Appointment.

Dr. Jennie Hernandez


I have been a resident of Mills River for over 36 years. I graduated from Auburn University School of Veterinary Medicine in 1984 and have been practicing small animal medicine and surgery ever since.

I married Michael, also a veterinarian, while we were in veterinary school. He is a large animal veterinarian and his family has lived here for generations. That is why we chose to come to this area and open Mills River Animal Clinic in 1985.

We have 3 grown sons and 6 grandchildren to date. We are blessed to have them all living in the area.

Recently I decided to step back a little and we sold the small animal clinic to two exceptional veterinarians. They also acquired Fletcher Animal Hospital making us "sister practices" in order to serve this area.

I am still working here at Mills River Animal Clinic but as a veterinary associate. This allows me to just enjoy being a veterinarian without the stress and long hours of running a business.

Michael is still practicing large animal medicine, doing farm calls as usual.

I enjoy gardening - we can lots of vegetables and soup every year. I also enjoy crafts - especially making jewelry and cooking. Some of you may have sampled my jams and jellies.

Dr. Jami Van Hemel




Dr. Michelle Foote


Doctor Michelle Foote spent her childhood exploring the woods and waterways of coastal Florida with her older brother, sister, and parents. She developed a strong interest in science and a love of animals from an early age. She started her career as a veterinary nurse which eventually led to her dream of becoming a veterinarian. 

After graduating with honors from the University of Central Florida, with her Biology degree, she went on to pursue her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine. She graduated summa cum laude and was inducted into Phi Zeta, the national honor society of Veterinarians. While in veterinary school, Dr. Foote helped to begin a therapy program for a local Veterans Hospital. The veterinary students certified several dogs, cats, and even a rabbit to visit the hospital and provide the patients with a furry friend to provide comfort, affection, or just a cuddle. Doctor Foote was accepted into a rotating internship program at Mississippi State University which provided further training in internal medicine, critical care, and surgery. She has also been published in the AJVR (American Journal of Veterinary Research) for her work with transfusion medicine.

Doctor Foote’s special interests include emergency medicine, internal medicine, and ultrasonography. She enjoys spending time with her patients and their owners and making those long term connections with clients and patients which, she believes, is the heartbeat of veterinary medicine.

When not taking care of her patients, Doctor Foote enjoys learning to play tennis, cooking, and ballroom dancing with her husband, Eric. She has three furry family members: Rebel, a terrier mix; Munchkin a brown tabby; and Clive a silver tabby. All rescues and all special needs.

Dr. Lisa Elgerd


As a lifelong resident of Florida, I made the decision in 2021 to fulfill a long-term dream and move to the mountains. After graduating from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in 1988, I worked in private practice in Jacksonville, Florida for 13 years and then in Gainesville, Florida for 21 years. Now, I have joined the wonderful staff at Mills River Animal Clinic.

"My special interests revolve around Internal Medicine, Preventative Care, and respecting and strengthening the human-animal bond between ourselves and our four-legged family members.

When not spending time in this occupation that I love, you will find me, more often than not, hiking the trails in the mountains around Asheville, or spending hours in the kitchen cooking, with an emphasis towards exploring new Vegan recipes. I share my home with my two rescued boys; Cliff, a Boxer mix, and Snert, a Lab-Bulldog mix."

Vanessa Lopez


Caroline Klapper

Registered Veterinary Technician

Chelsea Shaw

Veterinary Assistant

Faith Morgan

Veterinary Assistant

Elaine Hauss

Client Service Representative

Anna Herrman

Client Service Representative

My name is Anna Herrman and I was born and raised in Ames, Iowa. For as long as I can remember animals have been my passion. Over the past 10 years I have been working in a variety of animal professions, including Dog Boarding and Grooming, Horseback Trail Guide, Sow Farm Technician, Dog Training, and Veterinary Medicine.

My previous jobs have taken me to several states over the years and I’ve finally settled down in North Carolina! In my down time I enjoy exploring local parks and hiking trails with my yellow lab, Riggs."

Stephanie Rhodes

Manager/Registered Veterinary Technician

Stephanie earned her license from AB Tech in 2010, but has been in the veterinary world since 2008. When she is not spending time caring for pets,or teaching others about veterinary medicine, you can catch her outdoors with her partner Justin and her dog ReginaFay.

care credit

We Now Accept CareCredit

We are now accepting CareCredit to help your pet's get the care they need.

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We Now Accept Scratchpay

We are now accepting Scratchpay to help your pet's get the care they need.

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