at West Gippsland Vet Care
Meet the Team at West Gippsland Vet Care
The team at West Gippsland Vet Care represent many years of combined skill and excellence in their fields. Our veterinary staff is made up of eleven vets, whose experience in mixed practice makes them an invaluable asset to the Gippsland community.
Our veterinarians collectively represent more than 100 years of experience, dedication, and passion within the industry. Our vets epitomise excellence and are dedicated to providing the very best in animal care in a variety of spheres – ranging from ruminant animals to small family pets. With a strong focus on continuing education and study, our vets strive to bring the latest in veterinary science to our practices.
Our fourteen support staff, vet nurses and administrators, are the beating heart of West Gippsland Vet Care. Our team is made up of people truly passionate about the welfare and health of animals, represented by our strong focus on making appointments stress-free for people and animals alike. Our goal is to have the majority of our staff “Fear Free” accredited across both practices.
At West Gippsland, our team of hardworking and passionate people truly believe in providing the best in veterinary care – from general appointments and checks, to surgery, to post-op care. You can be assured that our dedicated staff of animal lovers will care for your pets and animals with kindness, sincerity, and excellence.
Dr. Grant Nielsen
Partner, Veterinarian BVSc(Hons) MACVSc(Nutrition)
Grant grew up on a beef and sheep property near Guyra in northern New South Wales. After graduating with honours in Veterinary Science from Sydney University in 1994 he commenced working at West Gippsland Vet Care. Since then Grant has gained extensive experience in all aspects of mixed practice.
Grant has developed a strong interest in ruminant nutrition and in 2001 became a member of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Surgeons in Ruminant Nutrition. Other areas of interest include bovine surgery, reproduction and mastitis. Grant has gained extensive experience in ultrasound and manual pregnancy testing in cattle. He is export accredited for cattle and is a trained countdown adviser for mastitis investigations.
Grant lives in Warragul with his wife Sophie and their two boys Jeremy and Sam. He enjoys keeping fit and does the occasional triathlon.
Dr. Benton Smith
Partner, Veterinarian BVSc MACVSc(Surgery)
Ben graduated from the University of Queensland in 1996. After 2 years of practice in sunny Queensland, he ventured south to ‘Mexico’. After stints at Leongatha and Moe, along with three working holidays to the United Kingdom, he joined West Gippsland Vet Care.
In 2002 he undertook a 12 month Small Animal Surgery Internship at the Animal Surgery Centre during which he attained his Membership to the Small Animal Surgery Chapter from the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists.
He is AQIS accredited for the export of dogs and cats and in 2006 achieved his accreditation for the PennHIP program for the prevention of canine hip dysplasia. His areas of interest include orthopaedic and soft tissue surgery and canine reproduction.
He lives just outside Warragul with his wife Stephanie and his two children Noah and Ella, dogs Gus & Ruby and cat Sunny (not to mention the horse, chooks, cows etc, etc!) in his spare time he enjoys riding his pushie, swimming, golf and working on the farm.
Dr. Simon Ronalds
Partner, Veterinarian BVSc
Simon has grown up in the local area, with his family heavily involved within the beef industry. He has always loved cattle and had a fascination with science and medicine. Simon is also a “people person” so becoming a veterinarian has allowed him to indulge those interests and skills on a daily basis.
Simon loves the diversity of being a mixed practice vet and that after many years practicing there are always interesting cases and opportunities to learn.
Simon’s main interests lies in cattle medicine, surgery and herd health. He is AACV pregnancy test accredited, Countdown Downunder accredited advisor (mastitis investigations) and has completed his certificate in gross pathology (field postmortems). Simon also enjoys his occasional times in the clinic caring for the smaller members of your family.
Simon lives in Drouin with his wife, Carla – a local paramedic, and their three children Lachlan, Charlotte and Hamish who all adore their old Kelpie x Collie, Hunter.
Dr. Christopher Thorne
Partner, Veterinarian BVSc(Hons) MANZCVSc(Surgery)
Chris has always loved science and knew he wanted a career with a biological science base in a rural area. After spending time on a South Gippsland dairy farm as a teenager he realised he also liked the idea of working with animals so veterinary science was a perfect fit.
Chris graduated from Melbourne University in 2000, he worked in various vet practices in Victoria and the UK including emergency clinics before joining West Gippsland Vet Care in 2014. Chris has completed his Membership in Small Animal Surgery and is also a certified PennHIP member. He became a partner in WGVC in 2019.
Chris enjoys the challenge of problem-solving interesting cases and enjoys communicating with and educating our clients.
Chris and his wife Natalie have three children, Olivia, Archer and Jim. They have a Fox Terrier called Pi and 6 chickens.
Dr. Christine Vanschyndel
Chris grew up in Mirboo North and graduated from the University of Melbourne in 1996. She initially worked in small animal and equine practice for 4 years. She then spent 8 years doing shift work in 24 hour animal emergency clinics in Melbourne. During this time she developed a passion for small animal emergency and critical care medicine. She completed a distance education course in small animal anaesthesia and emergency medicine in 2000.
Chris joined West Gippsland Vet Care in 2008, initially working Saturday mornings only. She has recently increased her work load to half-time. Her main area of interest remains small animal emergency and critical care.
The remainder of Chris’ time is spent looking after her three children Harry, Téa and Nina with her husband Ward at their property in Ellinbank. She enjoys travelling, hiking and camping.
Dr. Sophie Neilson
Veterinarian BVSc MANZCVS (Animal Behaviour)
Sophie graduated from Sydney University in 1994 and has worked in mixed and small animal practice in Australia and England.
In 2012 Sophie became a member of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists in Behavioural Medicine and can help clients and their pets with Behavioural Assessment consultations.
In addition to behaviour consultations Sophie runs Puppy Pre-School classes each week. With her behaviour training this is an opportunity Sophie enjoys, guiding clients and their pups at this important life stage.
Sophie has 2 boys Jeremy and Sam and a very busy Border Terrier ‘Hairy’.
Dr. Megan Thomas
Veterinarian BVSc(Hons) MACVSc(Medicine)
Meg graduated from the University of Melbourne in 2000 and first joined the practice in January 2001. She worked for the clinic as a large and small animal vet for three years before heading off to travel.
In 2004 Meg spent a year traveling around Australia and working as a locum in predominantly small animal practices in various parts of the country. Then in 2005 she worked in a small animal practice in Birmingham, England, before traveling through Europe for 3 months. After her 2 years of travel, Meg returned to Warragul to rejoin the practice.
Meg’s interests lie in small animal medicine and more recently she has been working predominantly in the clinic with the small animals. In 2003 she completed a distance education course in Dermatology through the University of Sydney. In 2008 she became a member of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists in Small Animal Internal Medicine. In 2011 she completed another distance education course, this time in small animal emergency medicine and critical care.
Meg is currently studying for a PhD at the University of Melbourne. Her project, under the supervision of Professor Chris Whitton, is an investigation into joint disease in horses. She continues to work one day a week in the practice and can usually be found at the Drouin clinic.
In her spare time Meg enjoys running, reading and scuba diving. She has two cats of her own – tabby-cats called Lexi and Rupert. She still loves to travel and would like to see as much of the world as possible.
Dr. Stuart Cocking
Stu grew up on a dairy and beef farm on the northern fringe of Melbourne. He graduated from The University of Melbourne in 2007 and headed straight into dairy/mixed practice in South Gippsland. After two and a half years it was time to head off travelling. He headed to the UK and worked many locum stints in a variety of dairy and small animal vet roles, in between his travels.
Upon his return home, Stu was drawn back to Gippsland, where he spent 12 months running a small animal clinic before joining West Gippsland Vet Care in July 2014. He enjoys the all-rounder role of mixed practice.
When he is not working Stu tries to get home to the farm on a regular basis. He also likes to hit the mountains for some snowboarding in winter and the beach for a bit of fishing and diving in summer.
Stu lives in Warragul with his wife Laura and their German Short Haired Pointer, Shirley.
Dr. Loreena Butcher
Veterinarian BVSc BSc(VET)
Loreena grew up surrounded by animals, she had a natural affinity with them and knew from an early age that she wanted a career working with animals. Combining that passion with the challenge of medicine and surgery was a perfect fit for her.
Loreena loves the variety, challenge and continued learning opportunities of mixed veterinary medicine and enjoys getting out and about to farms in the beautiful Gippsland countryside.
Having experienced the stress and upset of a loved fur family member being unwell, Loreena cherishes the opportunity her job allows in easing that distress for other owners.
In her spare time Loreena enjoys surfing, stand up paddle boarding and anything involving water. She likes to get out hiking and to the gym and loves to travel (especially if it’s to somewhere tropical!).
Dr. Helen Mason
Veterinarian BVMS BSc(VET)
Helen joined our team in 2017 after working as a mixed practice vet in New Zealand. She loves animals and is passionate about owner education.
Helen enjoys meeting new clients and developing a relationship to provide the best care for their pets and farm animals. She also enjoys the chance to travel around the beautiful West Gippsland area when she visits farms.
Helen lives with her partner Mark and energetic Kelpie x Weimaraner, Juliette. She loves keeping active outdoors with hobbies such as surfing, mountain bike riding & hiking.
Dr. Michelle Hunt
Veterinarian BSc BVSc
Michelle grew up in South Gippsland and regularly spent time on her Uncle’s farm where she gained a love of animals. She particularly liked Science and problem solving at school and so a career as a veterinarian was a natural fit.
Michelle graduated from the University of Melbourne in 1996 and worked in several clinics in south east Melbourne before joining our team in 2018. She enjoys being part of a team, collaborating with pet owners and the other staff to get the best health outcomes for our pets.
Michelle lives with her partner Warren, two cheeky dogs and two horses who are more like dogs and would happily come indoors too given half a chance! In her spare time she looks forward to bushwalking and catching up with friends over a good meal.
Our Support Staff
Steph has always had a great love of animals and began working in the Veterinary world when still at school. She has many years of experience working as a Vet Nurse locally and in the U.K.
Steph joined the WGVC team in 2005 and she is passionate about ensuring our patients and clients have the best experience we can offer them. She loves supporting our team to achieve our company goals of being the leading Veterinary Care provider in Gippsland.
Steph and her family have a Burmese cat called Sunny and three Miniature Schnauzers Gus, Ruby & Lexi.
In her spare time Steph enjoys spending time with her family, catching up with friends, breeding Miniature Schnauzers, reading and gardening.
Jenny grew up on a family dairy farm at Jindivick, helping in all areas over the years. She has been with WGVC since 2000 when it was still called Robertson and Brady Vet Clinic. She kind of fell into the role but with her experience as a dairy farmer and love for ALL animals (except perhaps snakes!) it was a good fit.
Jenny enjoys the variety of the job and meeting and helping our clients and patients. She loves being able to answer client questions and give great advice.
Jenny now lives in Trafalgar. She has a Jack Russell Terrier named Honey who is 9 years old and a good watch dog and Roger a ginger male cat, who has personally plus. Honey and Roger were both adopted from WGVC.
In her spare time Jenny enjoys gardening, following AFL, going to the movies, walking, camping and 4-wheel driving around Australia. She also loves to spend time with her 6 grandchildren, family and friends.
Cindy has always loved animals and farm life and has always known she wanted to work in the Veterinary industry. She had a looong career as a vet nurse before joining West Gippsland Vet Care in 2005.
These days Cindy works on reception and in the very important role of inventory manager. Without her keeping the shelves stocked the clinic would grind to a halt very quickly. Cindy enjoys being able to help clients with their pets and farm animals with helpful advice and keeping the clinic running smoothly. She also enjoys coming to work to spend time with her workmates.
Cindy has lots of four legged friends on her farm! Two Australian Cattle dogs Queenie and Tessa, Nigel the Whippet, Rosie the Jack Russell and Poco the Frenchie! She also has stock horses, beef cattle, sheep and chooks!
When not working or looking after ALL those animals she enjoys horse riding, spending time with her dogs, trips up the bush and music.
Administration & Receptionist
Leanne grew up on a beef cattle farm and working in the agriculture industry for over 20 years before joining the team at WGVC. Joining the clinic that she frequented for many years as a client has allowed her to continue to work with clients that she has known for years in her other roles and also meet new people. She has relished the opportunity to continue to learn and expand her professional experience and knowledge.
Leanne enjoys interacting with all of our clients both large animals and small. She loves being able to pat, cuddle and enjoy pets in all shapes and sizes and call it work!
Leanne has a dog called Bob who was a rescue pup from Pets Haven, Bob is Leanne’s family’s second rescue dog and she believe adopting a dog is one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have. Leanne and her husband help her parents run the family beef property consisting of around 110 head of mainly Herefords.
In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and camping in the high country with her awesome husband Nicko and no phone reception!
Carrie has had pets her whole life and has rescued many a “lame duck” in her time. She considers herself a strong advocate for the welfare of animals so working in the Veterinary world comes naturally to her.
She loves interacting with our clients and their pets and helping owners to make their pet’s visit as stress free and positive as possible.
Carrie has a special interest in supporting owners and their beloved pets when difficult decisions need to be made.
Carrie and her husband are kept busy at home caring for their two cats and two dogs who all have “special needs”.
In her spare time Carrie loves entertaining friends and family and acting.
Naomi has had a strong empathy for animals since she was very young and has always enjoyed helping them if they were unwell.
Naomi joined our team in 2005. She loves meeting our clients and their pets and enjoys listening to the stories that get shared with her. She has been known to shed a tear or have a good laugh with clients when they need it most. She enjoys watching the progression of our puppy and kitten patients as they grow and develop at each visit.
Naomi and her family have a pug, a ragdoll cat and a few chickens.
In her spare time Naomi enjoys spending time with her children, tending to her chickens and occasionally exhibiting them. She also loves home decorating and can often be found with a paintbrush in her hand.
Georgia has always had a passion and love for animals large and small and knew from a very young age that she wanted a career taking care of animals.
Georgia joined the WGVC team in 2008 and has worked her way up to be a supervisor for trainee staff. She is passionate about surgery and emergency nursing and loves reuniting a pet with its owner knowing she has played a part in its treatment and care.
Georgia lives with her partner Steve, Zhada the Border Collie, Jett the Beagle and Trevor the cat. She enjoys training and competing in dressage with her young Warmblood horse, Saffy.
Groomer & Vet Nurse
Sam joined the team at WGVC in 2012 as a vet nurse. She has always enjoyed working with animals and has also worked at an Arabian Stud looking after horses.
Sam completed a grooming course in May 2016, and we found she has a natural flair for grooming. She enjoys sending animals home with their owners happy and healthy.
Sam lives with her parents and little sister Nicole. She has two cats, Minion and Fatty, a rabbit called Knucklehead, and two horses, Spider and JT.
In her spare time Sam enjoys reading, riding her horses, watching TV and catching up with friends.
Marnie is a very experienced and passionate nurse who joined our team in 2015. She is a supervisor to our trainees and has a strong focus on stress free visits for our patients and ensuring they are always happy and comfortable.
Marnie loves the diversity of mixed practice vet nursing and relishes being able to provide quality care to all our patients whether it be a tiny kitten in the cat ward or a sick calf in our calf hospital.
Marnie and her family have many pets, Frankie the Staffy, two cats Nim & Woody, chooks and three horses Ochre, Fey & Nina. In her free time Marnie enjoys competing in dressage on her Warmblood, Ochre.
Kat began her career in animal care as a volunteer at an animal shelter and has spent most of her working life in the Veterinary industry. She joined our team in 2014 and loves the fact that no day is the same.
The most rewarding aspect of the job for Kat is being able to solve problems and improve the welfare of our patients.
In her spare time Kat loves playing Roller Derby and running with her Border Collie x Kelpie, Kip, who has a tonne of energy!
Courtney has wanted to be a vet nurse for as long as she can remember. She has always loved and been passionate about caring for animals and people. Courtney loves working as a team, supporting and caring for our patients and clients. She enjoys being able to provide a fantastic service at WGVC.
Courtney is passionate about continuously learning and developing her own skills as a nurse and being involved with growth and development in the clinic and the veterinary industry as a whole.
Courtney has a ginger and white long-haired cat named Tricky. He is super smoochy but is a bit of a troublemaker.
In her spare time Courtney loves spending quality time with her partner, family and friends, being outdoors and being active. She loves the beach and travelling to new places as well as dining out (she loves delicious food!) or going to see a movie.
Bree was just 5 years old when she knew she wanted to be a part of a Veterinary team. She has a huge passion and love for animals and vet nursing.
Bree joined the WGVC team in 2015. She loves all aspects of her job but especially enjoys supporting patients through the tough times in hospital and ensuring our clients companions are safe and well during surgery.
Bree’s family has a Pug, 2 cats and lots of fish and Bree has a German Shepherd pup called Heidi. In her spare time, she enjoys playing with Heidi, photography, spending time outdoors, camping and house/interior design.
Bio coming soon!
Trainee Vet Nurse
Jess joined the WGVC team in 2018 as a kennel hand and trainee vet nurse. She has always had a strong love for animals and after completing a Diploma in beauty therapy she realised her true passion was for animals and so Jess began to study vet nursing.
Jess loves being able to care for our patients and help them to feel happy and comfortable. She loves that every day at work is different and exciting!
She lives with her partner Todd, they have a cat called Vincent and a dog named Duke who are best friends and provide a lot of entertainment.
In her spare time Jess enjoys going to the beach with her dog and Todd.
About our Clinic
The team at West Gippsland Veterinary Centre have been through a variety of changes over the last 30 years.
Founded in 1989 by local vets Bruce Robertson and Joe Brady, “Robertson and Brady Veterinary Clinic” looked after four-legged locals until 2005, when a major renovation, and the emergence of Doctors Joe Brady, Grant Nielsen, and Benton Smith as co-owners was marked by our name change to “West Gippsland Veterinary Centre”.
In 2008 we opted to expand our care and reach into the region, and took over the Drouin practice from retiring Mike Traumanis. After a renovation in 2010, we renovated and relocated the practice to it’s wonderful current location.
Dr Simon Ronalds joined our partnership in 2014 to take the place of Dr Joe Brady, upon his retirement. We changed our name once more to “West Gippsland Vet Care” to reflect our dual locations, and our commitment to caring for your animals. In 2019, Dr Chris Thorne was welcomed to the partnership team, bringing with him a wealth of small animal medicine and surgery experience.
Our staff boasts 11 experienced Veterinary Surgeons and a team of support staff made up of Veterinary Nurses, Receptionists and Administrative staff. We aim to provide the best in care for all aspects of your animal’s visit; from booking your appointment, diagnosing health issues, surgeries, to aftercare.
Our two state of the art veterinary facilities in Drouin and Warragul have been designed with the comfort of you and your pets in mind, with light and spacious waiting rooms, and with Fear Free techniques in place, we aim to make your visit as enjoyable as possible for you and your pet.
Our staff love having you and your pets in for check ups – and pride ourselves on our ability to access extensive medical histories for our patients in each of our consultation rooms. We stock fully equipped pharmacies, and provide our own in-house laboratory facilities in order to expedite the diagnostic process and to ensure that you leave our premises fully stocked with everything you need for the continuing care of your animals.
Should your pets or animals need surgery, our surgical facilities are state of the art. Our operating theatres are equipped with the latest in surgical technology, and we host separate climate controlled cat and dog wards for pre and post-op care. We have the capacity to cater to large animals as well, with modern calf hospital and surgery, cattle ramp and crush.
At West Gippsland Vet Care, you can be assured that everything, from our staff to our facilities, operates with the best care of your animals in mind. You are welcome to visit us, and experience the difference we provide for yourself!
“Sincerity, kindness, and professionalism”
“I would like to send a huge thankyou to Simon, Chris, Chris, Tim, Ben, Nursing Staff and all Staff from myself, Greg n of course Fraser for their top notch care over the last 9 days while Fraser was with them after been bitten by a tiger snake on Sat 1st Feb 2015.
Thank you to Simon for his prompt actions, sincerity, kindness and professionalism when we first took Fraser into the clinic if it wasn’t for what Simon did and how he did it in those crucial few minutes and through Sat night Fraser probably wouldn’t be with us today then treatment and care for Fraser continued at the same high level standard from all the vets and staff involved. They all kept me informed updated. I cannot in anyway fault any of them. I have been dealing with this clinic for over 6yrs and would recommend them without hesitation.
Again a huge Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all that you did for Fraser.”
– Vanessa S., 5-Star Facebook Review
Book an appointment with one of the most experienced veterinarians in Gippsland today!
West Gippsland Vet Care Warragul
West Gippsland Vet Care Drouin
Mon-Fri: 8:30am - 5:30pm
Sat: 8:30am - 12pm
Mon-Fri: 8:30am - 5:30pm
Sat: 8:30am - 12pm