How did I get here:
Many people ask me or have the following comments:
“ How do you do this every day?”
" This must be so hard for you”
“ I cant imagine how any one can do this job!”
The truth is, this is never a job, has never felt like work. Helping my patients pass peacefully in the comfort of their home, surrounded by family, is an honor and privilege to be able to assist.
Here is some background information about me:
I was born on the southernmost point in Africa: Cape Town, South Africa and I spent my first 16 years developing a passion for animals and an interest in medicine by following around the veterinarian that cared for all the many species on my parent’s farm in Namibia. I moved to the USA when I was 16, and completed my senior year of high school in south Florida, before continuing to college with a pre-vet track. During college I worked as a kennel assistant, veterinary assistant and eventually veterinary technician, and thus my appreciation and respect for medicine grew, and my love for our patients flourished.
Fast-forward to the present day I have achieved my dream of being a veterinarian; not caring for the exotic animals I grew up with, but instead focusing on more “traditional” pets, such as cats, dogs, ferrets and rabbits.
My education was obtained in Florida, a Veterinary Medicine Doctorate from the University of Florida. It was also during this time that I became a proud American Citizen and met my husband Barry, an Officer in the United States Navy.
Upon graduation, I entered a very busy general practice in Annapolis, MD. It was during these first few years I realized my interest and sense of responsibility; the support, care of my sickest, terminal, disabled and/or geriatric patients. Discussion of quality of life, the notion of “just because we can do something, doesn’t always mean we should” were words I lived by. It was an area I felt I could make the most impact and where I was needed.
Becoming a veterinarian, I never thought caring for geriatric patients, and the eventual goodbyes, as something I would want to do but more of a necessity or responsibility that came with my career. However, after witnessing a family member pass at home with the support of hospice, I realized that hospice gave both my terminal mother-in-law and our family the greatest gift – the ability for her to pass surrounded by her family in the place she felt most comfortable.
Hospice and end-of-life care has become a true passion of mine. Over the years I have been honored to help hundreds of incredible families and their beloved pets in Maryland, Rhode Island and now Virginia. Each time I have entered a home as a stranger, but left as a friend. Each family and patient has a piece of my heart and I am so thankful to have been able to help my patient pass with dignity, love and comfort. Whenever I receive gratitude from a family I am almost embarrassed, as I have only cared for their “fur baby” for a mere hour or two in the same manner that they have cared and cherished them their entire lives. For that I am thankful to my families!
The military has moved my little family all over the country. When I moved to Virginia Beach , I had very little expectation, it was meant to be just another stop in the multitude of military assignments, but it is Virginia Beach where I truly feel at home. The sense of community, the small town feel in a sprawling diverse collection of amazing cities, sites and people that make Hampton Roads. I am proud to be a local, to raise my kids here and to be part of this amazing community.
I currently reside in Virginia Beach with my husband (Barry) , two human kids (Zachary and Abigial), Four canine kids (my senior, snorting pug Maddie; and the Golden Girls: Willow, and Zelda and my little "rotten' but cute Princess Peach the pug) and two feline kids ( Nemo and Red- my crazy kittens adopted locally from Billy the Kidden Rescue”). It is my honor and privilege to serve families in Hampton Roads.
~Hampton Roads Veterinary hospice and in Home euthanasia Angel Pets in Virginia Beach~
Dr. Miles joined Angel Pets in April of 2019. She brings a wealth of experience and broadens the availability and stretch of the practice. Dr. Miles is a Virginia Tech grad for her DVM. Her fascination with animal behavior originally brought her into the veterinary medicine field. She spent several early years working with poultry. During the height of the Avian Influenza scare - Dr Miles spent time as a lecturer around the world for health professionals concerning Avian Influenza. After some time she decided to get back into small animal medicine where she has worked several years in general medicine and surgery. Dr Miles was frequently requested by families to help with end of life care. Her gentle and caring demeanor was always a comfort to her patients and families. Thus, after witnessing the calm and respectful transition of a furkid at home and the comfort it brought to his family to be able to say goodbye at home- she knew this would be an area of veterinary medicine that she could truly make a difference. Dr. Miles resides in Virginia Beach with her adorable tripod spaniel - Lily.
Dr. Gail grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania, surrounded by cats, dogs, horses and other pets. That early influence, coupled with her family’s dedication to all creatures became the inspiration for her career in veterinary medicine. She attended Washington and Jefferson College for her undergraduate degree, followed by a Master’s Degree in Physiology and a DVM at Auburn University. She was in small animal practice for 5 years in Alabama and enjoyed all aspects of veterinary medicine but has always had a heart for geriatric patients. Her passions are her faith, her family (two- and four-legged!) and providing the best possible care to her patients. She is very excited to be joining Dr. Mel and Dr. Miles at Angel Pets!
Barry has been a pet lover his entire life, with pets a part of his family throughout his life. Born and raised in Miami, Florida, Barry joined the Navy in 1996. After being in the Navy for nearly 18 years as a surface warfare officer, he was finally brought to Norfolk. In the 4 years since he’s been here, Virginia Beach has become home. With retirement looming after 22 years of service, Barry will finally be able to be an active part of Angel Pets, being able to devote his full time to the behind the scenes operations so that Dr. Melanie can devote all her time to helping patients and their families. Barry’s formal education has been in the social studies, with a Master’s Degree in United States History from George Mason University. Barry is currently pursuing a masters in Clinical Mental Health with William and Mary University.
I am a native of Norfolk, VA. I graduated from Norfolk Collegiate before getting my Bachelor of Science in Occupational Technical Studies and Marketing from ODU. Although my studies and career kept me in the business world, my true passion has always been protecting and supporting the human-animal bond. Much of my time is devoted to running Lost and Found Pets, Hampton Roads, as well as acting as a resource coordinator or source of encouragement for families with pets in distress. Helping families navigate difficult decisions and obtaining assistance has always been my true calling and I feel honored to now help in this important, although difficult chapter, of hospice and end of life care with your furkid. When I am not answering questions, you will find me with my loving husband, adorable 8yr old daughter and my canine rescue cuties, Dakota, Molly, Bella, Mac and Audrey as well my feline kids, Roxy, Shadow and Freda. I am here if you ever need anything - even just an ear to listen......
"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard"
Winnie the Pooh
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Serving Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Hampton, Newport News, Suffolk, Yorktown, James County , Moyock , Currituck, and surrounding areas.