Meet the Team

Each member of our team at Westside Animal Hospital has their own pet that they love dearly. We know exactly how we want our pets treated, and we pledge to give your pet the same amount of attention and care that we give our own.

Suzanne E. "Suzy" Solvin, DVM (AVMA, CVMA) - Practice Owner

Dr. Suzy moved here from the bay area in 1995 after being charmed by the small town agricultural community. She likes the values of this community where reputation is an important part of any relationship. Her daughter grew up here and went to Hilmar Elementary School in a bi-lingual program. Both she and her daughter speak Spanish.

Dr. Suzy has been practicing veterinary medicine for 35 years. Since 2003, she has focused on developing techniques to keep her patients as happy and relaxed as possible before, during and immediately post-treatment. The result is that many clients tell us their pets are happier to come to our hospital and leave in a happier state than they have ever experienced elsewhere. Dr. Suzy’s specialty (and area of research interest) is animal behavior.

Dr. Suzy wanted to be a vet from the time she was five, and earned her BSci degree from UC-Davis (1980) and DVM degree from Tuskegee Institute (1985). She spent the next ten years gaining a wide variety of experience as a relief vet in the Bay Area, and purchased Westside Animal Hospital in Newman in 1997. She built a new, state-of-the-art facility in 2009 and was the region’s first adopter of digital x-ray, laser surgery and a computerized, paperless office.

In her off hours, she loves to be with family, go horse-back riding, grow almonds, and travel.

Richard C. "Rick" Dehmel, Ph.D. (Business Coach)

Rick has over 30 years of business experience including as a senior manager at Intel Corporation and in the start-up of two industrial consortiums, but he found his perfect match in Dr. Suzy and they were married in January of 2005.

Teddy, the “Dr.’s Official Greeter” keeps life between them happy and harmonious as he is always there with unbounded love and an eager and energetic boisterousness. Teddy trains them both to understand that showering constant affection on him – without let-up – is the single most important thing they can do. Fortunately, this training has spilled over into their marriage as well, and the words “I’m so lucky” are heard daily!

One of Rick's great interests is the history of Antarctic exploration. Most recently (2020), Rick and Dr. Suzy were on a 6 week expedition to Antarctica arranged through Scott Polar Research Institute where they had the opportunity to study and learn about a number of penguin species (Adelie, Emperor, King, and Rockhopper) as well as observe a variety of whales, seals, and Antarctic birds , such as the Royal and Gian Wandering Albatross.

Rick looks for “best-in-class” practices and his coaching at Westside Animal Hospital ranges from day-to-day operational and management techniques through quarterly “18-month business plans” and long-term strategic direction. Our “off-site visits” to other veterinary practices over the years both in California and around the nation and the world - as well as his experience in high-tech industries - have all contributed to our awareness and adoption of “best-in-class” practices to provide outstanding care to your pets.

Rick’s favorite activities are being with Dr. Suzy, rowing, writing, singing, Antarctic exploration and travel.

Miaoxian "Sandy" Shao - Book-Keeper

Sandy has a very strong background in retail management and 18 years of veterinary training and practice at Westside Animal Hospital. She has become the backbone of our office administration, including bookkeeping, inventory management, and accounting. Our Hospital has constantly improved under her skilled and careful management.

Sandy has recently moved to Idaho with her husband Larry and poodle Renee. We miss having Sandy with us at Westside Animal Hospital but are very happy to have her remain on our team. Sandy is enjoying exploring her new home and loves to hike with Larry and Renee. Sandy is lucky to have a lot of beautiful parks and river to investigate and Renee is loving the cool weather and running up and down all the green, grassy slopes!

Jessica Chavez (Office Manager & Veterinary Assistant)

Jessica has been a valued member of Westside Animal Hospital since 2011. She grew up in Patterson, CA and has always loved animals and pets. As a high school student in Patterson, Jessica was very active in the local FFA and showed lambs for 5 years.

Jessica met Ollie, the dashing border collie mix, at Westside Animal Hospital when he arrived for his visit in a brown cardboard box along with a half-eaten doughnut. Unfortunately, Ollie came to Westside Animal Hospital as a puppy with no home, and no real family. But luckily, after Ollie was given a clean bill of health by Dr. Suzy, Jessica became his forever home. Jessica and Ollie love to enjoy the outdoors together, traveling to Knight’s Ferry, Carmel Dog Beach, and their favorite adventure spot, Pine Crest, whenever they can. Ollie loves to wear themed bandanas to work, and Jessica likes to dress him in them-- it's a match made in heaven. Ollie’s favorite Bandana has doughnuts on it because it never hurts to be reminded of the day he found his home.

Jessica, who is fluent in Spanish, joined us straight out of high school in 2011 as our Receptionist - the "Voice of Westside Animal Hospital." She immediately began her veterinary training here, and has grown across so many skill sets that she was promoted to Office Manager in June, 2020. A student at Modesto Junior College in Respiratory Care, Jessica loves being able to provide care for our patients and loves building relationships with both patients and clients in the community.

Annie Bond, BSci (Veterinary Assistant)

Annie has wanted to be a vet since she was four years old! She started a correspondence with Dr. Suzy when she was five, and has worked part-time at Westside Animal Hospital since graduating high school in 2015. After completing her undergraduate BSci degree in just three years at UC-Davis, Annie is now a 2nd year graduate student pursuing her DVM there. Annie loves small animal veterinary medicine and is extraordinarily good at explaining things to clients.

Annie has 2 cats, Poppy and Moki. Annie has had Poppy since she was a little girl first setting her sights on becoming a veterinarian. Poppy, a 16 year old female orange tabby, has a strong, vivid personality and it's our belief that Poppy has helped Annie build some pretty great techniques when it comes to dealing with opinionated felines. Poppy may put on a show, but if Annie is home visiting from UC Davis, you can find Poppy spending her nights curled up right next to her.

Moki (pictured) , a 2 year old Blue Point Himalayan, is a little more laid back and spends his days with Annie at University. Moki has even learned to respond to several commands and cues, something we are quite sure Poppy would never deign to do!

And watch out for Annie! She was on the boxing team as an undergraduate and is a Certified Personal Trainer.

Kelley Engel, BSci (Veterinary Assistant & Professional Equestrian)

Kelley has been an important part of the Westside Animal Hospital team since 2018. She is originally from Southern Indiana and was very active in 4-H during her youth. Kelley graduated from Morehead State University, KY, with a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural and Equine Sciences.

Kelley has had her best friend, Josey the Australian Shepherd by her side since Josey was a young puppy and Kelley was a junior at University. Josey loves to go everywhere with Kelley, including horse shows where Kelley competes. While at the horse shows, Josey can be found holding down the fort back at the stalls, supervising and sneaking in an occasional nap if time allows. Now that Josey has aged gracefully to 14 years, she’s content to have picked up an official “office job” supervising at Westside Animal Hospital as well.

​​​​​​​In addition to Kelley’s other contributions as a Veterinary Assistant, she is responsible for Westside Animal Hospital’s on-line presence on Instagram and Facebook and for our new, updated website design and maintenance.

As a professional equestrian, Kelley was a protégé of National Reined Cow Horse Hall-of-Famer and many times World Champion Benny Guitron. In past years, Kelley has trained winning World Championship Appaloosas and American Quarter Horses. In 2019 Kelley was ranked “Top 5 in the World” in the American Quarter Horse Association’s Open Junior Ranch Riding category.

Virginia Medeiros (Manager of Happiness)

Virginia has been a fixture at Westside Animal Hospital for the last 8 years. She makes us all feel better as she always leaves Westside Animal Hospital clean and spotless in her wake.

​​​​​​​When not taking care of her Persian cat, Floyd, Virginia can be found as a Lector at St. Vincent de Paul in Patterson.

Gina Hitchman, BA-Econ (Resident Artist)

Gina has helped out at Westside Animal Hospital since she was old enough to hold a crayon. Currently an Economics honors graduate of Davidson College (NC), she not only created the original artwork for our hospital‘s logo, but now creates the animal sketches you see on our website.

Gina loves exercising, cooking, riding, and particularly getting together with friends. She is a former 4-H member, a skilled equestrian, and a published author (“La Frontera: Stories of Undocumented Immigrants Crossing the Border”). Gina is fluent in Spanish, and in her other life, she is currently teaching high school math at a magnet school through the ‘Teach For America’ program.

Gina met Zorro, a German Shepherd mix, when she was home for her Christmas vacation during her Senior year at University. Gina saw Zorro all alone on a country road at night, and proceeded to spend several hours of her time gaining Zorro's trust with kind words and most of a Costco Chicken.

​​​​​​​Once Zorro knew Gina was the one, they became inseperable. Zorro knows he was lucky the day he found Gina, and shows his appreciation and devotion by being a fabulous running buddy and companion.