Before entering the veterinary field, Dr. Wixsom spent four years as a member of the United States Coast Guard and was even in the first female graduating class of the Coast Guard Academy. After a knee injury sidelined her career at sea, she decided to return to her childhood passion: animal care. Dr. Wixsom went back to school during her last tour of duty to receive a second Bachelor’s degree in biology and then headed off to veterinary school to earn her Doctorate.
Dr. Wixsom volunteered and then worked for a local mixed-animal practice during her veterinary studies, and also earned a Master’s degree in veterinary parasitology to become the first student at her university to earn dual degrees during veterinary school. She came to eastern Kentucky for an externship during her senior year, and it wasn’t long before she was determined to open her very own clinic to serve the pets and people of the Flatwoods area, and she’s been here ever since.
Dr. Wixsom is a believer in state-of-the-art progressive medicine and surgery, and loves to learn about new techniques whenever possible; she makes a commitment to attend over 40 hours of continuing education courses per year. She’s also passionate about client education and loves to mentor her staff members to help them grow in their own personal veterinary journeys.
Along with her husband, Matt, and their daughter, M’Kinzy, Dr. Wixsom shares her life with a menagerie of pets. They have three Labrador retrievers—Whiskey, Tango, and Ryker—as well as a Malanois named Crash and three cats who go by Jarvis, Tigre, and Parker. The animal portion of the family is rounded out by two Amazon parrots, 17-year-old water turtles, chickens, pheasants, guineas, and bees!
When she has a spare moment between family life and her duties here at the hospital, Dr. Wixsom loves to spend time outdoors and has gone rock climbing, kayaking, motorcycle riding, back-country camping, snorkeling, and scuba diving. She also likes crafting and working with her Girl Scout troop. Most of all, though, Dr. Wixsom enjoys reading and writing. She will typically read anywhere between five and 20 books a month, and she’s published four books of her own.
Erika is Originally from Greenup, Kentucky and has been a member of the Guardian Animal Medical Center team since 2018. In addition to her duties as Office Manager, she often helps out with Technician tasks, kennel work, and even some grooming tasks. Erika’s favorite part of her job is educating the area’s pet owners on how to best tend to their four-legged friends’ needs. Erika’s interest in this job started with her passion for animals. Erika has owned animals for as long as she can remember.
Erika’s current pets include Ember (the rescue from our Facebook page), Jax, Rosie, and Gemma. All of Erika’s hard work and dedication to helping make animal lives better sparked from treating each animal as if it were her own.
When Erika is not at work she enjoys spending quality time with her husband and daughter. She has a love for outdoor adventures and enjoys hiking and riding rzr’s.
Lead Tech Assistant
Rusty has been with our team here at Guardian Animal Medical center since 2019. Rusty’s favorite thing about working here has been getting to learn hands-on something new every day. Rusty formerly worked with human health care and decided to make the switch to animal health care and fully enjoys his decision.
When Rusty is not working, he is spending time with his family. Rusty is also a part of the volunteer fire department, and always looking for a way to help out his community.
Rusty’s love for animals started with his own. He has five dogs, ( Kane, Abel, Willow, Puppy, and Dixie), and five cats ( Spinx, Milo, Otis, Sam, and Hazel). His non house pets include 13 Chickens.
Mary Lara has been with the Guardian Animal team since 2020. Mary Lara came to our team as a current client wanting to help give back to our team. Mary Lara’s favorite part about her job is getting to learn about and care for a variety of animals hands on. Mary Lara plans to go into animal care and conservation and says this job is a perfect introduction.
When Mary Lara is not working she enjoys reading, crocheting, hiking, and being a part of the Girl Scouts community. Mary Lara is always looking for a way to help here with the clinic and out in the community.
Mary Lara has a love for our adoption cats at Guardian Animal and enjoys spending time with them while they await their forever homes. The love she has for those cats started with her own. Mary Lara has four cats at home ( Pitch, Inkpot, Barry, and Selena), last but not least her most recent adoption is Indy, her dog.
Brian is originally from Russell, Kentucky and began here at the hospital in 2008. He serves as a Kennel Assistant, and his favorite part of the job is the variety of animals that he gets to interact with on a daily basis. Every shift is full of surprises!
Outside of work, Brian is a car enthusiast and enjoys working on his vehicles whenever he gets the chance. He also likes playing video games and spending time at home with his family and his dog, Max, a rescue that Brian brought home after he received treatment here at the hospital
When Baleigh is not working she enjoys being outside, traveling, listening to music, and spending quality time with friends and family.
Baleigh is always caring and willing to help in any way that benefits clients’ animals during their stay with us. Her love for her own animals shows when she’s working, by treating all of the animals like they were her own. At home, Baleigh has one dog ( Max) and one cat ( Pixie).
Casandra has a love for animals including her own and many varieties. Casandra has two barn kitties who are Calliope and Pepe Le Mew, two inside cats, Lemur and Loki. One rabbit named Hopsy. On her farm, she has Lola, Caroline, Rosebud, and Clover, her Nubian Goats. To guard those goats and keep them safe she has her livestock guardian Cinder. But her best companion is Ember, her Dog.
Casandra takes pride in staying busy and contributing where she can. That’s why when Casandra is not at work she is a 4-H volunteer and 4-H shooting instructor. She enjoys sewing, quilting, and repairing/ restoring vintage sewing machines. Casandra is also able to play the dulcimer.
Kayla joined the Guardian Animal team in 2021. Kayla wanted to work somewhere that teamwork paid off and she was able to help make a difference in lives. Kayla enjoys the puppies that we get to see and help keep healthy, along with their puppy breath.
When Kayla is not working she enjoys doing Photography, Kayla enjoys being able to capture moments in time to keep forever. Kayla also enjoys relaxing and spending time with family and friends.
Kayla has two of her own pets at home, Her cat Meow Meow and her duck Donald Trump.