American Association of Feline Practitioners AAHA Accredited | The Standard of Veterinary Excellence

5580 Route 34 West Oswego IL      •      630.554.3400

Meet the Staff



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Our Teams

Dr. Stephen JurigaDr. Stephen Juriga

Dr. Juriga, owner of River Heights Veterinary Hospital, earned his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Illinois in 1987. He returned to the University of Illinois to complete a dental residency from 2002-2006, under board certified dentist and surgeon, Dr. Sandra Manfra. In 2007, he became a Diplomate of the American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC). He is one of 100 board-certified veterinary dentists in the United States and lectures on veterinary dentistry both nationally and internationally. Dr. Juriga finds time to mentor his dental resident, serve on the Examination Committee of the AVDC, serve on the Medical Advisory Board at the Shedd Aquarium and Brookfield Zoo, and provide dental services at Brookfield Zoo.

Dr. Juriga enjoys spending time with his family, coaching his kids’ sports team and road/mountain biking. His family has always had Golden Retrievers, but now has a Standard Poodle – Oliver and a Coton De Tulear – Mei Mei.


Dr. Elizabeth PociusDr. Elizabeth Pocius

Dr. Elizabeth Pocius joined River Heights Veterinary Hospital in 2001. She attended the University of Illinois where she majored in Animal Sciences. She received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine in 2001.

Dr. Pocius’s interests include surgery, dentistry, ultrasound, internal medicine and preventative care. She understands how special each dog and cat are to that family and tries to treat each pet with the same care and attention she would give her own.

She is currently a member of the Chicago Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), the Illinois State Veterinary medical Association (ISVMA), the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Academy of Feline Practitioners (AAFP).

Dr. Pocius shares her home with her husband and 3 rescue pets, a Boxer mix named Tango and 2 cats, Vilnius and Riga.


Dr. Kimberly MayerDr. Kimberly Mayer

Dr. Mayer joined River Heights Veterinary Hospital in 2010. She graduated from the University of Illinois in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science with a focus in pre-veterinary medicine. Dr. Mayer then went to the University of Illinois, College of Veterinary Medicine where she received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine in 2010. Dr. Mayer’s professional interests include soft tissue surgery, dentistry, and animal behavior. Dr. Mayer enjoys the challenges that veterinary medicine brings on a daily basis.

Outside of River Heights, Dr. Mayer enjoys spending time with her husband, family and friends. She enjoys playing many different sports, spending summers on the family boat in Wisconsin, and hiking in Colorado. Dr. Mayer and her husband share their home with their three spaniels; Tucker, Eli and Beau and three cats: Jada, Devon and Munchkin.


Dr. Lisa WeaverDr. Lisa Weaver

Dr. Lisa Weaver is a 2003 graduate of Auburn University. She is originally from Atlanta, Georgia and after practicing in Florida, she joined the staff of River Heights Veterinary Hospital in 2005. Dr. Weaver has a special interest in soft tissue surgery, internal medicine and behavioral medicine. She and her husband share their home with their two young sons and their rescued animals – Moose, a Labrador Retriever and their two cats Phoebe and Cheddar. In her free time Dr. Weaver enjoys watching Auburn Football, spending time with her family and friends and traveling.


Dr. Laura Sasser

Dr. Laura Sasser joined River Heights Veterinary Hospital in 2017. She is a 1997 graduate of Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine. She relocated to the Chicago area after practicing for 16 years in Southern Indiana. While she enjoys many aspects of veterinary medicine, her true passion is dentistry and is currently pursuing a residency training program to become a veterinary dental specialist in the American College of Veterinary Dentistry. Dr. Sasser enjoys teaching as well and has conducted in-house training seminars to help other veterinarians develop a love for dentistry. Dr. Sasser and her husband stay busy raising their two daughters and they share their home with 2 dogs, 2 cats, and a guinea pig. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and exploring the Chicago area’s parks and museums.

Amy BrownAmy Brown, Hospital Coordinator

Amy Brown joined River Heights Veterinary Hospital in February 2004. She started as a receptionist and has worked her way up to Hospital Coordinator throughout the years. Amy graduated from AAHA’s Veterinary Management Institute Series at Purdue University and received a Certificate in Veterinary Practice Administration in 2010.

When Amy isn’t at River Heights, she enjoys spending her free time with her longtime manfriend and their two boys, an English Bulldog named Richard and an American Bully named Willy. Amy’s favorite hobby is spending time in the kitchen trying new recipes and making her own recipe books. She also enjoys gardening, exercising, working on any household or garage project and spending time with family.


Debby MetzgarDebby Metzgar, Receptionist/Office Manager

I started at River Heights as a receptionist in July of 2009. In November 2014 I also moved into the manager rotation to help with additional office responsibilities. I am married and have a senior Cocker Spaniel named CJ who we rescued from Kendall County Animal Control. In my spare time I enjoy gardening, cooking and playing golf.



Sandra TaftSandra Taft, Administrative Assistant

I joined the staff in April of 1993 as a receptionist. Over the years I have filled many positions and currently I am the administrative assistant to the Practice Administrator. I am married with 2 grown children and have been blessed with 6 grandchildren. I reside in Oswego with my husband and 3 cats, Dutchess, Jax and Snowball, all three adopted from River Heights Veterinary Hospital. When not at River Heights I like spending time with my family and extended family. I am an avid Mystery and Science Fiction/fantasy fan and enjoy reading or watching them whenever possible. I have been an active member of the Oswegoland Woman’s Civic Club for 5 years.


Amy BrownAmy Brown, Hospital Coordinator

Amy Brown joined River Heights Veterinary Hospital in February 2004. She started as a receptionist and has worked her way up to Hospital Coordinator throughout the years. Amy graduated from AAHA’s Veterinary Management Institute Series at Purdue University and received a Certificate in Veterinary Practice Administration in 2010.

When Amy isn’t at River Heights, she enjoys spending her free time with her longtime manfriend and their two boys, an English Bulldog named Richard and an American Bully named Willy. Amy’s favorite hobby is spending time in the kitchen trying new recipes and making her own recipe books. She also enjoys gardening, exercising, working on any household or garage project and spending time with family.


Debby MetzgarDebby Metzgar

I started at River heights as a receptionist in July of 2009. In November 2014 I also moved into the manager rotation to help with additional office responsibilities. I am married and have a senior Cocker Spaniel name CJ who we rescued from Kendall County Animal Control. In my spare time I enjoy gardening, cooking and playing golf.


Cathy MitchellCathy Mitchell

I started here in September of 2008 as a receptionist. I am now also the Dental Center Coordinator. I am married with 3 children and a wonderful granddaughter. My pets are 2 rescue dogs Dodger and Chase, and our little stinker cat Snickers. I love working around animals and talking with clients who have the love of animals themselves. When not working I love spending time with my family and pets.


Stacy DavisStacy Davis

I have been with River Heights since April of 2008. I am married, with 8 "children", who are all rescued. My Labrador/Rottweiler - Doc, Pitbull - Zena, and 3 cats, Harvey, Sophie and Tom. Then outside we have 3 horses, Mac, Sissy, and Maverick. I enjoy doing crafts in my free time and my husband and I enjoy riding our horses, doing agility and nose work with our dogs as well as working on our farm.


Jen MantoothJen Mantooth

I started working at River Heights in February of 2015. I have been bringing our animals as patients since July of 2011. The staff and doctors have always been a pleasure to deal with, so when a position became available, I applied immediately.

My husband, son and I currently have a labradoodle named Scout, 2 shelties named Duchess and PeeWee and three cats, Sherlock, Rory and Hobbes. My hobbies include crocheting, knitting, reading and playing board games with my family.


Dani DeWaardDani DeWaard

I have been working here since November 2015. I have 2 of the sweetest pit bulls, a turtle, and a cat. I plan on attending Northern Illinois University in the future. I’ve grown up with all sorts of wildlife animals and have always had a passion for animals.


Jan ZiechJan Ziech

Jan became part of the River Heights Veterinary Hospital family in the mid 1990’s as a professional pet groomer. Jan graduated from the University of Illinois, College of Agriculture and worked in many fields before deciding that spending her day with animals was more rewarding. Weekends usually find her showing dogs across the country.


Dr. Stephen JurigaDr. Stephen Juriga

Dr. Juriga, owner of River Heights Veterinary Hospital, earned his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Illinois in 1987. He returned to the University of Illinois to complete a dental residency from 2002-2006, under board certified dentist and surgeon, Dr. Sandra Manfra. In 2007, he became a Diplomate of the American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC). He is one of 100 board-certified veterinary dentists in the United States and lectures on veterinary dentistry both nationally and internationally. Dr. Juriga finds time to mentor his dental resident, serve on the Examination Committee of the AVDC, serve on the Medical Advisory Board at the Shedd Aquarium and Brookfield Zoo, and provide dental services at Brookfield Zoo.

Dr. Juriga enjoys spending time with his family, coaching his kids’ sports team and road/mountain biking. His family has always had Golden Retrievers, but now has a Standard Poodle – Oliver and a Coton De Tulear – Mei Mei.


Verena NiederbegerVerena Niederbeger

Verena joined River Heights Veterinary Hospital in 2005 and became Dr. Juriga’s dental technician in 2006. Verena brings many years of veterinary nursing and dental experience to RHVH. Verena enjoys training other veterinary staff on dental radiology, anesthesia and pain management. In her free time she loves taking care of all her own critters.



Megan MuellnerMegan Muellner

I have been employed at River Heights Veterinary Hospital since 2007. I started working as a Kennel Assistant then was trained as a veterinary Assistant. I attended Joliet Junior College, graduating from their Veterinary Medical Technology Program in 2012. I am now a Certified Veterinary Technician with a main interest in dentistry. I am also the Kennel Manager of our boarding facility. My fur and feather children include a young dog named Oakley, a Quarter Horse named Kidd and two birds. In my spare time, I enjoy outdoor recreational activities such as horseback riding through wooded trails and watching live music with friends and family.


Arianna KonenArianna Konen

I have been working at River Heights since March of 2016. I am originally from Oswego and have lived here the majority of my life. I graduated with an Associate's Degree in Veterinary Medical Technology from Joliet Junior College in May of 2016 and became a Certified Veterinary Technician.

In the veterinary field I really have a passion for dentistry and anesthesia. I really enjoy working with Dr. Juriga in the Dental Center and sharing with clients the importance of oral care for their pets. I hope to specialize in dentistry and/or anesthesia some day in the future.

Outside of working at River Heights, I enjoy spending time with my 13 year-old Cardigan Welsh Corgi, named Chance, who is the love of my life and my little shadow. I also enjoy going to music concerts and spending time with my family and friends. Animals are truly my passion in life and will continue to give them the best medical care I possibly can.


Kathy MinerKathy Miner

I graduated from Parkland College with an AAS in Veterinary Technology in 1994. I joined the River Heights team in September of 1996. I enjoy working in a practice that has such high standards and where I am utilized to my full potential. My interests include preventative care, senior care, and surgical assistance. Currently I live nearby with my husband, 2 sons, and adopted pets.


Kristin CarellasKristin Carellas

I have been working at River Heights Veterinary Hospital since 2004. I am a Veterinary Assistant. I love working with all kinds of animals. I have been working in the veterinary field for 19 years. I have 3 dogs, all girls of course. Diamond is a black Labrador mix, Daphne is a Shih Tzu, and Bella is a brown nose Pitbull. I also have 3 adorable cats and a guinea pig named Snooki. My interests are helping animals, assisting in surgery and exam rooms, and working up at the reception desk.


Nikki RossNikki Ross

I began working at River Heights in October of 1996 as a kennel assistant. In August of 1998, I was promoted to a Veterinary Technician. I currently live in Sandwich Il, with my husband and 2 boys. My fur babies include “Haylee” a senior mix breed dog and Delilah a 2 year old pit bull that I rescued. I also have 3 cats, Elwood, Buddy and Sierra.


Melissa MartinezMelissa Martinez

In April of 2016, I joined the River Heights staff. I have a certification as a Veterinary Assistant and if I could, a certificate in love for animals. I live in the Boulder Hill Area with my 7 pets: my Staffy Epona, Yorkie Dexter, Vlad the cat, Lucia and Lucien my geckos, Tortas the tortoise and Koopa Troopa my turtle. My hope is to add many more.


Arianna KonenArianna Konen

I have been working at River Heights since March of 2016. I am originally from Oswego and have lived here the majority of my life. I graduated with an Associate's Degree in Veterinary Medical Technology from Joliet Junior College in May of 2016 and became a Certified Veterinary Technician.

In the veterinary field I really have a passion for dentistry and anesthesia. I really enjoy working with Dr. Juriga in the Dental Center and sharing with clients the importance of oral care for their pets. I hope to specialize in dentistry and/or anesthesia some day in the future.

Outside of working at River Heights, I enjoy spending time with my 13 year-old Cardigan Welsh Corgi, named Chance, who is the love of my life and my little shadow. I also enjoy going to music concerts and spending time with my family and friends. Animals are truly my passion in life and will continue to give them the best medical care I possibly can.


Hayley PriebeHayley Priebe

I was hired at River Heights in March, 2014 as a Kennel Assistant and was promoted to Veterinary Assistant in June 2015. I currently live in Oswego with my adopted Greyhound "Bentley" and my Bunny "Buttons." Outside of working at River Heights, I am a full-time student at Waubonsee Community College and plan to attend university in Fall 2017 to complete an undergraduate degree in Animal Sciences. Working with animals is my passion and I hope to one day become a Veterinarian.


Tayler BartrandTayler Bartrand

I started working at River Heights in January of 2017. Shortly before then I moved here from a small town in Northern Michigan where I received my Associate’s Degree in applied science from Baker College and became a Licensed Veterinary Technician in the summer of 2015.

My biggest interest in the veterinary field is integrative medicine. I love being able to see the use of things like chiropractic work, acupuncture, and cold laser therapy and how it works for each patient. I am certified in using the Companion Animal brand of cold laser and I really enjoyed learning everything about it.

Outside of the veterinary field my hobbies include reading, watching movies, going to concerts, traveling to new places, and spending time with my boyfriend.

I have a yellow Labrador Retriever named Winslow who lives back in Michigan with my parents and I currently live nearby with my boyfriend and our two cats, Boots and Smokey.

Kennel Staff

Wendell CrowderWendell Crowder

I started at River Heights when Dr. Koch was the owner. I’ve been with Steve and Alex from the get go. My wife, Dee and I share our home with Midnight, a Yorkie and Lily, a Maltese. Prior to working here I worked at All Steel in Aurora for 40 years.


Mandy LauperMandy Lauper

I have been with River Heights as a kennel assistant since 1995. I love animals, I have a parakeet named Hansel. When I am not working I like to go to the movies and go bowling.


Eric D’ArgoEric D’Argo

Hi, my name is Eric and I’ve been working here since November of 2015. I enjoy all the animals I get to interact with here. I plan to go to Joliet Junior College and study welding and automotive technology. In about 4 years my family and I are going to open our family ranch in Montana with cows, pigs, sheep, the whole nine yards. I have one small Bichon/shih tzu mix at home name Bandit.


Cody MackeyCody Mackey

Hi, my name is Cody. I have been working at River Heights since February of 2017. I started working here so that I can get to work closely with animals on a daily basis. I am also considering working in the veterinary field as a career. My passions include playing sports and learning about animals. I currently have 3 dogs and 2 cats, but have had many different pets during my life.


Dani DeWaardDani DeWaard

I have been working here since November 2015. I have 2 of the sweetest pit bulls, a turtle, and a cat. I plan on attending Northern Illinois University in the future. I’ve grown up with all sorts of wildlife animals and have always had a passion for animals.


Luke Wagner

My name is Luke Wagner. I have loved animals all my life. Through my lifetime, I have had multiple pets. I share my home with my family, Mya, a Siberian Husky and Loki an Orange long haired tabby cat. I feel my job at River Heights Veterinary Hospital is a perfect fit. I have been employed here since November of 2014 as a Kennel Assistant/Technician Assistant.


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