Our Veterinarians

Proudly Serving SW North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina Pets

veterinarian in charlottePatricia Young, DVM, CVA, CCRP

As a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, Dr. Patricia Young has always been a self-proclaimed animal lover. Dogs, cats, and horses were some of her best companions and friends while growing up. She has fond memories of time spent with her horse, riding through the woods at Christmastime to pick out the family Christmas tree. When her horse broke its shoulder, Dr. Young learned early on about the value of comforting and caring for a beloved pet. Throughout her childhood, her family enjoyed camping and she developed a deep appreciation for wildlife. Her parents strongly emphasized education and encouraged her to reach for any goal she chose. As a result, Dr. Young aimed high and has achieved many academic and professional successes during her veterinary career, which have laid the foundation for her work today.

As owner, general practitioner, and Director of the Companion Animal Rehabilitation Services at Steele Creek Animal Hospital, Dr. Young approaches each day with an open attitude toward veterinary medicine. "Learning is career long...new procedures, new diseases, new pharmaceuticals, new diagnostics come on the medical horizon each day," she said. "Every day I feel I can make a difference in animals' lives and the lives of the people who love them. Encouraging that bond is very gratifying."

Dr. Young attended Meredith College in Raleigh, NC for her undergraduate studies where she earned concurrent bachelor's degrees in chemistry and biology, was a member of the Kappa Nu Sigma Scholastic Honor Society, and received the prestigious "Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges" honor, which marks the pinnacle of scholastic achievement and identifies individuals who demonstrate strength in leadership, service, and community involvement. Our veterinarian graduated magna cum laude in 1975 and immediately pursued her veterinary studies at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine.

While in veterinary school, Dr. Young continued to excel as a student and a leader. She was the recipient of many awards and honors including the Dean Emeritus Thomas J. Jones Cup (awarded for outstanding 4th year student), the Upjohn Clinical Award (exceptional proficiency in small animal medicine), and the Blanche D. Hayes Award (proficiency in feline medicine and surgery). She also served as an acting member of the Phi Zeta veterinary honor society and the Gamma Sigma Delta agricultural honor society and was named president of her American Veterinary Medical Association's student chapter. For a second time, Dr. Young received the acclaimed honor of being named on the "Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges" list. After veterinary school, she completed an internship in small animal medicine and surgery at the University of Illinois from 1979-80.

Dr. Young's career engages her in many different areas of veterinary medicine. She is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association, the South Carolina Association of Veterinarians, the American Association of Rehabilitation Veterinarians, the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management, the American Veterinary Dental Society and the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association. Her professional interests include physical rehabilitation, pain management, senior care, dentistry, and acupuncture.

Dedicated to the practice and research of Charlotte veterinary rehabilitation, Dr. Young applies her knowledge and expertise in this area to incorporate non-invasive approaches for the optimal treatment of your pet. She is certified in both veterinary physical rehabilitation and acupuncture and is committed to using both in order to help your pet reach his/her full functional potential.

Her love of animals knows no bounds and Dr. Young cares not only for your pets but for her own. She shares her home with her husband, Terry Herrington, and their four dogs and two horses. Over the years, she has spent many hours in obedience training and competitions with several of her dogs, has participated in therapy dog visitations with her Irish setter and Great Dane, and has been a committed volunteer for the local Great Dane Rescue program.

Dr. Young has owned four white deaf Danes and trained three of them with hand signals. Her fourth, Gracie, was adopted from the Great Dane Rescue after having been discarded by her previous owner and found crawling alongside a road. Dr. Young rescued her, instilled confidence through patience and attention, and eventually Gracie learned to identify and locate Dr. Young through scent. "She crawled into our lives and trotted happily through life with us for eight years," Dr. Young said.

When she is not at the office, Dr. Young prioritizes time with Terry, a former chemist at Hoechst Celanese. Although Terry retired in 1997, he happily lends his expertise to Steele Creek Animal Hospital by helping with the business side of the practice. Together, they enjoy spending time with their pets, walking their dogs, and camping. Dr. Young also enjoys hiking, boating, canoeing, horseback riding, and traveling—especially to places where she can view and embrace nature, wildlife, and the wilderness. She also likes to stay in shape with yoga and loves to try new things. Most recently, she went paragliding in the Teton range.


charlotte veterinariansJohanna Clark, DVM

A native of Wilson, North Carolina, Dr. Johanna Clark has been a general practitioner at Steele Creek Animal Hospital since June 1998. She has loved animals since she was a young child and has known that she wanted to be a veterinarian since she was seven years old. Dr. Clark's determination led her to North Carolina State University, where she received her undergraduate degree in animal science in 1994. While in college, Dr. Clark volunteered and worked as a veterinary technician at local animal hospitals.

Dr. Clark went on to earn her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1998. Dr. Clark is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association.

As a veterinarian devoted to offering the best possible care for our patients, Dr. Clark serves as the Medical Director of our practice. Her professional interests include neurology, oncology, internal medicine, and dentistry.

In her free time, Dr. Clark enjoys reading, watching football (Panthers and North Carolina State), and spending time with her husband Sean, and their twins, Clark and Lilli. The family has three dogs named Roxy, Zoe, and Bodie, and two domestic short hair cats named Mia and Tuna. All of her pets were adopted from Steele Creek Animal Hospital.


charlotte nc vetsMelinda Sawyer Whitaker, DVM

Dr. Melinda Whitaker’s father encouraged and inspired her to become a veterinarian. While growing up in Moyock, North Carolina, she was surrounded by barn cats, hunting dogs and horses. “I always had puppies and kittens to play with as a child,” she remembers. Dr. Whitaker earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and studied animal science at North Carolina State University. She received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1997.

Dr. Whitaker enjoys the daily variety of being a veterinarian. “I get to see different people and cases – every day is not the same,” she says.

She stays up-to-date on the latest veterinary advances through attending regular continuing education meetings and through her memberships in the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association.

At home, Dr. Whitaker and her husband, Doug, take care of their two active children as well as four cats, Polka Dots, Boo, Storm and Big Mac. She is actively involved in her church as a Sunday school teacher and an elder. She serves on the board of the Olympic High School Marching Band Boosters as well as volunteering with her Eagle Scout’s Boy Scout Troop.


upstate SC veterinarianAmy Kirkpatrick, DVM

Dr. Amy Kirkpatrick grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina, having moved from Columbus, Ohio early in grade school. She grew up in a three-dog-minimum household and has known her calling to be a veterinarian from a very early age. Before joining Steele Creek Animal Hospital in July 2016, she practiced small animal medicine in Greenville, South Carolina.

Dr. Kirkpatrick earned her undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering from North Carolina State University in 2010. She received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2014. Dr. Kirkpatrick is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association.

Dr. Kirkpatrick's professional interests include preventive medicine, surgery, pain management, dentistry, and nutrition. "One of the things I love about veterinary medicine is communicating one-on-one with pet owners; educating them on what is going on with their pet and addressing their needs so they can have a longer and healthier life. I also strive to make every pet's visit easy for them by using low-stress handling techniques."

In her free time, Dr. Kirkpatrick enjoys continuing her competitive swimming career by being a member of the SwimMAC Masters Swim Team and always being sure to spend time with both of her adorable rescue terrier mixes, Molly and Mary.

upstate SC veterinarianDesiree Judy, DVM

When Dr. Desiree Judy was growing up in nearby Lake Wylie, South Carolina, she had a hamster that was seriously injured and ultimately could not be saved. The event made her want to learn about veterinary medicine so she could "save all other animals." Today, she's helping to do just that. Dr. Judy has been a general practitioner with Steele Creek Animal Hospital since October 2006 (although she first joined the hospital in high school).

Dr. Judy earned her undergraduate degree in animal and veterinary science from Clemson University in 2000 and then went on to receive her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine in 2004 (from which she graduated cum laude).

Dr. Judy loves being a veterinarian. "The variation in the cases we see, as well as the great patients that are loving and trusting, is what makes this such a great profession," she said. Dr. Judy receives particular satisfaction in helping pet owners understand their pet's illnesses and explaining how to help them recover and provide optimum long-term care. She has special professional interests in surgery and preventive medicine, and she is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

At home she cares for a pug, Lexi, and three cats: Simon, Ivan, and Gus. Her priority outside work is spending time with her husband, Ben, and her children, as well as hiking, swimming, and reading.



charlotte nc vetsElena Shirley, DVM, CVA

Dr. Elena Shirley is a graduate of the University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, and is licensed in California, Oklahoma, and North Carolina. She moved to the South End of Charlotte, North Carolina in December 2016. She is fluent in English and Spanish, and welcomes our Spanish speaking clients! Dr. Shirley believes that communication builds trust and ensures better-informed decision-making.

Her professional foci in veterinary practice include integrated medicine and surgery, acupuncture (equine and small animal), neurology, ophthalmology, and immune-mediated disease. She is certified in veterinary acupuncture through the Chi Institute in Gainesville, FL.

“Incorporating acupuncture, herbal medicine, and prescribed nutrition regimens into my treatment plans, where appropriate, is a very successful and satisfying compliment to my medicine and surgical plans for my patients.”

Her professional associations include the American Veterinary Medical Association, NCVMA, OVMA, CVMA, and the Veterinary Emergency Response Team.

Prior to life as a veterinarian, Dr. Shirley spent 18 years in international business and new market development; with extensive experience in Latin America, Europe and southern Africa.

Her personal interests include passionate pursuits in daily personal development, playing with her children, horse riding, tango, songwriting and singing, and cultural exchange through travel, music, and art. She has lived and worked in 28 countries.


charlotte nc vetsKat Ahern, DVM

Dr. Kat Ahern is originally from Pittsfield, a small town in western Massachusetts. Growing up, Dr. Kat was a competitive figure skater, swimmer, and pianist. She knew from a very young age that she wanted to be a veterinarian and volunteered at All Caring Animal Hospital through middle school and worked as a technician while in high school. After high school, Dr. Kat’s family moved to Charlotte, NC and she headed to the University of Delaware. While at the University of Delaware, Dr. Kat achieved her bachelor's degree in animal science and minored in fine art where discovered her love of photography and painting! Dr. Kat was a member of the University of Delaware’s Varsity Women’s Rowing team for 3 years as a coxswain.

Dr. Kat also worked as a veterinary technician and a zoo keeper at the Brandywine Zoo and Philadelphia Zoo, and she discovered a love for exotic animals. She graduated in 2003. She then worked for a year with exotic species at both zoos before traveling to Dublin, Ireland in 2004 where she was accepted into the veterinary medicine program at University College Dublin.

In addition to studying, Dr. Kat traveled to many places in Ireland, England, Europe, and Africa. Dr. Kat graduated from University College Dublin in 2009 then moved home to Charlotte where she completed a 1 year internship at Carolina Veterinary Specialists. After completing her internship, she traveled to Ecuador with the World Vets organization, providing veterinary care, spays, and neuters to the local pet population. Dr. Kat’s special interests in veterinary medicine are surgery, rehabilitation, and exotics.

Dr. Kat’s other interests include photography (newborn and maternity portraits), DIY-ing, crafting, gardening, breeding leopard geckos, and singing with the Community Singers of Lake Norman.