Meet Our Team
Get to know the people that will be taking care of your pet.
Meet Our Veterinarians
Dr. Richard Linkenheimer - Owner
The idea of wanting to be a veterinarian started at a very young age for Dr. Linkenheimer. He attended Edinboro University and received a Bachelors in Biology degree and a secondary education teaching certification. He received his doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) degree from Mississippi State University in 1995.
He worked emergency medicine for 5 years. His dream of opening his own practice was fulfilled in 2000, when River Valley Veterinary Hospital opened its doors.
Dr. Linkenheimer and his family are controlled by four dogs, Sam and Ella (Katrina rescues), Piper and Jewel, two sisters from West Virginia, along with two rescue cats, Peek-a-boo and Bob and multiple fish. He loves collecting eclectic music for his 1990’s Ipod, reading and cooking.
Dr. Teresa Fitzgerald Associate Veterinarian
Ever since she was a child, Dr. Teresa Fitzgerald has had her heart set on veterinary medicine. She’s always lived by one motto: “Please let me be the person my dog thinks that I am!” Dr. Fitzgerald gets to live her dream every day as an Associate Veterinarian with the River Valley Veterinary Services family.A Pittsburgh native, Dr. Fitzgerald attended the University of Pittsburgh for her undergraduate studies before earning her veterinary degree at the University of Pennsylvania. After graduating, she returned home to western Pennsylvania to begin her veterinary career. She’s been here ever since! Dr. Fitzgerald’s favorite part of her job is getting to meet loving pet owners and their wonderful companions on a daily basis.Dr. Fitzgerald has many pets of her own at home. She lives with a horse named Lady; Krya the retired Greyhound; an elderly cat named Berber; a cat named Will; two foster kittens who go by Zoe and Malcolm Reynolds; and a flock of four chickens.When she isn’t spending time with her animals or tending to the area’s pets here at the hospital, Dr. Fitzgerald enjoys relaxing in the great outdoors and reading good books. One of her favorite series is The Lord of the Rings, and she even hopes to one day visit the Shire in New Zealand!
Dr. Michelle E. Honse Associate Veterinarian
Dr. Michelle Honse has been passionate about animal welfare ever since she was young. Her parents had always told her to choose a career path that would let her use her talents to give something back to the world—for Dr. Honse, veterinary medicine simply made sense! Now, she betters the lives of the area’s pets daily as an Associate Veterinarian here at River Valley Veterinary Services. Dr. Honse grew up in northern Mississippi, where she cared for animals on the family farm and participated in various 4-H organization activities throughout her childhood. She attended Mississippi State University for her schooling, and first joined the River Valley Veterinary Services team as an intern. Dr. Honse is especially passionate about educating her clients on the best possible care techniques for their four-legged companions. She also can’t get enough of adorable puppies and kittens! Dr. Honse lives on a small farm with her husband and son, a dog, several cats, a bird, a few horses, and a multitude of chickens. When she has time between her duties on the farm and her busy work schedule, Dr. Honse enjoys spending time with her family, horseback riding and gardening.
Meet Our Care Team
Cullen Linkenheimer - Operations & IT Manager
Where did you grow up? – Gibsonia PA, North of Pittsburgh.
Education? – University of Pittsburgh Graduated 2020 from there undergrade business program.
What was your first job? – I worked at Wendy’s when I was 16 then worked as a personal trainer for first 2 years of college.
What made you choose this profession? – The passion I have for helping clients and their animals.
Why did you start with River Valley and greatest accomplishments there? -I started working at river valley because I saw that my parents needed help in brining them up to speed with the new technology. I helped them modernize our systems and now we are able to grow exponential and compete with the corporate businesses.
What is something unique about you that most people don’t know? – favorite hobbies are lifting and working on my truck.
What do you find most rewarding at River Valley? – Seeing smiling faces on clients when we help them get the care they deserve and receiving complements that this is the best experience and vet hospital they have ever been to.
Goals for the future. – Continue to grow in my position and hopefully open this place up to be a 24/7 emergency clinic.
Becky - Receptionist
Becky decided to rejoin the workforce when her daughter started her senior year of high school. She joined the River Valley Veterinary Hospital family in 2013 as their receptionist and could not be happier with her decision. Her favorite part of the job is listening to clients’ wonderful pet stories! Becky resides on a small farm with her family and they share their lives with two dogs, three cats, a large host of farm animals.
When she isn’t tending to clients’ needs here at the clinic, Becky enjoys spending time with her family, talking with friends on the phone, watching her favorite TV shows, and traveling.
Bretta - Receptionist
As her children got older, Bretta decided to return to work. What better way to satisfy her love of animals, than to work at a veterinary hospital? Bretta now serves as one of River Valley Veterinary Hospital’s veteran receptionists. Bretta joined the team here at River Valley Veterinary Hospital in August of 2007. Bretta particularly likes greeting the clinic’s four legged visitors in the lobby. In her time away from work, Bretta is an avid hunter, and also enjoys anything in the great outdoors. She has three children and a young granddaughter.
Heidi - Diagnostic Technician
A pet owner herself, Heidi has never taken for granted the unconditional love and loyalty that our animal companions bring. She’s always wanted to be able to give something back, and she’s able to do just that as a member of the River Valley Veterinary Hospital team since 2009! Heidi is the clinic’s Technician Manager. Heidi grew up in New Hampshire and North Carolina before settling in Pittsburgh with her family. Before joining the River Valley Veterinary Hospital family, she served at a local pet store as the Kennel Manager. Dr. Linkenheimer personally recruited her for the job about six years ago, and she’s been here ever since! Heidi’s family shares their home with four dogs named Tico, Chica, Dixie, and Opie.
Dan - Certified Veterinary Technician, CVT
Dan always knew he was meant to change animal lives for the better. Dan graduated from Vet Tech Institute almost 20 years ago and landed his first technician position shortly after. A Lower Burrell native, he has worked at practices in the AK Valley most of his career and wouldn’t change a thing.
Dan specializes in wellness, behavior, and healing. He also likes to teach clients about disease, prevention and behavior. He loves a challenge in this ever changing profession.
Dan shares his home with his favorite hiking partner, his collie Henry. They also enjoy camping and exploring together. The sound of Coyotes howling is a favorite.
When not enjoying time spent with his dog, Dan likes to travel. His most notable travels have been to Ireland, the beaches in Maine, Key West, Montreal, Seattle and Outer Banks. Dan says there’s nothing like waking up to the sounds of the ocean waves crashing.
Katrina - Lead Technician
Katrina’s mother always took in stray animals while Katrina was growing up, and it made a permanent impression. Ever since she was young, Katrina knew that she would love to help animals when she got older. Her passion never wavered—she’s been a Veterinary Technician for more than 11 years! Katrina attended Median School of Allied Health Careers and received an Associate Degree in Veterinary Technology. Katrina has past experience working with everything from cats and dogs to small mammals, birds, and reptiles. She joined the River Valley Veterinary Hospital family in the spring of 2016 and couldn’t be happier. She particularly enjoys getting to learn something new every day; there’s truly never a dull moment! Katrina is married and is a proud mother to two wonderful sons. The family shares their home with a pair of dogs and three cats.
Kathy - Receptionist
After leaving her full-time job, Kathy quickly discovered that she wasn’t fond of staying at home all day. Since she had frequented River Valley Veterinary Hospital with her own pets, she had a thought: why not give something back to the community while spending time around adorable animals at the same time? That’s when Kathy decided to join the hospital family! Kathy is a West Deer Township native and joined the River Valley Veterinary Hospital team in the summer of 2014. She serves as one of the clinic’s front-desk receptionists, and never tires of meeting new pet owners and their furry companions on a daily basis. Kathy especially likes to swap fun pet stories, and she’s even picked up a few tips from clients that she’s tried with her own pets at home!
Kathy and her husband have two grown children; their daughter lives in West Deer and their son lives in Florida. At home, they share their lives with three pets: a pair of lovable beagles named Abby and Bella as well as a cat, Gizmo, who likes to think that everything is his.
Lauren - Front Office Manager
Lauren has always adored the company of animals, and she knew that she’d like to use her passion in a meaningful way to impact others. Here at River Valley Veterinary Hospital, she’s able to better the lives of pets and their owners daily as a Veterinary Technician and the Front Office Manager! Lauren joined the River Valley Veterinary family in the fall of 2007; she was thrilled to learn upon interviewing that she would be cross-trained as a Technician! Now, Lauren is able to use her skill set every day to make every patient as comfortable as possible. She makes it her personal mission to ensure that every visitor to the clinic — furry and otherwise — feels welcome.
Outside of work, Lauren enjoys spending time with her family, especially traveling to Ocean City with her husband, two daughters and stepsons. At home, the family is rounded out by Maddi, an English bulldog, and a tiny little terror named Boots.
Linda - General Manager
Linda has wanted to put her time and effort toward the betterment of animals for as long as she can remember—she prides herself on her listening skills, and loves being able to problem-solve and find solutions for the area’s pet owners! Linda serves as the General Manager of River Valley Veterinary Services. Linda first joined the hospital team in 2006, when she signed on as a Veterinary Technician, and was promoted to the General Manager position in the summer of 2014. When she’s not assisting a veterinarian, you can find Linda managing her talented staff, ordering supplies, and making sure the clinic is functioning smoothly in order to best serve the area’s animal parents. In her time away from work, Linda enjoys landscaping, gardening, vacationing, and spending time with her own pets. She lives with two dogs, Phantom and Oliver, as well as a pair of cats named Mr. Kitters and Biff.
Sakari - Veterinary Technician
Pets have made Sakari’s life better for as long as she can remember. For her, working hands-on with animals in the veterinary world is the perfect way to return the favor! Sakari helps pets as a Veterinary Technician with the River Valley Veterinary Hospital team. Sakari completed her externship at a local animal clinic, and graduated from the Vet Tech Institute of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in July of 2017. The next month, she was thrilled to accept a position here at River Valley Veterinary Hospital! Sakari brings with her special interests in laboratory procedures and radiology work. Her favorite part of every shift is getting to meet loveable patients and their proud owners.
Outside of work, Sakari can be found enjoying a good book, camping and fishing in the great outdoors, relaxing around a bonfire, or spending time with her family and pets. She lives with two dogs, three cats, and a pair of ferrets.
Marla - Certified Veterinary Technician, CVT
Marla grew up in Wexford, where her love affair with animals began as a member of the 4-H organization. Her early experiences riding horses and working in the stables left a permanent impression—she’s always known that a career spent caring for pets would be the perfect fit! Marla attended the Vet Tech Institute to earn her degree in veterinary technology, graduating as a Certified Veterinary Technician. She joined the team here at River Valley Veterinary Hospital in September of 2017, and has been tending to the area’s pets and animal parents ever since. Her favorite part of her work is getting to witness the journey from diagnosis and treatment to a healthy, happy pet! Marla lives in Allison Park with her husband and their three cats: Noodle, Gandalf, and Thorin. In her free time, she loves to ride dirt bikes, and even competed in her first race in 2017. Marla is also an avid crafter, and her specialty involves refurbishing pallets into works of art for others.
Alexis - Veterinary Technician
Growing up, Alexis’ mother always told her that she was meant to work with animals. She could not see her taking any other career path. Alexis started out at community college soon realizing she had more to offer in life, she applied and was accepted into Vet Tech Institute of Pittsburgh and through hard work and compassion she graduated in February 2019. As the newest addition to River Valley, Alexis enjoys hearing clients tell her how special their pets are to them while assuring them they are just as special to us. She also enjoys knowing that she is assisting in the well being of your pet. Alexis grew up in Sarver and lives with her mom and brother. Their household is shared with a 1 ½ year old Siberian Husky named Aleu who is quite sassy and talkative. In her free time, Alexis enjoys playing volleyball, hiking, horseback riding and spending time with her grandparents.
Matt - Veterinary Assistant
Matt has always wanted to make a positive impact on the lives of animals and the community. You may have seen Matt around the office before as he has been job shadowing at River Valley Veterinary Hospital for over a year now. He has recently become our veterinary assistant. Matt attends Penn State where he is pursuing a degree in Biology. He plans on applying to veterinary school after graduation.
Matt grew up in West Deer and is a Deer Lakes graduate. He lives with his mother, father and brother and most importantly, his Golden Retriever named Buddy. In his time outside of school and work, Matt enjoys the outdoors. You can find him hunting, fishing, or camping but mostly just enjoying the company of his family and friends. He is also an avid soccer fan!
Dawn - Veterinary Technician
Dawn grew up in Mulkeytown, a rural area in Southern Illinois.
She attended Christopher Community High School and her first job was as a dishwasher at a local cafe.
As a child living in the country, Dawn always had a love of the surrounding wildlife and occasional stray animal that was dumped by people in the local towns. As a result, She was always interacting with wildlife and her family never went without a dog. Animals became a huge part of Dawn’s life and over the years developed the necessary skills to approach and handle them.
Dawn sought out employment at River Valley after moving to Pennsylvania. The location in Springdale is a nice area and upon entering the facility she knew this was the kind of place where she could feel comfortable and appreciated. Having not been here long, Dawn’s greatest accomplishment has been interacting with the clientele as a receptionist. Her previous background in this field had my focus on the animals themselves.
Dawn enjoys editing photography. Photo manipulation is a way to create art from something that we would normally take for granted.
The greatest reward working at River Valley is knowing that the sick or injured animal scheduled is on it’s way to recovery.
Dawn’s future goal is to be capable of navigating reception and technician to show my full potential at River Valley.
Jody - Veterinary Technician
Jody grew up in New Kensington and graduated Valley High School in 2011.
Jody’s first job was as a face painter for Pittsburgh Steeler games at Heinz Field.
It’s been Jody’s childhood dream to work with animals.
Jody feels that River Valley cares about their employees and will work with them the best they can to meet their needs and the company’s daily needs. The morale at River Valley is also very good.
Maintaining good morale at a job is very important especially when working as a team. Jody’s greatest accomplishment is how much she’s already learned and will continue to learn with working with this facility. River Valley also has great room and a number of opportunities to grow over time.
Jody enjoys taking on new challenges and having the opportunity to achieve something new.
Another aspect Jody loves about River Valley is that when she feels weak in one aspect of the job, there is always someone she can reach out too that’s strong enough to help her resolve the issue and grow from it.
Jody’s goals for the future are to gain new skills, continue to improve her job performance in all areas, and to stay positive .
Emily - Certified Veterinary Technician
Emily grew up in Kittanning, PA and graduated from Vet-Tech Institute in 2008.
Her first ever job was at the Creekside Mushroom Mines,first tech job was with Kittanning Veterinary Associates.
Emily has always loved animals, and for a long time wanted to be a marine biologist or a large animal veterinarian. She had an experience as a child with one of her own animals at a vet appointment, where she watched her pet be handled roughly and with no love or compassion and decided then and there she wanted to work where she could treat everyone else’s animals like Emily would want her own treated. After some research, Emily decided as a
tech she could do that.
Emily started at River Valley after deciding corporate veterinary medicine wasn’t for her. Emily has really enjoyed getting to be a part of the family here.
Emily is a huge Ninja Turtle and Titanic nerd. She could go on for hours on both subjects. Emily has a collection of every Ninja Turtle movie and every
Titanic book (that she can find).
Emily says that the most rewarding part of working at River Valley is the close knit family of doctors and employees and their compassion for each and every pet that comes through our front doors. She says that she’s never been a part of such a compassionate team.
Emily’s goals are simple, continue to work as she always has,treating animals like they were her own, and embracing each client as a member
of our family at River Valley.
Jamie - Receptionist
Jamie is a local and has lived in the Natrona Heights and surrounding area all of her life. She is a Highlands High School Grad and her very first job was at Taco Bell at 16 years old.
Jamie has always been a people person and also happens to love animals so it was the best of both worlds for her to work at River Valley.
Jamie’s family members have been bringing their pets to River Valley for years. She always trusted our doctors with her fur babies and is proud to now be a part of the River Valley family. Jamie learns something new everyday.
Something unique about Jamie is that she has been with her high school sweetheart husband since she was 15 years old and still wears the tiny diamond ring that he gave her at the high school prom.
Jamie would say the most rewarding moments for her are when she sees the relief on the faces of the many pet owners in the community who come to us for answers of concern with their babies. As a pet owner, she knows how important it is to have a Veterinarian that you trust.
Her goal is to continue to learn, continue to help our community pet owners with assistance and sincere support and to provide a welcoming experience.