204 W. Granger Ave., Modesto, CA 95350
(209) 527-5855(209) 527-5855
Mon-Fri: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sat: 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.
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Meet Our Staff


Dr. Jeff Kahler
DVM, Practice Director

Jeff Kahler

Jeff Kahler spent his childhood on the San Francisco Peninsula exploring the open fields, discovering the wonders of the animal kingdom. He developed a keen interest in reptiles and amphibians that continues today in his veterinary practice.

Dr. Kahler attended California State University, Fresno and received his undergraduate degree in biology. For 2 years, he worked in a veterinary hospital where he started as veterinary kennel attendant and later to a veterinary assistant. Then he moved to Davis to study at the University of California, Davis (UCD), working toward a PhD in comparative pathology. He then attended veterinary school at UCD, where he received his doctor of veterinary medicine in 1987.

Dr. Kahler began working at Veterinary Medical Associates in 1991, and became the director of the practice in 1996. His special interests include: internal medicine and surgery for small animal companions such as dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, reptiles, rodents, ferrets, goats, fish . . . and the list goes on.

Above all else, Dr. Kahler enjoys the special bond that is created between pet owners and their beloved companions. He is rewarded on a daily basis as he helps establish these relationships. His experience solidifies that he could have chosen no greater profession.

Dr. Hilary Wert

Hilary Wert

Dr. Hilary Wert grew up on the San Francisco Peninsula with a wide variety of pets, including cats, dogs, guinea pigs, snakes, and fish.  She developed a passion for animals, and with her accompanied love of science, spurred an interest in veterinary medicine.

Dr. Wert graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2006 with an undergraduate degree in biology. After graduation, she worked at a family-owned business for 4 years.  Meanwhile, in her free time, she volunteered at local wildlife rehabilitation facilities, barns, and veterinary clinics.  She then attended the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, where she received her degree in 2014.  After graduating from Davis, she joined Veterinary Medical Associates in July 2014.

Her special interests include: small animal medicine, soft-tissue surgery, and behavior of small animal and exotic pets.

Outside of work, she enjoys cooking, gardening, and relaxing with friends.

Veterinary Staff

Cheryl Kirkbride
Office Manager

Cheryl  Kirkbride

I started with VMA in 1983-so you can say I have been here awhile. I’ve seen the many stages of a pet’s life, as well as our clients. It’s so rewarding to see the children of our clients coming in with not only their pets, but also their children and family.

At the present time I have a Chihuahua/daschund mix and a long-haired daschund.

I enjoy spending time with family, traveling and crafting.

April Valentin-Kroll
Registered Veterinary Technician

April  Valentin-Kroll

I graduated with my A.S. in Animal Health Technology from San Diego Mesa College and received my license from the state of California as a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) in 2007. My area of interest has been in working with exotics, with a special interest in avian medicine. Throughout my veterinary career I have had the pleasure of working in exotics specialty practices, wildlife rehabilitation centers , and the San Diego Zoo Wild Animal Park. After receiving a second A.S. in Natural Sciences, I moved from San Diego to the Central Valley to be closer to my extended family and go back to school. I am currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from CSU Stanislaus. I am a native Californian, full-time mother of two young children, and happily married since 2004. A dog, two cats, and three cockatiels complete my family.

Recreationally I enjoy yoga, bicycle rides, gardening, and hikes in nature, trips to the beach and the zoo and volunteering at our local wildlife rescue. I am thrilled to be part of the Veterinary Medical Associates team! I am looking forward to serving our local community by contributing to the health care of local pets like yours.

Autumn Espejel
Registered Veterinary Technician

Autumn Espejel

My career at VMA started in 2003 while I was attending Western Career College(now Carrington College).  I have gained knowledge pertaining to many different species of animals which we have seen here at VMA. My work even comes home with me as I have adopted several birds, dogs and cats.

I am married with a daughter and twin boys. As a family we enjoy spending time together rooting for the Oakland A’s.

Allysen Wood
Registered Veterinary Technician

Allysen Wood

I grew up here in the Central Valley with a strong passion for animals.  I am very nurturing and always try to do for others, with a drive to succeed at everything I do and always trying to better myself. I’ve always been around exotic animals, livestock and, of course, dogs and cats.  I love the outdoors, camping, fishing and spending time with my family. I am the lucky new mother of a wonderful miracle baby boy and some fur-babies.

Jennifer Stephens
Veterinary Assistant

Jennifer Stephens

I have been a resident of the VMA family since 2001. I started here as a kennel assistant after leaving a career as a fast food restaurant manger. I have been able to progress into a position as a technician through my many experiences here at VMA. My favorite part of this job is interacting with our clients and their companion pets.

When not at work, I enjoy spending time with my husband and daughter. I also have the privilege of sharing my home with two wonderful dogs and a cat who crawled into my husband’s car while he was at work and hitched a ride to our house.

Jenifer Thatcher
Veterinary Assistant

Jenifer  Thatcher

I started with VMA in 1991 as a kennel assistant. Because of my dedication to the clients and their pets over the years, I have become a senior technician with VMA. I am able to assist with all exotic and small animal medical questions and surgical procedures. The love for my job comes from the family-like atmosphere with doctors, staff and clients.

I have been married since 1992 and have two children, a daughter and a son. We have a full house of animals: dogs, cats, birds, reptiles and a guinea pig. I am rewarded every day with the amazing clients and their pets, a staff who works hard together and a loving family at home. Working for VMA has given me the gift of working with clients through difficult and happy times with their beloved pets.

Alba Vasquez
Veterinary Assistant

Alba  Vasquez

I've always had a love for animals ever since I can remember and wanted to help them in any way possible. I volunteered at different animal shelters in Modesto and Santa Cruz. I also worked at a veterinary office during my time as an undergraduate student.

I graduated from the University of California Santa Cruz in 2015 with my bachelor's degree in biology. I work at Veterinary Medical Associates because I know I'll gain valuable insight from the doctors and support staff. I plan to further my education in the veterinary field and become a DVM.

In my spare time I love to be outdoors in the sunshine drinking a cup of tea with my two Siamese cats or watching my dogs playing together.




Bella Hernandez
Veterinary Assistant

Bella  Hernandez

I grew up mostly in Modesto, but have also lived in Arizona and Nevada. After returning to California for the last time, I attended MJC. I graduated from the Veterinary Technician program, earning a Certificate of Achievement. I also volunteered at our local animal shelter working closely with the Doctors and technicians. I enjoy working at Veterinary Medical Associates and appreciate all their mentoring and support. I plan on continuing my education to achieve my AS Degree in Animal Science, as well as my RVT license.

I enjoy working with all species of animals, including exotics, pockets, as well as all the others.

When I am NOT studying, I enjoy watching movies, playing video games and spending time with my fur babies, playing fetch and training them to do new tricks.

Cynthia Yates

Cynthia  Yates

I started my veterinary career in 2002 in Reno, NV. I relocated back to Modesto and started my receptionist position at Veterinary Medical Associates. My favorite part of my job is seeing all the amazing animals that we see here, both big and small.
I got married in 2007 and we have one wonderful son. We have 3 small dogs. In my free time, I love to spend time with my family, barbecuing, shopping, gardening and going swimming.

Makayla Harris

Makayla  Harris

I have had a passion to work with animals all my life! My career started at the Oregon Humane Society, a non-profit, located in Portland, OR. I moved (back) home the beginning of 2016 where I was hired as a receptionist at VMA in March. I love my job because it gives me the opportunity to meet and learn about so many different kinds of animals.

When I am not at work, you can find me outside. I enjoy spending time with a good book, or with my two dogs, Ruby and Misty, large bodies of water, traveling, hiking and gardening. I am also an artist and enjoy drawing, painting, and photography!