Meet Our Team


  • Dr. Dan Ahrens

    Dr. Ahrens had completed his courses for a master’s degree in biochemistry at University of Texas A&M in the area of nutrition when he was accepted into veterinary school. He quit graduate school and immediately enrolled in veterinary college. His interest in nutrition has remained during his career as a veterinarian. This interest and his years of consultations with Dr. Wessels, a DVM with a PhD in physiology/nutrition that lives in upstate New York, concerning specific patient’s nutritional needs has allowed our clinic to keep up with current scientific breakthroughs in nutrition and diets. This is one of the reasons our clinic offers organic fresh frozen foods for pets with no preservatives, sugars, or dyes. If clients choose to use a commercial prepared kibble, Dr. Ahrens stresses the importance of quality meat based diets without harmful chemicals.

    While his duties at VMDAH are primarily research and management, he is still keenly interested in the everyday healthcare for your beloved pets. Dr. Ahrens has brought innovative technologies to VMDAH such as in house stem cell treatments, PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) therapy, and the latest in cold laser supportive therapy. Dr. Ahrens continues his education by working on becoming certified in Homeopathy amongst other modalities. He is a certified canine rehabilitation practitioner by the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Texas Veterinary Medical Association, Harris County Veterinary Medical Association, Montgomery County Veterinary Medical Association, American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Veterinary Acupuncturist, and International Veterinary Association of Pain Management.

  • Dr. Juan Ayala
    Managing Veterinarian

    Dr Ayala joined Veterans Memorial Drive Animal Hospital in August 2011. Dr. Ayala is bilingual which helps in medical information relay to our Spanish speaking clients. Dr Ayala is the doctor who does our stem surgeries. Dr. Ayala is taking advanced continuing education to be able to provide surgeries at VMDAH and is responsible for over seeing that our veterinary medicine standards meet Dr. Ahrens philosophy. He graduated from Louisiana State University in 2010. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Texas Veterinary Medical Association, Harris County Veterinary Medical Association, and a MediVet Accredited Adipose Stem Cell Practitioner.

  • Dr. Lisa Knapp

    Dr. Knapp is a 1989 Graduate of Texas A&M University. She is certified by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association and is a certified animal acupuncturist through the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society. She applies all her postdoctoral skills daily in the practice because of her special interest in sports medicine. Dr. Knapp has actively competed in local and national agility trials for the last 17 years. She is the reason an agility team chose to use our agility yard for their practices. Dr. Knapp is a skilled surgeon and shows a keen interest in internal medicine and has been with Veterans Memorial Drive Animal Hospital for 20 years When not hard at work or solving cases, Dr. Knapp spends quality time with her husband, two children (Allen and Amelia), two Shelties (Andy and Sable),two cats (Junior and Tammy),one guinea pig (Pillsbury), an African Grey (Kingpin) and a beta. (The Knapp's are working on the name!) We appreciate her hard work, countless hours, dedication and contributions to Veterans Memorial Drive Animal Hospital. She is very valuable to us, and her clientele will surely agree that Dr. Knapp goes above and beyond the call of duty, and we are very fortunate to have her on our team. She is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Texas Veterinary Medical Association, Harris County Veterinary Medical Association, American Holistic Medical Association, American Association of Veterinary Acupuncturist, and American Veterinary Chiropractic Association.

  • Dr. Mary A. Crist

    Dr. Mary Alissa Crist graduated from Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1989. After graduation, Dr. Crist practiced in Odessa, Texas (her home area) and then moved to Houston, Texas, to become an associate in 1993 at Veterans Memorial Drive Animal Hospital. Dr. Mary A. Crist was also a clinical assistant professor at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine in College Station, Texas. Dr. Mary Alissa Crist is a published author and has spoken at many veterinary conferences. She has combined her academic career and her veterinary clinical practice to provide the highest quality veterinary care to all her patients. She provides both Eastern and Western medicine for Veterans Memorial Drive Animal Hospital. Dr. Crist is certified in veterinary acupuncture with the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, Chinese herbology, and is an associate member of the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association. She held a director position for the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management which supports her passion for animal pain management and rehabilitation something very near and dear to her heart.

    Dr. Mary Alissa Crist has a special interest in performance and sports medicine. She is involved in competitive dog obedience and conformation and is the proud owner of “Rennie” (GCH CH Courtwood Whirly Girl), a two year old Irish setter, who is ranked in the top 10 and treated with holistic veterinary care. She also competes with “Shimmers” (JMK She Shimmers), her palomino horse, which is also under her holistic health care.

    Dr. Crist enjoys spending quality time with her husband (Jeff) and her two step-daughters (Debbie and Leslie) and her two grandchildren (Tiffany and Brian). She is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Texas Veterinary Medical Association, Harris County Veterinary Medical Association, American Holistic Medical Association, American Association of Veterinary Acupuncture, International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, American Veterinary Chiropractic Association, and the Irish Setter Club of America.

  • Dr. Howard Corley

    He will be sorely missed by all our staff, his clients, family and friends. He passed away in December 2008 from kidney cancer.

  • Dr.
    Carolyn Benedetto

    Veterans Memorial Drive Animal Hospital welcomes Dr. Carolyn Benedetto!

    Dr. Benedetto joins the Veterans Memorial family in September 2019. Dr. Benedetto, Patrick (Her husband), Zoey (fur baby), and Ophie (fur baby) moved to Houston from Nashville Tennessee. 

    Dr Benedetto is a graduate of Louisiana State University College of Veterinary Medicine. While in in vet school, she became acupuncture certified from the Curacore Integrative Medicine Center of Colorado. Dr Benedetto was a recipient of the Merck Animal Health Student Scholarship. Shortly before joining our team, she began her certification in canine rehabilitation from the University of Tennessee. Dr. Benedetto has interests in Ultrasonography, dentistry, and provide excellent care for  your furry family member. 

    Outside of the hospital setting, Dr. Benedetto enjoys canoeing, painting, yoga, and dining with Patrick. 


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Hospital Manager

  • Tony Miranda

    Tony Miranda, Penn Hip Cert. - Hospital Manager. The buck stops here. He is responsible for the day-to-day management and staffing of VMDAH since 2007. He has been involved in veterinary medicine industry since 1996, and since he has advanced through every position the clinic has to offer except veterinarian. He has worked with and been around animals since he was a child. He has completed over 100 hours in equine anatomy, physiology, and neurology, from the Vluggen Institute of Equine Osteopathy in 2008. Although not a veterinarian he has also completed advanced courses in veterinary dentistry, critical care, radiology, anesthesiology, and management. Tony has also taken canine rehabilitation lab courses from North Carolina State University Canine Rehabilitation and has began testing for certification for Canine Rehabilitation from The University of Tennessee in Knoxville.He is currently in charge of scheduling, inventory, and hospital administration, stem cell processing, platelet rich plasma (PRP) preparation, Low Level Laser Therapy, canine physical rehabilitation, underwater treadmill, land treadmill, therapeutic whirlpool, and ozone therapies. In his time away from the clinic, Tony currently concentrates on hoof health through barefoot methods and other modalities available. Tony dedicates time to farrier work and education, equine health, trail riding, horse training and his Bully dogs. His wife, four children, multiple dogs, cats, and horses keep him very busy when he's not at the clinic.

Vet Techs

  • Maria Noriega, LVT

    Maria is our licensed veterinary technician and has been a team member since April 2007. Maria began in kennels and has excelled throught the diffent positions in the hospital. As you can imagine, her schedule is full. She has enough on-the-job training that she can handle anything that goes on in the treatment and surgery area, plus she has completed an advanced course in veterinary dentistry. She loves pets and has dedicated her life to animals by choosing this as a career. She, her husband and son have adopted strays and now have at least four dogs and a cat. When she is not at the clinic, Maria dedicates invaluable time to rescuing fur babies in need and helping out organizations with her knowledge. Her value to our clinic can't be measured. Maria is fluent in Spanish.

  • Alejandra Ochoa, CVA

    Alejandra started her internship with us in 2011 while finishing her vet tech program. She joined our team in January 2012. Alejandra and her husband share their home with two four legged babies, Kaya and Minette. Alejandra is currently working on her state board to become a licensed veterinary technician. Alejandra is fluent in Spanish.

  • Kellee Williams, CVA

    Kellee Joined our team in April 2013.Her high energy and dedication to our patients health care keeps the flow of the hospital moving. Kellee's knowledge and and dedication allows her to help in training new team members in any position available in the hospital. She and her three sons share their home with multiple four-legged babies, including fosters looking for new homes.

  • Holli West, CVA

    Holli began in September 2015 as an intern for her veterinary assistant program. She came onboard by November 2015 as a veterinary assitant and is now a in a vet tech position. Our patients and clients appreciate her soft voice and sweet personality.

  • Chikeida (Keke) McWilliams, CVA

    Keke began her internship for veterinary assistant with us October 2016. She joined our team in December 2016 after graduating from PIMA. A year later she became a mother and Keke began her internship as a veterinary technician in October 2017. In December 2017, Keke Graduated top of her class as a veterianry technician. Keke is currently planning on taking the state board exam to become an LVT. We are proud to have her on our team.

Veterinary Assistants

  • Gwyneth Rohde

    Gwyneth joined our hospital August 2016. Gwyneth has worked at multiple other hospitals and in many roles. She has been a registered veterinary technician, worked as a tech, and been a management in previous practices. Her knowledge and steady pace is essential for our patients care. When Gwyneth is not spending family time with her mom and dad, she spends time with her horse.

Greeting Committee

  • Maria Garcia, CVA

    Maria Joined our team in 2010 after our hospital absorbed Mount Houston Animal Clinic. Maria has been in the industry over 17 years. Her knowledge and care is immeasurable to our hospital. Although Maria is a vet tech, her role as a leader up front is essential. When she is not receiving or checking out a client you can find Maria placing a catheter , in kennels cleaning and feeding, in a surgery, helping in exam rooms, or helping a patient recover from a surgery.

  • Candace Hanchett

    Candace joined our team September 2014. Candace is a familiar friendly face clients recognize and value. Candace is a very compassionate and caring team member that delivers the care and service that exceeds hospital standards. Though she was a rookie when she came on board, she has quickly gained valuable knowledge that allows her to deliver excellent customer care. We are fortunate to have her with us.

  • Brittany Nguyen

    Brittany Joined our hospital with a strong back ground in the pet retail and pet resort industry. Brittany began at our hospital as an animal care team member in kennels. Her ambition and hard work has allowed her to move up to become a part of the greeting committee in a short period of time. Her great care and compassion for animals has carried over to her next position. Brittany is fluent in Vietnamese which allows her to help our Vietnamese clients in our community.

Animal Care Team

  • Kenya Reyes

    Kenya joined our team June 2017. She is a familiar face here at the hospital when you are dropping off your fur babies for boarding. Kenya offers care and compassion to all boarders that we would expect for our own pets. She provides a level of care that meets and exceeds our standard. If your fur babies have stayed with us, they are certain to recognize her. Kenya is fluent in Spanish.

Pet Stylist

  • Vivian Cuddihee

    Vivian joined our team in May of 2017. She is very caring and handles your fur babies with lots of love and gentleness. Call to make an appointment with her here at Veterans Memorial Drive Animal Hospital.


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Office Hours

Our Regular Schedule


7:00 am-7:00 pm


7:00 am-7:00 pm


7:00 am-7:00 pm


7:00 am-7:00 pm


7:00 am-7:00 pm


8:00 am-1:00 pm




Read What Our Clients Say

  • "I’ve been coming here for over 25 years and with over a dozen pups. I’ve moved 4 times and regardless of distance VMDAH is the only choice for me."
    Bob N.
  • "I cannot say enough great things about Dr. Crist and Veterans Memorial Drive Animal Hospital. I have NEVER been to a doctor (especially a veterinarian) who took a full hour to do an exam and history. I was so impressed with the time taken and genuine concern that Dr. Crist had for my kiddo. I am so happy that they provide alternatives to traditional veterinarian medicine like chiropractic, acupuncture and supplements. I highly recommend VMDAH!"
    Whitley J.