Dr. Ken M. Upton, Medical Director
Dr. Upton received his doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Illinois in 1989. He has lived in San Diego since graduating. In addition to providing general veterinary care, his special area of interest is performing soft tissue and orthopedic surgery. Dr. Upton is a member of the San Diego County Veterinary Medical Association, California Veterinary Medical Association, and the American Veterinary Medical Association.
In his spare time, Dr. Upton enjoys spending time with his wife, Jennifer, and children, Dylan and Lauren. Dr. Upton, also makes time for boating, surfing, snow skiing, and hiking with his dog "Kirra".
Dr. Michelle Schexneider, Associate Veterinarian
Dr. Schexneider fell in love with Veterinary Medicine while working as a Registered Veterinary Technician in a small animal clinic after college. She grew up in San Diego, traveled the world with her military family, went to school at UCSD, met her husband Will, then went back to veterinary school. She received her doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, CA in 2007. She completed a one-year surgical and medical internship at the Southern California Veterinary Specialty Hospital in Irvine, CA and joined the Pacific Pet Hospital team in August 2008. She is inspired daily by her two small dogs LT and Evander.
Dr. Schexneider enjoys dinner parties and BBQs, movies, decorating the house, traveling, and boating on the Colorado River with friends. She loves hanging out with her very supportive husband Will and her adorable son who keeps them plenty entertained.
Vivian Toral, RVT (Registered Veterinary Technician)
Vivian, living life in the fast lane, has been working at Pacific Pet Hospital since March 2005. She chose this field because of a deep desire to help injured and homeless animals. She wants to make a difference in their lives.
Vivian graduated from Pima Medical Institute in 2011 with her Associate's degree and passed her medical boards to become an RVT (Registered Veterinary Technician.) She stays busy outside of work with her dogs Lucy, Malibu, King, and K-Oz. Vivian enjoys playing pool, bowling, and spending time with her fiance.
Terry Gray, Exam Room Nurse
Terry has been in the veterinary field since 2006 when she applied for a job at the veterinary hospital where she brought her own cat (she says they hired her because she could spell!) She has been working with people for most of her life. She likes being able to make a difference in animals' lives. Terry has a son, two step-children, eleven grandchildren, a cat named Z, and a desert tortoise named Mr. T.
Terry collects cookbooks and salt and pepper shakers. Her Sundays are spent cooking while watching football (Go Redskins!) and she adores visits with her grandkids and other family. She graduated from Chula Vista High in 1978. She is people oriented and detail oriented and loves taking care of our clients' furry family members. She wants people to know that she will help them make the best decisions regarding their pets and she will treat their animals as if they were her own.
Amy Garcia, Veterinary Nurse
Amy has been part of the Pacific Pet Hospital team since June 2006. Animals have always been a part of her life and she could not imagine doing anything else with her life. Amy has two pets at home, a Chihuahua named "Biki" and a poodle mix named "Picaro".
In her spare time, she loves to read, play video games, and spend time with friends. Amy graduated from Hilltop High School in 2005. She then completed the Veterinary Assistant program from PIMA in August of 2006.
Denise Canicosa, Veterinary Nurse
Denise has had a passion and love for animals since childhood. Her family recalls her trying to patch up street cats with leaves at the age of 3. She started another occupation, but now is ready to pursue her dream of caring for animals of all shapes and sizes. Her fascination for this has grown immensely since working and studying in this field. She has completed multiple ROP classes in health fields for Certified Nurse Assistant, Medical Assistant, and Veterinary Assistant.
Denise is very close with her family, including her dad, sister, two brothers, and niece. Her animal babies include two dogs, a cat, a sulcata tortoise, and a veiled chameleon. Denise goes hiking, watches movies and TV shows, plays the guitar and piano, reads, and she likes to try everything. Denise is open, understanding, helpful, and caring to our clients' needs. She does her best to resolve problems and make people feel comfortable. She wants our clients to leave happy so they'll visit us again!
Naela Aquino, Veterinary Nurse
Naela had a childhood love for animals. When she was 5 her family members would ask what she wanted to be when she grew up and she always said she wanted to be a doctor to help all the sick pets. Four legged friends have always been the object of her affection.
She and her boyfriend, Christian, have a baby daughter. She loves to go to the beach and take walks in the park, and visit Starbucks on a daily basis. She attended Pima Medical Institute and graduated the Veterinary Assistant program in 2011.
When you bring your pets to us they will receive the same amount of love from her as they would if she owned them herself – this is how she would want her pets to be treated somewhere else.
Jartavius Rucker, Veterinary Nurse
Jartavius joined the PPH team in April 2015. He has been a pet, dog, and cat person his whole life. He was enlisted in the US Marines for 4 years, then chose the veterinary field as his career. He has no pets at the moment, but would love to have a Boston terrier as his side kick one day. So, instead of walking dogs, he plays video games and basketball. He went to Pima Medical Institute and completed both Veterinary Assistant and Registered Veterinary Technician programs there, graduating May 2015.
Vanessa Johnson, Veterinary Nurse
Vanessa joined the PPH team in April 2015. Prior to this she was a student at Pima Medical Institute where she earned degrees in Veterinary Assistant in 2014 and Veterinary Technician in 2015. She loves working with animals, as she always has. From childhood she was surrounded by chickens, dogs, guinea pigs, and hamsters.
Now she has a fluffy baby - a mini Schnauzer named Gigi - and a crested gecko named Zeus. She lives at home with her family and is soon to be married. She loves the adventure of camping, riding motorcycles, shooting, jet skiing, and getting her hands dirty at the hospital.
Claudia Jimenez, Veterinary Nurse
Claudia enjoys working with animals and their owners. She feels a sense of accomplishment by working with animals and making their visits to the hospital as smooth as possible. She will always treat you and your pet with respect and compassion.
Claudia joined our team in June 2015. She is married with 2 children, Klarissa and Ernesto. She loves to spend time with and travel with them. She also spends time at her church and serves as a Youth Leader there. Her other kid was her family’s beloved Maximus, an adopted Neapolitan Mastiff who recently passed away.
Her education includes the Regional Occupational Program in 2001, the Humane Academy at the Humane Society of San Diego in 2005, and Grossmont College’s medical office program in 2013.
Debbie Whitney, Receptionist
Debbie has been working at Pacific Pet Hospital since 1995. Debbie chose the veterinary field because of the unconditional love she can give and receive from the animals that are hospitalized. Debbie majored in Advertising and graduated from San Diego State University in 1999. In her spare time Debbie enjoys shopping at Macy's and spending time with her nephew.
Karla Castaneda, Receptionist
Karla joined the Pacific Pet Hospital team in February of 2010. She has always had the passion to work with kids and animals. After previously working as a receptionist for a pediatrician's office for six years, she decided to cross over into animal healthcare which she greatly enjoys.
She has a husband, Hugo, and two daughters, Kaylin & Kamryn. In her spare time, Karla enjoys reading, going to the beach, bowling, BBQ's, and any quality time she has with her family. Even though she doesn't have any pets at this time, she would one day love to have a Great Dane.
Ruthie Ryan, Receptionist
Ruthie joined our team in May of 2013. She loves being around animals every day. She loves building relationships with clients and their pets. She prefers being the receptionist because she can provide comfort to our animals without having to be the one to do the "dirty work" that the doctors and technicians get to do. She has a beautiful daughter named Bea who is sassy but sweet like her momma. Ruthie does not have pets right now, but in her lifetime has had every animal you can think of as a pet. Animals have always been a part of her life. Her favorite was her dog Oreo who was her baby.
Ruthie loves to paint abstract and draw. She's obsessed with fashion, so she finds excuses for retail therapy from time to time. She spends time with her daughter and nephews a lot. Family is everything to Ruthie. Her mom is her best friend. She loves the Chargers and never misses an episode of General Hospital. She'd like her clients to know she will treat their pets as if they were her own and will make them feel as comfortable as they can be. Never be afraid to ask her anything - if she doesn't know the answer she'll find someone who does.