Meet our doctors

Lauren Smith Cassady, DVM

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"I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, and I always had a cat by my side.  Although I had an interest in medicine during high school and college, I did not know that I wanted to become a vet until my junior year in college. Our cat, Lilly, had escaped from the house and had been in an accident. She was rushed to the vet where her life was saved. That summer, I began working for the doctor who helped Lilly. Through my family’s experience and the compassion of Dr. Stark, I realized that pet parents can be healed on an emotional level by veterinarians helping their pets. I knew from that point forward that I wanted to be a veterinarian.

In my career, I have been a general practitioner, emergency vet, and practice owner. The one interaction during all the stages of my career where I feel like I can make the biggest difference in the lives of both pets and their families’ is during the final days and minutes of a pet’s life. When I can ease the suffering of a pet in a way that the family feels at peace with their decision, then I know I have done my job.  I am honored to help families in this unique way."

Lauren Smith Cassady, DVM
BS, Biology, Furman University
DVM,  Auburn University School of Veterinary Medicine
Founding member, Lap of Love - Atlanta. 2014 - 2019
Owner, Heron's Crossing. 2020 to present

Ashley Payne, DVM

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"I’m a local -- I grew up in Alpharetta and attended Woodward Academy. I had always wanted a dog, and got my precious Sheltie when I was about 7. I knew I wanted to pursue medicine in some way, but it wasn’t until my dog got sick while I was in college that I found veterinary medicine. I saw how compassionate the veterinarians and staff were toward both her and us. I knew that my love of animals and medicine had come together into a career. I graduated from Auburn University, and went on to University of Florida for veterinary school.

I have been helping families for over 5 years with end-of-life care in Atlanta. I am so privileged to be able to guide other families through the process of helping their pets -- whether that is improving their quality of life, or ending their suffering.

Now, I live in the suburbs with my husband (Mathew), Border Collie (Izzy), and tabby cat (Allie). Any chance I get, I visit my friend’s horses and bring them carrots and peppermints."

Ashley Payne, DVM
BS Zoology, Auburn University
DVM, University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine

Krista Whitlock, DVM

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"I grew up near Athens, GA and, at the ripe old age of 8, announced that I was going to be a veterinarian. For me, it's not just my love for animals, it's my love for how their body works and how best to keep them happy and healthy for as long as possible with their families. I have never regretted my decision. I have received so much more from my clients and their pets than I could ever hope to give in return.

I received my Bachelor's Degree in Animal Science and my Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at UGA and entered private general practice. I found that the quality of life discussions and the final decision about a family pet was an area that needed more time and caring than I was able to give in a clinic setting. I am privileged to care for my clients and their pets at this difficult time.

I live in Conyers with my husband Tim, and have 2 children in college, plus 4 cats and 1 very silly, large dog. I'm quite a nerd and can be found quoting any number of geeky movies or at DragonCon each year with my fellow nerds, enjoying a laugh."

Krista Whitlock, DVM
BSA, University of Georgia
DVM, University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine
Associate, Conyers Animal Hospital 1997-2000
Associate, Stockbridge Veterinary Hospital 2000-2018
Associate, Rockdale Animal Hospital 2018-2022
Associate, Heron's Crossing 2022-present

Shannon Doiron, VMD

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"I’m from a small town in rural Connecticut where I enjoyed growing up with a variety of pets. Currently, I live in Marietta with my husband, 2 cats and 2 dogs. Becoming a veterinarian was the goal since I was about 3 years old. I majored in mixed animal but work mostly with dogs and cats as a general practitioner. I love teaching owners about how to care for their new companions and treating those that are sick and injured. However, where I feel the most helpful is when it’s a pet’s time to cross the rainbow bridge.

I’ve had to say goodbye to my own beloved pets and those last moments are so precious. It is really important to me to ensure a peaceful and painless passing while supporting families any way that I can. Being a part of this transition is a special honor. "

 

Shannon Doiron, VMD
BS, Animal Science and Pathobiology, University of Connecticut
VMD, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine
Associate, Banfield Pet Hospital- Atlanta. 2018-present
Associate, Heron’s Crossing. 2021-present

Why Heron's Crossing?

Dr. Lauren Smith Cassady explains:

"I have always felt a connection with animals, and they have shown up in my life in important ways.  When I was in vet school, my track coach and mentor from high school passed away.  I was unable to go to her funeral and instead went and spent some time in the woods by a creek.  There was a beautiful heron that stayed with me during that time.

A few years later a much-loved family member was very sick.  When I was driving to work through downtown Lexington, a heron flew overhead.  I thought it was interesting because of the location.  When I was driving home that evening, I saw the heron for a second time, again flying over downtown.  When I got home, I learned my beloved family member had passed away.  From that time on, herons represented peace during times of passings and transition."

We are passionate about protecting and sustaining our environment. We donate a portion of our proceeds annually to The Audubon Society.

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Pet Loss Grief Support Sessions

Every other Wednesday evening, 6:30 to 8 pm
Provided at no charge by Heron's Crossing.