Union Hill Animal Hospital is committed to providing your pet high quality health care in a compassionate environment utilizing both western and eastern medicine.
Diane M. CastleDVM, CVA, AVCAVeterinarian
Dr. Castle realized at 12 that she would soon be too large to pursue her dream of being a jockey and decided she could work with all animals as a veterinarian.
As soon as they would have her, she volunteered at the local humane society and upon turning 16, found a veterinarian who hired her for an after school position.
She worked throughout her high school and college years for small and large animal veterinarians and spent 3 summers as an assistant zookeeper in Rochester, N.Y.
Dr. Castle grew up in upstate New York, graduated with a B.S in Animal Science from Cornell University and a D.V.M. from Iowa State University in 1987.
She practices holistic medicine which means that instead of viewing a sick animal as the liver case, she sees a pet with a liver problem who lives with people who care about and for him. Dr. Castle feels that the education she has in western and eastern medicine enables her to provide complete care to the ill pet and his family.
Dr. Castle was certified by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association in 1998 and in acupuncture by the Chi Institute of Chinese medicine in 2001. She has a special interest in dogs that compete in dog sports as she has been active in dog competitions with her own since 1985.
She moved to the Atlanta area upon graduating from vet school and bought the Union Hill Animal Hospital in 1994. At that time the hospital was in the Cherokee Corners' strip shopping center on Sugar Pike Rd. In 2000, with the help of her longtime partner, Paul Adams, she bought and renovated the current building on Lower Union Hill Rd. He completely gutted the building and put in the hospital as you see it today.
When not at the hospital, Dr. Castle is often training or competing with her dogs in K9 nose work with her 3 border collies, Bach, Soul and Slide and Jack Russell terrier, Jazz. Paul holds down the fort at home with Jet the cat and several chickens.
Meghan McKee SmithDVMVeterinarian
Dr. Meghan Smith decreed that she was going to be an animal doctor at the ripe old age of 3 when her mother wouldn’t allow her to take home the pony from the pony rides. Thankfully, that all worked out since she didn’t have a back-up plan. She started working at barns for riding lessons in middle school and this led to her interest in sports medicine. She accumulated enough credits in high school to participate in the work exit program her senior year at Sequoyah High School, which allowed her to attend school for half the day followed by working with her horse’s veterinarian, Dr. Laura DuVall Moloney. Dr. Smith knew she needed to have a well-rounded resume so Dr. Moloney introduced her to Dr. Diane Castle at Union Hill Animal Hospital. Volunteering during her senior year led to her a steady summer job during college.
After graduating from the University of Georgia with degrees in Animal Science and Dairy Science, Dr. Smith was put on the waiting list for veterinary school at UGA. This drove her to get a job that summer in the small animal ICU at the veterinary school. A few months later, she fell off her horse during a training session, causing her to fracture several vertebrae in her back and needing emergency surgery to keep her from becoming paralyzed. She truly believes that this is why God had her on the waiting list for veterinary school—she was given plenty of time to heal and realize this was a very valuable life lesson. Throughout her veterinary career, the long-term pain that she constantly battles has led her to have a special interest in pain management for her patients. She strives to explore all modalities of pain management and rehabilitation, including acupuncture, stem cell therapies, pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, Chinese herbs, and eventual chiropractic care. She applies these modalities to her dog, cat, and horse patients.
Her parents and younger sister and brother have always been extremely supportive of Dr. Smith’s dreams and goals. Her brother even followed in her footsteps in the horse world by becoming a local dressage trainer in the Alpharetta area. Her mother, Judy, also followed her to Union Hill Animal Hospital not only as a client but also as a receptionist. Dr. Smith maintains her love of Georgia Bulldog football and cheers them on every fall.
Her dachshunds, Farley and Ferrell, are in training to compete in nosework trials after having retired from competition obedience and agility, respectively; if nothing else, they will always get “cute points.” Dr. Smith’s cats, Charlie Chaplin and Hermione Granger, enjoy shedding all over the house and chasing the dogs around the living room. She competed her Quarter Horse, Dustin, in three-day eventing until he retired to pleasure dressage following an injury to his knee. He is now fully retired in his 20s and enjoys having a big grass belly. In 2016, Dr. Smith added a Shetland sheepdog named Sheldon to the mix. He is currently in training for and competing in agility and competition obedience. To say that she is busy is an understatement. However, she always makes sure she has time to help her clients and patients in whatever possible way she is able.
Jennifer LoweFront Office Manager
Jennifer has lived in the Union Hill area her whole life, growing up a few miles away from the clinic. She went to Hickory Flat elementary, Dean Rusk Middle School, and Sequoyah High School. She has been with us since October of 1993, so you can say she has grown up with us! We have watched her buy her first new car, have a clown ministry, get married, buy her first house and start her family.
Jennifer says that her job with Union Hill Animal Hospital was/is a GIFT FROM GOD. Her Mom had always told her not to get in the car with strangers……..well there was this one day in September of 1993 when she did just that. She showed up for a scheduled interview with the founder of Union Hill Animal Hospital, Dr. Stephen F. Lee, and discovered he had forgotten about the interview. So when he said just get in the truck and we will talk on our way to pick up some horse equipment, she did hear those words of her Mom but felt comfortable and safe from the beginning. The ride in that truck led to a great but short friendship. Dr. Lee was diagnosed with a second brain tumor early in 1994: he fought hard but he lost his battle on November 7th, 1994.
In July of 1994, Dr. Lee and his family decided to sell the practice. After numerous inquiries, the clinic was purchased by Dr. Diane Castle in October of 1994 and another great friendship started. Dr. Lee’s only request was that Dr. Castle keep the staff, so the joke is that Jennifer was sold with the practice.
Jennifer is very active in her Church; she headed up a clown ministry, puppet ministry, and led the youth group for several years, prior to falling in love and starting a family of her own.
Jennifer met her husband, Mark in September, 2000 through her brother, Lamar. Mark and Jennifer were married in April of 2002. Mark is a deputy sheriff in Pickens County and he is a good ole country boy. They had their first daughter Emmaline in November 2005 and their 2nd daughter Annslee in July of 2008: you can always find pictures of the girls on the front counter. The girls also like to hang out at the clinic with their extended family (Grandma Di, Aunt Meghan, and Aunt Trish). You never know when they will greet you at the door.
After 20+ years with Union Hill Animal Hospital Jennifer still feels that this job is a GIFT from GOD!
As far back as Trish can remember she has had a love for animals. Around the age of 5 she can remember following a neighborhood cat whom she finally caught and made friends with even though she was scratched in the process. A parade of dogs and cats found their way into her house as she was growing up. Trish has been a veterinary tech with Union Hill Animal Hospital since 2006, and feels fortunate to be able to enjoy a lifelong love of animals as a career. Her job entails a variety of clinical tasks including performing medical tests, treating medical conditions, assisting in surgical procedures and most important of all, helping to comfort the patients (and their parents!). Trish was born and raised in Decatur, Georgia and lived there until 2016, when she finally moved to Cherokee County.
Along with her 3 dogs (Ash, Otis and Cupcake), 2 cats (Pickle and Olive) and 2 bunnies (Peep and Smokey), she also lives with and cares for her 92 year old mother. She is the youngest of four children by seventeen years. She has a very large family with 12 nieces and nephews and over 30 great nieces and great nephews and most of them also love animals. When Trish is not working she teaching dog agility and taking nosework with 12 year old Ash.
Until one has loved an animal, a part of one soul remains unawakened - Anatole France
Whoever said “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” has never met Judy. Born and raised near the beach in Jacksonville, FL, she was often found in the water, riding her horse, Buck or “gigging' for frogs in the creek. The neighborhood critters always seemed to find their way to her house. Being the daughter of an English teacher, she and her brother Bruce always understood the importance of getting an education and she made her way to the University of Florida where she followed in her mother’s footsteps and received a BA in Developmental Psychology and Elementary Education. It was there, on her 19th birthday, that she was introduced to Bill. Judy and Bill began dating and got married right after graduation. They moved to Stone Mountain, GA, where she began her teaching career.
They had three children that became their pride and joy. Judy decided to become a stay-at-home mom and instill the same values of education and respect in all of her children as her mother had in her. All three children went on to successfully complete college. Their youngest child, Tim, followed in both their footsteps into the business world as well as horse training. Their middle child, Colleen, followed in Judy’s footsteps with a passion for teaching and organization. Judy’s eldest child, Meghan, became a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. Many of you may not know but Dr. Meghan McKee Smith is Judy’s daughter. She and Bill have now been married for 40 years and spend their free time gardening together and spoiling their grandchild, Maridith. She also has her hand full with maintaining the flowers and landscaping for the clinic as well as chasing her dachshund, Cali, around. Cali was paralyzed in her back legs during the summer of 2017 and she was able to recover due to Judy’s devotion and hard work along with acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, laser therapy, and physical therapy.
When Dr. Smith came back to the practice from vet school, Judy took the opportunity to get back into the working world with a position at the front desk. Despite her fear of computers, she enjoys talking with clients and helping ensure they and their pets have as comfortable an experience as possible. Judy truly is a case of “teaching an old dog new tricks.”
Ashley SosinoVeterinary Nurse
Ashley has always liked the outdoors and enjoys many activities including bike riding with her brother Brandon. Ashley grew up in Cherokee County and attended Holly Springs Elementary, Dean Rusk Middle and Sequoyah High School. She then enrolled in the veterinary assistant program at Animal Behavior College (ABC). She started volunteering at Cherokee County Animal Shelter and then at Union Hill Animal Hospital, where she was eventually hired as a veterinary assistant. Ashley enrolled in the Penn Foster Veterinary Technician program when she realized being a veterinary technician is her ultimate goal. On the weekends Ashley also works at a breeding and show kennel where she cares for, feeds, cleans, and grooms 9 German shepherds and 2 corgis. She is interested in canine genetics and reproduction and tries to learn as much as possible from the kennel. Ashley helped whelp her first litter of puppies when one of the kennel’s shepherds gave birth to 9 puppies on December 2, 2017. One year later, she adopted one of those puppies, Champagne, and Caviar aka “Charli”. Ashley also pet sits for many Union Hill clients in addition to her other two jobs. Ashley recently became engaged to Sean, her boyfriend of nearly two years. They are planning a wedding in February 2020. They met at their taekwondo school, where they train together several times a week in pursuit of black belts. She is striving to learn as much as she can in veterinary care and truly enjoys all of the clients and patients of Union Hill.
Lorna BryceVeterinary Nurse
Lorna was 16 years old when she got her first horse, Stay Gold Ponyboy. He promptly injured himself on a metal gate. This experience was the catalyst that began her journey towards one day becoming a veterinarian. Lorna met Dr. Meghan Smith in the fall of 2015 when they began keeping their horses as the same barn. This led to a wonderful friendship as well as an opportunity for Lorna to gain small animal exposure shadowing Dr. Smith at Union Hill Animal Hospital. While in college, Lorna regularly shadowed several local equine veterinarians and worked part-time as a rehabilitation assistant at Atlanta Animal Rehabilitation and Fitness. Her time at Atlanta Animal Rehabilitation and Fitness left her with a special interest in canine orthopedic ailments and treatments as well as a soft spot for helping our gray muzzled friends have better quality of life through their golden years. When Lorna graduated from Kennesaw State University in May 2018 with a bachelor’s in biology and a minor in philosophy, she was offered, and eagerly accepted, a part-time position at Union Hill Animal Hospital as a veterinary nurse. Lorna is excited to come to work every day and help her patients and the people who love them. When she isn’t at Union Hill Animal Hospital she can be found riding shotgun in the truck of Dr. Bill Walker of Allatoona Equine as his assistant. Lorna not only has two wonderful American Saddlebreds, Ponyboy and Owen, but is a proud cat lady and shares her home with three cats, Dobby, Winky, and Thackery Binx. She feels very fortunate to have so many amazing friends and family, both 2 and 4 legged, that support her in her dream to go to veterinary school.
Ashton SomnersVeterinarian Assistant
From the first time, anyone asked Ashton what she wanted to do when she grew up, Her answer was always, “ become a veterinarian”. As the first step in pursuing her passion, she began volunteering at Bones, Bed, Bath, Biscuits and More and still does so today. Ashton jumped at the opportunity to volunteer with Union Hill Animal Hospital in 2016. Which led to Dr. Castle taking a chance with Ashton in 2017 by bringing her on as a member of the team. Ashton continues to learn and grow her passion for veterinarian medicine every day.Ashton has attended the Auburn University Summer Veterinary Camp and hopes to attend their College of Veterinary Medicine. She loves spending time with her German Shepherd Onyx doing agility and obedience training. Ashton wants all to remember: “When in doubt hug a dog”.