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    Dr. Aron Bhan

    Veterinarian / Veterinary Chiropractor

    When Aron Bhan was a young boy, he first experienced the intense bond pet owners have with their cherished pets. While young Aron was visiting his grandmother’s northern Ontario farmhouse, the area was deluged by a pouring rain storm. Seeing a small animal dart under a car for protection, Aron found a four-month-old, soaking wet puppy huddling under the vehicle. Aron ran into the house, grabbed some peanut butter and bread, and crawled under the car to share it with his new canine friend. The grateful puppy wolfed down his snack and began licking Aron’s face, making this a joyous first meeting for Aron and his beloved dog Zack!


    Growing up on a south Niagara Falls farm, Aron was the oldest in a family of three boys. Aron learned to care for the farm’s sheep, goats, chickens, geese, and other farm animals. Although Aron couldn’t quite pronounce the word “veterinarian,” he always had a special connection with animals, and he knew he wanted a career caring for them. In high school, Aron completed a co-op placement at an area veterinary hospital. This satisfying experience cemented Aron’s desire to become a veterinarian.

    Following his high school graduation, Aron completed veterinary school at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College. While attending veterinary school, Aron had met his wife Nicole, and the couple soon settled into the beautiful Niagara Region that Aron had always called home. Aron was able to satisfy his passion for farming by purchasing a small farm of his  own.

    While operating Welland’s Main West Animal Hospital, Dr. Aron Bhan and Nicole saw the need for a practice that could better serve their Niagara Falls area clients. The new Heartland Niagara Animal Hospital uses a collaborative approach, as the veterinarians partner with pet owners to provide the best possible care to the clients’ beloved pets.

    Dr. Bhan follows a holistic approach to veterinary medicine, and often uses his skills as a certified veterinary chiropractor to offer alternative patient treatments. He also thrives on the challenges of surgery, especially orthopedic surgery, as a successful outcome can have an immediate and often dramatic effect on his patient’s health. Finally, Dr. Bhan enjoys working with exotic pets such as rabbits, ferrets and other pocket pets, and reptiles. While these patients’ needs are often complex, Dr. Bhan feels a sense of satisfaction when he’s able to return them to good health.

    Away from the hospital, Dr. Bhan gravitates toward the outdoors, especially several types of water sports. He enjoys wakeboarding, kiteboarding, waterskiiing, canoeing, and kayaking. On land, he indulges his lifetime passions for hockey and music, often playing the drums and acoustic guitar.

    Of course, this animal-friendly household also includes three fun-loving golden retrievers. Toby and Dexter are well-adjusted canines who don’t mind if their pet parents smell like dozens of other pets each day. On the other hand, much-younger Clifford hasn’t quite formed his opinion about the strange smells. He also races through the house at lightning speed while clutching a toy or other object in his mouth. You might say that Clifford is the family’s entertainer, providing his canine and human housemates with never-ending amusement.

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    Dr. Joseph


    During his childhood summers in Italy, Dr. Joseph saw many local cats and dogs who were afraid of humans and couldn’t receive proper medical treatment as a result. It was then that Dr. Joseph realized he wanted to work in a profession that would truly make a difference—for him, a career in veterinary medicine was the only choice that made sense!

    A native of Welland, Ontario, Dr. Joseph began volunteering in local animal clinics during his undergraduate studies at the University of Guelph. After graduating with a degree in animal biology, he was accepted into the Ontario Veterinary College, where he received his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine. He then returned to his hometown to start his veterinary journey. Dr. Joseph is excited to continue his education and experience here at Heartland Niagara Animal Hospital, surrounded by a fantastic team of fellow veterinarians, technicians, and support staff.

    Medically, Dr. Joseph has special interests in cardiology and dermatology, and finds it particularly rewarding to alleviate allergy problems in order to better the lives of both pets and their owners. Most of all, he enjoys witnessing animals he’s treated return to their normal, happy selves.

    At home, Dr. Joseph has four cats of his own: Lilly, Grizzly, Daisy, and Batman. When he isn’t tending to their needs or caring for pets here at the hospital, he enjoys watching and playing sports, reading, playing video games, and spending time with his girlfriend.

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    Dr. Kelly


    Before she was a veterinarian, Dr. Kelly worked as a dental hygienist. She always loved certain aspects of the profession, especially the client interaction, but still felt that something was missing. That something turned out to be animals! Now, Dr. Kelly is proud to help people and their pets every day as a licensed veterinarian.

    Dr. Kelly is from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, and holds a Bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene from Dalhousie University in Halifax. She attended the Nova Scotia Agricultural College to complete her pre-veterinary requirements, then earned her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Atlantic Veterinary College.

    Dr. Kelly joined the Heartland Niagara Animal Hospital family in June of 2015, and has special interests in veterinary dentistry, surgery, and exotic medicine. She loves the challenge and educational experience of working with animals who aren’t your run-of-the-mill house pets. Dr. Kelly even used to volunteer with a wildlife rehabilitation center in Nova Scotia, where she worked with everything from raccoons and deer to bald eagles and bobcats!

    Outside of work, Dr. Kelly enjoys staying active by running, hiking, and practicing yoga. She’s also a classically trained pianist, and has performed at many functions and even a few weddings. Dr. Kelly lives with her husband, Chris, and two cats named Happy and Sheldon.

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    Dr. Nicole Denouden


    Dr. Nicole Denouden was “playing vet” when she was just a young girl. With many dogs and cats in Nicole’s family, she often listened to the pets’ hearts, checked their eyes, brushed their teeth, and peeked into their ears. Nicole frequently accompanied her mother to the pets’ veterinarian visits, as this aspiring veterinarian wanted to learn how to provide the best possible care for her animals. Today, as the co-owner of Heartland Niagara Animal Hospital, Dr. Denouden has fulfilled her childhood dream of becoming a veterinarian!

    Growing up in Aurora, Ontario with her four brothers, Nicole enjoyed soccer, baseball, swimming, and dance. Nicole also spent much of her time riding and caring for her family’s horses. Nicole often watched her father deliver the mares’ foals, and she helped to train the young horses as they matured. Nicole also spent time caring for the family’s dogs, cats, and other farm animals.

    One day while visiting the barn, Nicole found two small kittens with respiratory symptoms. Immediately taking the tiny cats to the veterinarian’s office, Nicole watched as the veterinarian examined the kittens and provided treatment. Nicole learned how to administer antibiotics, bottle feed the kittens, and keep them warm. Within a day, the kittens were energetic and playful again. Nicole was grateful for this positive outcome, and this experience played a large part in her decision to become a veterinarian.

    Fortunately, Nicole’s supportive parents encouraged her to follow her dreams. Nicole laid the groundwork for a veterinary career in school, developing a strong interest in science and biology. After Nicole graduated from high school, she attended Guelph University for her undergraduate degree. Next, Nicole attended Guelph University’s Ontario Veterinary College, where she earned her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine. Nicole also experienced another major life event during veterinary school: she met Aron, her future husband and veterinary practice partner. While operating Welland’s Main West Animal Hospital, Dr. Denouden and Dr. Bhan decided to open Heartland Niagara Animal Hospital to better accommodate Niagara Falls area pet owners.

    Dr. Denouden enjoys many aspects of her work, particularly the dental surgeries that can dramatically improve a patient’s comfort and overall health. She gravitates to dermatology, as one of her golden retrievers regularly battles skin ailments. Dr. Denouden also loves engaging with rabbits, ferrets, and other pocket pets. While these small creatures have their own specific health challenges, Dr. Denouden loves to see them return to health after treatment. Finally, while Dr. Denouden thrives on the hospital’s fast-paced, challenging work environment, she also likes to slow down and learn more about her clients and their pets. Overall, she loves her veterinary career, as she never feels like she’s going to work each day.

    Dr. Denouden also enjoys an active life away from the hospital. During the different seasons, she and her husband take time for snowboarding, skiing, ice skating, waterskiing, wakeboarding, and kiteboarding. She also loves to cook, visit the area’s wineries, and settle down with a good book in her spare time.

    Finally, three rambunctious golden retrievers have joined this pet-friendly household. At 10½ years old, Toby is king of the pack, with his two younger brothers giving him first dibs on meals and treats. Next, six-year-old Dexter’s curiosity draws him to many corners of the yard, as he’s always searching for his next play toy. At one year old, Clifford is still a puppy, and goes to great lengths to annoy his brothers so they’ll play with him. Even though the dogs occasionally roll in dead fish or chew the bark from the backyard’s trees, these three lovable dogs have become a treasured part of this active family.

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    Dr. Debbie Hoffele


    Dr. Hoffele grew up in a small town in Ontario spending time at her grandparents’ farm. At a young age, she knew that she wanted to become a veterinarian. Dr. Hoffele graduated from the University in Guelph in 1988 and has had a long career starting in Hamilton, Ontario, moving to Nova Scotia and now back to Welland. She started an animal hospital in Hamilton and worked in several clinics in Nova Scotia. Dr. Hoffele was also able to work with a wildlife rehabilitation centre and some of the most unusual animals she treated there were a seal and a pelican!

    Dr. Hoffele currently enjoys working part-time at Heartland Niagara Animal Hospital. She has 2 boys whom are home schooled, and involved in gymnastics, robotics, and lots of other things! Dr. Hoffele and her husband enjoy travelling; and recently spent a year visiting 16 countries.

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