Our Careteam

Dr. Joseph Marchionda
Veterinarian
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.
Dr. Amanda Salazar
Veterinarian
When she was younger, Dr. Amanda Salazar’s parents leased a small pony named Treasure for their daughter to show competitively. Shortly after they brought the animal home, it became lame and couldn’t jump. Dr. Salazar spent every day going to the barn to nurse Treasure back to full health, and she never forgot the satisfaction she felt from helping to relieve her pony’s suffering. It was then that she decided that she would one day become a veterinarian!

Dr. Salazar was born and raised in Mississauga and attended the University of Guelph after high school to study animal biology. At the same time, she began volunteering and subsequently working at a nearby animal clinic. Next, Dr. Salazar headed to Ontario Veterinary College, where she obtained her Doctorate degree. She joined the Heartland Niagara Animal Hospital family in May of 2016 and has been caring for the area’s pets here ever since. Dr. Salazar has special interests in internal medicine, surgical procedures, and working with exotic creatures.

Dr. Salazar has one animal companion of her own at home: Lexi, a boisterous German shepherd who loves just about everyone she comes into contact with. When she isn’t enjoying Lexi’s company or tending to pets’ needs here at the hospital, Dr. Salazar likes reading, swimming, hiking, and horseback riding. She’s been riding ever since childhood, and her greatest achievements thus far have been taking her pony and horse on the Trillium and A-Circuit horse shows!
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.
Dr. Katie Gallagher
Veterinarian
Dr. Katie has wanted to become a veterinarian from the time she was only four years old. She was too young to even comprehend the details of the profession, but she knew that she wanted to help animals in whatever way she could! Over time, her fascination with the veterinary world only grew. Now, Dr. Katie is a licensed veterinarian with the Heartland Niagara Animal Hospital team.

A native of Hamilton, Ontario, Dr. Katie began her veterinary journey by volunteering at a clinic down the street from her childhood home. She also started working at a horse barn on the weekends and helping to feed calves at a friend’s dairy farm. Throughout her undergraduate studies at the University of Guelph, Dr. Katie continued to volunteer before heading to Ontario Veterinary College to earn her animal-care degree.

Dr. Katie completed a clinical rotation here at Main West Animal Hospital during her final year of veterinary school, and was offered a job before her first week was over. She gladly accepted, and has been helping the area’s pets and animal owners here ever since. Dr. Katie enjoys performing ophthalmology work and educating new puppy and kitten owners on proper pet care, but her favourite part of the job is forming strong relationships with pet owners and their beloved animal friends.

In her time away from work, Dr. Katie enjoys reading, swimming, boxing, and spending time with her family, friends, and pets. She has two dogs: Cali, a Golden retriever who never tires of eating, and a large, fluffy Great Pyrenees named Atlas who has been mistaken for a polar bear on numerous occasions.
Dr. Nicole Denouden
Veterinarian
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.
Dr. Debbie Hoffele
Veterinarian
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.
Dr. Raboola Phillip Tarzi
Veterinarian
Dr. Raboola Tarzi’s mother was never much of a pet person, so young Dr. Tarzi had to write letters every day and slip them into her bedroom, the kitchen, the bathroom, and the family room to beg for a companion. His persistence finally paid off when he got his first pet, a lovable rabbit! Dr. Tarzi has known ever since that he wanted to become a veterinarian and better the lives of all the animals that he possibly could.

Born and raised in Markham, Ontario, Dr. Tarzi attended Guelph University for his undergraduate studies before heading abroad to study veterinary medicine at the University of Melbourne in Australia. He graduated as a licensed veterinarian, and has been helping to improve the lives of pets and the families who care for them ever since. Dr. Tarzi joined the Main West Animal Hospital and Heartland Niagara Animal Hospital family in early January of 2018, and serves the pet parents of Welland as an Associate Veterinarian.

Dr. Tarzi has one pet of his own at home, a Husky puppy who is full of personality. She’ll even do all her tricks at once in order to secure a treat, and she starts howling if she doesn’t get them quickly enough!
Dr. Erin Hamaba
Veterinarian
Dr. Erin Hamaba’s childhood cat was her best friend in the world growing up. When her beloved pet passed away, Dr. Hamaba vowed to help other animals in whatever way she could. That’s why she decided to become a veterinarian! Now, she’s able to help pets and their owners on a daily basis as a part of the Heartland Niagara Animal Hospital team.

Dr. Hamaba is originally from Scarborough and began her veterinary career as a Veterinary Assistant. She graduated from Seneca College in May of 2012 as a Registered Veterinary Technician, then moved to Toronto to launch her animal-care journey. In 2015, she moved to St. Kitts in the Caribbean to attend Ross University’s School of Veterinary Medicine and become a licensed veterinarian. Next, she completed her year of clinical studies at Purdue University in Indiana before moving to the Niagara Falls area.

Dr. Hamaba completed her externship right here at Heartland Niagara Animal Hospital. She was more than happy to accept a job offer after her externship hours were completed! Dr. Hamaba particularly likes dentistry work and soft-tissue surgery, but her favorite aspect of her job is seeing patients and pet parents go home happy after they’re feeling better.

In her free time, Dr. Hamaba loves curling up with a good book or watching her favorite movies. She shares her life with four cats, two of which were foster failures from St. Kitts. They hate the cold weather so much that they often try to jump into the dryer while Dr. Hamaba is doing laundry!
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