Dr. Rob Butler DVM, CVA, CVCH, CVFT
Having grown up in Connecticut with his Canadian born parents, Dr. Butler attended one year at Carleton University before transferring to the University of Guelph where he graduated from Ontario Veterinary College in 1988.
Loving the convenience of living in a small city while having easy access to the beautiful countryside, Dr. Butler was very excited to accept his first job offer as a veterinarian at the Guelph Animal Hospital in the spring of 1988 and became an owner of the practice shortly after. He has since been joined by Dr. Ilana Smolkin and Dr. Renee Fleming, as co-owners.
As a medical professional, Dr. Butler’s greatest satisfaction comes through helping his patients experience wellness. In pursuit of this goal, early in his career he started to seek out additional tools that could help him achieve better ways to approach the many complex and chronic conditions he was seeing in his daily practice. He discovered that even with significant advancements in modern surgery and pharmacology there were still many conditions that failed to fully respond and he wanted to know how best to keep his patients healthy. Dr. Butler was determined to pursue the highest quality continuing education available in order to integrate the best of conventional medicine with other proven modalities in the treatment of his patients. Thus began his over 15 years of advanced studies in the areas of Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Therapy, Food and Nutritional Therapy and Bioregulatory Medicine.
Dr. Butler is a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist, a Certified Veterinary Chinese Herbalist and a Certified Veterinary Food Therapist. He has studied with the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS) (www.ivas.org), and with Dr. Steve Marsden (www.naturalpathclinic.ca/bio.html), as well as completing advanced studies in Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, Tui-na and Food Therapy at the Chi Institute (www.tcvm.com) in Florida under the direction of Dr. Huisheng Xie (www.tcvm.com/faculty.htm). Dr.Butler has further expanded his training in the area of Bioregulatory Medicine and Homotoxicology with the College of Integrative Veterinary Therapies (www.civtedu.org).
Dr. Butler has been married to his wife Marian since 1990. Marian was born and raised in Guelph, her father having taught at the Ontario Veterinary College for over 35 years. Together they have raised 3 children and share their home with their dog, Odie, a Border Collie/Shepherd cross who sometimes accompanies Dr. Butler to work.
When he is not practicing veterinary medicine, Dr. Butler may be found cycling the back roads of Guelph, practicing martial arts, kayaking the waters of Georgian Bay, or out golfing with a few friends. Dr. Butler remains an active member of his local church having served as a board member for a number of years with a focus on living out the Christian faith while engaging the community through various means of service and missions both locally and abroad. Dr. Butler is currently on the Board of Directors of Bracelet of Hope, a grassroots organization founded in Guelph that is addressing the AIDS pandemic in Lesotho Africa by supporting health, homes and jobs.
Dr. Ilana Smolkin DVM
Dr. Smolkin grew up in Toronto with her parents, 2 brothers and miniature poodle named Princess. From a young age she stated to her parents her intention to become a veterinarian and worked through high school and university to realize that dream. She moved to Guelph to attend the university in 1997. Later, she moved across the road to the veterinary college and graduated in 2003. During school, Dr. Smolkin acquired 2 cats: Ella and Bennett who are named after two of her favorite Jazz singers.
Her first year after graduation, Ilana worked a one year contract at a speciality and emergency clinic in Memphis, Tennessee. There she learned a lot about medicine and cancer treatments for pets as well as about BBQ and Blues. Six months in, while working an emergency shift she was brought a sickly 3 week old puppy that had been found tied up in a plastic bag. She agreed to foster the pup until old enough for adoption. Mackenzie has been with her since and will never be old enough to go to any home but hers!
Dr. Smolkin was ready to return closer to home after her stint in the states and was very excited to find a position at The Guelph Animal Hospital. Still having many connections in the city, she was thrilled to make the wonderful community of Guelph her home again. A year after returning, Dr. Smolkin joined Dr. Butler as a part owner of the clinic. Dr. Smolkin met her Husband Carlos while bowling in late 2009 and they married Jan 8th of 2011, one year to the day of their official first date. Together, they added the 4th “furry kid” to their home: Nacho, an adorable and exuberant Boston Terrier. In 2013, their family was further expanded with the addition of Robyn, their beautiful daughter who seems to already want to be in charge of the animals’ care.
One of the most difficult times in Dr. Smolkin’s career was dealing with the illness of her own precious Mackenzie. In 2009 she suddenly went into liver failure and has since to a degree every spring and fall. After thorough testing and multiple consults with specialists, there is still no answer as to why she does this. Although frustrating to not have a diagnosis, Dr. Smolkin in collaboration with Drs. Butler and Fleming, has found a combination of herbals, nutraceuticals and traditional medications that have kept Mackenzie’s disease at bay and kept her energy level similar to that of a puppy! Dr. Smolkin completed the certified animal Chiropractic course early in 2012 and has enjoyed being able to incorporate this unique perspective into her treatment plans. Her own dog Mackenzie saw a great improvement in mobility and came off medication for urinary incontinence after just a few adjustments. She is certified with the College of Animal Chiroprators. Mackenzie’s miraculous response to integrated therapies has inspired Dr. Smolkin to continue her journey to expand her scope of alternative care. In 2014 Dr. Smolkin underwent training in Biotherapy and Homotoxicology with the College of Integrative Veterinary Therapies. Currently she is busy adding both western herbal therapy through CIVT and Osteopathy through Full Spectrum Canine Therapy to her skills set, both of which have already done wonderful things with her test patients at home. Mackenzie has never looked so good!
Dr. Renee Fleming DVM
Dr. Fleming first joined Guelph Animal Hospital as an associate in 2006, and she was welcomed as partner in 2009. She grew up in a small town north of Guelph (Hanover) and has made Guelph a permanent home since 2000.
Dr. Fleming attended the University of Guelph, graduating with her Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Studies in the fall of 2000, and she started the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program at the Ontario Veterinary College that same year. Dr. Fleming has always had a passion for exotic and wild animal medicine, and during veterinary school traveled to South Africa for a few months to assist with Dr. Markus Hofmyer at Kruger National Park. She has assisted with the medical care of African elephants, white rhinoceros, giraffes, lions, and many antelope species. One of her fondest (and most terrifying) memories from that trip was monitoring an African lion as it recovered from sedation after being tested for tuberculosis. She learned that lions can startle quickly upon recovery from anesthesia! One of her most memorable experiences from that trip was the sedation of a white rhinoceros that had been caught in a poaching trap. She sustained a deep and badly infected wound on her limb, which Dr. Hofmyer was able to treat. To be able to assist in her care – such a giant and majestic animal – was so memorable and humbling.
Her taste for adventure has not lessened over her years in practice. She and her husband both enjoy traveling, and the more remote the better! Most recently, Dr. Fleming and her husband successfully reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro( 5,895 m) in Tanzania, Africa! After the climb, the Fleming’s traveled to Zanzibar, a small island off the coast of Tanzania, where Dr. Fleming volunteered to perform spays and neuters for the community of Stone Town with the World Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (WSPCA). The surgical suite was a trailer fully equipped with sterile equipment, but quite different from the surgical suite at Guelph Animal Hospital!! All animals were anesthetized with an injectable anesthetic (vs an inhalant anesthetic that we use here in our hospital) so Dr. Fleming has lots of experience being quick with her surgical procedures!
Dr. Fleming spends much of her time volunteering with a focus on animal and children-based charities. She has traveled to Nunavut and Turks & Caicos with the Canadian Animal Assistance Team (CAAT) to participate in spay/neuter/vaccination/deworming programs. She will be traveling again to St. Lucia this spring to participate in a large spay/neuter program (again with the Canadian Animal Assistance Team). These volunteer trips are very important to Dr. Fleming, who feels strongly that professionals should contribute back whenever and wherever they can. She has spayed or neutered over 400 animals as part of various volunteer programs. She also volunteers locally for the Children’s Foundation for Guelph & Wellington (CFGW) and our entire hospital avidly donates regularly to CFGW events.
While at the Guelph Animal Hospital, Dr. Fleming can be found tending to anything with fur or scales. She sees the majority of our small mammal patients (rabbits, ferrets, rats, chinchillas, lizards etc.) and treats them with the same caring and compassion that she does our dog and cat patients. Her most avid area of interest is pain control – both surrounding surgery and for chronic conditions such as arthritis or cancer. She is currently working on her certification for the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM), as well as her acupuncture certification. In addition, Dr. Fleming is our Emergency Care Specialist. She has over 9 years of experience working at a busy after-hours emergency hospital.
During quiet times, Dr. Fleming can often be found cuddling with a post-operative patient as they recovery from surgery. She also has special affinity for pets with ‘squished’ faces – she is our resident bulldog expert! She has owned both English and French bulldogs and will (hopefully) never be without one in her family. Dr. Fleming has bulldog patients from Toronto to Windsor and adores them all!! If you are not aware, the short-nosed breeds are prone to a variety of health conditions (they can have airway/breathing difficulties, dental abnormalities, and a variety of other concerns) and she is dedicated to educating pet owners about their health risks and assisting in preventative care to help ensure a lifetime of health and happiness.
Dr. Fleming and her husband John share their home with a very spoiled mix of critters! Currently, they have Eleanor Bee (or Ellie) – a lively 3 year old English Bulldog – and 3 cats: Mu, a gentle 14 year old kitty, Maui, a handsome & cuddly 6 year old kitty, and Ragnar, a spunky 2 year old Sphinx. All of Dr. Fleming’s cats were rescues, with Maui needing the most intensive treatment – an extensive surgical repair to his diaphragm and his hip after being hit by a car. They also extended their family to include the two legged sort – they have two boys – Ewan (aged 4) and Asher who is one year old.
Aside from traveling and spending time with her two and four-legged family, Dr. Fleming loves running, boxing, and manages to make quilts in her spare time. She couldn’t imagine herself in any other profession, and you can trust that she will treat your pets with the same love and attention that she does her own.