Meet the 2024 Beargrease
Veterinary team

The Beargrease Vet Team is composed of volunteer veterinarians from across the country with many cumulative years of experience working with sled dogs and canine athletes. The Veterinary Team is responsible for the care of every dog participating in the race – starting with pre-race veterinary checks the day before the race and continuing until the last dog and team crosses the finish line. The Vet Team will perform mandatory physical examinations along the trail, as well as continuously observing the dogs throughout the race; monitoring their movement, appetite, and how they are resting and watching for any signs that may indicate a dog is not performing at its best. The Vet Team works closely with the mushers to ensure each and every dog is happy and healthy.  The Veterinary Team works around the clock – day and night –  until the race is done and the dogs are safely on their way home.

Vet Team Leader Doc Katie
DR. katie Neshek
Head Veterinarian

I am an Emergency Veterinarian with a special interest in rehabilitation and sports medicine.  I have been participating in the Beargrease since 2014 – first as a veterinary student and then following graduation, as an official member of the veterinary team.  This is my third year as the Head Veterinarian.  Participating in this race and having the privilege to work with this community and this athletes is one of the highlights of my year.  In my free time I enjoy spending time outdoors with my husband and our dogs – hiking, biking, and trail running and exploring.  

Vet Team Dr Jess
Dr. Jess Eisenbarth

Dr. Jess Eisenbarth is a resident veterinarian in emergency and critical care medicine at Tufts University. She’s from a small town in Kansas and has a special interest in treating the injuries of working dogs. This is her third year as a veterinarian at Beargrease.


Vet Team Dr. Jonathan
DR. Jonathan elbaz

Although I am currently a small animal vet in urban Massachusetts, and originally from San Diego, my passion lies with sled dog medicine. I was fortunate enough to help out on 4 races when I was in vet school, and have done 3 Beargrease races as a veterinarian. My other interested include community outreach clinics and clinical pathology.


Jennifer Brei, CVT
My name is Jen Brei and I have been working as a CVT since June 2022. My CVT experience has been in small and large animal emergency/critical care and wildlife rehabilitation in Duluth and Madison. I have also worked as a registered nurse and wildlife rehabilitator prior to attending veterinary technician school in 2020. The John Beargrease 2023 was the first sled dog race I attended and the people, dog teams and mushers, and energy was infectious! I am very honored and excited to be a part of next year’s race and am looking forward to meeting and working with all of you!
Vet Team Tech Sarah
Sarah Brosseau, LVT

My name is Sarah Brosseau. I am a Liscensed Veterinary Technician and Certified Wildlife Rehabilitator. This is my 4th year as part of the Beargrease Vet Team. I got interested in sled dog medicine while working with Dr. Gregg Phillips in the twin cities. I’ve lived and worked in places like MT, CO, MN and ND. I am currently in North Dakota. Some of my hobbies include any kind of skiing, fishing, gardening and working to further my wildlife experience. I am so thankful for the opportunity to take part in this event once again this year. Good luck to all and see you down the trail! 

Vet Team Dr Katie T
Katie Thomas, CVT, VTS (SAIM)

Hello! I’m Katie Thomas. I’m a CVT, VTS (SAIM) at the U of MN. I’ve been there over 20 years. I foster kittens in my spare time as well!


Vet Team Tech Deb
Deb Roedel, cVT

Deb Roedel graduated from the Veterinary Technology program at Michigan State University in 1982. She worked in private practice and retired to Nelson Lake near Hayward WI in 2022 with her husband, Elroy and pets. She has worked with the Veterinary Team on dogsled races since 2013, including Apostles Island, UP 200, Tahquamenon Country, John Beargrease, and the Klondike Dog Derby.

Vet Team Tech Noelle
Noelle Hanson, VT

Noelle fell in love with dog sledding during elementary school when she took a family winter vacation up north. She got to experience being on trail with a dog sled team, and the spark was ignited. She was a Certified Veterinary Technician for 10 years, working in private as well as Emergency and Critical Care. She has been part of the John Beargrease Vet Team since 2015. Noelle is still always in awe of the athleticism of these dogs and the care, commitment and love they get from their mushers. Noelle enjoys hiking with her highly unmotivated canine trio at home (Ace, Shepherd Mix / Arkham, Olde English Bulldogge / Arrow, Great Dane) & chauffeuring her teenage human kids around. She is looking forward to another year of seeing old friends, both 2- and 4-legged, and meeting new ones! MUSH!


Vet Team Dr Katelyn
Dr. Kateyln Washburn

Katelyn has been involved with the Beargrease since 2014. She spent the first few years helping with vet checks prior to race day as a student and has been a part of the vet team since 2017. Her favorite part of being a part of the vet team is working with these amazing athletes and the people who care for them while watching them do what they are passionate about.


Vet Team Tech Vicki
Vicki wichmann miller, vt, lat

I first started with the Beargrease Vet Team in 2015. My curiosity and interest in field medicine originally drew me to this event and, yup, now I’m officially hooked and a veteran. I really enjoyed seeing and feeling the energy of Sled Dogs in action and how these athletes work as a team as well as being able to witness, first-hand, the astounding dog-Musher bond. I am eager to be able to work with these amazing athletes again this year, see old faces and develop new friendships within the John Beargrease Sled Dog community. I have been in the field of Veterinary Medicine since 1995. My first 7 years in the field was working in a day practice and a Vet Tech and Practice Manager, after which I practiced primarily Emergency Medicine and Critical Care until 2018. I especially enjoyed the fast paced, impromptu aspects of Emergency Medicine and all the variety and learning opportunities it offered. I was also one of the original founders of the Twin Cities Animal Blood Bank. In 2018 I changed pathways and have been working at a Medical Device and Pharmaceutical Research and Development Company as well working part-time at a small animal day practice in Lakeville. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my family, friends and my dogs. Especially my two granddaughters, at 1 and 6 years old they keep this Nana busy! As for my critters, I have 4 dogs – DWee, Goose, Suds and McCoy.


Vet Team Dr Gayle
Dr. Gayle tate

I graduated from the University of Tennessee in the first veterinary class, in 1979. I have been in private ever since. I have worked the Iditarod 15 times and I believe the Beargrease 12 times. I truly enjoy being a part of the Beargrease team. I am looking forward the a great race this year! I am a huge sports fan, especially UT football. If you see me on the trail just say hi. I’ll be looking for ya. Go Big Orange!!!


Vet Team Doc Elroy
DR. Elroy Roedel

Elroy is a 1983 graduate of Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine and began working as a sled dog trail vet in 2013. Since then, he has volunteered at various races in the Upper Midwest such as Apostle Island Sled Dog Race, Ironline Sled Dog Race, UP200 and Midnight Run, Tahquamenon Country Sled Dog Race, John Beargrease Marathon and 120 races, and the Klondike Dog Derby. He recently “pretired” from full time practice and now works part time at Leading Edge Veterinary Services near their home on Nelson Lake in Hayward, WI. Elroy is looking forward to seeing and working with all his musher, handler, veterinary, and canine friends again on the trail!


Vet Team Doc Tom
DR. tom gustafson

Tom Gustafson is a veterinarian from Manistique, Michigan. Tom started as a trail veterinarian in 1994 on the UP200. Since then he has served as a trail veterinarian and head veterinarian on several sled dog races in Michigan and Minnesota.


Vet Team Tech Lindsey
lindsey kaminski, CVT

Lindsey is a Certified Veterinary Technician working in Downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. She grew up in Two Harbors, MN watching the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon for many years. This will be her third year volunteering on the Vet Team at the registration tables & Sawbill Checkpoint. The sled dog culture, community and excitement is one of her favorite aspects of the race. Good luck out there, mushers!


Vet Team Dr Elisabeth
DR. elizabeth schnabel

I’m an emergency veterinarian currently in the Milwaukee area. I have a special interest in trauma and surgery cases. I got into sled dog medicine during vet school and I’ve been involved with the John Beargrease, UP200, and Copperdog races over the years. In my free time, I enjoy hiking and backpacking with my aussie Cody and my husky mix Koivu.


Vet Team EMT Judi
judi laurence, emt

I have been a part of the Beargrease since 2005, except for one year. I assist the Vet team anyway I can; driving the Beargrease Head Vet during the race and assisting the vets and vet techs by cuddling sick or injured dogs. I treat any people illnesses and injuries during the race. I am an active Firefighter for 17 years and an Emergency Medical Technician for nearly 40 years. A mom of three married daughters, two grandkids and one in the way! I love sledding and skijoring with my two retired Beargrease Alaskan huskies and cuddling with my miniature long-haired dachshund!

Vet Team Student Megan
Megan Steinhilber,
Vet Student

I’m currently a visiting fourth-year/clinical-year veterinary student from Cornell University and have been interested in working with working/sporting dogs (especially sled dogs) since I was a kid. Although I have a few experiences working with sporting dogs from my clinical rotations, this is my first time working as part of a veterinary team for a dogsled race. With that in mind, this is my first time working with the John Beargrease Veterinary Team and I could not be more excited! I’m originally from Connecticut but currently live in Ithaca, NY and plan on hopefully working in emergency veterinary medicine somewhere in the northeastern United States after graduation. When I am not studying, working, or otherwise busy with school, I enjoy running, hiking, and playing board games/tabletop games with friends.

Vet Team Dr Anna
DR. Anna Rauk

Biography to be added soon.  


Vet Team Tech Kris
Kris Ausland, VT

Kris Ausland has been involved with sled dog racing since 2009. She holds an Associate of Veterinary Technology degree and Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Minnesota, Duluth. She is an Iraqi Freedom Veteran and retired from the Minnesota Air National Guard after serving for 21 years. Her race experience includes the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon, CopperDog 150, UP200/Midnight Run, Apostle Island, Gichigami Express and Gunflint Mail Run sled dog races. She has also run teams in the Ely Wolf Track Classic and the MidMinnesota Races.

VetTeam Dr Alexi and goats
Dr. Alexi Baldwin

I am originally from the Iron range and recently moved back to start my own solo large animal ambulatory service, while I also provide small animal relief vet services. I’ve been volunteering at races starting in 2014 as a student and then veterinarian. In my free time I enjoy spending time with my husband and toddler, trail riding and training our horses, and breeding kiko goats.

Wendi Giffort

Biography and photo to be added soon. 


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