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Meet Our Doctors in Suffolk, VA

The COVE has built a reputation for excellent care, service, and accessibility. As a result, our practice has grown tremendously, with more than 50 highly trained team members and board-certified specialists serving Suffolk and surrounding areas. Our doctors bring advanced, specialized expertise to the table and stand ready to provide you and your pet with the outstanding care you deserve.

Call (757) 935-9111 to learn more!

Merrilee T. Small

DVM, DACVIM

Cardiology
Our co-founder Dr. Small has worked her entire career in the Hampton Roads area, first as a veterinary technician, followed by becoming an emergency veterinarian and serving two years as Hospital Director at TVECC, before leaving to complete a residency in cardiology at NC State. She became a board-certified cardiac specialist in 2005. 

During her residency, Dr. Small earned numerous awards, including being named outstanding resident twice by her classmates, the Bedside Manner Award bestowed by the faculty.

A true local, Dr. Small grew up in Norfolk, attended Old Dominion University, and is deeply embedded in the fabric of life in Hampton Roads. She has been a member of the viola section in Symphonicity, the Symphony Orchestra of Virginia Beach, for over 20 years.

In addition to the satisfaction Dr. Small receives serving the community she calls home, she also enjoys gardening, and spending time with her husband, son, and pets.

Jeff T. Stallings

DVM, DACVS

Surgeon
A Virginia Beach native, Dr. Stallings earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Virginia Tech, then moved to Georgia to work on a cattle ranch. In pursuit of a veterinary education, he subsequently took a job as a veterinary technician at the University of Georgia Animal Sciences Department, and was accepted into the school’s College of Veterinary Medicine the following year.

After completing his DVM and an internship in small animal medicine and surgery, Dr. Stallings worked as an emergency veterinarian for a year prior to entering a three-year surgical residency at the University of Florida. After his residency, Dr. Stallings moved his family to Maryland to work in a referral practice before returning to the Tidewater region, where he established a mobile surgery service. His practice moved to a fixed location many years ago where he proudly offered pet owners and referring veterinarians the latest techniques in soft-tissue, orthopedic, oncologic, and neurologic surgical procedures.

As a co-founder of The COVE, Dr. Stallings has been encouraged to pursue his dream by his supportive family.

Associate Veterinarians Dentistry and Oral Surgery

Colleen Fox

DVM, CSAVP Dentistry

Dentistry and Oral Surgery

After earning her bachelor of science and DVM degrees at Cornell University, Dr. Fox has called Virginia home since 1998. She developed a deep passion for veterinary dentistry when she discovered how dramatically a pet’s quality of life and longevity could be improved through proactive oral health protocols and advanced corrective and restorative procedures to treat infection and oral pain. She is highly proficient in employing leading-edge veterinary dentistry technologies, techniques, and materials.

Dr. Fox has traveled thousands of miles and devoted countless hours to advance her dental knowledge and skills through continuing education and practice. She is a member of the American Veterinary Dental Society and has limited her practice to dentistry as a DVM. In 2020, she earned a Certificate of Small Animal Veterinary Practice/Dentistry (CSAVP Dentistry) at the University of Luxembourg in cooperation with the European School for Advanced Veterinary Studies (ESAVS). The CSAVP testifies that an intermediary level of theoretical and clinical competence (as defined by the leading European veterinary organizations) has been obtained in a chosen discipline.

In recognition of her innovative veterinary practice as well as her service to the community, Dr. Fox was honored in 2012 as one of Inside Business magazine’s “Top 40 Under 40 in Hampton Roads.” In 2017, she was awarded Inside Business – The Hampton Roads Business Journal’s with a Woman in Business Achievement Award.

Associate Veterinarians Emergency Care

Nicolette Brinkman

DVM

Emergency Care

Nicolette Brinkman, DVM attended the University of New Hampshire for her bachelors degree in biomedical science and then graduated with honors from Lincoln Memorial University – College of Veterinary Medicine as part of their inaugural class in 2018. Her interests include emergency and critical care and soft tissue surgery. Dr. Brinkman is a member of Phi Zeta, the National Veterinary Honors Society as well as the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society. Since graduation, Dr. Brinkman has worked in two busy emergency hospitals outside of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She moved to Virginia in July of 2021 to join team COVE. In her spare time, she enjoys cuddling her two cats (Sir Reginald and Lady Olive), doing yoga, and hiking.

Laurie Granata

DVM

Emergency Care

Dr. Granata graduated from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in 1998. Since then she has worked in general practice, emergency/referral, and mobile ultrasound. Her special interests include ultrasound, surgery, and critical care. An original New Yorker, Dr. Granata moved to Virginia in 2014 and is enjoying southern living with her husband, son, and two dogs, Robert and Walker.

In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and backpacking in the national parks.

Christian Lapp

DVM

Emergency Care

Dr. Lapp has BS in Agriculture from University of GA (May 2014) and DVM from University of GA CVM (May 2017). He has completed SA Rotating Internship at Iowa State University (June 2017-June 2018) and SA Surgical Internship at Dallas Veterinary Surgical Center (July 2018-2019).

Christine Reid

DVM

Emergency Care

Dr. Christine Reid studied Physiology and Neurobiology at the University of Maryland before starting her veterinary education at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. She graduated in 2016 with numerous awards including Surgical Proficiency, Oncology, and Patient Care. Dr. Reid spent her first 2 years at a busy general practice in North Carolina where she expanded and honed her skills in surgery, diagnostics, and time management. Since that time, she has used and expanded those skills exclusively in the emergency medical field.

Her professional passions include the care of critically ill patients, surgery, and pain management. She is a member of the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society as well as the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management and is working towards becoming a Certified Veterinary Pain Practitioner.

Dr. Reid is a single mom to her 3-year-old daughter. They share their home with a Great Dane, a cat, and a turtle. In her spare time, she enjoys playing with her family, reading, music, coloring, and video games.

Leah Simons

DVM

Emergency Care

Dr. Simons is originally from New York and received her DVM from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. After graduating veterinary school she completed a small animal rotating internship at Red Bank Veterinary Hospital in New Jersey. She moved to Virginia after her internship and has been working as an emergency doctor in the Richmond area ever since. Dr. Simons appreciates the ability to have variety in her work life and supplements her time with frequent freelance work at emergency and general practice hospitals in the Richmond area. Even though she does not live nearby she is grateful for the opportunity to work at The COVE on a regular basis and is always in awe of the compassion and care that is provided to her patients and clients by her fellow staff members. She is a current member of the AVMA and VECCS.

In her free time, Dr. Simons enjoys yoga, pottery, exploring the outdoors, and spoiling her 3-legged cat Millipede (AKA MIllie).

Alicia Thomas

DVM

Emergency Care

Dr. Thomas earned her DVM from the University of Tennessee in 2015. She completed a small animal medicine and surgery rotating internship at Texas A&M in June 2016. She has special interests in emergency medicine, oncology, ophthalmology, and soft-tissue surgery.

Dr. Thomas was born and raised in Midlothian, Virginia, and is excited to be living back in her home state. She shares her home with Penni, a four-year-old Golden Retriever, and Lily, a cat she hand-raised since its birth in 2008. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, hiking, and spending time with family and friends.

Arriana Williams

DVM

Emergency Care

Dr. Williams obtained her DVM from Western University of Health Sciences in 2019, and a BS in Biology from South Carolina State University in 2014.  She also did two externships at The COVE during her 4th year in veterinary school.  Her interests include ultrasound, ophthalmology, soft tissue surgery and urology.

Her favorite part of her career is being able to utilize the special bond she has with animals and knowing she has the knowledge and skills to make a difference in their lives.  During her free time, Dr. Williams likes to spend time with her kids, go to the beach, kayak, and cook with her family.