Meet The Specialists

Our Veterinary Specialists

Meet the Veterinarians of Virginia Veterinary Specialists! We’re pleased to provide exceptional vet care for your pets!

We are solely dedicated to your pet’s care! We look forward to getting to know you, and we hope you’ll take the time to scroll down and get to know us

Internal Medicine

Carrie Miller

DVM, Diplomate ACVIM

Dr. Miller received her DVM from Tufts University in 1999. She then completed a rotating internship in medicine and surgery at Wheat Ridge Animal Hospital in Colorado in 2000. In July 2003, she became board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine after finishing her residency at Wheat Ridge Veterinary Specialists in Colorado. Dr. Miller continued as a staff doctor at Wheat Ridge Veterinary Specialists and trained for seven years with Dr. Brendan McKiernan, an internationally known respiratory specialist.

Dr. Miller is a member of the American Animal Hospital Association, American Veterinary Medical Association, and the Virginia Veterinary Medical Society.

Shannon Ryan

DVM, Diplomate ACVIM

Dr. Shannon Ryan attended Denison University in Granville, Ohio, where she received her BS in biochemistry in 2003. She then attended The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, where she received her DVM in 2008. After veterinary school, Dr. Ryan began a rotating small animal internship at Hope Advanced Veterinary Center in Vienna, Virginia. During her internship, she developed a strong interest in Internal Medicine and stayed on to complete a year-long internship with the Internal Medicine department. Dr. Ryan then completed a three-year residency in Internal Medicine also at The Hope Center. During her residency, she researched the effects of low doses of dopamine on morbidity on dogs with pancreatitis and performed a retrospective review on chronic vomiting in cat’s etiology and diagnostic testing. In February of 2015, Dr. Ryan became board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. Once certified Dr. Ryan joined the team at Virginia Veterinary Specialists, in December of 2015.

Michelle Purnell

DVM, Diplomate ACVIM

Dr. Michelle Purnell is an air force brat born in upstate New York. She grew up in Louisiana and pursued undergraduate studies at Louisiana State University. She then graduated from Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine in 1998 and remains a rabid LSU Tigers fan to this day. She completed a rotating small animal medicine and surgery internship in Chicago, IL, where she was voted Intern of the Year. She then pursued a residency in small animal internal medicine at Oklahoma State University and was awarded the Phi Zeta Honor Society research award. Upon finishing her residency, she joined a busy multi-specialty referral practice in North Carolina, where she was a staff small animal internist for 16 years, and for the last three years there, she served as the medical director. Dr. Purnell is board certified in small animal internal medicine and joined Virginia Veterinary Specialists in November of 2017.


Kevin Stiffler

DVM, Diplomate ACVS-SA

Dr. Kevin Stiffler is a Virginia native, having grown up in Williamsburg. He received both his Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees from North Carolina State University. Dr. Stiffler then completed a general rotating internship at the University of Georgia (UGA) College of Veterinary Medicine.

Following his general internship, Dr. Stiffler completed a surgical internship at the Dallas Veterinary Surgical Center in Texas and then returned to the University of Georgia to complete a three-year residency in small animal surgery. In 2004, Dr. Stiffler was honored as UGA’s resident of the year. That year, he also received the national resident clinical presentation of the year award from the American College of Veterinary Surgeons for his research on urinary tract infections following spinal surgery.

Dr. Stiffler then practiced in Richmond, Virginia, and he became a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons in 2005. Having always wanted to live in Charlottesville, he happily joined VVS in 2011.

Sara Schillinger

DVM, Diplomate ACVS-SA

Dr. Sara Schillinger grew up in upstate New York, graduated from Union College, and then completed a master’s degree at Stony Brook University. She received her veterinary degree from Cornell University in 2005. She then completed a rotating internship at Wheat Ridge Animal Hospital and her small animal surgical residency at the University of Pennsylvania in 2009. She completed her board certification in small animal surgery in 2010. Dr. Schillinger then became an associate surgeon at practices in Austin, TX and Charlotte, NC, prior to moving to Charlottesville to join Virginia Veterinary Specialists.

Brendan Anders

DVM, Diplomate ACVS-SA

Dr. Brendan Anders grew up in Alexandria, VA, and obtained his Bachelor of Science combined degree in psychology and sociology from James Madison University. He later relocated to Athens, GA, to pursue his degree in veterinary medicine at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. During his time in school, Dr. Anders participated in rotations at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, MD, the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, SC, and the National Zoo in Washington, DC. Following his graduation in 2000, he then completed a small animal rotating internship at the Regional Veterinary Referral Center in Springfield, VA. After his internship, Dr. Anders worked as a relief veterinarian for the Baltimore Zoo before going into general practice as a veterinarian.

After spending two years working in general practice and one year as an emergency veterinarian in Brooklyn, NY, Dr. Anders was accepted as a surgical intern, then resident, at Garden State Veterinary Hospital in Tinton Falls, NJ. While at Garden State, he researched auditory function in cats before and after nasopharyngeal polyp removal, and he developed his surgical interests in thoracic surgery and fracture repair. Dr. Anders completed his surgical residency in 2008, and he became a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons in 2010. He comes to us from Chesapeake Veterinary Surgical Specialists’ location in Towson, MD. He is a member of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS), the Veterinary Orthopedic Society (VOS), and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).


Anna Paling

DVM, Diplomate ACVIM (Cardiology)

Dr. Anna Paling was born in England and raised in Maryland and Virginia. She obtained her undergraduate degree in Biology with Honors from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA.

Dr. Paling then moved out to Southern California and taught high school for one year. After that time, she attended veterinary school at the University of California, Davis; School of Veterinary Medicine, in Davis, California. Dr. Paling completed her DVM from UC Davis and then completed a private practice internship in small animal internal medicine and surgery in Sacramento, CA. She then returned to UC Davis to go through the cardiology residency program at the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. During her residency, Dr. Paling received several awards for excellent performance, including winning the residence research project award in 2008 for her clinical research in congenital heart disease: subaortic stenosis (SAS). Dr. Paling completed her residency and became a board-certified cardiologist in 2008.

From 2008 to 2010, Dr. Paling worked in a private veterinary specialty practice in the San Francisco Bay Area as their first cardiologist. In 2010, Dr. Paling and her family relocated to North Carolina, where she practiced for a year and a half. She returned to Charlottesville in 2013 to join Virginia Veterinary Specialists as the first veterinary cardiologist in Charlottesville.


Courtney Mallett

DVM, Diplomate ACVIM (Oncology)

Dr. Mallett grew up in West Virginia and received her undergraduate degree from Clemson University in 2002. She then graduated from The University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine in 2006. After graduation, Dr. Mallett completed a 1-year internship in small animal medicine and surgery at Florida Veterinary Specialists (BluePearl Tampa) in 2007, followed by a 3-year residency in medical oncology at The University of Georgia in 2010.

Dr. Mallett is board certified in oncology by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) and has been in private specialty practice for the past 10 years. In addition to lecturing regionally and participating in clinical trials and research, Dr. Mallett has enjoyed mentoring interns and residents throughout her career. She has served on both the ACVIM Exam Rating and Private Practice Advisory Committees and has been a past reviewer for Veterinary Pathology. In 2018, Dr. Mallett volunteered for the Puerto Rico hurricane relief campaign through Lucky Dog Animal Rescue in Washington, DC.

Dr. Mallett enjoys all aspects of veterinary oncology, with particular interests in hematological and oral cancers. She strives to provide patients with treatment plans tailored to meet the needs of each individual family while providing an excellent quality of life throughout the treatment process.

In her spare time, Dr. Mallett enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with family and friends, including her dog, Huckleberry.