Our Team

Dr. Rich Panuska

Owner, Veterinarian

Dr. Panuska grew up in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, where he first began volunteering at the local small-animal clinic. He would remain at that practice for nine years, gaining hands-on experience throughout his high-school years and his undergraduate career at Virginia Tech. Next, Dr. Panuska volunteered with a local emergency clinic and became a Licensed Veterinary Technician, working in both small-animal and emergency clinic settings, before heading to the Caribbean to study animal medicine at Ross University’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

   

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Dr. Panuska graduated from veterinary school with his doctoral degree in 2000, then relocated to Ohio for a year to launch his career in a small-animal clinic there. He then moved back home to Virginia, working with a local emergency clinic by night and filling in at several nearby pet clinics during the day. It was during this time that he developed interests in pain management, soft-tissue surgery, and veterinary dentistry in addition to his longtime love of emergency care.

Upon relocating to the Carolinas with his wife, Dr. Panuska served in a relief capacity here at Friendship Animal Hospital from May to December of 2015. He purchased the clinic the following June, and has been tending to the area’s pets and animal owners here ever since.

Outside of the office, Dr. Panuska enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, helping his wife care for their 12 chickens, playing the guitar, and making home-brewed beer. He and his wife share their home with three lovable cats: Ringo, Tucker, and Lucille.

AnnaMarie

Hospital Manager

AnnaMarie is the hospital manager here at Friendship Animal Hospital. She started in the veterinary field as a Veterinary Assistant about 12 years ago and has been a hospital manager for five years. Initially, started her journey in the veterinary field 12 years ago at a Banfield in Garner North Carolina. After working there for five years, she moved to Florida and transferred to another Banfield. After a couple of years, AnnaMarie realized that Florida was not a good fit, so she decided to move to Charlotte. When she moved to Charlotte, she helped a veterinarian/friend that she worked with at Banfield in Garner, open two private practices, one in Charlotte and the other in Indian Land, where she managed and grew both practices.

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AnnaMarie knew that she had found the right profession for her when one of the hospital’s clients called to inform that she found a litter of five kittens abandoned, and wanted to know if anyone at the hospital knew anyone who would take them in as either fosters or who could adopt them. They were advised to bring them in and the team would find homes for all five kittens. The teammates here at Friendship ended up working together and found homes for all five kittens. AnnaMarie and her husband ended up adopting two kittens, Wasabi and Sriracha. The other three kittens were adopted by other teammates here at Friendship.

AnnMarie originally grew up in Fuquay-Varina North Carolina in a family with two brothers and one sister, a dog named Casey, a cat named Callie, and a bird named Kiwi. She and her husband Mike have four cats, two dogs, and a fish. their dogs’ names are Pachuko (10 years) and Sheamus (8 years). The two older cats’ names are Lilith (6 years) and Sunny D (12 years). The newest additions are the two younger cats Wasabi (6 months) and Sriracha (6 months) who are both litter mates. They also have a Betta fish named Walter.

In her free time, AnnaMarie loves taking the dogs out for hikes all over the Charlotte trails. She also enjoys reading, hiking with my dogs, and mountain biking.

 

Neda

Hospital Administrator, RVT, MBA

Neda’s journey into veterinary medicine is rooted in a deep-seated love for animals and a passion for making a difference in their lives. She joined Friendship Veterinary Hospital in 2023, bringing with her a wealth of experience and a commitment to supporting the clinic’s mission of improving the well-being of animals and their families. As the Hospital Administrator, Neda handles a range of behind-the-scenes tasks, from bookkeeping to facilities maintenance, ensuring the smooth operation of the practice. Additionally, she lends her expertise as an RVT when needed, underscoring her dedication to providing top-notch care to every patient.

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The inspiration for Neda’s career can be traced back to a scrappy feral cat named Button, who became her first pet during the transition from childhood to adulthood. Button’s presence in Neda’s life taught her invaluable lessons in patience, responsibility, and unconditional love. Through Button’s affection and gentle demeanor, Neda discovered that she was driven by a desire to advocate for animals and support their well-being.

Neda’s professional journey has taken her from Newport News, VA, where she started working in a veterinary hospital kennel, to earning an AAS in veterinary technologies at Blue Ridge Community College. Over the years, she has worked in various roles within the veterinary field, including drug sales and product technical support, before finding her way back to clinical practice in the Charlotte area. Her diverse experiences have shaped her into a well-rounded veterinary professional with a deep understanding of the industry.

In her role at Friendship Veterinary Hospital, Neda finds fulfillment in the instant gratification of pet dentistry, where she witnesses firsthand the transformative impact of dental care on patients’ quality of life. Seeing pets regain their vitality and joy after receiving treatment for severe dental disease brings immense satisfaction to Neda and reinforces her dedication to veterinary medicine. Beyond dentistry, she is passionate about continuing education, knitting, weaving, and gardening, indulging her love for fiber-related activities and staying abreast of medical advancements in the field. Neda’s multifaceted interests and unwavering commitment to animal welfare make her an invaluable asset to the Friendship Veterinary Hospital team.

Amber

Assistant, Kennel Assistant

Amber has wanted to work in the healthcare field for as long as she can remember. She’s also had many opportunities throughout life to help animals. For Amber, combining her passion for pet care and her fascination with the world of medicine simply makes sense! She’s proud to serve the area’s pets as a Veterinary Assistant and Kennel Assistant with the Friendship Animal Hospital team.

 

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Originally from Rock Hill, South Carolina, Amber attended York Technical College to earn her Veterinary Assistant’s certification. She graduated with honors in February of 2017, then signed on as a daycare attendant at a pet resort in Charlotte, North Carolina. Amber was thrilled to join the Friendship Animal hospital family in the spring of 2017—her favorite parts of the job are getting to know the clinic’s boarding dogs and interacting with pets and owners alike while assisting in the examination rooms.

Amber’s favorite pastimes outside of work include hiking in the great outdoors and spending quality time with her family. She lives in Clover with her husband, Shane, and their two wonderful children, Payton and Bryson. The family shares their home with a multitude of pets: a Basset Hound/Beagle mix named Bruster; Yoda the Chihuahua/Yorkie mix; a kitten named Mesa who believes that she’s one of the dogs; Chester the ball python; two mice named Lily and Shakes; and a Jack Dempsey fish who goes by Sammy.

Barbara

Assistant

Barbara, a Veterinary Assistant at our clinic, transitioned from a two-decade career in the financial industry to follow her true passion—animal care. After completing the Veterinary Assistant program at York Technical College and working at Camp Bow Wow, Barbara joined our team in February 2023.

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Her journey into veterinary care was sparked by her Chow Chow, Lady, who battled cancer with the support and compassion of her veterinary team. Barbara wanted to provide the same level of care to other animals and their owners.

Barbara loves the diversity of her work, from caring for young puppies and kittens to elderly animals. She has a particular interest in radiology, revealing hidden details invisible to the naked eye.

Born and raised in Manning, South Carolina, Barbara now has a blended family with her husband and six children. Their furry family members include Husky grand-dogs Luna and Ledger, and grand-cats Lilly and Luna. Outside of work, Barbara enjoys music, travel, and sports, especially supporting the Canes hockey team and playing disc golf with her family. Her diverse interests and unwavering dedication bring a unique perspective to our clinic.

David

Assistant

David is a Veterinary Assistant with a passion for animals. Growing up, he had a variety of pets including snakes, birds, dogs, and cats, which fueled his love for animals. After starting his career in sales and merchandising, David began working at a doggy daycare/bar and discovered his love for working with dogs. He became the lead groomer at Lucky Dog Bark and Brew for two years and then moved on to become the Assistant Manager at Camp Bow Wow for another two years. Finally, he felt that he had enough experience and knowledge to apply for a position at a real vet office. While originally applying for a receptionist position, he jumped at the opportunity to become a Veterinary Assistant as soon as the position became available.

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David loves being able to help animals and make them feel better, no matter what their ailment may be. He enjoys performing ear cytology and finding the varying levels of infection inside the ear. He appreciates working with a doctor who truly cares about his patients and has built a strong bond with his customers.

David was born in Bellflower, California, but has lived in various places throughout his life. He grew up in a family of seven and has an 8-year-old Miniature Pinscher named Dude and a 9-year-old black cat named Tobias. When he’s not working, David enjoys spending time outdoors with his friends and dogs, hiking trails, and camping. He’s also a big fan of amusement park rides, which he discovered after losing his sight for two years in high school.

Grace

Assistant

Grace joined Friendship Animal Hospital in May 2023 as our dedicated Customer Service Representative. Her journey here was a twist of fate, as she discovered the clinic while seeking care for her own pets and ended up finding her dream job on the very same day.

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Originally trained in Human Nutrition, Grace’s true passion has always been animals. Her weekends spent working at doggy daycare facilities revealed her natural talent for comforting and caring for pets. Growing up in a family with various animals, she has a deep-rooted love for all creatures, from dogs and ducks to reptiles.

Grace’s family now includes her fiancé, Josh, along with their two fur-children, Lyra and Loki. Lyra, a lively chocolate lab mix, and Loki, a clever chihuahua-dachshund mix, add joy to their lives. Beyond her work at the clinic, Grace adores Disney and crime-related media. Her dedication to lifelong learning led her to achieve a Bachelor’s degree in Human Nutrition with a Concentration in Chronic Disease Prevention.

Haley

Assistant

Haley serves as a dedicated Veterinary Assistant at Friendship Animal Hospital. Her journey to this position began after spending eight years in Charleston, SC. Longing to be closer to her hometown of Rockingham, NC, Haley scoured online job listings for animal hospitals in central North Carolina. She was drawn to Friendship Animal Hospital’s compelling backstory and decided to apply in February 2024. By March 2024, she had joined their team and has loved being part of the practice ever since.

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Haley’s passion for animal care started in her childhood, inspired by her Papa’s small farm. At seven years old, she vividly remembers pulling turnips from the garden to feed the cows, only to be scolded by her Papa for potentially making them sick. The experience left her deeply concerned for the cows’ well-being and ignited her desire to care for animals and educate others on their proper care.

Haley’s professional journey into veterinary care began after a 14-year career in the restaurant industry, where she coordinated new store openings and trained staff. Despite her success, Haley felt unfulfilled and missed being with her family and pets. She decided to pursue a career in animal health care and applied for the Vet Tech program at Trident Technical College in Charleston, SC. While on the waitlist, she secured a receptionist position at a clinic in Ladson, SC, which confirmed her passion for the field. Wanting to be closer to home, Haley eventually found her place at Friendship Animal Hospital.

One of Haley’s favorite aspects of her job is educating clients on how to provide the best care for their new pets. She finds joy in helping clients understand the requirements and recommendations for their pets’ health and happiness. Additionally, she has a keen interest in observing orthopedic procedures, valuing the importance of helping animals regain mobility and comfort.

Haley grew up in Rockingham, NC, surrounded by her mom, dad, and a menagerie of cats and dogs, including Fritzi, Punkin, Porkchop, Penelope, Molly, and Lucas. She spent much of her childhood at her Meemaw and Papa’s farm, where she developed her love for animals. Today, Haley shares her life with her 22-year-old step-daughter, Makayla, who shares her passions for music and animals and is a talented studio artist. Haley’s beloved cat, Jim, is a constant source of joy, especially with his endearing habit of sleeping on her chest and suckling on anything fleece.

In her free time, Haley enjoys music, animals, and video games. She is an avid PC gamer and has been deeply involved in World of Warcraft since 2009, where she has played with family and friends and made numerous new friends along the way.

Haley’s commitment to her role and her love for animals and clients alike make her an invaluable member of the Friendship Animal Hospital team. She looks forward to many more years of service and growth within the clinic.

Audrey

Kennel Technician

Audrey grew up in Baltimore, Maryland with her parents, sister, and the constant company of the family pets. She would frequently bring home stray animals she encountered, and her mother was always willing to help return them to full health and find them loving homes. Audrey knew early on that a career spent caring for pets was the perfect path for her!

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Audrey has lived in Charlotte for 27 years. She joined the Friendship Animal Hospital team nearly 15 years ago—she was a client before she was an employee, and volunteered to help in the kennels when the practice moved into its new facility. The rest is history! Audrey has been serving the pets of this area as one of the hospital’s Kennel Technicians ever since.

Away from work, Audrey is an avid traveler and loves to explore the country whenever she gets the chance. She also enjoys bowling several nights a week, working in her yard, and relaxing with her own pets at home. Audrey has two dogs—Lulu, the laid-back elder, and the much more trouble-prone Miss C—as well as a trio of cats named Purrcy, Love Bug, and Toby.

Kayla

Attendant

Kayla, currently serving as an Animal Care Attendant at Friendship Clinic, embarked on her career after a period of introspection, realizing her deep-seated desire to be amidst animals and offer them comfort.

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Initially drawn to the world of pet photography in college, her experiences, notably capturing the profound bond between an English Setter named Shiloh and his owner, made her yearn for a deeper connection with animals. This led her to volunteer at her local humane society and work in a boarding facility, before finding her true calling in the veterinary realm.

Growing up in Monroe, NC, with cherished memories of the outdoors and time with her family, Kayla has always been surrounded by animals. She currently resides in the area, enjoying her time with her partner, son, and adorable pets, including Onyx, a pup with an affinity for belly rubs, and two spirited German Shorthaired Pointers, Cisco and Dixie.

Beyond her primary profession, Kayla is a lover of photography, music, art, and literature. She finds solace in hiking, especially in the mountains, and has a penchant for antique hunting. A creative at heart, she delved into crocheting during the quarantine, crafting unique pieces like Amigurumi toys.

In every aspect of her life, whether it’s her daily duties at the clinic or her hobbies, Kayla’s dedication to nurturing and understanding shines brightly.

Stephan

Receptionist

Stephan, a compassionate animal enthusiast from a young age, discovered his love for furry companions through rescuing stray kittens and volunteering at local shelters. This early passion merged seamlessly with his fascination for biology during high school, sparking a profound interest in animal health and welfare. Driven by his scientific curiosity and dedication to animal well-being, Stephan found his calling in veterinary medicine.

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His journey into the field was marked by a commitment to learning and a desire to make a difference. Through volunteering, shadowing veterinarians, and transforming the lives of animals, he honed his skills and solidified his dream of advocating for voiceless creatures.

As a receptionist in the veterinary clinic, Stephan found the perfect intersection of his passions. Every day presents new challenges and opportunities to contribute to the well-being of beloved pets. From educating pet owners on preventative care to facilitating the human-animal bond, Stephan embraces each aspect of his role with enthusiasm and dedication. His genuine love for animals shines through in his work, making him an invaluable member of the veterinary team.

Outside of work, Stephan enjoys nurturing his own furry family of four pets. With a knack for understanding feline behavior and a passion for dog training and agility, Stephan finds joy in connecting with animals on a deeper level. Whether it’s helping a standoffish stray cat named Rusty find a loving home, or guiding his playful pup Rain through agility classes, Stephan’s commitment to animal welfare extends beyond the clinic walls, enriching the lives of both pets and their devoted owners.

Jen

Receptionist

Jen is a dedicated customer service representative at Friendship Animal Hospital, where she began working in March 2024. Her passion for animal care ignited during her childhood when an equine vet worked a miracle on a wounded horse, inspiring her with the heroism and life-saving impact of the profession.

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Jen’s commitment to animal welfare deepened when her own pet faced health challenges, fostering a desire to provide the same compassion and care to others’ pets. She values the importance of every role within the veterinary field, having started in the kennels of a mixed animal veterinary practice. Over time, she progressed to a vet assistant and ultimately to her current position.

Originally from Jersey, Jen spent most of her life in North Carolina. Growing up with her mother, sister, and a myriad of animals, she developed a deep-seated love for animals and nature. In her free time, Jen enjoys hiking in the mountains, whitewater rafting, kayaking, reading, and spending time with her family. She also finds fulfillment in her second job, caring for the elderly.

Jen is happily married and shares her home with a lively menagerie of pets, including three dogs—George, Charlie, and Petey—two cats, Monks and Tigger, and her beloved horse, Ivy.