Willowrun Veterinary Hospital

Meet Our Team

Our team of veterinary experts and dedicated supporting staff are ready and waiting to serve your pet, with everything from wellness care and ongoing treatments to surgical procedures and everything in-between. Learn more about our industry-leading team of vets here.

Jacob Hammond

DVM, Medical Director, & Co-Owner

Learn more about Dr. Jacob Hammond by watching this personal video!

"While most people have a clear memory of exactly when they wanted to be a veterinarian, I never experienced that light bulb moment. However, growing up reading James Herriot, living on a dairy farm with my German Shepherd, and going to an agricultural-focused college where I spent my mornings feeding or milking cows before class, I slowly realized that no other job could possibly give me the same fulfillment. Being able to provide care when an animal needs it is incredibly rewarding and something that will motivate me for my entire career."

Dr. Jacob Hammond is a 2015 graduate of the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. He spent his early years in an Atlanta suburb, taking care of every kind of animal a half acre lot could hold. He then spent his later years helping his family build My Dad and Me Family Farm. Today the farm centers on its Jersey herd and milk production, but also produces free-range eggs, broilers, hogs and garden produce. He worked on the farm until attending Berry College of Rome, Georgia, where he obtained a Bachelor's degree in English, with minors in Animal Science and Chemistry.

With every daily interaction, Dr. Hammond strives to provide a comfortable environment in which relationships with pet and parent alike allow the best medical care possible to take place. He has special interests in working and police dogs, emergency medicine, and small animal surgery.

Dr. Hammond joined the Willowrun team in 2015, and lives in the Rocky Mount area. He is married to Dr. Madeline Hammond, who specializes in acupuncture and integrative medicine here at Willowrun. They have three children named Ellis, Jack and Katy; and a German Shepherd named Leisel. Outside of work, Dr. Hammond spends his time writing, hiking, and gardening; as well as doing Crossfit and watching the Atlanta Braves.

Willie Smith


Learn more about Dr. Smith by watching this personal video!

"I grew up in Fayetteville and my father ran the local FCX farm supply store. As a child, I learned to take care of our farm animals among my other chores at home and at the store. I was accepted as a member of the second class of students admitted to the new veterinary school at North Carolina State University and started working at Willowrun when I graduated in 1986. Veterinary medicine continues to offer me limitless learning opportunities and a never-ending variety of challenging work experiences. I never have had a boring day at work."

Dr. Willie Smith graduated from North Carolina State University with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 1986 and began working at Willowrun shortly after. He has worked at Willowrun for his entire career and has experienced the transition from a rural, farm call-based practice to one that now focuses on examining pets in the hospital. He values the history of the practice and looks forward to the opportunity to continue to serve the people and pets in his community alongside the dedicated and talented staff members and fellow veterinarians.

Dr. Smith and his wife, Carol, raised their family in wonderful Smithfield, NC. Together they have two sons who are both graduates of Smithfield-Selma High School and North Carolina State University. Rhett is the IB Middle Years Program Coordinator and wrestling coach at Smithfield-Selma High School and lives in Smithfield with his wife, Katie, and their son, Penn. Kevin is a construction engineer and lives in Smithfield with his wife, Erin, and their children Palmer and Emerson.

The Smiths treasure their membership at First Baptist Church and the many close friends they have in the congregation and community. A charter member of the Rotary Club of Central Johnston County, Dr. Smith thoroughly enjoys staying involved with the different avenues of service that it offers. He also represents the veterinary profession as a member of the Johnston County Board of Health. He enjoys racquetball, water sports, and attending football and basketball games at N.C. State.

Madeline Hammond


Learn more about Dr. Madeline Hammond by watching this personal video!

"Growing up with a border collie, several cats, and a flock of ducks, I've always been fascinated with God's creatures and desired to be a veterinarian. My family has encouraged this interest since childhood. I remember many evenings spent snuggled on the couch with my Nana watching James Herriot's All Creatures Great and Small, and a springtime spent hatching out ducklings in our suburban neighborhood! This led me to start working one-on-one with our family's veterinarian when I was 14 years old. She took me under her wing and I absolutely fell in love with the profession. As the years have passed, I've learned what a tremendous blessing it is to be able to serve my community by caring for its' animals."

Dr. Madeline Hammond was raised in Avon Lake, Ohio, and studied Animal Science at Berry College in Rome, Georgia. She met her husband, Dr. Jacob Hammond, working at the college's Jersey Dairy in the mornings before class. She is a graduate of North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Madeline is a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. She blends progressive, evidence-based medicine with complementary practices, such as acupuncture and herbal medicine, to offer her patients comprehensive, holistic care tailored to their individual needs.

She and her husband share their home with their three children, Ellis, Jack and Katy, a German Shepherd dog named Leisel and a little Dachshund named Triscuit. When she's not chasing after her little ones, she enjoys doing CrossFit, gardening, hiking, cooking, and traveling.

Lauren Mealin


Learn more about Dr. Lauren Mealin by watching this personal video!

Dr. Lauren Mealin is a Veterinarian at Willowrun Veterinary Hospital in Smithfield, North Carolina. In 2011, she graduated from North Carolina State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Zoology, and went on to complete her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine in 2015 from Kansas State University. Prior to arriving at Willowrun, she has worked as a veterinarian at a 24-hour small animal emergency hospital, followed by two small animal private practices. Dr. Mealin is Fear Free Certified and her areas of professional interest include internal medicine, dentistry, dermatology, soft tissue surgery, and pain management. She has always had a strong desire to work with animals, and started her career in the veterinary industry in 2008 as a veterinary assistant prior to becoming a veterinarian. Dr. Mealin says the best part about working in the veterinary field is helping people help their pets, as it is so rewarding to improve the health of a pet and help maintain the human animal bond in the process.

Growing up in an Army family, Dr. Mealin has lived all over the country, including California, Texas, Kansas, Hawaii, Virginia, and North Carolina. She currently shares a home with her husband, Andrew, their son, Henry, and a mixed breed dog, Andy. In her free time, she enjoys visiting the lake to waterski, wake surf, and swim. She also enjoys road biking, hiking, and exploring outdoors. A fun fact about Dr. Mealin is that she has been waterskiing since she was 5 years old, and was on the Waterski/Wakeboard club team at North Carolina State University.

Katelyn Ellis


Learn more about Dr. Katelyn Ellis by watching this personal video!

Dr. Ellis is an Associate Veterinarian at Willowrun Veterinary Hospital. Dr. Ellis graduated with her Bachelor’s in Animal Science from Berry College in 2011 and her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine in 2015. In addition to her schooling, Dr. Ellis completed a one-year internship at the Equine Medical Center of Ocala, a three-year residency in Theriogenology at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, and studied veterinary acupuncture at Chi University. Dr. Ellis began working in the veterinary field in 2003 as a kennel staff member and eventually became a technician. She stated her first job as a veterinarian in 2015.

Science and animals were two of Dr. Ellis’s biggest passions when she was young, so veterinary medicine was a very strong calling for her. After spending her high school years working with a local wildlife rehab and nursing orphaned animals to health, Dr. Ellis knew she was meant to be a veterinarian. Her favorite part about working in the field is building life-long relationships with patients and clients. As an advocate for veterinary reproduction, Dr. Ellis values facilitating the creation of new life and watching those animals grow up to live happy and health lives.

Born and raised in Georgia, Dr. Ellis moved to Raleigh, North Carolina in 2016 for her residency and loved it so much that she decided to stay! She lives with her partner, Matthew, who is a social worker, and her black and white Shetland Sheepdog named Tipsy, who is a retired show dog and a former patient of Dr. Ellis! In her free time, Dr. Ellis enjoys spending time outdoors, caring for her jungle of indoor plants, and reading.

Ariel Gillfillan

Associate DVM

Learn more about Dr. Gillfillan by watching this personal video!

Dr. Ariel Gillfillan (Dr. Gilly) is the newest Associate Veterinarian with Willowrun Veterinary Hospital. She graduated from Berry College in 2013 with her Bachelor of Science in Animal Science and received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Florida in 2018. Dr. Gilly is fear free certified and has a professional interest in diagnostic imaging, soft tissue surgery, and clinical pathology.

Dr. Gilly began working in the veterinary field in 2006 but has always had a mind for animals and science. She discovered early in her education that veterinary medicine was the career for her due to the combination of biology/physiology, and the human-animal bond she admires so much.

While Dr. Gilly spent her youth in Fort Lauderdale, she has just recently moved to Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband Adam and many pets. She has a full household consisting of her greyhound named Jay, a Rhodesian ridgeback mix named Winnie, and two bunnies named Domino and Yahtzee. In their free time, the Gilly’s love to tend to their backyard beehives and gardens, as well as spend time on the water, in the mountains, and tackle any physical adventure they can!


Practice Manager

Krista is thrilled to serve Willowrun Veterinary Hospital as the Practice Manager. She has worked in veterinary medicine since 2018. Before that she served as an educator for children with gifts and talents. Krista has three children, a son, proudly serving in the United States Air Force, and two daughters. She has two fur babies, Griffy (lab) and Mini Cooper (Bernese Mountain Dog). Krista loves to paint, kayak, hike and flower garden. Krista is an avid college football fan and roots for The Ohio State University (her alma mater) loud and proud!

Krista is originally from Urbana, Ohio where she spent her youth as a 4-H'er, showing show steers, serving as the Champaign County Beef Queen and cheerleader. Krista obtained her Bachelors of Science degree from The Ohio State University in Animal Science and was on the OSU judging team. Years later she obtained her masters in Gifted Education from Wright State University.

Krista is excited to be a member of the Willowrun Veterinary team and is proud to serve the Smithfield and surrounding communities.


Technician Team Leader


Kelly joined the hospital team at Willowrun Veterinary Hospital in the summer of 2002, and is cross-trained in all areas of the practice. She is highly experienced in anesthesia and veterinary dentistry. Most of all, Kelly is proud of the high quality of care the medical team at Willowrun can offer to clients and pets.

In May 2010, Kelly graduated from North Carolina State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science. In addition, Kelly is a state and national board-certified registered veterinary technician and received her degree from Central Carolina Community College in Sanford, NC. She has areas of professional interest in surgery and wildlife rehabilitation.

Kelly has lived in Smithfield her entire life and is a proud mother to her daughter Mikayla. She is also a pet parent to a cattle dog mix named Bubba. Kelly volunteers her time at her daughter's school every Thursday, where she hands out lunches to students, in addition to doing presentations for students at South Smithfield Elementary School with the team at Willowrun. In her free time, Kelly enjoys spending time with her family and playing softball.


Registered Veterinary Technician

Bailey is a Registered Veterinary Technician at Willowrun Veterinary Hospital. Bailey has had a strong passion for animals ever since she was a little girl and enjoys getting to educate clients with her knowledge as well as help nurture sick pets back to health.

She has lived on a farm her entire life and truly enjoys working with her livestock. Additionally, she enjoys her sweet indoor fur babies which include a cat name Archie, an Australian Cattle Dog named Adalida, and a Chihuahua named George.


Client Care Manager


Laine joined the team at Willowrun Veterinary Hospital in 1998 as a part-time animal caretaker and advanced her position to a veterinary assistant, helping with appointments, surgeries, and large animals.

Laine is presently the Client Care Manager at Willowrun and has over twenty years of experience working in the veterinary field. She focuses on providing clients with a great experience at every visit, as well as inventory management and IT-related tasks.

Born and raised in Benson, Laine is proud to work alongside her fellow coworkers at a Christian business that serves the local community. In her free time, Laine enjoys spending time with her husband and horseback riding. Her first forever friend was a horse named Atta Boy Brick, who lived a long and healthy life of 30 years! She currently has an English Shepherd named Little Bit who is quite the rockstar, and was even awarded the 'Most Amazing Dog' at the local 5k.


Client Relations

Carsyn found her way to the Willowrun client relations team in 2021. She is dedicated to animal care and has decades of experience tending to the injuries and ailments of creatures on her family's hobby farm in Goldsboro, NC.

"What I love most about Willowrun is the work culture. I can always rely on my coworkers to answer any questions I have, even if they seem silly, without receiving any judgement. I also never have a boring day and can expect someone to make me laugh."

Carsyn's love for animals was encouraged by her grandfather who surprised her with a pony named Blue when she was six years old. He is nearly 30 years old and still with her today! In addition to Blue, she also has a pitbull mix named Posie, two cats named Kreacher and Nimbus, a crested gecko named Harvey, a sand boa named Eden, three tarantulas named Itsy Bitsy, Charlotte, and Shelob (all named after spiders from books), a dozen chickens and countless houseplants. She loves collecting honeybee themed items and hopes to have her own hive someday.


Registered Veterinary Technician

Kirsten joined the team at Willowrun Veterinary Hospital in 2009. She is a Registered Veterinary Technician and 2015 graduate of Central Carolina Community College. Kirsten has areas of professional interest in preventative care and rehabilitation, and is trained in veterinary acupuncture.

At Willowrun, Kirsten enjoys providing client education and getting to grow close with clients and their beloved pets.

Kirsten has lived in Benson her entire life. She is happily married, and they have an adorable toddler named Gunnar. In her free time, Kirsten enjoys DIY projects, hunting, and fishing. She also volunteers her time helping children at South Smithfield Elementary School. At home, Kirsten has four dogs named Franklin, Baby Girl, Alayna, and Mowgli. They know no tricks other than looking cute!


Registered Veterinary Technician


Denise is a state and national board-certified Registered Veterinary Technician. She joined the team at Willowrun Veterinary Hospital in 1998, and is a graduate of Central Carolina Community College. Denise has areas of professional interest in veterinary dentistry and surgery.

Denise has almost thirty years of experience working in the veterinary field. At Willowrun, she is most grateful for the team of doctors and staff that work together to help clients and understand how to help clients' pets feel their best and live a good life.

Denise grew up in Cary, NC and now lives just outside of Four Oaks, NC. She is happily married with three children. In addition to children, she also has three dogs named Amellia, Bentley, and Buddy, and three cats named Mr. Puss, Max, and Allister. She also has chickens. In her free time, Denise enjoys working in the yard, spending time with her family, boating, fishing, and hiking.


Registered Veterinary Technician

Amy joined the team at Willowrun Veterinary Hospital as a Registered Veterinary Technician in April 2017. She graduated from the veterinary technician program at Central Carolina Community College in 1990. Amy brings over 30 years of experience to the clinical team at Willowrun, and is highly skilled in fear-free handling techniques.

To Amy, the best part about working at Willowrun is starting each day with a devotion. She also values the team atmosphere and finds fulfillment in knowing she can positively impact an animal's health while fostering an enjoyable interaction with clients and their pets.

Amy has lived in Johnston County her entire life. She has two children, along with two dogs and four cats. A few of her favorite things include comfort foods, the movie To Dance with the White Dog, and cuddling up with a good book.



Estela, a Johnston County native, is an Assistant at Willowrun Veterinary Hospital. She has always had a passion for animals and knew she wanted to pursue a career working with them in the future. She received her Veterinary Animal Assistant Certificate from the Animal Behavior College in 2016 and has been working in the field for over 3 years. She says that working in the veterinary field has been an adventure and she plans to pursue her degree as a Veterinary Technician in the coming years.

Estela is a proud fur-mom to two beautiful dogs, a Chihuahua mix named Snow and a Lab Pit mix named Max. Additionally, she has three beta fish, two goldfish, and snails. She enjoys going on walks, reading, and spending time with her family and friends in her spare time.



Kelly is an Assistant at Willowrun Veterinary Hospital. She earned her Veterinary Assistant Certificate from the Animal Behavior College in 2014 and has been working in the veterinary field since 2015. She plans to attend Technician School and become a Registered Veterinary Technician in the future. Kelly grew up around animals and feels that the animal-human bond has been a constant in her life. It has been her dream to work with animals since a very young age.

Originally from upstate New York, Kelly has lived in Goldsboro since she was five. She has been happily married for eight years, and enjoys spending time with her family and friends, fishing, and escaping to Shackleford Banks with her husband in her spare time. At home, she has a zoo of her own that includes dogs, cats, two horses, and a snake.



Jordan is an Assistant at Willowrun Veterinary Hospital. She has always known that animals are her passion and that she wanted to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. Jordan plans to start classes soon to obtain her Registered Veterinary Technician Certification.

At home, she has three cats and a dog. Her favorite things to do outside of work include spending time with her husband, eating good food, and cuddling her animals.



Brandon joined Willowrun Veterinary Hospital as an assistant in 2023. He knew that he wanted to work with animals from a young age. He has been working in the veterinary field since 2016 where he found the passion and love of taking care of the animals that he has had the opportunity to work with.

Originally from Marion NC, he moved to Raleigh to attend NC State where he studied Zoology. He moved to Smithfield where he lives now in 2018. He lives with his wife and daughter and he has one dog named Willow and 2 cats named Sebastian and Saffron. His favorite pastime activities are playing with his daughter and playing video games.



Caitlyn is an assistant at Willowrun Veterinary Hospital. She graduated from Campbell University in May 2024 and achieved her bachelor's degree in science. Caitlyn has always had a passion for animals and plans on continuing her education to become a Registered Veterinary Technician. Caitlyn has grown up around animals including 4 dogs, 2 rabbits and 2 chinchillas. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with her friends and family and taking trips to the lake.



From a young age, Vayda has always felt a special bond with animals. However, she did not know that she was going to want a career working with them. She is originally went to school for Theatre Arts. She then decided she wanted to switch her major to Sonography and have a career working with humans. This all changed again after she found her passion working with animals at a Humane Society in Burgaw, NC. Which is also where she was born and raised. Burgaw is a beautiful small town about thirty minutes outside of Wilmington, NC. After working at the Humane Society, Vayda was offered a job at a veterinary clinic in Rocky Point, NC. She accepted the offer and from the moment she started she knew she wanted this career forever!

She recently moved from Burgaw to Smithfield, NC with her partner Josh and has been enjoying her time getting to know the area. She was fortunate enough to get a job at Willowrun, which she absolutely loves and cannot wait to see where it takes her! In her free time she loves spending time with her furbabies! She has 3 dogs named Scooby, Shaggy, and WALL-E, as well as a kitten named Todd. She also loves to read and spend time with her friends and family!


Boarding & Kennel Technician

Anya joined the Willowrun family as a Kennel Technician in June of 2020. She graduated from the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in May 2022, earning her Bachelors in Animal Science. Born in England as a military child, she shortly moved to the states where she grew up in Florida and later Goldsboro, North Carolina.

Since the age of 6, Anya has dreamed of becoming a Black female veterinarian to serve her community. Losing her precious dog Diamond at a young age, allowed her to use her grief as liberation to aid in animal care. Anya strives to serve as a caretaker to all of our furry friends. She believes veterinary medicine encompasses the care of not only our fur babies but our clients as well. "It is our duty to provide support, comfort and knowledge to all pet owners as best we can".

Aspiring to further advance integral care in the field of veterinary medicine through extension of patient care, Anya is currently a veterinary student at N.C. State College of Veterinary Medicine working to earn her DVM.

Anya also enjoys nature trail walks with her spoiled loving Blue Pit Ace, spending time with family & friends and trying new foods!


Client Relations

Jennifer has been in the veterinary field since 2013 and is originally from New York. She has had a love for animals since childhood. She enjoys spending her free time with her husband and three dog's traveling to Nascar races and reading mystery books.

Join the Willowrun Veterinary Hospital Family Today!

Located on S Brightleaf Blvd between E Wilson St and E Stevens St. Directly across from Harper's Flea Market Mall and next to The Mulch Yard.

Phone: 919-934-1504

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