Staff

Jennifer ShagenskyJennifer Shagensky, wife of owner Corey Shagensky, has been the business manager at Progressive Animal Wellness (PAW) since its start in 2011. While relatively new to the veterinary field, animals have always been a part of Jennifer's life, both as pets and a part of nature. Prior to the birth of their two children, Jennifer was an environmental educator. In teaching field trips, she helped instill children with a sense of wonder with the natural world and the innate value of both animals and plants.

Additionally, Jennifer has a Bachelor's of Science in Biology from Bates College and a Master of Science in Horticulture from Cornell University. After graduating college, she worked in the infectious disease unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, starting as a technician and working her way up to lab manager. She also was a research assistant studying developmental biology at Brown University in the Department of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry.

Jennifer adds that she looks forward to helping her husband realize his dream of running his own veterinary clinic and seeing more animals and their owners in her everyday life.

When she has a moment to spare from the joys and duties of motherhood, she enjoys the outdoors, reading, yoga, swimming, gardening, and spending time with friends and family. She lives in West Hartford with Dr. Shagensky, their two children, and Gertie the wonder dog.

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Jesse SwallichJesse Sawallich joined Progressive Animal Wellness' team in August of 2012. Jesse has been drawn to animals from a young age, having at one point 3 dogs, 2 cats, 2 rabbits, 1 bird, a guinea pig and a Norwegian rat as pets. With her family's support, Jesse attended a vocational agricultural high school where she graduated with a major in animal production.

Jesse graduated from the University of Connecticut, Storrs in 2002 with a degree in Animal science. While at UConn, Jesse not only focused on small animal medicine, she also spent a great deal of time working as a junior horse trainer.

Immediately following college, Jesse spent 5 years working as a veterinary technician. For a brief 2 year period, Jesse explored a career in human medicine working as a Certified Clinical Hemodialysis Technician. Jesse's loves of animals quickly drew her back to the practice as a veterinary technician where she has remained.

Jesse now spends most of her time with her family which includes her husband, her 2 children, her cat Oliver, her adorable Chihuahua Dewey, and their guinea pig.

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Shelby O'DonnellShelby O'Donnell joined the PAW team in 2013. From an early age she was drawn to animals and no matter what else distracted her throughout her life, they have always drawn her back. As a sophomore at Wheaton College in Norton, Mass in 1999, an animal behavior course she selected to fill a science requirement inspired her to switch from her chosen creative writing major and graduate with a major in Psychobiology. After a summer in Mystic Aquarium's education department, she left to work as a Special Education tutor in an Elementary school. She soon found that she missed working with animals and took a position as a Veterinary assistant. The veterinary field turned out to be a perfect fit and she has worked in the field ever since as a technician in both day and emergency practices.

Acquiring animals is an occupational hazard for veterinary professionals, and along the way Shelby has adopted Harvey, a pitbull mix, a border collie mix named Affa, and two mischievous cats. She enjoys hiking with her dogs, sailing, reading, and working on various arts and crafts projects in her free time.

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Dina BurghardtDina Burghardt joined PAW in July 2014. Her passion for animals started at a young age when she became the resident animal sitter and dog walker in her neighborhood. She graduated from Southern Connecticut State University in 2003 with a degree in zoology. Her enthusiasm for wildlife and nature led her to perform volunteer work with Mystic Aquarium, Wind Over Wings and Yale Peabody Museum. One of her fondest memories was of being on stage with the California Sea Lions.

Out of college, Dina worked as a retail store assistant manager, but never lost her desire to work with animals. In 2006, Dina decided to embark on a career in the veterinary field starting in a general practice as a veterinary assistant, working her way to technician and ultimately triage coordinator with an emergency center before moving to our area. She has joined PAW as our receptionist, excited to bring her skills and knowledge to the front desk.

Dina resides in Portland with her husband, two cats, Maddy and Simone, and new dog, Kylo. In her free time, she loves spending time outdoors, hiking, boating, gardening and photography.

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Kate WilsonKatie Giannakopoulos joined the Progressive Animal Wellness team as a veterinary assistant intern in April 2015. At the conclusion of the internship, Katie received her vet assistant certificate from Penn Foster. Katie is now at PAW full-time as a veterinary assistant and receptionist.

Growing up in Vermont, Katie volunteered at her local humane society and was a member the Green Mountain Animal Defenders while at college. Katie graduated in 2011 from Champlain College with a bachelor's degree in international business. After a few years in retail management she decided to pursue a more emotionally rewarding career due to her love of animals.

Katie spends most of her time with her husband, his extended family and her two guinea pigs. When she's not studying, she enjoys weekends in Vermont with her family, dinners with friends and exploring Connecticut.

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Kathy SotolottoKathy Sotolotto joined the Progressive Animal Wellness team in January 2015 as an intern from Northwestern Connecticut Community College veterinary technology program. Kathy had an interest in animals from a young age that led her to pursue a career in marine biology following high school.

Kathy graduated from Southampton College of Long Island University in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. While attending college Kathy participated in multiple marine animal care internships. After graduating she spent a couple years as a research assistant for Long Marine Lab in Santa Cruz, California, where she studied marine mammal cognition and sensory systems. In 2010 Kathy attended St. Andrews University in St. Andrews, Scotland where she received a Master of Research in Marine Mammal Science. Soon after Kathy received a position as a marine mammal stranding technician and education coordinator at the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation in Riverhead, New York, where she discovered her passion for veterinary science and decided to go back to school to become a certified Veterinary Technician. She completed Northwestern Connecticut Community College's veterinary technician program and in July 2015 passed the Veterinary Technician National Examination and became a certified veterinary technician.

When Kathy is not busy at PAW she spends her time with her friends and family and her calico cat, Calista.

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Danielle BlessoDanielle Blesso joined the Progressive Animal Wellness team in May 2015. After high school Danielle was torn between veterinary medicine and culinary arts. After going to the Culinary Institute of America, Danielle made the decision to switch to her true passion, veterinary medicine.

Danielle started in the veterinary field in 2014 before she began school to become a certified veterinary technician. Danielle graduated from the veterinary technician program at Northwestern Connecticut Community College in May 2016 and became a certified veterinary technician in August 2016. Danielle would like to specialize in surgery as well as continuing her education in the veterinary field.

She enjoys being outdoors, hiking, fishing, kayaking and camping. Danielle also has kept her passion for cooking, baking and has recently found a knack for pottery. Danielle resides in Canton with her boyfriend and their two cats, Peter and Phil.

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Danielle EarleDanielle Earle happily joined the PAW team in June 2015. She holds dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Respiratory Care and Veterinary Technology from Quinnipiac University. After a 12 year career in human medicine as a Respiratory Therapist at Yale New Haven Hospital, she found her true passion in working with animals. Since becoming a veterinary technician in 2003, she has had some wonderful experiences working with small animals, exotic pets, reptiles, birds and some wildlife. She has even volunteered with a wildlife rehabilitation group.

She currently resides in Torrington with her husband Ed and daughter Emma. Her fur family consists of Sydney, a mixed breed dog, Dutch, a German shorthaired pointer, Callie the cat, Porkchop and Brave the guinea pigs and a fish named Moonshine. Danielle enjoys biking, gardening, and spending time with friends and family.

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