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Santaluz Animal Care

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Fear Free Certified Practice
AAHA Accredited
Our Care Team

Our Care Team

Santaluz Animal Care Team
Theresa Ahrensberg
Fear Free Certified Professional

Theresa Ahrensberg

Assistant Practice Manager

With 40 years (and counting) in the veterinary industry, Theresa has seen and experienced just about everything imaginable. Yet, every moment and milestone has only strengthened her lifelong passion for and commitment to helping animals feel special and loved. From a childhood spent bringing home strays to the countless fosters she’s helped rehome over the years, animals have defined Theresa’s life, and she’s thrilled to be able to continue making a difference in her role as Assistant Practice Manager.

At the age of 16, Theresa began volunteering at a local veterinarian in her hometown. That’s all it took to make her realize this was the field for her. Over the years, she’s held many roles, from kennel help to receptionist, from assistant technician to training and management. Professionally, she loves working with clients and their pets, listening to their stories and helping them in any way she can. Ensuring an exceptional experience with each and every visit is Theresa’s ultimate goal.

Outside of work, Theresa is happily married. The couple has been blessed with two sons, a daughter and two grandchildren. Their fur family consists of two yorkies – Abby and Cruiser, a maltipoo named Gia, and a German shorthair pointer named Sydney. 

When she’s not busy running the clinic or playing with her pups and grandkids, Theresa loves to BBQ, swim and spend quality time with family and friends. She and her husband frequently go off-roading in the desert and take trips to the mountains and beach. Avid travelers, the two recently returned from a trip to Alaska, where they were awed by the beauty of the glaciers and wildlife. 

Lisa Gibbs
Fear Free Certified Professional

Lisa Gibbs

Veterinary Assistant

Lisa’s own pets have always been there for her. She’s never taken that unconditional love and loyalty for granted. For Lisa, being able to take care of animals as a member of the veterinary profession is a dream come true! She’s a proud member of the grooming team here at Santaluz Animal Care and also serves as a Room Assistant.

Lisa hails from Jackson, Georgia and has been caring for pets ever since she was a little girl. When she moved to San Diego, she knew that she wanted to continue doing just that. Lisa signed on with the Santaluz Animal Care family in 2019 and has been serving the area’s pets and animal parents ever since. Her favorite part of every shift is getting to see what a difference the team’s hard work makes for the area’s four-legged friends.

Away from the clinic, Lisa is working toward her Veterinary Assistant’s degree and enjoys fishing, drawing, and reading history books in her spare time. She has one dog of her own, adopted through her work in the veterinary world: Timber, a 70-pound-plus Malamute who likes saying hello to every human and dog he meets.

Ariel Bartolome
Fear Free Certified Professional

Ariel Bartolome

Veterinary Assistant

When Ariel was growing up, you could usually find her glued to the TV, binge watching shows on Animal Planet. Even back then, she had a fascination with animals and a deep desire to help them in any way she could. As a veterinary assistant, Ariel is thrilled to be able to finally put her passion to work, helping people and pets alike as she works toward her goal of one day becoming a vet.

At the age of 16, Ariel started volunteering her time at the San Diego Humane Society. After high school, she went on to pursue a degree in Animal Biology from UC Davis. While attending college, Ariel spent several years volunteering at a non-profit clinic that served the homeless community. Seeing so many people who were facing financial hardships, yet doing everything within their power to make sure their pets were taken care of – many even putting their pets’ health above their own – inspired Ariel and really brought the power of the human animal bond into perspective.

Ariel joined the Santaluz Animal Care team in the summer of 2021, at the end of her third year of college. She recently graduated with her Bachelors of Science degree and is in the process of applying to vet school. Professionally, she loves the challenge of figuring out the solution to what a patient needs. She also appreciates the variety of cases and the unique personalities of each patient. Every day is different and that really keeps her on her toes!

Outside of the clinic, Ariel has one fur baby of her own: a fluffy and moody orange tabby named Peach. In her spare time, Ariel enjoys going to the beach, and trying out new restaurants around San Diego with friends. She also REALLY loves goats and even knows how to milk them.

Sonia Jorge
Fear Free Certified Professional

Sonia Jorge

Customer Service Representative

Sonia has always been passionate about helping those in the world who have no voice. She has been in the veterinary field for over 20 years and still loves every moment. Today, Santaluz Animal Care is proud to have her as a Customer Service Representative. She loves everything about her job, especially educating pet owners about wellness and preventative services so their pets can live long and healthy lives!

Having grown up in San Diego, CA, Sonia also spent a vast amount of time in Costa Rica and Panama. Being in these places helped her appreciate all types of animals, including iguanas. She grew up in a household where animals were always present.

She also recalls feeding as many homeless dogs and cats as she could while living in Costa Rica. She told herself that hopefully, one day, she would return to the country to open an animal hospital/shelter. One of Sonia’s earliest and fondest animal-related memories occurred when her pregnant cat chose her room to give birth to her kittens, and Sonia assisted.

Sonia’s first position at a veterinary clinic allowed her to experience and learn firsthand about the profession. Still, no matter her position in the field, she always returns to a customer service representative. Sonia loves the interaction with humans and their pets!

You will always find Sonia with her family when she’s not busy at the animal clinic.

Jamie Chu
Fear Free Certified Professional

Jamie Chu

Veterinary Assistant

When Jamie was in elementary school, she and a friend would often stand by the street near her home for hours, encouraging passers-by to stop and donate money for the local animal shelter. When she finally got her first dog, her lifelong love of animals turned into a career goal. As a veterinary assistant here at Santaluz Animal Care, Jamie is now one step closer to her dream of one day becoming a vet.

During her undergraduate years at UCSD, Jamie took on a biology major. The summer after graduation, she started her first job as a room assistant, right here at Santaluz. The experience taught her many valuable skills that she has applied as she works her way up. Professionally, Jamie has a particular fascination with cytology and looking under the microscope. She also enjoys radiology.

Outside of the clinic, Jamie resides with her parents and her dog, Cupcake, who won’t go anywhere without her stuffed giraffe. In her spare time, Jamie enjoys listening to music and attending concerts – the most recent of which was a performance in Vegas by BTS. She also has an interest in fashion and loves to travel to new places. So far, she’s been to the Bahamas, Hawaii, and Alaska. Still on her bucket list are Greece, Italy and her family’s home country of Vietnam.

Gabby Cesena
Fear Free Certified Professional

Gabby Cesena

Veterinary Assistant

Gabby hails from São Paulo, Brazil, where her love of animals and desire to help them was realized at a very young age. Even back then, she knew that when she grew up, she wanted a career that would allow her to give voice to those who cannot speak for themselves. As part of the Santaluz Animal Care team, Gabby is able to fulfill her childhood dream and work with animals for a living.

Gabby attended veterinary school while still living in Brazil. There, she was given the incredible opportunity to intern at a wild animal rehab facility – an experience that only strengthened her desire to work in veterinary medicine. Several years in, Gabby moved to San Diego, where she took a step back and spent some time learning English. In April of 2023, Gabby was offered a role here at Santaluz. Professionally, she enjoys being hands-on and solving puzzles to help heal sick patients.

Outside of the clinic, Gabby lives with her twin sister, Isabella, and their four pets. Nino is a terrier mix whose huge personality belies his small stature. Malbec and Mia are two cats who have been part of the family since they were three days old and bottle-fed. The fur family is made complete with Mamas, an indoor/outdoor cat who spreads love throughout the house to everyone she encounters.

Aside from animals, Gabby’s other personal interests revolve around sports and physical fitness. She works out at the gym daily and plays soccer with friends on a weekly basis.

Mackenzie Churchill
Fear Free Certified Professional

Mackenzie Churchill

Client Service Representative

Mackenzie grew up surrounded by animals, from dogs, cats, and rabbits to horses, chickens, goats, and even some reptiles. Her family also used to breed and show Australian Shepherds professionally. This instilled in Mackenzie a deep love and compassion for animals from the very beginning. As a fierce advocate for the wellbeing of all animals, working in the veterinary field provided the perfect opportunity for her. Anyone who encounters Mackenzie knows her passion for pets is infectious!

During high school, Mackenzie worked as a dog bather at a local pet grooming salon. It was there that she developed a love for hands-on care of dogs and cats and decided it was time to bring her career to the next level. She spent two years at a veterinary practice learning and developing her skills before joining the Santaluz Animal Care team to further her knowledge and experience, particularly in the area of fear-free care. Professionally, she enjoys calming clients and patients during times of stress.

At home, Mackenzie is dog-mom to an Australian Shepherd named Rou, who is very spunky and full of energy. She also has a cat named Gizmo who is quite talkative and follows Mackenzie around the house. Gizmo can be cuddly but only on his terms. In her free time, Mackenzie enjoys being outdoors, whether it’s hiking with Rou, kayaking, or going to the beach. She also enjoys reading, drawing, doing ceramics, and spending time with her family and her boyfriend.