Dr. Julia Ferguson

Veterinarian (BVSc MANZCVS)

Julia knew what she wanted to do from an early age. Her mother claims 'Vicki the Vet' from 'A Country Practice' was the inspiration for her chosen career. Julia has always had pets of her own, from dogs and cats to horses, and currently she has two cats. She spent much of her time with her dogs and at pony club and always loved being around animals. Julia is proud to be able to now help her own pets and others to have happy and healthy lives. She is passionate about her work as a veterinarian and dedicates time and effort to ensuring that her patients receive the best care available.  Read More...


Dr. Jennifer Cao

Veterinarian (BVSc (Hons); MVM (companion animal medicine))

Jen grew up in the suburbs of Melbourne. She has always had an affinity towards animals. It was in fact her pet rabbit, Ruby, and her positive experiences during year 10 work experience at a local vet clinic that inspired her to follow a career path in becoming a veterinarian. She graduated from the University of Melbourne in 2009, and it was a job offer in Geelong that was the instigator to her move from Melbourne to Geelong. She left her first vet job after spending over seven years there to begin work at Lara Pet Hospital in March 2017. Jen started studying for her Masters in Veterinary Medicine through Massey University (University of New Zealand) in 2014. She completed this post-graduate degree in 2018. As part of her Masters degree, Jen wrote a thesis on splenic masses in dogs. She is currently studying a postgraduate certificate in Emergency and Critical Care through the University of Melbourne.  Read More...


Dr. Kelly Gan

Veterinarian (BSc DVM)

Kelly grew up in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. As a child she loved feeding the ducks at the park and watching the birds in her garden. Being an only child, she didn’t have siblings to play with and so she begged her parents for a puppy. She got her first dog Sally at 7 years old. Sally became her best friend growing up and the main reason she wanted to become a veterinarian.

During her university studies, she pursued a Bachelor of Science in Zoology and then a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. She graduated from Melbourne University in 2021. During her final years in vet school, she discovered her passion for birds. Aside from working at Lara Pet Hospital, she is currently undertaking an internship at a specialist avian clinic (Melbourne Bird Vet Clinic) and has a special interest in avian medicine and surgery.

When Kelly is not working, she enjoys gardening and spending time with her pet white bellied Caiques and Cockatiels - Penny, George, Mia and Zoe.


Veterinary Nurse (Certificate IV Veterinary Nursing)

Christie grew up in Geelong. Her love for animals started from a very young age. As a child, her mother would say that quite often Christie would stop what she was doing and say "WOOF WOOF". Sure enough, if you listened carefully, you could hear a dog barking in the distance.

Christie grew up with a menagerie of animals. This included her horse (with which she did pony club and competitions with), her pet sheep "Chocie", chicken, ducks, her three pet yabbies that she saved from being cooked, some fish, her mouse "Ralph", birds, dogs and cats.

She has also done her fair share of fostering and taking on animals that needed a loving home. Read more




Veterinary Nurse (Cert IV)

Elly grew up on the Bellarine Peninsula. Her love for animals started at a very early age and she always knew she wanted to work in the animal industry.

While in high school she worked weekends at a dog boarding kennel and began her animal studies course. After completing high school she began working at a dog day care center for a period of time before moving on to veterinary nursing in 2008 and completing her certificate IV veterinary nursing studies with the Animal Industries Resource Center (AIRC).

During her free time she enjoys travelling, hiking and snowboarding. She also loves camping and 4WDing with her husband Josh and their two golden retrievers Macey and Henry.


Veterinary Nurse (Certificate IV Veterinary Nursing)

Natasha has always wanted to work with animals ever since she was a little girl. She was a farm girl living in the suburbs, who frequently visited her cousins in the country who run a dairy farm. She grew up surrounded by all kinds of animals, and each one was a part of her family.

As Tash grew older, she realised that she didn’t know how to help her animals when they were unwell. Understanding the fear owners feel when their pet is sick, Natasha strove to educate herself more about animal health and was typically called the ‘crazy animal lover’ all through her schooling years. Read More...



Veterinary Nurse (Cert IV)

Jenni was born in Geelong, but spent a small chunk of her childhood living in a in Melbourne and then moved back to Geelong to begin her schooling years.

Jenni's love of animals began when she was only a toddler, always being surrounded by animals, Jenni found a passion to love and take care of them.

Since always having family pets, once moving out of home Jenni wanted a dog of her own and acquired a very odd pair. Her adventurous Sharpei Bindi and completely lazy Whippet Nala. Read More...



Veterinary Nurse (Certificate IV Veterinary nursing)

Jamie is a self professed "crazy dog lady" although that passion extends to all animals big and small. Jamie spent the majority of her childhood convincing her mother to add to her extensive pet family of cows, chickens, rabbits, guinea pigs, fish, dogs, stick insects and the odd yabbie!

Her love of her dogs led her to compete in agility and obedience trials with her devoted blue heeler, Tara. They never won, but they always had a fun time working together. This sparked a lifelong interest in animal behaviour and enrichment. read more



Veterinary Nurse (Certificate IV Veterinary Nursing)

Olivia joined the Lara Pet Hospital team in late 2020 after completing her last Certificate IV placement at the clinic.

She grew up in Lara and has always been passionate about caring for animals which helped her make the decision to work in the animal industry. She realised in her year 10 work experience at a vet clinic that vet nursing was the path for her and went on to compete her Certificate III in veterinary nursing the following year.

Olivia loves her two feline fur babies Norman and Fisher, they keep her entertained with all their mischievous antics.



Veterinary Nurse (Certificate IV Veterinary Nursing)

Molly grew up on the Surf Coast; This has shaped her love for wildlife and all animals.

Molly completed an animal studies course during her VCE, which she loved. She always knew she wanted to help animals and Veterinary nursing felt like the perfect fit for her.

Following a couple of years of travel she made the decision to complete her Cert IV in veterinary nursing, which she completed in 2020.

In her spare time she loves walking her beautiful fur baby Rei, a mix of beagle and border collie, as well as looking after her newest member of the fur family, Little River, a mischievous rescue kitten who is always keeping her on her toes


Veterinary Nurse (Certificate IV Veterinary Nursing Diploma in Emergency and Critical Care)

Lauri joined the Lara Pet Hospital team in July, 2015 as a casual and relief veterinary nurse after moving to the Geelong area.

Lauri inherited a love of animals from her grandmother at a very young age and began pursuing her dream career in veterinary nursing career in 2006, starting off as a veterinary receptionist in a busy bayside clinic.   Read More...


Staff Stories




























Julia grew up in the suburbs of Melbourne, and moved to Lara in 1998, a few years after graduation. She moved away again in 2002 and spent 5 years living and working in Amsterdam and another 5 years in Sydney. She and her husband returned to Lara in 2012.

Julia attended the University of Melbourne and graduated in 1994. She has undertaken significant further learning and is committed to continuing education. She gained membership of the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists in 2000, studying Small Animal Medicine. This area of veterinary science has always been a special interest to Julia and she continues to undertake further learning opportunities in this area and others.

With extensive experience both in Australia and overseas, Julia has had opportunities to work in general and specialist practices with many different areas of interest. She has special interests in medicine-which involves investigating problems and forming a therapeutic option to suit each individual patient, and imaging-which is the use of xrays and ultrasound to assist in diagnosis.

After so much varied experience and travel, Julia wanted to settle in Lara and be able to offer the pets of Lara a service equal to that which she had seen elsewhere. The old General Store offered all the space and scope to build the facility that she wanted, so they took the plunge and built the Lara Pet Hospital and Veterinary Centre.

When she is not spending time at the practice, Julia spends much of her time with her family-her husband Angus and two young sons. She is also a member of the Lara CFA and tries to be available when possible for calls. Her home is shared with two very well travelled cats, Shelley and Igor, who have been to Europe and back again! Back to top...




























































Jennifer Cao


The main reasons Jen enjoys her job as a vet is that she gets to meet people from different walks of life, help provide gold standard care to their animals, and help to nurture their human-animal bond. In the field of veterinary science, Jen has a special interest in endocrinology (hormonal diseases), emergency and critical care, and enjoys seeing rabbit patients. She also works at the local emergency centre in Geelong some weekends – but hopes not to see you and your pets there!


Jen lives with her partner Zac and their dog Scout, a spritely 1-year-old rescue Kelpie X Border Collie. When she is not working, Jen enjoys cheering on the Western Bulldogs (she was extremely happy to have attended the 2016 grand final to witness a possible once in a lifetime occurrence), tending to her veggie patch, and spending time with Zac and Scout. Back to top...
































Christie McKinnon

Christie's passion for horses took her into the horse racing industry from 2004 - 2010 where she completed her Certificate III in racing. But as much as she enjoyed working with these majestic animals, it was not enough so she decided to follow her dream of veterinary nursing.

After completeing her course in animal studies in 2009 she was lucky enough to get a job in a local Geelong Vet clinic which is where she spent the next 6 and 1/2 years developing her nursing skills. In this time she also completed her Certificate IV in veterinary in 2011.

Christie's spare time away from the clinic is spent enjoying the outdoors with her somewhat stubborn, yet full of life boxer Bentleigh.

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She has a terror of a rescue cat Memphis, who is known for his crow-esque thieving of odd items. He is obsessed with bread and kitchen utensils in particular.

Lauri holds her Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing, a veterinary Diploma in Emergency and Critical Care and general, as well as her vocational training qualifications, which allows her to pursue another passion – the training and education of junior and student nurses. She is a self confessed nerd and loves learning too much to ever stop studying.

In her spare time Lauri enjoys writing industry resources, Krav Maga (a form of Israeli close quarter combat), watching cute animal videos on YouTube (but who doesn’t) and working as a teacher of vet nurse and animal care students.

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It was during her year 10 work experience at a veterinary clinic that she realised that becoming a veterinary nurse was her calling. She found herself waking up giddy and excited each morning of her placement, arriving early and staying back well past her designated hours. She thrived that week of placement, and knew that once it was over she would aim to work in said environment.


After finishing her weeks’ worth of placement, Natasha went on to study small courses at first, like a certificate I in racing stable hand, and then extended her studies into the certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing after she graduated from high school. During her studies she also went on to work in a variety of different animal related jobs, such as at a horse riding school and a pet boarding resort.

On top of that she tried to volunteer at many different places to build up her animal handling skills and knowledge, including going to other veterinary clinics and some of the nearby zoos and sanctuaries.


Finishing off her Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing in 2017, Natasha is now pursuing her career in nursing and has a keen interest in Australian wildlife as well as cats and dogs. She hopes to continue her studying trend and work on gaining some certificates in wildlife care in the future.


When she isn’t studying or working, Natasha fills her spare time caring for her furbabies Thistle, Haggis and Dougal, who are all spunky ragdolls of different colours and sizes. She also has a chatty green and gold budgie that answers to the name Zoro and a flock of chickens that are all named and have individual personalities. It’s a full house at hers!

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This is where her interest in animal behaviour started as she took Bindi through obedience training and then “movie star school”where Bindi practised lots of tricks and obedience to be able to apply for small roles in adds on t.v.... This is as far as that all got though as the known trait of Sharpei stubbornness kicked in and Bindi decided she didn't want to be a “movie star” after all.

After finishing high school, Jenni had a number of different jobs. She worked in a sandwich bar in Geelong whilst also working for a babysitting agency working nights in various hotels throughout the Melbourne CBD. Through the agency she was offered a full time nanny position in point cook in which she looked after two little boys. The job ended once the boys got old enough to go to school and Jenni thought she needed a change so moved to Melbourne with a couple of friends. Here she pursued a full time job at a debt collecting agency whilst still babysitting at night.

Jenni knew she would never be satisfied in a job, unless she followed her dreams and became a veterinary nurse. So that she did!.... With little experience and qualifications in the field, only a huge passion and determination, in 2009 Jenni decided to bite the bullet and apply for any trainee positions that were available.

She was lucky enough to be successful in one and finally got a job as a trainee veterinary nurse. Here she was trained and completed her certificate IV in veterinary nursing. Jenni has never looked back and still loves her job each and every day.

After 4 years nursing in Melbourne, and aquiring a very “special” Ragdoll kitten Bert, Jenni and her furbabies decided to move back to Geelong with her husband and his 2 dogs Lucy the water loving Labrador and Shaggy the lap loving Bichon Frise to pursue her career closer to home.

In her spare time Jenni loves taking her dogs and young family for walks through the bush and on the weekends hanging out with her friends and family either going to see a band or becoming familiar with the local wineries.





























Jamie Beunen

After ten years of working a variety of fields, Jamie finally worked up the courage to study what had always been her secret dream job. She started with a certificate III in companion animal services and loved it so much that she commited to another two years of study to finally become a vet nurse. Jamie was lucky enough to be accepted for her student placement at Lara Pet Hospital, but after she graduated they couldnt make her leave so she joined the team in 2019.

Jamie spends her time oitside of work painting, learning new tricks with her fur child Dougaland resisting the urge to adopt every stray dog she sees

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