The team at Hardin Valley Animal Hospital is comprised of highly trained and experienced animal health professionals who have a genuine love for working with pets. Our staff treats every patient with the highest quality of medical care as well as a gentle touch.


Dr. David SmallwoodDavid Smallwood, Practice Owner

I am the dreamer of the bunch and I love the challenges of running a small business. I enjoy navigating the changing needs and expectations of our clients, building the best team of highly skilled and motivated staff possible and constantly challenging the status quo! I am a UT graduate in mechanical engineering, Navy submarine veteran, and a Y-12 employee on top of my Hardin Valley Animal Hospital duties. I love all sports and staying fit and if I am not sore or recovering from some workout, I have been slacking! I am happily married to my better 2/3rds, my wife and your favorite veterinarian, Dr. Smallwood. We have been married for over 30 years and we also have two wonderful daughters navigating the teenage years. We have one crazy Husky mix named Dharma and recently rescued a Great Pyrenees that my daughters named Temperance.

I want all of our clients to know that our mission at Hardin Valley Animal Hospital is to care for your pets as if they were a part of our family. We want to be your go to resource for all things related to your four-legged family members. As always, we want to not only meet, but exceed your expectations.

Dr. Michelle SmallwoodMichelle Smallwood, DVM – Practice Owner

Michelle E. Smallwood, DVM has been in practice in the Knoxville area since 1996. She was the top graduate from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine class of 1995. She is also an adjunct professor at UT College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Smallwood is married to David and has two children. Her other family members include Dharma, a young Shepherd mix adopted from the local shelter and their newest addition to their furry family, a Great Pyrenees named Temperance. She enjoys horseback riding, music, aerobics, reading and spending time with her family.

Management Team & Veterinarians

Marie PicK. Marie Broach, LVMT, CVPM

Marie is our hospital’s Practice Manager and Licensed Technician. She has been with us since 2008 and is very compassionate about veterinary medicine and providing excellent patient and client care.  Marie is also certified as a Low-Stress Handler. She enjoys teaching our staff ways to implement Fear Free and Low-Stress handling techniques in every aspect of our hospital.

DrMelanie (2)Melanie Falato, DVM, Head Veterinarian

Dr. Melanie Falato graduated from The Ohio State University in 2006. She recently moved to Knoxville from Raleigh, NC and is excited to meet you and your pets! It is her top priority to treat you and your pets like family. She enjoys complicated internal medicine cases and geriatric medicine but her passion is dentistry.

Dr. Melanie is married to Colin who is an Emergency manager and they have three children, Connor, Charlotte and Caroline. They also share their home with two cats and one dog. When she is not at work, she enjoys horseback riding, camping, and Zumba.

Taylor Martin, DVM

Dr. Taylor Martin is a native of Chattanooga, TN. She graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine in 2012. Dr. Martin’s professional interests include feline medicine, ophthalmology, and surgery. Dr. Martin is a proud “cat lady” and is usually spotted wearing at least one item of cat-themed clothing or jewelry.

Dr. Martin’s hobbies include competing in triathlons, skiing, and exploring America’s national parks. When she is not working, Dr. Martin enjoys spending time with her husband Eric and twin step-daughters. They have one dog, a lizard, and too many cats.

Leah Nagel, DVM

Dr. Leah Nagel was born and raised in northern Colorado. She graduated from Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine in 2015 and moved to Knoxville with her husband, Chance, in 2017. She enjoys the variety of general practice, but has special interests in geriatric care and behavioral issues.

When she’s not working, Dr. Leah enjoys skiing, hiking, bike riding, and fly fishing. She shares her home with her husband, an Australian shepherd named Jasper, and two cats, Hermia and Tigger.

Michelle Sherman, DVM

Photo Coming Soon!

A native of central Illinois and graduate of The University of Illinois, Michelle has been living and practicing in the Chicago area since 2001. Michelle and her family recently left city life behind in order to spend time enjoying nature and the outdoors. Dr. Sherman’s favorite part of veterinary medicine is forming a relationship with a pet and their family and following them through their entire lives. This has helped her to foster a special interest in hospice care. Alternative medicine and rehabilitation, especially as they relate to her geriatric patients are some of her other areas of focus. Michelle and her husband Eric Larson have adventurous boy/girl twins, a wonderful lab mix, Ernie, and two loving cats, Pinecone and Chestnut. Dr. Sherman is excited to join the team at Hardin Valley Animal Hospital and she is looking forward to meeting you and your furry family members!

Karla Quinn, Client Care Manager

Karla, after 7 years in the field and working at HVAH, has found her calling helping out not only the pets that walk in the door but their owners too. She has since rescued three kittens from work to go with several others she had already had at home. She enjoys greeting all the clients as they walk into the facility – as well as giving out treats to the four-legged ones that comes in. She’s not afraid to show them her treat drawer J When not at work she enjoys time traveling and hanging out with her family and being creative with card making ideas.

Jae Cox, LVMT, Head Technician

Jae has been in the veterinary profession for the past 5 years. He graduated from Cedar Valley College in 2016 with an Associate Degree in Veterinary Technology. He moved to Tennessee from Texas with his wife and best friend Jenn and three dogs, Ginger Sassy and Maddie. He enjoys spending his off time with Jenn exploring outdoor activities, like camping, fishing, hiking, and Jeep trail riding.

Mercedes Fraley, LVMT

Mercedes is originally from Florida and moved to Knoxville, TN. She graduated from Dallas College with her Veterinary Technician degree in May 2019. She has 3 boxers, 2 cats and 1 husband. Mercedes likes to travel, hike and go on adventures.

Client Care Representative Team

Erin Kodzik, Client Care Representative, Surgery Coordinator

Born in Milwaukee, raised in the Sun Shine State, I am a new resident to Tennessee and new to the veterinary field. I have an extensive Human Resource background and I care about people and their families. I believe pets are part of the family, and I am joyed in meeting and caring for our client’s furry family members. I am undoubtedly adventurous, extremely competitive (GO PACK!), humble at heart, and generous in nature. I wear many hats, but my most honored role is a mother to my daughter, Breanna Rae.

Favorite quote: Don’t tell me the sky is the limit when there are footprints on the moon

Mindy Pierce, Client Care Representative

Mindy graduated from the University of Memphis shortly after the Stone Age and proudly serves as HVAH eldest receptionist.

A self-confessed doodle-lover because of her dog LB(Lincoln Beasley), a particularly goofy golden doodle.

In her alternate time outside of HAVH she is an illustrator/designer where everything starts with a doodle. She spent 25 years at the greeting card big house in Kansas City where she met her husband David. They have two grown children who live and go to school in New York providing the perfect excuse for the occasional escape to hit a few museums and galleries. If you are curious about her art check out for a small sampling.

Her favorite guilty pleasures are science fiction movies and books. Who doesn’t love a good space opera with a few aliens or super heroes? Running a close second is listening to the music her son finds with her current favorite being a band called Future Islands. She also loves meeting fellow pet lovers but her real ulterior motive is to get to pet your furry family member.

Licensed Veterinary Technician Team

Marie PicBetty Bell, LVMT

Betty Bell is a full time Licensed Veterinary Technician and member of the American Animal Hospital Association. Born and raised in Charleston, SC, and a graduate of Trident Technical College, Betty brings her experience to her new home here in Knoxville. Betty’s love for animals carries over at home with her boxer, Lucky; her two cats, Orachi and Lilith. Outside of taking care of animals, she spending time with her family and loves exploring nature in any way she can, from hiking and camping, canoeing, rock climbing, kayaking, and caving.

Desirra Brummitt, LVMT

Bio coming soon!

Tracy Dohl, LVMT

Tracy moved from Iowa to Knoxville in January 2020 and joined our team shortly after. She passed the VTNE and became a Licensed Technician in 2009. She’s a pet mom of 2 dogs, 2 cats, 1 ferret, and 1 horse. Her niche in vet med is dentistry. Outside of work she enjoys swimming, kayaking, watching movies, and listening to music.

Veterinary Assistant Team

Hannah Fields, Veterinary Assistant

Hannah has been an avid animal lover since she was a small child and has been working in the veterinary field for almost 3 years now, starting as a kennel assistant to a veterinary assistant at an Emergency Hospital, and now HVAH. She graduated from Northeast State Community College with her Associate Degrees in Biology and Pre-Health in the spring of 2019, and moved to Knoxville in July to pursue her education in Animal Science/Pre-Vet at the University of Tennessee in hopes to achieve her childhood dream of becoming a veterinarian. In her free time she loves spending time with her friends and cuddling up to her 3 dogs and 2 cats.

Sam Star, Veterinary Assistant

Samantha was born and raised in East Tennessee. She loves animals of every kind and has always wanted to work with them since she was little. Samantha has two adorable golden retriever-spitz mixes named Dharma and Gregory. On her time off, she loves spending time hanging out with her family and spending time outdoors doing things such as hiking, swimming, and going on new adventures. She is thrilled to use Fear Free methods to help patients and clients and is proud to be a part of the first Fear Free Certified vet hospital in Knoxville.

Ashley Williams, Certified Veterinary Assistant

Affectionate with family: 5/5
Kid-friendly: 5/5
Pet friendly: 5/5
Amount of shedding: 4/5
Drooling potential: 4/5
Snore potential: 3/5
Prey drive: 1/5
Tendency to bark: 1/5
Wanderlust potential: 4/5
Energy level: 3/5

Kierstyn Sturmer, CCR, Vet Assistant

Kierstyn was born and raised in Buffalo, NY and came to Tennessee to escape those long, cold winters. She comes with two dogs and three horses that have loved the area since they got here. She enjoys working with all of the animals and helping their owners in any way that she can. Some days you will find her upfront with the client services team, and other days you can find her in treatment helping your pets and the staff in the back. When she isn’t at the clinic, you can find her working on her farm, on the back of a horse, or enjoying any and all of the outdoor activities East Tennessee has to offer.