While we’re sure you already know how amazing our veterinarians are with your pets, you may not know much about the person behind the white coat and stethoscope. Besides their obvious love for animals, what makes them tick? Dig a little deeper into discovering our veterinarians’ likes, dislikes, families, and hidden talents. 

Dr. Melissa Harrer

Dr. Melissa Harrer is the medical director of Animal Clinic of Council Bluffs, and has been the owner of the practice since March 15, 2006, fulfilling her veterinary-school dream of owning her own clinic. Growing up, she spent a lot of time on her grandfather’s farm and enjoyed following the veterinarian around to observe procedures. After watching a laceration repair on a farm dog as a child, she was hooked on veterinary medicine. As a throwback to her roots, she prefers suburban living over city life—the best of both worlds offers neighbors to look after each other, while still having green spaces to relax in. 

Even with Dr. Harrer’s skills in baking and cooking, she’s a meat-and-potatoes kind of girl, with a love of ice cream thrown in. But, she may just make you a special pie for the holidays with a recipe that has been handed down in her family for generations. In addition to her love for experimenting in the kitchen, she enjoys country and 80’s music, action and kids’ movies, and can’t decide on a favorite between cats and dogs. Her Doberman is the protector of the household, while her two cats are truly kings of their castle.

Besides her furry family, Dr. Harrer shares her home with her husband, Shane, a mechanical engineer, and their two children, eight-year-old Isaac and five-year-old Amelia. She hopes to experience all the museums in Washington D.C. with her family soon, while continuing to explore the national parks. 

Dr. Donna Jean Mertz

Dr. Donna Jean Mertz had been a large animal veterinarian in Wisconsin, but, since moving to Nebraska three years ago, has switched to caring for companion animals, with a special interest in surgery and chiropractic care. Growing up on a farm, she developed her love for animals through caretaking and idolizing her sister, who used her as a study buddy while she was in veterinary school. Like most little sisters, she wanted to do everything her big sister did, and veterinary school was no exception. 

Although Dr. Mertz is no longer a large animal veterinarian, she still enjoys larger critters, especially her six horses and her Ayrshire dairy cattle, in addition to her three dogs and five barn cats. Her husband, Keith, and their two daughters, Casey and Haley, help out around the farm, raising cattle. Eventually, she’d love to breed and exhibit the Grand Champion Ayrshire at the World Dairy Expo.

Not known for sitting still, Dr. Mertz is a woman of many talents—she is an excellent cook, can tear it up on a dirt bike, and plays a mean tenor saxophone. She enjoys rock and roll, drama or action movies, and would love to visit Australia again and take in its wide open spaces.  

Dr. Amanda Merchant

Dr. Amanda Merchant fell in love with veterinary medicine by taking care of her neighbor’s miniature horses and cats in high school. After graduating from Iowa State, she settled in at Animal Clinic of Council Bluffs, with a keen interest in internal medicine and surgery. 

Although her furry family is small, consisting of a lone cat, Gracie, Dr. Merchant enjoys spending time with her four-legged and two-legged family members. She and her husband, along with their three children, like to go to Comic-Con every year, and balance out their nerdy side by fishing in the great outdoors. When planning for the future, they’d like to take an Alaskan cruise or visit Germany, which is rich in family history. Ireland or Scotland would also be a fun trip.

In her free time, Dr. Merchant enjoys eating pasta, watching action movies, listening to country music, and engaging the creative side of her brain—she has skills in knitting and crocheting, can play the piano, and also dabbles in drawing. And, while you may not have realized all of this about Dr. Merchant, this veterinarian’s biggest fear is certainly unexpected: needles.

Dr. Kristen Westergaard-Bladt

Originally from Mapleton, Iowa, Dr. Westergaard-Bladt moved to southern Iowa with her husband and son and sought out a progressive veterinary hospital in the area, leading her to ACCB. Fortunately for us and our patients, she chose to pursue veterinary medicine while in high school, rather than chasing a law degree like she originally planned. 

As a dog lover, Dr. Westergaard-Bladt enjoys the antics of her sweet, yet bossy, English setter, Sage. Her other loves include watching comedies, savoring pheasant in apricot sauce, and singing along to any music she knows the words to. When given a choice, Dr. Westergaard-Bladt would rather live in the city over the country, and she can’t wait to visit Italy. 

At your pet’s next appointment with Dr. Westergaard-Bladt, be sure to ask her about the dental procedure she performed on a wallaby. After caring for such an interesting animal, you can rest assured that she can easily handle your cat or dog’s health needs.

Now that you know our veterinarians a little better, you and your pet will feel like you’re visiting family. We’d love to visit—call to schedule an appointment.