Shannon Nielsen, DVM

Dr. Nielsen grew up raising cattle on a farm in Kingston, Washington. She fell in love with Montana while attending Carroll College.  She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in both Biology and Classical Studies from Carroll. Shannon then graduated from Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2011. (GO COUGS!) Shortly thereafter, she and her husband moved to Deer Lodge.

 Shannon and her husband Erik are proud to call the Deer Lodge Valley home and to raise their children, 2 dogs, horses, and cattle here. Shannon enjoys spending time with her family, horseback riding, gardening, fishing, and boating. She is committed to carrying on the tradition of great customer service and quality patient care that has been the cornerstone of the Clark Fork Veterinary Clinic since it was established in 1961.

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Betsy Price, DVM

Dr. Price is originally from Seeley Lake, MT where she grew up riding horses in 4-H, competing in rodeo and riding on trails in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area. She received her bachelor’s degree in Biology from Carroll College and then graduated from Washington State University with her DVM in 2016. Betsy and her husband Reece call Avon home, where they have 3 dogs, too many horses to count and are starting their own cattle herd. Betsy enjoys riding her horses, quilting, scrapbooking, and spending time with friends and family. Lately, she has become a leader for Powell County 4-H and loves helping the kids!


Samantha Thomas, DVM

Dr. Thomas is a born and raised Deer Lodge native, who graduated from PCHS in 2007. She then attended the University of Montana Western in Dillon, graduating in 2011 as the top female graduate of her class. She received her DVM degree from Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine in May of 2015 and started practicing full-time in Missoula with Pruyn Veterinary Hospital as well as working part time at several other southwestern Montana practices. During this time, Dr. Thomas gained a vast knowledge in primary care, emergency/critical care, and surgery, as well as expanding her exotic animal knowledge (rodents, reptiles, etc.). 

After working with us part-time for nearly 2 years, Sami joined our practice as our 3rd full-time veterinarian in May of 2017. She is so excited to be here and serving her home community! Sami’s veterinary interests include critical care, animal behavior, nutrition, and surgery. She’s experienced with and ready to care for your dogs, cats, and exotic animals such as birds, guinea pigs, and ferrets! When not at work you can find Sami working on her pool game, attempting to climb a mountain, riding her Harley, or skiing the slopes. She also spends time in Deer Lodge and surrounding communities with her family, friends, and her two dogs, Frank and Indigo.


Office Manager

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Lauretta Kolbeck, CVA

Lauretta has been with the Clark Fork Veterinary Clinic since 2013. She is the Office Manager, as well as one of the Certified Veterinary Assistants. She grew up in Dillon Montana on and around her grandparents’ ranch. She graduated from Montana State University in Bozeman with a degree in Agricultural Education. She loves being involved in veterinary medicine and using her teaching background to help educate clients about the animals and their medical needs. Lauretta’s passion is in beef cattle production and herd health planning. She enjoys riding horses and working for several of the local ranches on the weekends with her husband, Travis, and daughter, Kyla. She and her family enjoy hunting, fishing and camping with their two dogs, Cedar and Sage. Lauretta is a member of the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association and plans to continue her education in business management and veterinary medicine. Her goals include becoming a Certified Veterinary Practice Manager and Licensed Veterinary Technician.


Veterinary Assistants


Tricia Averyt, CVA

Tricia joined the clinic in September 2014. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Arizona University with an emphasis in family diversity. In 2015 she decided to change career paths and revert to her child/adolescent passion working with animals. She is currently working on her associate of applied science degree at Penn Foster to become a Licensed Veterinary Technician. In her free time, Tricia enjoys riding her horse, fishing and skiing with her husband and two boys.


Jaycee Wood, CVA

Jaycee has been with the clinic since 2012, starting as receptionist and kennel assistant. She is now one of our full time Certified Veterinary Assistants. She grew up in the Deer Lodge Valley. She enjoys volunteering her time fostering and encouraging pet adoptions. She and her two children love any outdoor activity where their dogs (Callie Jo, Benny and Pepper) can tag along. They enjoy photography, camping and hiking.


Cassandra Pocha

Cassandra is from Helmville MT and will soon be moving to Garrison with her fiancé onto their new property. She joined the staff of Clark Fork Veterinary in June 2018 and is currently working to become a Certified Veterinary Assistant. She enjoys any outdoor activity, especially: riding horses, skiing, swimming, rodeo and fishing. In her spare time she loves to spend time with her family, fiancé and her two girls; they love to go horseback riding and fishing. She grew up doing 4-H for 10 years; her projects were swine, equine, beef, and rabbit. Cassandra has a passion for animals and helping people, which makes this career enjoyable. She has started breeding horses and has a new foal on the ground this year. She attended the University of Montana Western for Natural Horsemanship with science. She loves to barrel race when she can, and is looking forward to continuing training horses.


Emma Kelly

Emma joined Clark Fork Vet Clinic in September 2018. She made a big move from Billings to Anaconda, MT. Emma has been in veterinary medicine for about 2 years now. She has had a passion for animals ever since she was little. Emma is currently working towards her associate of applied science degree at Penn Foster to become a Licensed Veterinary Technician. In Emma's free time, she enjoys spending time with all her four-legged friends, hiking, fishing, working on her photography skills, and hitting the books (because she's a nerd).


Julie Jennings

Julie was born and raised in Anaconda, and currently lives in Deer Lodge. She joined the staff at Clark Fork Veterinary in May of 2017 and is currently working towards her Veterinary Technician certification. Julie is passionate about animals and their well-being; her two Japanese Chins, Oakley, and Piper are living proof of this. She strives to make any visit to our clinic easier for each patient, and their human. Julie enjoys time spent with her husband, children, and grandchildren as well as sewing, crocheting and any home improvement project.


Sasha Mullen

Originally from Ohio, and most recently from northeast Washington, Sasha has recently settled in the Deer Lodge valley with her husband and their combined family of 5 children, 4 dogs, and 3 horses. She joined the staff at CFVC November 2018, and has worked in a variety of career fields. She is excited to put her experience to work! In her free time, she enjoys cross country skiing, hiking, playing with her dogs, and riding and training her horses.

Customer Service Representative


Erinn Sullivan, CSR

Erinn joined the team as our receptionist in March of 2016. She was born and raised in the Helmville Valley as the fifth generation of her family. She currently lives in Helmville with her son, Deklyn, and her two dogs, Gage, a Doberman Pinscher, and Moose, a Yorkshire Terrier. In her free time she enjoys hiking, fishing, camping or just spending time at home with her family. Erinn is currently working on becoming a certified veterinary assistant.


Mindy Blakeley Collins, CSR

Mindy joined our team as receptionist in March 2018. After living all over Western Montana, most recently in the Bitterroot Valley, she has returned home to Deer Lodge where she was born and raised. Mindy has expressed much joy being back home and working at CFVC she remembers visiting as a child. She enjoys fishing, 4-wheeling, camping, and exploring the outdoors with her adventurous husband AJ and sons Parker and Ace. Also part of her family is Talia, the playful yet mischievous Siberian husky, along with Bolt and Loki who live the lives of feline kings.

Kennel Assistant 


Bailee Johnson

Bailee grew up in Washington and her and her family moved to Montana her freshman year of high school. She is currently a senior in high school and is very involved in 4-H and the community. She was a superintendent at the 2017 Tri-County Fair. She is currently raising her own stock which includes: horses, sheep, cows, goats, and pigs. She enjoys going to rodeos, horse events, and showing livestock with her family in her free time. She is a Kennel Assistant for CFVC and hopes to become a Vet Tech in the future.


Hunter Smith

Hunter Smith has been at the clinic as the kennel assistant since November 2017. He grew up in the Deer Lodge Valley. He enjoys being outside hunting, fishing and hiking. He recently adopted his dog Ruger and enjoys teaching him new things.