The OP K9 Medical Team of Wisconsin
Meet our volunteers: Human and K9s
Ayla Mollen has worked in the veterinary field for over 10 years. She has also been a dedicated OPK9 volunteer with OpK9 since the fall of 2021. She has worked as an emergency veterinary assistant at Blue Pearl Pet Hospital and is currently in veterinary school at UW-Madison SVM. She has always wanted to be a veterinarian and was drawn to emergency medicine. She enjoys her volunteering with OpK9 because it allows her to give back to the community. She spends her free time exploring Wisconsin with her dog Varlo
Becky Johnson, DVM, DACVAA, PhD
Dr. Johnson, board certified in Veterinary Anesthesiology and Pain Management is a Research Anesthesiologist and Clinical Professor of Anesthesia and Pain Management at University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. Her more than 20 years of clinical practice, education and research expertise includes a focus on the respiratory and gastrointestinal effects of opioid and non-opioid analgesics in companion animals. Dr. Johnson joined with Operational K9 Medical Team of WI as a volunteer educator in 2021. Dr. Johnson obtained her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Ohio State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine and completed her anesthesia residency, MS and PhD degrees at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Jill Kottwitz CVT
Jill is a Certified Veterinary Technician at BluePearl Emergency and Specialty Hospital in Appleton. She has 9 years of prior service with the Army National Guard and Army Reserve working as a Heavy Transport Operator and Animal Care Specialist. Jill joined the OPK9 Medical Team in 2019.
She enjoys spending her free time camping and hiking with her husband, 2 dogs and daughter.
Kris is one of the founding members of OPK9 Medical Team of Wisconsin. She started her veterinary career as certified veterinary technician over 20 years ago. She has a passion for educating the law enforcement community and was also instrumental in advocacy of SB 435. She currently is employed at Blue Pearl Pet Hospital as the hospital administrator in Appleton, Wisconsin. She enjoys outdoor activities with her husband and two children.
Justine Finerty CVT, Veterinary Student
Justine was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She has been in the veterinary field as a certified veterinary technician for close to 10 years now. The majority of that time has been spent working in the emergency and critical care department and she joint the OPK9 medical team in 2022. In addition, she is currently a veterinary student at the UW- Madison School of Veterinary Medicine and will be graduating in 2026! She has two dogs, a Belgian Malinois named Bex and a German Shepherd named Blair. In her free time she enjoys fishing, cooking, and hiking!
Todd has been a first responder for over 20 years, and is currently a Firefighter/Paramedic and a SWAT Medic in Northwest Indiana. He also works part time as a Veterinary Assistant at a local 24 Hour Emergency Vet Clinic, where he gets to translate all of his human medical skills to Canine patients. He has been traveling from Indiana to OPK9 to volunteer his time.
Cheryl Nelson DVM
Cheryl F Nelson is a practicing veterinarian since January 1980. (CSU grad-no break Jr-Sr year vet school).
She has held a Veterinary license in 25 states!
She is a business owner since 1983 specializing in Bovine embryo transfer and has done Large Animal Technical rescue specialist since 2007 &
Hazmat Tech since 2010.
She is also a Radiation specialist since 2015.
Dr. Cheryl has been teaching K9 TECC/TCCC since 2014 and with animatronic Trauma FX Diesel since 2018. “Manni D001”. Classes in NV, CO, IN, OH and KY, and of course with us in WI.
She is a founding member KYTEMS 2014 and a
Full member American Academy of Forensic Sciences (General Section) since 2017 (one of only 8 vets in North America).
Ella Peters is the daughter of Lisa Converse. She has been volunteering with OPK9 Medical Team since she was a toddler. She is currently in college majoring in Occupational Therapy and American Sign Language. Emergency medicine is in her blood and she works as certified nurse assistant and EMT in Minnesota. Ella is a lover of all animals big and small. Ella enjoys spending time her dog Breckenridge, photography, traveling and family.
Lisa J. Converse
Dr. Converse, a Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Specialist has more than 25 years of clinical, educator, and administrative experience in veterinarian healthcare settings. Her positions have included veterinarian practice ownership, Medical Director, Radioactive Iodine Department Director, Clinical Instructor, and Volunteer Veterinarian. Dr. Converse was a founding member of Operational K9 Medical Team of Wisconsin, a 501c3. As this organization’s president and medical director, she currently travels throughout Wisconsin educating K9 handlers and EMS personnel on point of injury care for animals experiencing a traumatic event. She was a co-founding member for NAVEMS (National Association Veterinary Emergency Medical Services) and has also served on multiple nonprofit organizations focusing on suicide prevention and veterinary hospice. She presently is self-employed as a Locum Clinical Instructor in veterinary emergency and critical care with current responsibilities at multiple colleges of veterinary medicine nationally. Dr. Converse obtained her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care.
Lyn has more than 25 years of clinical, veterinary practice management and educator expertise in primary and emergency veterinary care in addition to roles as a Veterinary Relations Representative and an Operations Director. Outside of her veterinary employment responsibilities, her genuine passion for volunteering her time and talents for the health of animals is very apparent to her community and profession. She is a member of the WVMA (Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association), the WVPMA (Wisconsin Practice Manager Association), the WVTA (Wisconsin Veterinary Technician Association), & NAVEMS (National Association Veterinary Emergency Medical Services). Lyn also sits on the Veterinary Examining Board. Lyn was a founding member of Operational K9 Medical Team of Wisconsin, a 501c3 in 2020 where she serves as its Operations Director and is on its Board of Directors. Her present role involves scheduling, coordinating and co-teaching all the Operational K9 Medical Team of WI educational sessions on point of injury care to K9 handlers and emergency medical service personnel. Her Veterinary Technician degree was obtained from Madison Area Technical College in Madison, Wisconsin.
Margaret Eastman DVM
Dr. Eastman’s interest in working dogs started with athletes when she graduated from UW in 1993. She worked “in the field” with sled dogs in Michigan, Minnesota and Alaska. When she moved back to Wisconsin, she left the sled dogs behind but began working with K9 officers and search dogs. She has learned so much by assisting with Operational K9 Medical Team training. Not only do the participants benefit, but she is able to provide more sound advice and information to the working dogs she cares for on a routine basis. Dr. Eastman also is a search and rescue handler with her dog Ivy.
Matt and Tesla have been working together since 2019 and have logged thousands of interactions since they started. As one of the only sworn therapy K9 team in the state, they focus on assisting first responders and civilians in crisis to help make each community just a little healthier each day.
Dr. Brian Darkow grew up outside of Madison in the town of Cottage Grove. He received his undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 2007. Following graduation, he attended the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine where he received his doctorate degree in May 2011. Brian enjoys the variety of practicing both large animal and companion animal medicine.
In his free time, Brian enjoys being physically active, hiking, camping, kayaking, playing sports, traveling, and spending time with friends and family. He currently shares his home with two friendly cats, Huckleberry and Dora, and one energetic and loyal German Shepherd named Atlas.
Rachel recently joined OPK9 and has been a very active volunteer ever since. She will be graduating from veterinary school in 2024 and will be practicing in Wisconsin. Rachel has been an integral part of our team and her enthusiasm undeniable.
Bex is a Belgion Malinois owned by Justine Finerty. She loves going on the boat and fishing with Justine, running very fast, dock diving and car rides.
Manon is a certified veterinary technician at the Wisconsin Veterinary Referral Center in Waukesha Wisconsin. She is a dog lover and enjoys her time volunteering. She has been a very active volunteer with OPK9
Greta is a young lively German Shepherd owned by Lisa Converse. She has been teaching since a puppy. She loves treat rewards, playing ball, and swimming.
Ivy (Danikk Summer Solstice) was born in April, 2017 and is owned by Dr. Margaret Eastman. She was awarded her Canine Good Citizen Certificate by the grace of God in 2019 and completed the certification for HRD by the National Association of Search and Rescue (NASAR). She is also certified through NNCDS for Water HRD. She loves her frisbee, standing water, and shedding on her favorite people.
Stig is a Belgian Malinois owned by Lyn Schuh. Stig initially failed out of “cop” school and then spent some time as a service dog with Got Your Six K9’s. He joined OPK9 in 2019. He enjoys snuggles, food, and a BALL and is a fantastic volunteer.
Breckenridge - "Breck"
Breck is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel owned by Ella Peters. He has also been teaching with OPK9 since a very young age. He loves food, sleeping, and despite his small size is one of our most “popular” teaching dogs.
Tesla is owned by Matt
K9 Harlow is a Belgian Malinois/German Shepherd hybrid that is a retired Jefferson County Sheriffs Office K9. He had a very successful career. He had a number of successful narcotics finds and tracks, while being a community favorite! K9 Harlow is always friendly and was a wonderful link between law enforcement and the community he served in. K9 Harlow has been a great asset and teaching K9 for the OPK9 medical classes.