Vet Staff
Thank you to our vet staff for your service! Please select a staff member to read their bios.

 + Chief Veterinarian - Dr. Jerry Vanek
Jerry Vanek

Dr. Jerry Vanek’s career with sled dogs has taken him from the southern tip of Chile to the Arctic cap of Europe to the Karoo of South Africa; from Maine to Nome; and from North Dakota to the Yukon. He has served as a sled dog veterinarian on over 100 races and expeditions on four continents including the Iditarod, Yukon Quest, John Beargrease, CanAm Crown, UP200, Race to the Sky, Norway’s Femundløpet, and Finnmarksløpet; Sweden’s Amundsen, Polar Distans, and Tobakløpet; the Šediváčkův Long in the Czech Republic, World Championships in Italy, Norway, and America, the Mount Vaughan Antarctic Expedition, three 1925 Serum Run reenactments, and numerous other races in North America.

A musher since his teens and former sprint race competitor, he still drives dogs whenever he can.

He is an honorary life member of the North Star Sled Dog Club and the Northwest Sled Dog Association; a recipient of the Maeb Bayers’ Lifetime Achievement in Mushing award and the White Oak Classic Musher Tribute award; and a past president, life member, and charter board member of the International Sled Dog Veterinary Medical Association. Over the past two decades, Dr. Vanek has presented more than 230 lectures and publications on sled dogs and sled dog medicine to veterinarians, technicians, mushers, children, and the public around the globe. He is certified in both canine physiotherapy (CCRT) and canine chiropractic (IVCA) with a veterinary practice focused mainly on sled dog medicine.


 + Trail Veterinarian - Dr. Gregg Phillips

Dr. Gregg Phillips returns to Northome and the Voyageurs’ Classic once again. He previously owned and operated a recreational team of Siberian Huskies for over 10 years and his time spent on the runners with his own team led him into veterinary medicine. Dr. Phillips has worked on the veterinary teams of local, national, and international races, including the Empire 130, White Oak Classic, John Beargrease, Yukon Quest, and Finnmarksløpet in Norway. This year, he is serving as the Chief Veterinarian for the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon. While Dr. Phillips no longer mushes dogs, his work as a trail veterinarian allows him to touch the energy that surrounds sled dogs, and to work with colleagues and mushers from around the world. He is a member of the ISDVMA, and currently works at Dakota Pet Hospital in Lakeville, Minnesota.

 + Trail Veterinarian - Dr. Nicole Reynolds
Nicole Reynolds

Dr. Nicole Reynolds is pleased to join the Voyageurs’ Classic again as a trail veterinarian. Dr. Reynolds is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine and she holds a Master’s in Public Health Epidemiology with a concentration in infectious diseases. Dr. Reynolds is currently completing an MA in Bioethics at the University of Minnesota and she is pursuing board certification from the American College of Animal Welfare. Her research interests are focused on moral distress in veterinary health professionals. Dr. Reynolds is an experienced laboratory animal veterinarian and maintains a strong interest in emergency preparedness and response and critical care medicine. She is a member of the Minnesota Veterinary Reserve Corps, the National Veterinary Response Team (NVRT), and the Veterinary Medical Assistance Team (VMAT). She is also a founding member of SkijorUSA, an experienced trail and skijor race veterinarian, a competitive skijorer, and she hopes to see skijoring in future winter Olympics. Most recently, she was an invited speaker at the 12th Biennial Meeting and Symposium of the International Sled Dog Veterinary Medical Association in Vermont, where she presented her research on bioethics as it relates to working sled dogs.

 + Trail Veterinarian - Dr. Gregg Sonstegard
Gregg Sonstegar

Dr. Gregg Sonstegard is a mixed animal veterinarian practicing in West Central Minnesota. He owns his own practice and enjoys working with both large and small animals. He is a member of the International Sled Dog Veterinary Medical Association, and he has been involved with the North Star Sled Dog Club Races, the Red River Sled Dog Derby, the John Beargrease, and the Iditarod. Dr. Sonstegard joins us again on this year’s Voyageurs’ Classic where he enjoys meeting and working with the townspeople, the dogs and mushers, and fellow veterinarians. When he has the time, he likes to hunt, snowshoe, and winter camp.

 + Trail Veterinarian - Kristina Kiefer
Kristina Kiefer

Kristina Kiefer, DVM, PhD joins the Voyageurs’ Classic Veterinary Team for the first time this year, but she is no stranger to mushing. Dr. Keifer annually celebrates winter by working as a race veterinarian on the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon, White Oak Classic, and Subaru Dog Sled Loppet. Dr. Kiefer is an ACVS board-eligible post-doctoral associate at the Stem Cell Institute and College of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Minnesota, where she also received her DVM degree. Dr. Kiefer completed a rotating internship at Red Bank Veterinary Hospital in New Jersey, and a surgical internship at Gulf Coast Veterinary Surgery before returning to Minnesota to complete a small animal surgical residency and her PhD investigating the use of canine adipose cells for therapy of canine osteoarthritis and the application of stem cell therapy for spinal cord injuries. Most recently, she was an invited speaker at the 12th Biennial Meeting and Symposium of the International Sled Dog Veterinary Medical Association in Vermont, where she presented her work with stem cell therapy in sled dogs and for other canine sports medicine injuries.