Our Team


Deborah Hofler, VMD

Dr. Deborah Hofler has been part of Valley Center and the owner of Countryside Veterinary Hospital since 1998. After receiving her degree in Animal Science from Cornell University, she attended the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned her Veterinary Medical Doctorate in 1995. With over thirty years’ experience in animal husbandry and nearly 20 years as a veterinarian, Dr. Hofler has become an important part of the Valley Center community, not only for her expertise, but also because of her kind and caring nature. Outside of the hospital, Dr. Hofler and her husband keep busy with their three children, all of whom are very active in different sports.


Jessica Nichols, DVM

Dr. Jessica Nichols is a fifth generation San Diegan, but spent five years in Palmerston North, New Zealand where she attended Massey University and became a veterinarian so that she could combine her passions for animals and medicine.  She thoroughly enjoyed the beauty of the landscape, but is happy to be back close to home.  Dr. Nichols spends her free time cooking, camping, and hiking in different locations around San Diego, including to Potato Chip Rock, Iron Mountain, and Stonewall Peak.  Dr. Nichols has two cats that she rescued, Kermit and Schnowbs, but is really a dog person.  One day, she would like to have a Boston terrier, a mastiff, a dachshund, and a French bulldog, whose name will be Desmond.

Dr. Bil Herndon, DVM

Bill attended the University of Arkansas and the University of Central Arkansas obtaining a bachelor’s degree in biology (major) and chemistry (minor).  After graduating from veterinary school at Mississippi State University (2000) he completed his internship and cardiology residency training at the Ryan Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (2003).  He is board certified veterinary cardiologist and a member of the ACVIM, AVMA, CVMA and SDVMA.

Dr. Therese Craychee, DVM

Therese J. Craychee, DVM, MS, DACVR obtained her DVM degree in 1985 from the University of California Davis. Dr. Craychee decided to pursue a master’s degree in comparative pathology and returned to UC Davis in 1987. She worked as a sonographer at the Large Animal Clinic at UC Davis while pursuing her degree. She then served a veterinary radiology residency at UC Davis from 1989-93. Dr. Craychee became a board certified veterinary radiologist in 1992. She frequently lectures to the veterinary community on radiology related topics.

 Dr. Tracy Nicole Frey, DVM

Dr. Tracy Nicole Frey was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs and received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a major in Biology in 1998.  She is a 2002 graduate of the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine.  Dr. Frey completed a small animal rotating internship at Long Island Veterinary Specialists in Plainview, New York in 2003, and was in general practice in Deer Park, New York until 2004.  She then began a two year surgical internship followed by a three year surgical residency at Garden State Veterinary Specialists in Tinton Falls, New Jersey.  Dr. Frey has been practicing in Southern California since August 2009 with an emphasis on soft tissue surgery and emergency medicine.

Dr. Daniel Frankel, DVM

Born and raised in the Washington, DC area, Dr. Frankel graduated from Amherst College in Massachusetts in 1993.  He then spent a year training horses and teaching skiing in Jackson Hole, Wyoming prior to attending the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine.  Upon graduation in 1998, Dr. Frankel returned to Wyoming for two years of general veterinary practice before venturing north of the border to complete a 1-year Internship in Small Animal Medicine and Surgery at the Ontario Veterinary College.  His training culminated in a 3-year Small Animal Surgical Residency and Masters of Science program at Colorado State University.  Dr. Frankel was accepted as a Diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Surgery six months thereafter.  He has authored Several Scientific Articles on topics including total hip replacement and surgical treatment of liver shunts.  He has also completed advanced training in TPLO, TTA Total Hip Replacement, Minimally Invasive Surgery, and Regenerative Medicine.  Dr. Frankel has been practicing at specialty referral hospitals in the San Diego and San Francisco Bay area since 2004. Once an avid skier and soccer-player he now gets out on his surfboard at every opportunity.


 Letisha Maxfeldt, Office Manager

Letisha has been a resident of Valley Center for over forty years. At the age of nine, she joined 4-H and began a long career of raising pigs and cattle with her family. At eighteen, Letisha began working for her dad, Dr. Van Wyk. Letisha is always open to add new furry family members. She has raised hundreds of orphaned kittens, and even had a litter of coyote pups at one point in time. Currently, Letisha shares her home with six dogs and six cats, but it is only a matter of time before another litter of “cat-tens” (as her grandson calls them) is added into the mix. Letisha enjoys going to the desert with her family and has continued her involvement with the local 4-H programs.


 Mackenzie Cayford, Office Manager

Mackenzie started her career in veterinary medicine in 2006.  When she isn’t working, she can most often be found on the back of a horse.  Mackenzie enjoys riding and showing reining horses.  Mackenzie keeps busy both in and out of work.  She is working on meeting the requirements to sit for the CPA exam, as well as planning a wedding!  Mackenzie spends plenty of time studying, surrounded by her four-legged family members.  She has one cat and one dog, both of whom are very unique and always good for a laugh.  Mackenzie brings an essential dynamic to our team, with her uncanny ability to remember numbers and attention to detail.


 Rachael Ballard, Receptionist

Rachael loves animals of all shapes and sizes.  While she mainly sees dogs and cats during her time at Countryside, when she goes home, she has a menagerie of different creatures waiting her arrival.  Rachael has two dogs, one cat, two tortoises, and three snakes.  She has also owned pythons, monitor lizards, scorpions, tarantulas, and bearded dragons.  At one time, she had upwards of 30 reptiles!  Rachael feels that being in the veterinary hospital is the perfect place for her to be; interacting with pets and their owners is what she likes the most.   Rachael spends her spare time getting massages, fishing, hiking, and traveling.

Felipe Hernandez, Head Veterinary Technician

Felipe has lived in Valley Center for twenty years. Having realized his love for animals at a very young age, Felipe was able to start a profession where he could put his passion for animals to good use. Felipe has been working with Dr. Hofler since 2001 and is an integral part of the hospital. He takes pride in providing exceptional care to the animals and Felipe’s patience compares to none. His ability to bring confidence and reassurance to scared or insecure pets is like watching an artist paint a masterpiece. Underneath his gruff exterior beats the heart of a compassionate man who has one concern: the comfort of the patients in his care.


 Windee Evans, Veterinary Technician

As a true Valley Center resident, Windee has a menagerie of animals at home: goats, horses, dogs, cats, quail, and even a possum that was rescued from Orange County Animal Control. Her family has been fostering, rescuing, and rehabilitating ducks, cats, and dogs for twelve years. Windee has been involved with veterinary medicine for over twenty years and has experience working in emergency veterinary medicine and for the Institute for Wildlife. When Windee is not working, she enjoys horseback riding and being with her family. Windee’s knowledge and experience in emergency medicine make her an important part of our team.


 Erica Leal-D’Alterio, Veterinary Technican

Erica moved to Valley Center six years ago because she was seeking a place for her horses with enough room to ride and enjoy time outdoors. Before becoming part of the Countryside family, Erica worked in emergency veterinary medicine. Erica grew up being involved in 4-H and was offered a position on the collegiate competitive equestrian team. She has earned her AA in Social and Behavioral Science. She has a joyous personality and her love for animals can be seen in every pet she comes into contact with. She spends her spare time riding her horses, traveling to places like Italy, Germany, and France, and, of course, spending time with her two sons.



 Jacob Crowl, Veterinary Technician

Jacob has been with Countryside Veterinary Hospital since 2005.  He is a native San Diegan and moved to Valley Center in 2004.  Jacob has a very calming and caring nature; he has been an animal caregiver for over fifteen years and he has a special touch when it comes to providing animals with a sense of peace when they are here in the hospital.  He came to us after spending six years being the lead animal specialist at PetsMart.  Currently, he spends his time working at two different hospitals, so you will likely only see him if you visit us on a Saturday.  Outside of the veterinary hospital, Jacob enjoys geocaching, hiking, horseback riding, martial arts, and astronomy.



 Danielle Aguire, Veterinary Assistant

Danielle started with us early in 2014 and we are so pleased to have her as part of our team.  She brings a positive attitude with her each day and gives each pet the extra TLC that they deserve.  Danielle spent many years managing boarding facilities and pet hotels.  She stopped working in order to raise a family with her husband.  They have two daughters and Danielle spends most of her free time with them.  They enjoy hiking, playing with their two dogs, Lord Bryant and Lady Georgia, and going to the beach.


 Leslie Wright, Veterinary Assistant

Leslie joined the Countryside family in 2016.  After volunteering with us for several months, she became a more permanent member of the team.  Leslie has been working with animals since she was ten years old.  She enjoys being able to work hands-on with the animals and being part of their journey back to good health.  Outside of work, Leslie cares for and rides her horses, hiking, and traveling.  Leslie has a huge heart, as indicated by the variety of critters that she shares her home with.  She currently has a lot of dogs, two cats, three birds, and a veiled chameleon.  She can’t just pick one type of animal as her favorite; she loves them all!



 Alyssa Aguire, Kennel Attendant

Alyssa started working with us in our boarding facility a few years ago.  She has been assisting in the hospital since January 2017 and she thoroughly enjoys working with the animals while learning more about the veterinary world.  She is kind and compassionate and takes the time to get to know each and every pet that is in the hospital.  When not at work or in school, Alyssa spends her time hiking and taking pictures of nature.  She currently shares her home with two dogs and one cat.  Alyssa’s favorite kind of animal is a cheetah and she hopes to be able to see one in the wild one day.