Meet the Veterinarians & Staff at Carlson Animal Hospital
Rich A. Carlson,
Diplomate, American Board of Veterinary Practitioners,
Certified in Canine and Feline Practice
Dr. Rich Carlson thoroughly enjoys working as a veterinarian. Becoming a veterinarian was his dream as a young boy, and he feels so fortunate to have spent the last 30+ years helping people and their pets. After graduating from the University of Illinois, he founded Carlson Animal Hospital in Oak Park in 1980 in a 900-square-foot dry cleaner space. Carlson Animal Hospital grew quickly, and a few years later Dr. Carlson bought and renovated his current 3,200-square-foot, state-of-the-art building. The facility won the American Animal Hospital Architecture top award for the best re-use of a building and was awarded the Cavalcade of Pride Award by the Village of Oak Park.
Dr. Carlson earned the title "Diplomate" when he became board certified in canine and feline practice through the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP) in 1987. This is a respected and fully accredited board designation for veterinarians who demonstrate expertise in a broad range of clinical subjects. He is one of small group of 900 ABVP Diplomates in the United States and abroad. ABVP Diplomates undergo a very long and very difficult process of additional study and examination to become a board-certified specialist. ABVP Diplomates have proven knowledge and expertise above and beyond what is required to practice veterinary medicine. Dr. Carlson has a special interest in internal medicine, ultrasound, endocrinology, oncology, dermatology, and infectious diseases. He is academically oriented and has published several scientific papers in peer-reviewed veterinary medical journals. He also wrote a pet health newspaper column for 15 years and served on the credential committee for the Feline Specialty Board for many years. He enjoys mentoring and training young veterinarians and staff.
Over the last 10 years, Dr. Carlson has invested in state-of-the-art noninvasive technology such as digital radiography, digital ultrasound, digital dental radiography, and computerized medical records to better serve his patients. This high-end technology has revolutionized the practice of medicine. Dr. Carlson and his staff are excited and proud to offer this to patients. He feels privileged to be part the community and his clients and pets’ lives and has truly enjoyed getting to know them.
In his free time, Dr. Carlson enjoys spending time with his family and his own pets, Zoe and Julio, as well as his grandpets, Andre, Sloopy, Minnie, Bella, and Cody. He also enjoys traveling and working out at the health club.
Dr.Traci Leslie received her bachelor’s degree in animal sciences, as well as her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine training, at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. She has volunteered and worked at a number of local animal shelters, emergency centers, and through the university as a technician, kennel assistant, emergency radiology technician and a surgery technician. Two of her most memorable and educational experiences include traveling to Africa for a month to work for Vets-in-the-Wild, as well as working with Rural Area Veterinary Services in Washington State to assist in spay/neuter and wellness clinics throughout the state’s various Indian reservations.
Dr. Leslie is originally from Park Ridge, Illinois, and is very excited to be close to home again. She has a black Lab/pit bull mix named Parker who is, of course, her best friend, running partner, and lounging buddy. She adopted him when he was six months old and it has been entertaining and heartwarming watching him grow and learn to have a "normal" dog life. Now he is a big softy, but he is still afraid of lightning bugs, sprinklers, and fireworks.
Dr. Leslie has wanted to be a veterinarian since she was five years old and nothing could change her mind. Fortunately, she thoroughly enjoys science and continuing her education, expanding her knowledge in the field of veterinary medicine every day. In her free time, she enjoys being outdoors as much as possible, training for half marathons, biking, kayaking, snowboarding, and camping. She cannot wait to grow as a veterinarian and is incredibly excited to be working as an associate veterinarian at Carlson Animal Hospital. She is very grateful to the support of the staff and continuing mentorship and guidance of her colleagues.
Dr. Diana Richerson moved to Chicago and joined Carlson Animal Hospital in 2014 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Growing up in the shoreline town of Guilford, Connecticut, she set her heart on becoming a veterinarian at a young age and has steadfastly pursued that career path ever since. After obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology from Yale University, Dr. Richerson moved to Philadelphia to complete her veterinary studies. Throughout her undergraduate and veterinary training, she developed a strong interest in research, completing research projects in several different fields and publishing in a few well-respected journals.
Following graduation, Dr. Richerson decided to move to the Midwest to be closer to her parents, now living in Iowa, and her brother in Minnesota. Dr. Richerson considers herself very fortunate to have found a position at the Carlson Animal Hospital, as the practice philosophy is well-suited to her research interests, emphasizing comprehensive evidence-based medicine in addition to compassionate patient care. She is delighted to be living in Chicago and is looking forward to a long and rewarding career in veterinary medicine.
When she is not at the hospital, Dr. Richerson can be seen hitting the running trails. An avid runner, she loves training for and participating in marathons. She also enjoys playing team sports, most notably soccer. Although she embraces an active lifestyle, Dr. Richerson still relishes kicking back and relaxing with a good book or cooking for friends and family. While she currently has no pets, she suspects that will change in the near future. In the meantime, she is content to dote on her parents' dog, Cosmo, and three cats, Windy, Radar and Misty.
Dr. Cheryl Toncray moved to Chicago in 1992 as a young veterinarian and began working full time at Carlson Animal Hospital. She received her veterinary degree in 1990 with honors from Michigan State University. She was specifically attracted to the high level of compassionate care and progressive state-of-the-art medicine practiced by Dr. Carlson and his staff. Her specific interests are in internal medicine and most recently elderly/hospice care for the senior pet. While at Michigan State University, she was the recipient of the International Veterinary Student Group African Exchange fellowship and was chosen by the University to be in a featured article in Michigan Women magazine.
Prior to joining the staff at Carlson Animal Hospital she practiced veterinary medicine in Toledo, Ohio for 2 years. When first moving to Illinois she lived in Oak Park where she was an active member in the community through her work at the hospital, her local church, and as a member/violinist of the Oak Park/River Forest Symphony. In the past years she and her husband Tim decided to expand their family beyond the 2 dogs, 4 cats, and rabbit they started their married life with. Adding their 2 daughters led to working fewer hours at the hospital, however, she has remained an active member of the staff.
She is extremely excited about the advancements made in veterinary medicine over the 20+ years she has been working at Carlson Animal Hospital. She is fortunate to be working these many years with Dr Carlson, the staff at Carlson Animal Hospital and the patients and clients she sees on a daily basis where she is able to practice and provide advanced medicine and surgery to our wonderful companions. In her time away from the hospital she loves to travel, perform her music, and spend time with her active family.
Dr. Emily Rehm joined Carlson Animal Hospital in 2019 after graduating from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. After spending 8 years in Champaign to complete her bachelor and veterinary degrees, she is excited to be back near Chicago. Dr. Rehm grew up in Skokie, IL and fell in love with veterinary medicine while volunteering for a local animal shelter. Her experience then ranged from nutritional and cognitive research to working with calves and piglets, and spending time with a small animal clinic in between. Her interests include feline and geriatric medicine.
Dr. Rehm grew up with dogs her whole life, but realized her love for cats after adopting her first cat freshman year. She currently lives with Abner, an older, long-haired tuxedo-colored gentleman, and Louie, a newly adopted Maine-coon mix. Although she loves working with cats and wishes she could adopt them all, Dr. Rehm cannot wait to have a backyard someday and adopt a big dog of her own.
In her free time, Dr. Rehm enjoys spending time with family and friends. She loves trying new restaurants, heading to the movie theater, and hiking when the Illinois weather allows it. She is very grateful for the opportunity to work at Carlson Animal Hospital and looks forward to providing compassionate, high quality medicine to companion animals and their families.
Thank you for the service!
– Rima Dafer