Our Staff

Our Staff


Peter S. Sakas, DVM


Peter S. Sakas received his BA (Bachelor of Arts) degree in biology from Northwestern University in 1974.  He then traveled to Auburn University in Alabama and pursued his MS (Master of Science) degree in Zoology-Entomology which he achieved in 1979.  While at Auburn, he studied the immune response of dogs with canine heartworm disease in conjunction with the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine.  He presented his Master’s research findings at regional and national parasitological association meetings.  In addition he helped develop a test for the detection of occult heartworm disease in dogs and cats which led to a publication in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA).


While a graduate student at Auburn University, he received a teaching assistantship and assisted in General Biology, Animal Biology and Cell Biology classes for four years.  He was named to a faculty position at Auburn University as a lecture instructor in Animal Biology during the 1978-79 school year where he taught classes of 75-150 students.  He was also very involved with youth sports, coaching teams in football, basketball, and baseball while at Auburn.


Despite his success at Auburn University, his lifelong goal was to become a veterinarian and his graduate school experience was a stepping stone to realize that dream.  He gained acceptance into the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine where he began classes in the fall of 1979 and received his DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) in 1983.  He received a research assistantship while in veterinary college and began conducting his diagnostic test for occult heartworm disease, which had been utilized at Auburn University.  In 1981, he conducted a Veterinary College-wide survey of the student body, dealing with stress in veterinary students.  He presented his findings to the American Veterinary Medical Association national convention in St. Louis that year.


He has been involved with Niles Animal Hospital since 1980 when he began working as a student extern at the hospital under the direction of the noted avian veterinarian Dr. T. J. Lafeber.  He worked at Niles whenever he was on break from college through his years in veterinary school.  Dr. Sakas became a staff veterinarian upon graduation in 1983 and Dr. Lafeber groomed him to be his successor.  He bought the practice from Dr. Lafeber when he retired in 1985 and has owned it since then.


Dr. Sakas lectures frequently to veterinary associations, veterinary colleges, bird clubs, wildlife organizations and avicultural groups.  He has lectured at University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine for over 23 years conducting various guest lectures and labs in avian medicine.  He has also lectured at Veterinary Colleges in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa (Iowa State),  Indiana ( Purdue) and Ohio (Ohio State). He regularly lectures at Parkland College about avian medicine for the veterinary technician students.  He has lectured at national and regional veterinary meetings including the AVMA ( American Veterinary Medical Association), SCAVMA (Student Chapter of AVMA) Convention, AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association), Missouri State Veterinary Association,  Wisconsin State Veterinary Association, Minnesota State Veterinary Association and others.  He regularly lectures to bird clubs and aviculture conventions locally, throughout the Midwest and nationally.  He has also lectured at the International Wildlife Rehabilitator Association Meetings and conducted wet labs(hands on experience for attendees).


Dr. Sakas is dedicated to education and has been actively involved with local high schools and their practicum programs, whereby student get experiences in field of their interest.  These students are able to spend time at the practice and see what is involved with a career in veterinary medicine.  He frequently will speak at career day programs at various junior high schools and high schools as well.  He also allows student to spend time "job shadowing" him.


Dr. Sakas has written numerous articles related to various aspects of dog/cat care, wildlife, avian medicine and pet bird care.  He contributes to various bird club question and answer sections or articles for their newsletter.  Many of his articles can be viewed on a wide variety of avicultural web sites as well.  He has authored the avian section of the American Animal Hospital Association’s publication.  Exotic Formulary.  He is also authored the book, Essentials of Avian Medicine.  A Guide for Practitioners Second Edition ( 2002), also published by AAHA.  He has contributed to other avian books as well.  He was on the editorial board for Veterinary Forum Magazine and was a contributor for Pet Veterinarian Magazine.  He also is a regular columnist for a local newspaper with columns covering a wide range of pet related topics.


He has served ( and is still serving) on the boards of several veterinary organizations and has held directorships for various humane and wildlife associations.  He is on the advisory board for Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity at Northwestern University and is the editor of the alumni newsletter.  He is active in various community activities, including serving as a Little League Manager for several years.  He is married with a daughter and a son.  His household is controlled pandemonium with eleven pets, including dogs, cats and birds.


Kelly Kostuch, DVM


Dr. Kostuch began at Niles Animal Hospital as a receptionist in 1994.  She received her BS (Biology) from Loyola University Chicago in 1994, and her DVM from U of ILL in 1999.  During her fourth year in veterinary school she completed an externship in animal behavior.  She has an interest and passion for helping clients with behavior problems, especially working closely with new puppy owners.  Her focus in our hospital is strictly dog and cat care.  She spends her free time enjoying raising her daughter, as well as watching sports.  She is a diehard White Sox fan.



Don Staunton, DVM


Dr. Staunton knew from the tender age of thirteen, while working at a northwest suburban animal hospital, that he wanted to be a veterinarian.  He was born in Oak Park, raised in Glenview, and graduated from Notre Dame High School in 1988.  He kept his resolve and attended the University of Illinois for his undergraduate studies and received a bachelor’s degree in animal science.  Dr. Staunton enjoyed working summers at a western Illinois large animal veterinary hospital before going on to obtain his doctorate in veterinary medicine, also from the the University of Illinois.  He graduated in 1994.  Since graduating veterinary school, Dr. Staunton has worked in the far north and northwestern Chicago suburbs.  He is a member of the Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association, the Chicago Veterinary Medical Association, and the American Veterinary Medical Association.  He returns to the Niles area with an extensive knowledge of dog and cat medicine as well as a love for a wide variety of small mammals like guinea pigs, ferrets, rabbits and hamsters.


Dr. Staunton is also an accomplished surgeon.  He routinely performs a wide variety of orthopedic and soft tissue surgeries such as extracapsular cranial cruciate surgery, patellar luxation repair, and gatronomies, to name a few.  He is also certified to perform veterinary stem cell regenerative therapy.


Dr. Staunton is married with two children and has an adopted beagle name Libby.  Dr. Staunton enjoys muskie fishing, spending quality time with his family, and listening to the blues.


Management Staff



Karen has been part of Niles Animal Hospital for over twenty years, serving as business manager.  With the retirement of long time hospital manager Ruth Lenover, Karen took over as Hospital Manager.  Before her employment with Niles Animal Hospital, Karen was a manager at a large computer leasing corporation for several years, gaining valuable business experience and developing her skills.


Karen is married with two children and has a household full of pets, including dogs, cats and birds.


Technician Staff



Deb began working at Niles Animal Hospital and Bird Medical Center in March of 1987.  It wasn’t until then that she realized that Niles Animal Hospital was noted for its work with exotic pets.  Even before beginning her employment at Niles, as a kid she would bring all her pets, cats, guinea pigs, mice and parakeets to Dr. Lafeber.


Dr. Sakas hired Deb as a veterinary assistant and she showed such great skill in working with the birds that she was put in charge of running the bird hospital portion of the practice.  It was such a specialized field at that time so she was trained on the job and has been working with the birds ever since.  In her own words, "I consider myself lucky to still have such a passion for my work even after all these years.  My goal is to give our hospitalized patients quality care and an environment that helps them recover as quickly as possible, yet make them comfortable while away from home and their owners.  I even cook homemade mixes to feed our in house birds as well as patients.  I also enjoy learning about bird behavior and try to counsel clients to help them create the best home environment for their avian friends."


Through her work at the hospital she developed a keen interest in working with wildlife and as a result became a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, a status she has maintained for over 5 years.  Deb said, "I have had the honor of working with the smallest hummingbird to a bald eagle."  As Niles Animal Hospital provides medical services to the Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation so she still continues to work with the wildlife at the hospital.


At home, Deb currently has a cockatoo, cockatiel and two cats.  When not at work Deb loves to cook and garden.  Despite working with the birds at the hospital all day, she still can’t get enough of them so she has become an avid bird watcher.  She enjoy taking trips to enjoy nature and the birds that call it home.




Eileen is one of our veterinary assistants and has been employed at Niles Hospital since 1990.  She has worked in all areas of the hospital from receptionist, veterinary assistant, assisting in bird surgeries, treatments of hospitalized birds and other animals.  Eileen has also volunteered for twenty five years at the Lincoln Park Zoo, with the traveling zoo to school and doing  behavioral studies at the zoo.


Eileen graduated from North Park University with a BS degree in Biology and an Associate’s Degree in Animal Sciences from the University of Pennsylvania.  She shares her home with two parakeets, Spunky and Frisky, which she raised from chicks.  Her special interests are traveling and cheering on her niece of track and cross country meets.  Eileen has traveled around the world and has been to every state except Hawaii.






Melissa, CVT


Melissa had a love for animals at a young age, but never thought she could handle working with them, (She just thought they were fun to play with!)   She played soccer since she was five years old, throughout high school and on a club team.  She went to Troy University in Alabama on a soccer scholarship (2003-2005).  She did not emjoy the classes she was taking and came to the realization that the only thing she was ever meant to do was work with animals.


Melissa decided a career as a veterinary technician was the way to go so she enrolled in the program at Parkland College in Champaign, Illinois.  She attended school there from 2006 to 2008.  She was a student extern at Niles Animal Hospital in 2007 because she wanted the opportunity to work with a variety of animals.  She graduated Parkland May 2008, took the boards and became a certified veterinary technician a few months later.  She has been at Niles since June of 2008.


Melissa’s pets include a yorkie (Toby), four cats (Mike, Midget, Maddie, Tucker), Mia and Maddie were brought home from Troy Alabama, which made her parents REALLY happy.  Tucker is a former barn cat from southern Illinois and lived with Melissa as she attended Parkland.  She also has three gerbils (Jack, Jim, Jose) and the newest member of the herd is Roxy, a cairn terrier who had been abused and is afraid of life, but Melissa is lovingly nuturing her.  Melissa loves rodents and would love to own a bird some day.  Melissa will always deny it is asked but she will become the "cat lady" when she is older.


Outside of work she enjoys movies and music, hanging out with her sisters and friends.  Melissa also likes to travel every couple months to see her former Parkland classmates.  She also likes to sleep!


To quote Melissa, "This is the short version of my life. True story!"


Amy, CVT


Amy is a CVT (certified veterinary technician) who received her degree from Fox College.






Receptionist Staff



Rebecca has been with Niles Animal Hospital for 23 years.  Due to over 60 years of Niles Animal Hospital being in existance.  It has given Rebecca the opportunity to meet generations of families and their pets.  Rebecca is our head receptionist.  While working here she has given refuge to three stray and abandoned dogs.  Precious, Jack and Tillie.




Sandy has been with Niles Animal Hospital for over 30 years.  She currently owns a five year old Portuguese Water Dog (long before the Obamas) named Bosun.  Sandy has a very cheerful demeanor and enjoys coming to work and talking with our clients.





Jan has been with Niles Animal Hospital for over 21  years.  Jan started out coming to Niles Animal Hospital when she was a licensed wildlife rehabilitator bringing birds in for treatment.  When Jan began as an employee at Niles she started out as a bird hospital technician, performing the treatments on birds that were hospitalized.  Jan now currently works as a receptionist assisting our clients.


Jan has a sweet Labrador retriever, named Rollie, whom Jan rescued when she was eight years old.  Rollie is now eleven years old and doing great.  If you happen to come into the hospital on a Saturday there is a good chance that Rollie may come up to greet you, wagging her tail and carrying one of her stuffed animals in her mouth.




Clemmie has been a client at Niles Animal Hospital for over twenty years and an employee fro over four years.  She is an animal lover and currently has three dogs and seven birds.



Renee a resident of Niles and has been employed part time at Niles Animal Hospital for three years.  Her daughter originally worked at the animal hospital but when she left her college Renee joined the staff here in her place.  Renee and her family currently have two dogs and two birds which explains her devotion to the veterinary field.




Alex has worked at Niles Animal Hospital as a receptionist since the summer of 2009.  She loves to be around the staff and enjoys all the different kinds of animals that come into the hospital.  She currently attends Maine East High School and plans to go into the medical field when she gets older.


Kennel Staff



Jennie is a vet assistant at Niles Animal Hospital who loves her job because she has always loved animals and wanted to work with them. 


As a young girl she would pretend to be a vet and would examine stuffed animals.  After starting fifth grade at Fairview South she found out that she had learning disabilities and started special education.


In August of 2004 she started high school at Niles North in Skokie.  When she first started her freshman year, she was in a program called Transitions and halway through that year she moved to a different program call Anchor to help her understand the school work better.


In June of 2007 she started working at Niles Animal hospital.  She graduated from Niles North in June 2009 and is now in the Bridges program at Niles North.


She loves her job at Niles Animal Hospital and plans to work here for a long time.  She is currently taking a course at Oakton Community College on how to become a vet assistant and in the future would like to be a vet tech.  In Jennie’s own words, " For now I am happy with what I am doing and I love working with the animals.  I am also currently working in the bird room and helping with cleaning up after surgery.  I love it and I don’t want to change a thing."



Christopher is a local high school student who has been working at the hospital for about two years.  His duties include clean up in surgery and maintenance in other areas of the hospital.  Christopher enjoys working with animals and has a keen interest in going into a field where he can continue to do so.


At home Christopher has multiple pets, including dogs, cats and birds.  Christopher’s interests include reading, video gaming, music and playing guitar.  Christopher has been active in scouting, achieving the rank of Life Scout.




Terri Olson began working at Niles Animal Hospital during the summer of 2011. Terri is currently a senior at Gordon Tech College Prep High School  in Chicago and plans to attend Nursing School to get a nursing degree. She helps out at the hospital after school and on weekends with pre-op and post-op surgeries. She prepares the instruments for surgery and cleans up after surgery. She also helps Debra in the bird hospital, where she cleans the bird cages, feeds and makes sure the birds are happy.


Her family has been bringing animals to Niles Animal Hospital since her Mom was in second grade. Currently, Terri has a German Shepherd adopted from the Anti-Cruelty Society, two black cats, three tarantulas, and tropical fish. It’s quite the zoo in her house.