About Us

Ringgold Animal Hospital offers a broad range of services, from yearly examinations to surgery. We provide a broad spectrum of diagnostic procedures through in-house testing and the use of external laboratories. We also work closely with local practices when special diagnostic procedures are required. The facility includes a well-stocked pharmacy, in-hospital surgery suite, in-house x-ray capabilities, and a closely supervised hospitalization area.

Ringgold Animal Hospital is a well-established, full-service, small animal veterinary hospital providing comprehensive medical, surgical and dental care, including preventive care and vaccinations.

At Ringgold Animal Hospital we strive to offer not only sound advice, but also optimal veterinary care, thus allowing you the enjoyment of your companion for a maximum number of years. 


Our staff is friendly, engaging, and focused on providing the best care for your four-legged companions. We attend continuing education each year to further our knowledge in veterinary medicine, as well as to keep up-to-date on advancements in diagnosis, treatment, and care of companion animals. Our job is not only to treat your pet when he or she isn't feeling well, but also to help you learn how to keep your best friend happy and healthy well into their senior years. 

Our Doctors

Dr. Gerard Clarke

Gerard Clarke grew up in Smyrna, Georgia, just outside of Atlanta.  His family raised Malamutes and had various other pets, including a Pointer that he trained and won a few local classes with. From the time he was young he wanted to be a veterinarian, so he began working as an assistant in local veterinary clinics to gain experience.


He received his Bachelor of Science in Biology from Georgia State University and his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Georgia.  During his time at Georgia State University, he met his wife, Paula, who was a nursing student. They now have two grown children; a son living in Seattle, and a daughter who works as an oncology pharmacist in Augusta, Georgia.


After practicing in Augusta, Georgia for several years in emergency and small animal medicine, Dr. Clarke completed an internship and pursued a residency/PhD in veterinary pathology at the University of Georgia.


Dr. Clarke returned to small animal practice in 1996 as an associate at the Animal Medical Center in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia.  He and Paula opened the Ringgold Animal Hospital in 2003. Dr. Clarke particularly enjoys dermatology, ophthalmology, and diagnostic cytology cases. He is committed to offering a high standard of medicine to all of  his patients and frequently attends continuing education classes to stay abreast of current knowledge in various small animal subjects. 


Dr. Clarke enjoys listening to audiobooks and podcasts, gardening, and seeking out ethnic cuisine - the spicier the better. The Clarkes share their home with a dog, Jack - who travels with them to the clinic and can most often be found curled up in his bed under the reception desk (or begging for treats!).

Jimmy Emerson was born and raised on a farm in Alabama. Growing up with animals steered him towards a career in veterinary medicine, and he attended Auburn University for undergraduate and veterinary college. 


Dr. Emerson worked at a mixed animal practice in Alabama for a few years out of school before moving to Dalton around 2007 and transitioning to small animal only. He joined the Ringgold Animal Hospital in November 2019.  He particularly enjoys soft tissue surgery, as well as solving the sometimes complex puzzles presented by internal medicine cases.


In his spare time, Dr. Emerson likes to travel - he as visited all 3,142 counties in the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii! He has also been to the highest point in 40 out of 50 states. His other favorite past time is watching college football - contrary to assumptions, he's a Tide fan!


Dr. Emerson lives in Dalton with his cats, Laramie and Lander. 

Dr. Jimmy Emerson

Our Staff

Paula Clarke, BSN

Paula is married to Dr. Clarke and helped open Ringgold Animal Hospital in 2003. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and worked in the field of human medicine for many years after serving in the Army. Paula manages the day-to-day operations of the hospital, as well as assisting in rooms and surgery as needed.


The Clarkes share their home with a dog named Jack (he can be seen lounging under the clinic's front desk most days!). They also have two children - a son who lives in Seattle, and a daughter who is an oncological pharmacist in Augusta, GA.

Kittie joined us in 2010 as a veterinary assitant. She received an Associate in Applied Science - Veterinary Technology, and passed the Veterinary Technician National Examination to become a Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT) in 2019. In addition, she maintains our social media sites and our website. She has a particular interest in nutrition and behavior, and serves as our AAHA Certified Diabetes Educator for newly diagnosed diabetic pets. She is also a NAVC certified Pet Nutrition Coach and holds a Human-Animal Bond Certification from HABRI. 


She lives in La Fayette with her husband and son, and has a step-daughter in her freshman year at UTC. She has two giant dogs, two cats, a horse, a pot-bellied pig, and a parrot.  She enjoys knitting, sewing, and crafting, as well as spending time outside with her family.


Kittie Palmer, LVT

Ross Blackston

Ross joined the Ringgold Animal Hospital in 2016 as a veterinary assistant. He had previously worked in animal hospitals as well as animal control. He is currently attending Penn Foster College in pursuit of an Associate in Applied Science in order to become a Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT).


He lives in Ringgold with his wife and their three dogs - Manning, Maxwell, and Maggie. He enjoys hunting, fishing, and spending time at the lake - when he isn't training for his next run!

Dana Carter, LVT

Dana initially joined the Ringgold Animal Hospital in 2014. After working with us for a few years, she took a hiatus before returning part-time in 2019. She graduated from the Chattanooga State Veterinary Technology program and was licensed in Tennessee for several years before making the move to Georgia.


Dana lives in La Fayette with her husband and youngest son. She also has two grown sons who live in the Chattanooga area. She has three dogs, Camo, Sadie and Saban, and a cat named Orange Kitty. She enjoys painting, but will drop everything for the chance to go fishing!

Melissa Kelley

Melissa, or Moe as she is known, joined us as a veterinary assistant in 2021. 


Moe lives in Fort Oglethorpe and has two (almost) grown sons. She has a dog named Bella. She enjoys gardening, photography, and outdoor adventuring.

Danika Harmon

Danika is our Customer Service Representative and joined us in 2021. 


Danika has a one-year-old son, along with a large menagerie of animals - including dogs, cats, horses, and a donkey. She lives in La Fayette, and she enjoys barrel racing in her spare time.

Jessica Weaver

Jessica joined us as a veterinary assistant in 2023. After a career as a librarian, she found veterinary medicine through a family member and was hooked.


Jessica lives with her husband in Rocky Face. She has a dog named Roscoe Bodine and a cat named Alice. Her free time is occupied by everything crafty - drawing, painting, and sewing. She also enjoys hiking with her husband and pup.

Savanna Bredeson

Savanna joined us as a veterinary assistant in 2022. 


Savanna lives in Tunnel Hill with her son. She has a dog named Smokey. In her spare time, she enjoys fishing and hiking, kayaking, and spending time outside with her family.


Jack was a lonely travelling man who made his way into our parking lot back in 2014. He was terrified but obviously wanted someone to trust. After a lot of cajoling, we finally got ahold of him and brought him into the clinic, where he stayed for about a week. During that time, Dr. Clarke became quite attached.


We then sent Jack to the shelter for a stray hold, just in case someone was looking for him - but with strict instructions to contact us if he wasn't claimed or adopted. At the end of the week, no one had stepped forward, so Dr. Clarke promptly drove over to the shelter and loaded him up to bring him home.


He quickly settled into life at the clinic and at the Clarke's home. He's now a different kind of travelling man! He rides back and forth with them daily, spending his days curled up in his bed under the reception desk (with breaks to bark at the mailman and UPS guys and to collect treats from as many clients as possible) and

 his evenings curled up on the couch with the Clarkes. He's a bit dysfunctional due to his rough start in life, but we love him anyway!


Reyna is our clinic cat. She came tumbling out from under a car on the road in front of the clinic, and then ran into our lobby through the door, which was being held open for a client. 


Fred (one of our late clinic cats) was instantly smitten. They bonded so quickly and so closely, we decided to keep Reyna, despite Dr. Clarke's objections that we didn't need a third (at the time) clinic cat!


Reyna is our resident parkour cat - she is often found on top of our cabinets, some of which can only be accessed by jumping from the top of a door! She's been the star of a few slow-motion videos on our Facebook page due to her acrobatics. She also enjoys lounging in the sun on the cat tree in the lobby, but don't be offended if she runs when you approach her as she only accepts affection on her terms - a true cat!

In Memoriam


Simon showed up in the parking lot as a kitten in 2004. Before sending him to the shelter, Dr. Clarke decided to test him for Feline Leukemia and FIV and vaccinate him so that he would have the best chance possible at getting adopted. The little orange kitten purred and kneaded his paws during the blood draw, successfully tugging at Dr. Clarke's heart and securing him the position of "designated blood donor" cat at the clinic (he has yet to donate any blood!).


Simon's favorite past time is sleeping on the printer, followed closely by begging for treats. He was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism (an over-active thyroid) in late 2017. He successfully underwent I-131 radioactive iodine treatment just before Christmas that year, which put his hyperthyroidism into remission. 


And yes, he is a bit cross-eyed!


Simon passed away at the ripe old age of 16 in the summer of 2020. 


Fred came to us as a tiny kitten with a wound on his side. He was found in downtown Ringgold by Good Samaritans and brought in after closing time (Paula and Dr. Clarke just happened to still be at the clinic). After dosing him with antibiotics and giving him a place to spend the weekend, we had planned to send him to the shelter - but much to our surprise, Simon took a liking to him. We had toyed with the idea of a second clinic cat for a while, but Simon wasn't very keen on the idea of other cats, so we had held off. Once he decided Fred was his buddy, we couldn't bear to separate them and Fred became a permanent resident. 


Fred's favorite place to be is in the way! He especially likes clean laundry, but he also makes a good nurse cat and will curl up with our recovering surgery patients to keep them warm while they come out of anesthesia. He's our most friendly clinic resident, and we often bring him into puppy rooms for socialization and playtime!


Fred passed away in the fall of 2021 due to intestinal cancer.