Meet Our Experienced Veterinary Team
in Chicago

Our veterinary team are skilled professionals who take passionate veterinary care to a whole new level. As pet owners ourselves we understand the ups and downs of caring for our furry family members. Meet our team by reading on, or come meet us yourself at our South Loop clinic! Book an appointment with our veterinarians by calling (312) 753-5551 or using the online form.

Dr. Maria Manrique

Dr. Maria Manrique, co-founder of South Loop Animal Hospital, is an Illinois native born and raised in Chicago. She graduated with a BS in Biology from the University of Illinois, and went on to receive an MS in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior from Indiana University. She received her DVM from Purdue University’s School of Veterinary Medicine in 2004. Following graduation, Dr. Manrique relocated to Florida to practice at a 24-hour emergency animal hospital in Miami. She returned to Chicago and practiced for several years in the Lakeview neighborhood before opening South Loop Animal Hospital (SLAH) with Dr. Dan Sanchez.

Dr. Manrique is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association, and Chicago Veterinary Medical Association. She is also a relief surgeon at PAWS Chicago’s Lurie Spay/Neuter Clinic. In her spare time, Dr. Manrique enjoys outdoor activities (biking, hiking, and kayaking), traveling, and expressing her creative side through painting and other media. She is the proud owner of an unruly, yet sweet, American Bulldog pup named Gustavo, whom she adopted during the COVID pandemic.

Maria Manrique DVM
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Dan Sanchez DVM
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Dr. Dan Sanchez

Dr. Dan Sanchez, co-founder of South Loop Animal Hospital, graduated from Ross University after completing his clinical year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Originally from New Jersey, he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from the University of Washington in Seattle. Dr. Sanchez practiced small animal medicine for a number of years in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood prior to establishing South Loop Animal Hospital with Dr. Manrique. He also has extensive emergency care experience after working in multiple Chicagoland veterinary emergency clinics. While he is confident in his abilities to handle any emergency need that may arise, it is the challenge of providing long term care for his patients with chronic conditions that he enjoys most. In addition to managing chronic diseases, Dr. Sanchez also has a special interest in veterinary dentistry.

He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association, and Chicago Veterinary Medical Association.

Dr. Sanchez lives with his wife, a native Chicagoan and also a veterinarian, and their two young children. They share their home with Rainbot the Wonder Dog, a spunky terrier mix that they adopted during the COVID pandemic.

Dr. Claire Ojala

Dr. Ojala graduated as salutatorian from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine after completing her undergraduate degree at Case Western Reserve University. After graduation she returned home, to Chicago and its suburbs, where she practiced for 5 years before joining South Loop Animal Hospital.

Dr. Ojala believes that with patience and an understanding of a pet’s unique concerns that veterinary visits can be a positive experience for both animals and their owners. She is particularly passionate about helping pet owners understand the causes of chronic medical conditions so that they can be actively involved in the prevention and treatment of their pets’ illnesses.

Dr. Ojala loves that general practice allows her to use all her skills from cardiology to surgery, but she has special interest and education in veterinary behavior, internal medicine, dentistry, dermatology, and pathology. She also works at one of Chicago’s busiest veterinary ERs on a regular basis—in addition to keeping her emergency skills sharp, she enjoys the ability to work hand in hand with numerous specialists on challenging cases and keep abreast of the most current diagnostic and treatment options.

In her free time she enjoys running (10Ks are her favorite distance), yoga, enjoying Chicago’s performing arts (particularly dance), and finding great “hole in the wall” restaurants. She is a volunteer surgeon with local rescue organizations and enjoys relaxing at home with her husband and sassy tortoise shell cat, Stella.

Claire Ojala DVM
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Alexa Karnia DVM
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Dr. Alexa Karnia

Dr. Alexa Karnia received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. She received a Bachelor's degree in both Chemistry and Biology from Augustana College. Originally from the southwest suburbs of Chicago, she decided to join the team at South Loop Animal Hospital.

Dr. Karnia has a special in in clinical pathology, internal medicine, and shelter medicine. She enjoys meeting new clients and playing an integral role in the lifelong health of their pets. Dr. Karnia enjoys reading, spending time outdoors, traveling, listening to music and concerts, and attending fitness classes (particularly Zumba). She lives with her husband Patrick, the most photogenic border collie named Coal, and a mischievous labrador and great pyrenees mix named Aura

Dr. Alyssa Mistar

Dr. Mistar received her Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While in college, Dr. Mistar participated in a study abroad program in which a group of animal-loving volunteers provided free veterinary services to areas of need in effort to combat animal over population. She loved that she was working closely with people and their pets. This experience solidified her decision to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. Dr. Mistar went on to obtain her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine and after spending 8 years in Champaign, she is happy to be back in the city she calls home as a member of South Loop Animal Hospital’s team!

Dr. Mistar’s veterinary passions include surgery, dentistry and behavior. She believes the best part of her job is the opportunity to strengthen the human-animal bond. Whether she is welcoming your family’s newest addition, diagnosing illnesses and alleviating pain, or being part of a gentle goodbye- she will always be a guide in determining what is best for both you and your pet.

In her free time, Dr. Mistar enjoys exploring new places, experimenting in the kitchen, catching up on her favorite television shows as well as relaxing at home with her fiancé, Eduardo, and their pets named Guinness and Whiskey.

Dr. Mistar2
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Dr Slezak headshot
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Dr. Julia Slezak

Dr. Julia Slezak grew up in the northern suburbs of Chicago, and knew from a  young age that she was meant for a life working with animals. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin Madison with her undergraduate degree in Microbiology, and then with a DVM from the UW school of Veterinary Medicine. After graduation, she moved back to Chicago and worked in a clinic close to her hometown with a fast-paced environment with a heavy emphasis on surgery. She then decided to relocate to a clinic closer to the city, and joined the South Loop team!

Dr. Slezak has interests in internal medicine and surgery, but especially loves working with and educating pet owners about the importance of preventative medicine and managing chronic disease states. She believes the best way for owners to enjoy their lives with their pets is to be actively involved in their care, and wants to make sure every treatment plan involves the whole family.

In her time away from work, Dr. Slezak loves cooking new and elaborate meals with her partner Patrick, horseback riding, spending time with her feisty cat Fettuccine and her sweet (but not so smart) dog Alfredo, and enjoys reading.

Dr. Amy Ujiki, Relief Veterinarian

Dr. Ujiki graduated from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine after completing her
final year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2006. She has always known she wanted
to be a veterinarian and has been working in the veterinary field since she was in high school.
After 16 years working as a staff doctor in Lincoln Park, Dr. Ujiki made the difficult decision to
transition to a relief veterinarian to afford her more flexibility to care for her family. She is
enjoying meeting new patients and working in different areas of Chicago. She is also enjoying
working with her husband, our very own co-founder, Dr. Sanchez!

Dr Ujiki headshot