Keystone Heights Animal Hospital

7344 State Road 100
Keystone Heights , FL 32656


Darlene Rivera, C.V.T. - Practice Manager

Darlene grew up on a dairy farm in Pennsylvania until she was 13 when she moved to Interlachen, Florida. She has always had a love for animals, but found her true calling when she was 17 and volunteered at a veterinary office.  Soon she was hired by that practice as a kennel assistant.  For the next 14 years, Darlene worked as a receptionist, technician, and then office manager.  In 2006, while continuing to work full time, Darlene decided to go back to school to earn her Associate in Science Degree in Veterinary Technology.  Having graduated in 2009, we are very proud to have a licensed Certified Veterinary Technician on our team.  Darlene has worked with Dr. Blackburn since 2001, and her diverse knowledge of the profession, her experience, and her drive and dedication make her an essential part of the Keystone Heights Animal Hospital team. 

Darlene lives in Keystone Heights with her husband, William, and their two girls, Marissa and Mia. They have a scruffy dog named Patches that they rescued in 2012. Darlene spends most of her free time helping her girls with cheerleading and gymnastics. She also enjoys teaching a fitness class at the local gym and taking beach trips to St. Augustine with her kids.

Keystone Heights Animal Hospital | Keystone Heights, Florida | Samantha CiccaroneSam - Veterinary Technician

Sam is a Florida native and has lived in Putnam County her entire life.  Working with animals has always been a dream of hers.  In 2009, Sam was eager to enter the veterinary field and took a position as a cleaner at a local animal hospital.  Her strong work ethic and dedication were immediately evident and she soon began training for a technician position.  Sam has a unique ability to understand and relate to animals which makes her an excellent technician.  She instinctively knows how to keep an animal calm during times of stress and has a gentle nature even with our feisty feline friends.  Although she only recently joined the Keystone Heights Animal Hospital team in June 2013, she has worked with Dr. Blackburn since 2009. 

Sam lives with her husband Mike, her daughter Claudia, and her son Adam.  Like most veterinary technicians, Sam's love and compassion for animals carries over into her own home.  In addition to fostering needy animals for the S.P.C.A. of North Florida, her permanent family includes 8 dogs, 8 cats, 2 guinea pigs, 2 goats, 1 potbelly pig, 15 chickens and fish.  On her days off, when she isn't tending to her own animals, Sam enjoys spending time with her kids, working outside with her flowers and plants, and watching Gator football.


 Kelsey - Veterinary Technician

Kelsey grew up in Lutz, FL and recently moved to Starke, FL for College. She’s currently going to Santa Fe College and plans on transferring to UF to pursue her career in Vet medicine. Growing up around animals her whole life, Kelsey has always had a dream to work with them. From being in FFA to taking vet classes in high school, she always had the passion to learn more to help animals. She volunteered at a clinic in Lutz and after a year of hard work and dedication they hired her on as a veterinary assistant. When she moved for college she knew she wanted to stay on the same career path and that’s when she found Keystone Heights Animal Hospital. She’s started working for us in January 2017. 

Kelsey lives in Starke with her two Australian Shepherds, Molly May and Maya. When she’s not busy with school or work you can find her at the beach, deep sea fishing, or hanging out with friends in St. Augustine.

Alisha - Veterinary Assistant

Alisha has lived her entire life on her family farm in the small town of Hampton. Growing up around various livestock and her 2 small dogs, Missy and Penney, has given her a special appreciation for animals and their well-being. Alisha decided at a young age that she wanted to pursue a career working with animals. During her senior year in high school she came across the opportunity to work for Keystone Heights Animal Hospital as a veterinary assistant and was hired in March of 2019. She is now attending Santa Fe Community College and working towards her Associates of Science degree in Zoology. If Alisha is not at the animal hospital or college, you can probably find her with her cows! After deciding to show market steers through FFA in high school, she become very interested in beef production. She has now started her own herd and is working towards a business in the production of show quality beef cattle.

Laura - Veterinary Technician

Laura lives in Starke and currently is a senior at Grace Christian School. Attending virtual school online has allowed her the opportunity to pursue her passion for animals, especially dogs. Before starting at Keystone Heights Animal Hospital in July 2019, Laura worked at a nearby pet spa where she bathed and helped care for the dogs staying there. After graduation, Laura would like to continue her education in the medical field by pursuing a nursing or technical degree in either the human or animal field. In her free time Laura enjoys swimming, spending time with her family and friends, and attending church activities. Laura has 3 dogs of her own: a Husky that loves the lakes, a Dalmatian-Hound mix that likes to go for car rides and play at the park, and a Yorkie that likes to sleep and attack people who come into the house.

Candy - Receptionist & Public Relations

Candy grew up in Jacksonville living near NAS Jax since her dad was a Chief in the Navy. After high school Candy moved to the Gainesville area and worked for 18 years at Gainesville Eye Clinic before having her two daughters. Candy is also a former co-owner of a veterinary practice and has over 30 years of veterinary care experience, 13 of those years have been spent working with Dr. Blackburn. Whether she’s working in the front office greeting clients or working in the back taking care of animals, Candy is happy to be a part of the Keystone Heights Animal Hospital team and looks forward to meeting you and your four legged family members.

Candy lives in Putnam County with her two daughters and many pets. On her days off, she enjoys being outside and loves anything to do with the water, beach and boating. 


 Maudrey - Veterinary Technician

Maudrey was born and raised in Starke where she lives on her family farm. Her love for animals as a child followed her to high school and now her career path. Throughout her high school years, Maudrey was very active in FFA, showing steers, swine, and goats, competing in public speaking contests, and becoming president of the Bradford Senior FFA chapter in 2017-2018. She was captain of the Bradford High Majorettes from 2014-2017 and has 15 years of experience competing in baton twirling. She was also crowned Miss Bradford High in 2017! Maudrey knew her career path would be with animals and in July 2019 she started working as a receptionist at Keystone Heights Animal Hospital. She is pursuing a degree in veterinary technology and will be cross-training at work in order to learn all aspects of the veterinary field. When not at work, Maudrey spends time helping her family care for their poultry, swine, horses, and many dogs on the farm. She also volunteers with the Bradford FFA alumni.