Dr. Nels was born and raised in Omaha, graduating from Westside High School in 1969. He graduated with his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University in 1975. He opened Backlund Animal Clinic in 1977 and raised his family in nearby Pacific Heights neighborhood. Dr. Nels has been married to his high school sweetheart, Jeanne, for 40 years and together they have 3 children, including Dr. Michelle. Jeanne is a retired Millard Family and Consumer Sciences teacher and now is a consummate grandmother to their 7 grandchildren. They live with their first Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Bentley, a perfect lap dog; 8-year-old tortoiseshell, Izzy, who both looks and acts like a kitten; Gabby, Izzy’s mom, who is polydactyl (having extra toes), and their newest addition, another Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Prince Harry. In addition to veterinary medicine, Dr. Nels enjoys working in his yard, baking, and watching his grandchildren. Dr. Nels has always been committed to continuing his veterinary education and embracing new concepts in pet care, he is one of the few veterinarians in the area PennHIP certified to diagnose hip dysplasia. He is a past president of the Nebraska Academy of Veterinary Medicine and former Hospital Administrator for the Animal Emergency Clinic. Dr. Backlund's newest adventure is volunteering with the "Street Dog Coalition," providing free veterinary services to pets of the homeless.
Dr. Michelle was born and raised in Omaha, graduating from Millard West High School in 1999. She attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for her Bachelor's Degree in Veterinary Science and graduated with her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Kansas State University in 2007. Dr. Michelle, with the unwavering support of her father, Dr. Nels, opened the first canine rehabilitation facility in Nebraska-Canine Rehabilitation and Wellness as a service to Backlund Animal Clinic in 2008. Dr. Michelle became certified in canine rehabilitation (physical therapy) in 2008 through the Canine Rehabilitation Institute and in medical acupuncture in 2011 through Curacore. Dr. Michelle and her husband, Shaun, have three rambunctious boys ranging from age 4 to 9 and a beautiful baby girl! Shaun grew up in Omaha as well, graduating from Omaha Northwest High School and University of Nebraska-Omaha. He interned at Union Pacific in college which led to his full-time career. Outside of working at the clinic, Dr. Michelle keeps busy enjoying time with Ethan, Ascher, Carter, and Malin. Currently, Dr. Michelle has one furbaby, Warble, a spunky shorthair kitty, but will be adding to the fur family in 2019!
Sarah Westrom, LVT, BFA-Veterinary Nurse, Licensed Veterinary Technician
Sarah is originally from New England, but has lived many places including New Hampshire, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and Colorado. She received her degree in fine arts from Alfred University in New York State and Associate’s Degree in Veterinary Technology from Bel Rea Institute in Colorado. She worked in Denver for 5 years before joining Backlund Animal Clinic in February of 2007. Her husband, Tom, is an avid artist originally from Denison, IA. They are raising a very bright tween-age daughter, Dublin, and Sarah's step-daughter Lydia. In addition to Dublin and Lydia, Sarah has three furry kids: Roco a sassy Chihuahua mix, Mouse a tripawd Chihuahua, and Ella the hamster. In her free-time, Sarah loves black and white photography and is compiling a portfolio of animal photos, doing yoga, watching movies, and going out to Sushi with her family.
Cassie Colflesh, LVT, CCRVN, BS-Veterinary Nurse in Canine Physical Rehabilitation, Licensed Veterinary Technician
Cassie was raised in Omaha, actually in Woodhaven-the neighborhood adjacent to Backlund Animal Clinic! Cassie graduated from Millard North High School, earned her Bachelor's Degree in Biology from Wayne State College in 2009, and went on to earn her Associate's Degree in Veterinary Technology from Iowa Western Community College in 2012. In 2016, Cassie earned her Certification in Rehabilitation from the Canine Rehabilitation Institute. Her parents have been clients of Dr. Backlund for years and Cassie's childhood dog was treated by Dr. Beck after knee surgery. Cassie saw first-hand the benefits of physical rehabilitation in dogs and wanted to help other pets improve their mobility and pain control. Cassie's husband, Josh, is a steamfitter and loves to hunt, fish, and hopes to be able to farm one day. Together, they have one daughter, Aria who was born in 2016 as well as an ornery and energetic English Springer Spaniel rescue, Gunner. Beyond assisting dogs with rehabilitation, Cassie enjoys cuddling up with a good book (if Aria has a say, several good books)!
Deb Dvorak, Kennel Assistant
Deb grew up outside of Stanton, Nebraska, and moved to Omaha to be closer to family. She has always had a love for animals and her job allows her to care for them. Her husband, Terry, loves to barbeque, and together they have two grown sons, Travis and Justin. In addition to all the pets Deb cares for at the clinic, she has four of her own; Chloe is a sweet 11-year-old beagle, Rosebud is a friendly 2-year-old Golden Retriever, and Simba and Jaycee are curious 3-year-old cats. Deb enjoys all Husker sports, dog sitting, and caring for her granddaughters.