Our Veterinarians

Dr. Stephen Paxton
Veterinarian & Practice Owner
In 7th or 8th grade, Steve was walking down the road with a friend and his friend’s dog, Boots. Boots decided to chase a squirrel into the road just as a car was coming—the car’s bumper nicked Boots, but luckily the dog was okay aside from being a little sore. As that scary scene unfolded in front of him, Steve knew he wanted to help his friend’s dog. It was at this time Steve began to think about becoming a veterinarian. 

Steve grew up in Traverse City, Michigan, as the youngest of four kids. He worked on a horse farm throughout junior and senior high school, another key factor in his decision to work with animals. After high school, Steve earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Biology and Management from Michigan State University. He realized he wanted to go back to his childhood calling of veterinary medicine and returned to MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, graduating in 1987. In 1991, after working as an associate veterinarian in a mixed animal practice, he moved his family to Ludington and opened the Animal Hospital of Ludington!

As a veterinary professional, Dr. Paxton especially enjoys the variety of everyday general practice, interacting with clients and patients, and performing soft tissue and orthopedic surgery. He also enjoys unraveling the mysteries of a sick animal and helping that animal become healthy again.  

Dr. Paxton lives with his wife Patty, who he’s been married to since 1979. Their oldest daughter Leslie, became a veterinarian herself and now works as an associate veterinarian at the Animal Hospital of Ludington! Their son Stephen is a Registered Nurse and works at Butterworth and Blodgett Hospitals in Grand Rapids while he awaits acceptance into medical school. Their youngest daughter, Claire, graduated from chiropractic school in 2020 and owns her own practice in Hilliard, Ohio (just outside of Columbus). The family opened their home to two foreign exchange students, Bele from Germany and Maren from Norway, who they also consider their adopted daughters.

The Paxton family would not be complete without their three dogs; Twig, Sage, and Luka who are English Setters and crazy about bird hunting! Dr. Paxton, Twig, Sage and Luka are an avid woodcock banding team. Dr. Paxton is one of 100 people licensed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to band woodcock chicks using highly trained pointing dogs during the months of April and May. This program is designed to monitor the populations of this very interesting ground-dwelling, migratory game bird.

Dr. Paxton also is an accomplished guitarist who sometimes plays in bands and is a passionate John Denver fan. He even arranged for John Denver’s former guitarist, Pete Huttlinger to perform an awesome concert at the local community college. 
Dr. Leslie Deines
Associate Veterinarian
In many ways, veterinary medicine is in Dr. Leslie Deines’ blood. That’s because she’s the daughter of Dr. Steve Paxton, proud owner and operator of the Animal Hospital of Ludington! Dr. Deines was born during her father’s last year of veterinary school, so she’s been around the field for her entire life. Her own lifelong passion for animal care made one thing very clear: she was destined to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a veterinarian herself.

Dr. Deines is a Ludington native and was only four or five years old when she started helping her dad around the clinic and going on farm calls to assist with horses and cattle. She gained even more real-world experience by volunteering at the local animal hospital during her high school and community college careers. Dr. Deines attended West Shore Community College and Michigan State University for her undergraduate degree in animal science, studying abroad in Northern Ireland for a semester, before heading to veterinary school at Michigan State’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Deines graduated in 2013 and joined the Animal Hospital of Ludington team as an Associate Veterinarian a few weeks later. She has a special interest in anesthesia, and she’s also fond of mentoring and teaching new employees and interns about the field of veterinary medicine.

In her time away from the office, Dr. Deines enjoys watching movies with her husband, J.P., practicing yoga, bicycling, reading, drawing and painting, and doting on her own pets at home. The couple shares their lives with a loveable Beagle/Pit Bull mix named Otis; a black housecat named Stretch; Merida the Calico barn cat; and a retired show horse named Tazz-Tazz who has been Dr. Deines’ partner since she was 14 years old.
  • What our clients have to say…

    • Kathy Ann

      We are very happy with all of the staff. They are all friendly, knowledgeable and answer questions.

    • Karlene Hintz Boeve

      ‘Five Stars’ for Dr Paxton as he is a caring, knowledgeable, experienced professional! I had an in-depth conversation around the benefits of Cytopoint injections for my Westie with seasonal dermatitis. Success! Cytopoint was the solution to measurable relief.
      Also I want to share my thoughts on Euthanasia for an aggressive, violent dog. If your veterinarian recommends euthanasia, you should give it serious consideration. Some dogs are not wired correctly. The safety of children, family, & community should be the priority over an aggressive dog. Don’t wait for a disaster to transpire. My family has suffered do to non action of our neighbors aggressive dog.

    • Brad Pinkerton

      Thank you to the staff at Animal Hospital of Ludington and especially Dr Paxton. We had no choice but to put our beloved Jasmine to sleep due to her condition. It was amongst the worst day of our lives. Dr Paxton and his wonderful staff treated us with the ultimate compassion and patience. The office even followed up within a few days later with a signed condolence card, a cast of her paw prints and a bottle with a bit of her fur. Janni and I are forever indebted to the kindness they showed to us. I HIGHLY recommend this office to anyone needing vet care for their pets.

    • Venisa Peterson

      they took wonderful care with my puppy and explained everything

    • Rebecca Makowski

      I’ve experienced nothing but excellent care from Dr. Deines and Dr. Paxton and staff. From emergency visits to routine care and end of life decisions, they’ve been compassionate and trustworthy at every step. Any questions I’ve had, they discuss with me and make sure I understand. I highly recommend choosing their team to trust with your loved ones.

    • Heather Lange

      They took great care of my dogs my 1 1/2 yr old mix got fixed and I was nervous they didn’t mind me keep calling to ask questions and was great with our German Shepard will always use them and they are affordable

    • Tina Rommell

      We love you all. Thank you for taking such great care of my dog.