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Go Suzy and Jamie…

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We at ACCESS like to highlight the accomplishments of our employees outside of the hospital every so often, and boy do Jamie and Suzy deserve the recognition!

Two of our super sweet, always helpful ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospital, San Fernando Valley, team members completed the LA marathon yesterday.The record-high heat was so intense that many people were hospitalized, but that didn’t slow down with this fabulous duo!

Jamie finished the 26.2 mile race in seven hours with Suzy close behind at seven hours, fifteen minutes. This was not the first race for either runner—it was Jamie’s sixth year and Suzy’s 13th!

When they aren’t gearing up for a race, you can find Suzy and Jamie applying the same dedication and care to their positions at ACCESS, and we couldn’t feel luckier!

The Dog who was Set on Fire | Eight Years Later

Looking at Abigail today, you would never know that she was a victim of heinous animal abuse. This nine-year-old Staffordshire terrier currently resides in Southern California with her loving and dedicated family. However, life was not this easy for her a few years ago.

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At about one year old, Abigail was found near a vacant house in Lancaster, CA by a neighbor when she was running in circles, on fire. The neighbor quickly put clothing and water on the pup to douse the flames, but it was apparent that severe damage had already been done. Despite the pain, this sweet, battered dog was still trying to wag her tail and even licked her rescuers. Luckily enough, the folks at Karma Rescue sprang into action, ensuring that Abigail would have the funds and medical attention she needed to survive and recover.

Her rescuers took her to a local veterinarian, who then referred them to ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospital, Los Angeles a few hours after she had been soaked in accelerant and purposely lit on fire.

Abigail would receive advanced medical care from several board-certified veterinary specialists as well as human burn specialists from UCLA. Over fifty percent of her small body was covered in severe burns and her initial treatment included plenty of fluids and pain medication. Her injuries were so bad that she was put into a medically induced coma for the first few days to relieve her pain.

She was hospitalized in our ICU from May to December of 2008, where she would be put under daily anesthesia to debride and clean her horrendous injuries, with our specialists ensuring she was comfortable and relatively pain free with the help of medication. Eventually, she was well enough to have several skin grafts performed to help close her wounds. Abigail’s road to recovery was long and treacherous; with the torture she endured being so incredibly inhumane, it forced some of her caregivers to tears in our hospital. Dr. Patty Paravicini, who is now an emergency and critical care resident at ACCESS LA, worked here as a veterinary assistant then; and recalls the lengthy process “she was very bad off at first, the burns covered almost sixty percent of her body. Dr. Carey had to basically re-do her skin. Luckily, she’s had a great life for 8 years now because she was adopted by a great person.”

Abigail was able to leave the hospital with her new parents and go right into her forever home thanks to the hard work done by Karma Rescue; and has been living the sweet life for the past few years, sunbathing with her family and eating to her hearts content—two of her favorite hobbies! Unfortunately, the damage done to her body still affects her today. Since Abigail’s injury, her skin is much thinner and more delicate than it would have been had she not been burned. Her mom puts veterinarian recommended sunscreen every day, but Abby’s skin has still succumb to sun damage.

We want Abigail’s story to show prospective pet owners that there is life after rescue, and that many rescued dogs can live a full, happy life when given a chance; and for anyone who suspects animal abuse to report it immediately. Your information could save the life of a voiceless creature.

Please report any suspected animal abuse to your local taskforce.

LA County | ANIMAL CRUELTY TASK FORCE

24-hour notification hotline 213-486-0450

“Animal cruelty includes any activity that causes injury, disability, or death. Examples of animal cruelty are kicking, hitting, choking, punching, hanging, stabbing, shooting, setting on fire, or electrocuting.” lapdonline.org/actf

Shannon Brown
Marketing Coordinator | ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospitals

Interventional Cardiology at ACCESS | San Fernando Valley!

Charlie, a Labrador Retriever puppy, was found by her owners at a local animal shelter in Woodland Hills. From the moment they laid eyes on her, they were in love! This energetic young pup had stolen the hearts of everyone she encountered. Unfortunately, a visit to their primary veterinarian’s office revealed that they may be something wrong with her three-month-old heart. Her doctor detected a loud heart murmur; so Charlie and her new family were referred to see Dr. Steven Cole, a board-certified veterinary cardiologist and criticalist at ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospital in the San Fernando Valley.

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Dr. Cole confirmed that Charlie had a PDA, or patent ductus arteriosus, which is a congenital vascular communication between the aorta and pulmonary artery. This is normal for humans and animals in the womb, however in some cases, this vessel fails to close normally at the time of birth. If left untreated, a PDA can cause severe cardiac enlargement, and eventual congestive heart failure (fluid in the lungs), or pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs). In fact, most dogs with an untreated PDA do not survive the first few years of life.

Although Charlie’s happy go lucky puppy personality didn’t show any signs of the PDA affecting her, she had significant heart enlargement, and it was likely that she would develop more serious complications if her condition went untreated. While a PDA was once only treatable with open-chest surgery, newer catheter-based procedures have been developed that allow cardiologists to close the abnormal vessel with specially-designed devices. These techniques generally result in an excellent outcome with few complications. Charlie’s parents decided to proceed with the minimally-invasive procedure and to save her life. While these procedures have routinely been performed at ACCESS Los Angeles, 2015, Charlie was the very first patient to be treated in the interventional radiology suite at ACCESS in the San Fernando Valley on February 5, 2015. Dr. Cole set up an additional video screen outside of the suite so that staff members could watch the surgery and learn more about interventional cardiology procedures. About 20 staff members came to view the procedure; all of them blown away by the capabilities of our cardiologists and new equipment.

Using fluoroscopy, Dr. Cole worked with Dr. Jason Arndt, a board-certified cardiologist from ACCESS Los Angeles, to see Charlie’s heart in real time. After being placed under anesthesia, Dr. Cole and Dr. Arndt made an incision that was only a few centimeters long in her hind leg. From there they were able to insert a catheter into the femoral artery and to use a contrast agent to identify and precisely measure the PDA. They were then able to implant a canine ductal occluder device directly into the PDA, effectively sealing the abnormal blood vessel and preventing excess blood flow into the lungs. While similar devices are used in humans, the ductal occlude device used by Dr. Cole is designed specifically for use in canine patients. These devices range in size from three to fourteen millimeters, and this allows for a wide variety of patients to be treated. Drs. Cole and Arndt are also able to use vascular coils to close PDAs in exceedingly small dogs that could otherwise only be treated with open-chest surgery.

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Once the device was placed, complete closure of the PDA was confirmed, and the doctors retracted the catheters, sutured the incision, and began Charlie’s recovery process. The entire procedure took about an hour, and with three technicians and two specialists it went very smoothly. Charlie was up, running around, and she was able to go home to her family the next day.

Charlie’s mom and dad were so happy with the outcome and want everyone to know that there are options to what sounds like a bleak prognosis. They were very thankful for Dr. Cole’s help, but more importantly their primary veterinarian, who noticed an irregularity and referred them to a veterinary specialist.

Shannon Brown
Marketing Coordinator | ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospitals

From Dino Doc to Exotics Doc…

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Olivia Petritz, DVM, DACZM, joined ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospital, Los Angeles, in the fall of 2013 to head up our new Avian and Exotics department. Although her future was fairly clear cut, Dr. Olivia Petritz has had a few very exciting moments along the way. We sat down with Olivia to find out what led her to veterinary medicine and learn more about her.

How did Dr. Petritz decide she wanted to work with animals?
She has always loved animals and science. Since childhood, Olivia was certain she wanted to be a paleontologist. “I wrote letters to Paleontologists all over the world from the time I was five to about eighth grade. I have big manila envelopes full of letters from about 40 countries.” Once in high school, Olivia went to visit paleontologists in several museums and realized she wanted to work with living animals. Despite her change in occupation, the Brontosaurus still has a place in her heart.

What is her favorite animal?
Great Danes and Guinea Pigs. Why? “They have great personalities!”

Why exotic animals?
Dr. Petritz’s first job was at the Columbian Park Zoo in Lafayette, Indiana, which housed several species of big cats, primates, birds, lizards, and more. At 18 years old, Olivia Petritz was simply cleaning cages and assisting staff to make sure the animals were happy and properly cared for; but she fell in love with the idea of being an exotics/zoo veterinarian and having the knowledge to treat all species. This job inspired her to become the avian and exotics specialist she is today!

What is the coolest procedure Dr. Petritz has ever done?
As a resident, Dr. Petritz treated an electric eel that had swallowed a plastic bag. “It swallowed not only the food in the bag but the whole bag as well! The bag got stuck in its mouth, and the eel couldn’t spit it out. We anesthetized the eel, removed the bag with an endoscope, and the eel did great!”

What is her favorite procedure to do?
Abscess surgery on any species. Dr. Petritz likes being able to fix, clean, and help heal patients with these infections.

Does Dr. Petritz collect anything?
“Masks. I have some from about nine different countries!”

Where is her favorite place to visit?
Dr. Petritz went to South Africa as a veterinary student. There, she helped dart and anesthetize rhinos, wildebeest and giraffe, and learned about conservation medicine. She fell in love with the country and was even able to extend her trip to see more of the area.

What’s her favorite dish?
“Anything with mashed potatoes—I’m still Midwest at heart!”

What about the Norman Rockwell painting?
Dr. Petritz’s father has been a Normal Rockwell historian for over 30 years, and has interviewed numerous people who modeled for the famous artist. Through her father’s hobby, she was able to meet the man who was the subject of Rockwell’s 1961 “The Veterinarian.” She even has a signed copy framed and hanging in her office.

What does she consider to be her greatest achievement?
“Becoming boarded in zoo and exotic medicine.” Dr. Petritz happens to be the first American and the second person in the world to become a board-certified veterinarian under the sub-specialty ZCA (Zoologic Companion Animal) in the American College of Zoological Medicine (ACZM).

What is one thing Dr. Petritz would like to tell pet owners?
Become knowledgeable about your pet before purchasing or adopting. It is so important to know about their diet, husbandry, life expectancy, and more before bringing your new family member home!

Dr. Olivia Petritz is one of over a dozen skilled and interesting doctors at ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospitals, but one of less than 200 to be board-certified in her specialty worldwide. She brings cheery optimism, fierce knowledge, and passionate dedication to each patient she works with, and we are thrilled to call her part of our team. Dr. Petritz is available by appointment Monday through Friday, but is on-call 24×7 for emergencies with the assistance of our emergency department.

 

Happy national ‪#‎LoveYourPetDay!

Although we celebrate animals every day, we’re giving our patients and pets a little extra love today. Be sure to celebrate safely with your little loved one!
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Rex, the dog with nine lives.

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In November 2014, Rex, a nine year old Chihuahua mix, was rushed by his family into the Los Angeles ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospital after collapsing at home. “Triage to the front, STAT!” rang out over the intercom as his lifeless body was brought up to our front desk. Veterinary technicians and assistants promptly dashed to the lobby to get the little guy back to the emergency room, as our triage team prepped the area so that the doctor, Dr. Nicole Skilling, was able to immediately begin chest compressions.

Dr. Skilling and her team were able to revive Rex, though suction was needed to clear the airway and due to low oxygen levels, he was intubated, which means his breathing could be done for him. Now safely on oxygen, Rex was given cardiac medication to help stabilize him. Things started to look better for the pup but when he went into cardiac arrest for the second time Dr. Skilling and her team leapt to his side once again to begin chest compressions. They were able to revive and stabilize Rex, keeping him comfortable until he was able to see our specialists the following day for further work up.

The following morning, Rex was transferred to the care of Dr. Tina Son, one of our board-certified Critical Care specialists, who kept Rex intubated on full oxygen support and medications. Board-certified veterinary cardiologist, Dr. Steven Cole then saw Rex to check his heart.

Eventually he was weaned out of the oxygen unit and allowed to eat on his own, with as much vigor as his “big heart” could muster!

Although Rex’s prognosis remained guarded and his care critical, his owners remained hopeful that their boy would make it. Slowly and almost as if by will, Rex began to recover. He was able to be extubated, which means the breathing tube was removed from his trachea, and Rex was doing well in his oxygen unit. He was sitting up, and even able to drink water on his own! Despite Rex’s exuberance, his owners and doctors insisted on taking things slowly. Eventually he was weaned out of the oxygen unit and allowed to eat on his own, with as much vigor as his “big heart” could muster!

Miraculously, Rex was discharged just three days after entering the emergency room dead on arrival; with what some may have thought was little chance of survival. No one was happier to have Rex reunited with his family more than our wonderful team of doctors and support staff….except maybe Rex and his parents.

Although Rex’s story is inspiring and resulted in a happy ending, it is important to remember that not all pets are this fortunate. That’s why it is important for pet owners to plan for emergencies. Simply knowing where the nearest 24-hour veterinary emergency hospital is can mean all the difference; because every second counts.

We wish Rex and his family all the best and look forward to following his recovery progress.

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Shannon Brown
Marketing Coordinator | ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospitals

Our clients rock!

Check out the cupcakes one of our talented clients made for Dr. Arndt, one of our cardiologists. We are so happy to have helped this family.

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Leo is back in action!

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Leo is a 5 year old French Bulldog who was referred to Dr. Jeremy O’Neill in the neurology department at ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospital – San Fernando Valley. Leo’s regular veterinarian wanted him to be evaluated by a Neurologist, given his recent difficulty walking and paralysis. Leo had an MRI done, which uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the organs and tissues within the body. The scan revealed a large herniated disc between his 3rd and 4th lumbar vertebra.

Leo’s family decided they would like to correct the issue with surgery. Leo was placed under anesthesia while Dr. O’Neill performed a hemilaminectomy to remove the herniated disc. He recovered well from anesthesia and is now walking well and recovering at home with his family.

Intervertebral disc disease is one of the most common spinal cord conditions in dogs. The neurologic signs can be span from minor back pain to something as serious as paralysis. Based on the type of disc herniation and MRI findings, treatment can vary from medical to surgical options.

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The Disney fanatic who became an RVT.

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Drew Lane is part of the surgery team at ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospital in the San Fernando Valley. This former fisherman from Maine now resides in California, working alongside the skilled hand of Dr. Jana Norris and has found his home in the veterinary world. Drew recently became a Registered Veterinary Technician and we wanted to hear all about it!

Drew came into the veterinary field as most people do, wanting to find a sense of purpose in his work, with a company that held similar values. Drew graduated with a BA in Journalism from Messiah College in Pennsylvania. After graduation, he had been working in retail until he decided to pursue something he was passionate about—helping animals. He had been working as a veterinary assistant in a specialty referral hospital when he decided to further his career.

Why did he decide to become an RVT?
As a self-proclaimed overachiever, Drew wanted to get certified for something he adores. He is proud to have a degree and a certificate in two separate fields that interest him. He worked very hard to get to where he is today, telling us “you have to go through a two year program at an AVMA accredited college for the technician program, completing two years of school and one semester of field work. I was working 40 hours a week plus going to school.” After completing the program, one must to apply to take two separate tests. Once the application has been approved, it’s time to take those tests (which each cost close to $300.00)! The state test requires knowledge of state law, and the national test encompasses nursing, anesthesia, dentistry, surgery, microbiology, pharmacology, and diagnostic imaging. Once the exams are passed, it could take a few weeks to receive the certificate. Drew also holds an Anprolene® certification, which means he is qualified to use Anprolene®, a sterilizing agent, to clean and sterilize medical tools and equipment.

What is Drew’s favorite animal?
Geriatric pugs! Drew loves, as he affectionately puts it, “crusty old pugs.” In his eyes, “older animals have a ton of emotional energy, even though they may not have the same physical energy.” Drew adopted his first little old man when he was working at a clinic in Pennsylvania. The police had found a loveable senior pug, abandoned in a parking lot and suffering from heat stroke. They took him to the vet, where after a few days in the hospital the pug, now named Dug, won Drew over. Dug lived the sweet life with his new dad for over a year before saying goodbye.

What does Drew like most about being an RVT?
He likes seeing all of the advances made in veterinary medicine in just the past fifteen years and really likes specialty medicine. As a vegetarian, Drew has very strong feelings about animal rights, and feels at home working in a place where he can “take care of animals that truly need help.”

Any tips for aspiring veterinary technicians?
“Ask questions if you don’t know something because you will always have intelligent people around you and ask for hands on experience. Challenge yourself!”

Between finishing school, his regular work schedule, and being on-call for emergencies, its surprising Drew has had any time to relax! What does this busy bee do to unwind? It should come as no surprise that this animal lover’s favorite place is the house of mouse—Disney! When Drew lived in Florida, he visited Disney World about a dozen times. Now that he lives here, he goes to Disneyland at least twice a week! Drew even has an Instagram account dedicated to all things Disney, including some amusing mishaps. Ever the well-rounded individual, Drew also enjoys the theater, landscape photography, and outdoor activities. We are so excited to congratulate another staff member who has made the choice to further their education, continues to uphold our principles, and who is an all around kind, intelligent, and dedicated person. Congratulations, Drew Lane!

We tip our hats to the other ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospital employees who became Registered Veterinary Technicians this year – Kristen Cervantes, Gabe Esparza, and Dani Meyer – congratulations on achieving your goals!

Preventing stomach upset in your pets this season.

The holiday season has just begun and there are scrumptious cookies, delectable cakes, and feasts of savory turkey waiting just around the corner! During the holidays, we find ourselves not only being thankful for our family, pets, and friends, but also in the spirit of giving. It can be so hard to say no to those big puppy dog eyes staring at us by the table! Indeed, this is by far the most common season to notice our four legged friends having gastrointestinal (GI) issues—more commonly known as a stomach ache—from table scraps or new treats they are offered with the best of intentions.

When our pets are used to eating one type of food, whether it is canned, grain-free, specialty, or store brand, the body gets used to it and normal bacterial flora grows in the GI tract. This bacteria lives happily in a specific pH that allows balance between health of the intestines and health of the bacteria.

It’s actually much more dangerous than you may think to give in and feed Fido even just the smallest piece of juicy seasoned turkey skin!

Seasonings, fat, and just simply a change in diet can cause inflammation of the entire GI tract, and sometimes the pancreas, too.  Fido’s body will try to get rid of the new substance by vomiting, which is usually followed by loose stool as it passes through the system.  It changes the pH in the intestinal tract and can kill off the good bacteria, allowing bad bacteria to grow. If there is more than one bout of vomiting or diarrhea, however, it is time to visit the vet.  Although I am gearing up for a busy season of gastroenteritis and pancreatitis cases, I hope that we can work together to minimize the GI distress by saying no to the begging this season.  Happy Holidays!

Danielle Sawyer, DVM
Emergency and Critical Care Resident
ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospital – Los Angeles

 

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Locations

South Bay

2551 W. 190th St., Torrance, CA 90504

Tel: (310) 320-8300 - Fax: (424) 293-7254

Los Angeles

9599 Jefferson Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232

Tel: (310) 558-6100 - Fax: (310) 558-6199

San Fernando Valley

20051 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills, CA 91364

Tel: (818) 887-2262 - Fax: (818) 704-0323

Central Valley

4300 Easton Drive, Bakersfield, CA 93309

Tel: (661) 281-1320 - Fax: (661) 302-4193

Click here for maps (and to find directions)