Tails from the road… The Hippest Joint!

The Hippest Joint for Surgery Lectures is Western U!

We were asked to lecture at Western University in Pomona on surgery and Annie Lo, DVM, DACVS stepped up to the plate! She discussed the ins and outs of cranial cruciate ligament disease for almost 60 veterinary students. This was a surgery topic the students requested and we were more than happy to oblige. Thanks for having us, Western!


Tails from the road… Shake your tail feather!

Dr. Karen Schachterle and Jillian, our Director of Community Relations, hit the road and braved the heat to bring a lecture on Avian Physical Exams & Clinical Techniques to Bakersfield Veterinary Hospital.

The seven doctors in attendance loved having a Lunch and Learn so they can work with us to provide the best care for all the different types of birds they may encounter and the clients who love them. Thanks BVH for having ACCESS at your beautiful practice!


Snuggle Break…

All of our patients are not only medically cared for, but mentally and emotionally cared for as well! We are so fortunate to have such loving coworkers and staff that interact with our patients each day and were lucky enough to catch Kristen and Fancy during a snuggle session.


Belly full of metal…


Dr. Erinne Branter and Koda

Belly Full Of Metal Leads To Diagnosis Of A Congenital Liver Shunt.
Koda’s Second Chance!

Koda Taylor, a striking, young Siberian Husky, was living in a local shelter when his new mom found him, hours before he was scheduled to be euthanized. After being adopted, Koda was taken to a primary veterinarian for an examination, as his history was unknown and his new family wanted to make sure he was getting the best start to his new life.

During the exam, the doctor noticed something wasn’t right. After some x-rays were done, it was revealed that Koda had a ton of metal in his belly! A buckle, a bolt, some pins, parts of leashes—it was apparent that this pup need help and quick! Koda had surgery done with his primary veterinarian to remove the foreign objects and the surgery was successful, but something still wasn’t right. Koda went on to see several primary care veterinarians, a few told his mom to euthanize because something was wrong with him mentally.

A buckle, a bolt, some pins, parts of leashes—it was apparent that this pup need help and quick!
Koda’s mom had a hunch that this pup had something else going on, so she continued on, and found a neurologist to evaluate his abnormal behavior. The neurologist referred them to an internal medicine specialist who finally saw what was causing the trouble, this time, it was Koda’s liver.

Koda’s liver was small and his bloodwork revealed his liver values were very high. His internist diagnosed him with liver shunt, an intrahepatic portosystemic shunt, to be exact. A liver shunt is a blood vessel that carries blood around the liver instead of through it. In some animals, they are born with a liver shunt (congenital) though in others, multiple small shunts can form because of severe liver disease. If left untreated, a liver shunt can cause toxins to build up in the bloodstream or kidneys as well as abnormal behavior, and eventually liver failure. Koda was prescribed a strict diet and medications to help him through the time between the diagnosis and his next appointment and was referred to Dr. Erinne Branter, an internal medicine specialist and the head of the Interventional Radiology and Endoscopy Department at ACCESS LA.

Dr. Branter recommended a contrast CT angiogram and this found that young Koda had one large right sided shunt. Options were discussed with Koda’s family such as; surgery and medical management vs. a minimally invasive approach via a percutaneous transjugular coil embolization, or PTCE. They agreed that the best choice for their family and Koda would be the PTCE, which is a minimally invasive procedure that would correct the intrahepatic portosystemic shunt in Koda’s liver with much less risk than traditional surgery.


Between the adoption fees, foreign body removal, examinations, medications, CT scans, and more, the bills were starting to pile up. Wanting to provide her sweet pup with the best care possible, Koda’s mom looked for help with a group of local Husky lovers. They helped her create social networking pages to raise money and awareness for Koda, who was suffering from a congenital liver shunt. So began Koda’s Hope. Relying on the kindness and generosity of others, the Taylor family began their fundraising journey. Little by little, donations came in and Koda’s family was able to pay for his surgery.

Then, in July of 2015, Koda and Dr. Branter met again. Koda was placed under anesthesia and brought into the very first purpose-built interventional radiology suite for animals on the West Coast. From there, Dr. Branter used fluoroscopy, a live video x-ray, to perform the PTCE, where a catheter is inserted into the jugular and is guided it all the way down to the liver. Dr. Branter then used an angiogram, which is an x-ray test that uses a special dye and fluoroscopy to take pictures of the blood flow in an artery or a vein, to confirm the size and location of the shunt.

Once the location was confirmed, Dr. Branter placed a caval stent, then brought six embolic coils down to Koda’s liver and placed them at the location of the shunt entry into the cava to increase the pressure around it and divert blood flow back into the liver.

Koda had very little recovery time as opposed to a traditional surgery.
In just a few hours, Dr. Branter had successfully corrected the liver shunt and Koda was waking up from surgery. Being that the PTCE is a minimally invasive procedure, Koda had very little recovery time as opposed to a traditional surgery, and was able to go home in just two days. Of course, with any surgery, there are precautions one needs to take—Koda wasn’t allowed to have any leashes or collars around his neck and was ordered to kick back and relax for the first few days home to ensure his body healed properly.

Everything went well and Koda healed beautifully. He now has a long, bright future full of loving his family and raising awareness for liver shunt in dogs like himself.

Keywords: liver shunt, congenital liver shunt, percutaneous transjugular coil embolization, minimally invasive treatment of liver shunts, caval stent, liver failure, elevated liver enzymes

Tails from the road… (Yum. Pies.)


Jillian, our Director of Community Relations, is a busy bee. Visiting primary veterinarians, scooting around organizing community events, and chatting with folks about animal specialty care is hard work – particularly in a southern Californian summer.

It’s also, apparently, hungry work. But no, these pies aren’t for her. Being her usual generous and considerate self, she decided to share a piece of pie with primary veterinarians she’ll meet today. (She tells us, “it didn’t take long before all I had left were empty boxes and crumbs on the back seat of my car.”)

Keep an eye out for Jillian in her ACCESS car which you just can’t miss, be sure to say hi, and stay tuned for more ‘tails from the road.’


An East Coast Native With A Passion For Client Care…


Walter observing a surgical procedure as part of the training at ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospitals.

Walter is one of our many great Client Care Representatives at ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospital – Los Angeles. Clients will recognize Walter’s cheerful demeanor, helpful tendencies, and immense friendliness; but there’s much more to this superstar Client Care Representative!

We just had to learn more about Walter, so we chatted with him to learn about his experiences and more!

Why veterinary medicine?
Walter was interested in veterinary medicine since childhood. He’s happy to be able to be in a place where he can learn more about the field and is “fascinated by all of the specialties offered for pets.”

Why Client Care?
Walter has years of experience in customer service and enjoys being able to utilize those skills by helping clients and supporting them during their time with us.

What brought Walter to California?
This Long Island, NY native couldn’t resist the relaxed environment and picture perfect weather that SoCal had to offer! Walter made the big move from New York to California about three years ago and has fallen absolutely in love with his new home. Although he liked the hustle and bustle and misses his family, he is happy in the golden state.

Where is his favorite place to visit?
Walter loves any location with a beach, which is why he is very fond of Miami and recently went to St. Croix. He loves to travel and hopes to see more of what the world has to offer.

What is Walter’s favorite animal?
He loves birds—African Grey Parrots to be exact! Walter finds the African Grey to be “pretty and majestic” and is intrigued by their long lifespan.

What is his favorite meal?
Although Walter absolutely loves seafood, his favorites being lobster and shrimp, his true favorite food is a homemade bread. A West Indian dish with a secret family recipe that has been handed down from his grandmother to his mother, “bake” is a sweet bread that Walter recalls lovingly. “We had it with breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and around the holidays” says Walter. Even though this East Coast native has found a home in sunny California, he truly misses his mother’s cooking, especially her bake.

What is the best thing that Walter cooks?
“Cereal. I’m not a very good cook” laughs Walter.

Does he collect anything?
Walter has a small collection of Game Boy games.

What is Walter’s advice for pet owners?
“Find a primary veterinarian. Many issues can be addressed with your primary veterinarian before they become an emergency. Plus, you’re able to build a relationship with that doctor as opposed to seeing someone on an emergency basis.” Walter also says to use caution when treating your pet at home, as any treatment without the direction of a veterinarian has the potential to cause harm to an animal.

What is the most challenging case he’s ever had?
Many people don’t know that each and every member of our staff is touched by each patient that comes through our doors. Walter was especially moved by the story of a young female Terrier, who had been abused and neglected by her owners. The young dog had been dragged by a bicycle and the fur on the top of her paws had been rubbed off. Walter was so worried about what was going to happen to the little pup, but luckily, the person relinquished ownership and gave her to a very responsible animal lover. Walter was relieved to see such a sweet animal find a good home. Walter also gets attached to many of the pets and families that come to ACCESS. He enjoys keeping up with them during their visits, over the phone, and even writing personal notes in the cards that are sent to the pet owners.

What is Walter’s favorite treatment or procedure?
Walter had the opportunity to gown up and observe a fracture repair done by one of our board-certified surgeons, Dr. Kim Carey! Walter said it was “awesome. Dr. Carey was so meticulous.” It was a great experience and Walter was able to see the patient through the whole process—from check in to procedure to check out.

What is his greatest achievement?
When Walter moved from the East Coast to Southern California, he didn’t know anyone and didn’t have a job or apartment set up. Since then, he’s been able to find a job he is passionate about, an apartment he loves, and has made friendships that will last a life time. Walter is proud for the chances he’s taken and the success that he has found.

We are so lucky to have such an incredible person on our team and we are thankful for Walter’s passion, persistence, and optimism.


From left to right: Dr. Kim Carey, Walter, and Ariana, Walter’s Client Care coworker.

We love Good Samaritans!


Without the Good Samaritans who see an injured or ill animal and ask for help, so many pets wouldn’t get the care and treatment they need. Unfortunately, ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospitals are simply not equipped with the space or staff to care for the volume of homeless animals in the area.

Additionally, we have an obligation that requires the person presenting the pet to take responsibility for it. This means that the person has to pay for services, but more importantly, they must make medical decisions for the pet. Obviously, this is an emotional challenge for many individuals, so we ask that you help us by routing those in need to the proper direction.

We encourage all Good Samaritans to take any found animals to the appropriate facility for their species so that they receive medical attention and have the chance to be put in front of thousands of families who are looking to adopt a new pet!

If you have found an animal in need of medical care, please consult the following locations who are able to accept animals.

For Wildlife
California Wildlife Center—
“If you have found a wild animal that appears to be sick, injured, abandoned or in danger, please call our emergency hotline number. 310.458.WILD [9453]”

Culver City Animal Services: (310) 253-6143
San Pedro International Bird Rescue: (310) 514-2573

For Dogs and Cats
City of Los Angeles—
“Individuals may bring an animal to the nearest shelter, or contact the shelter and field personnel will respond. Veterinary medical staff will examine the animal, provide treatment if appropriate and make the animal available for adoption if it is not claimed by its owner. If an animal is critically ill or injured, does not respond to treatment, it will be humanely euthanized.

Shelters are open Sundays 11:00AM to 5:00PM and closed Mondays and Holidays but are open for receiving animals 24 hours daily. (888) 452-7381”

Didn’t find an animal but still want to help? In addition to financial contributions, you can donate food, blankets, bedding, toys, treats, and more to your local rescue or shelter. Many shelters and rescues will accept those items for a variety species!

To Find A Lost Pet
Check out and as well as Los Angeles Animal Services.


Introducing the ACCESS CARES Initiative

We understand the importance of caring and going above and beyond the confines of our hospitals for both humans and animals, which is why we have begun the ACCESS CARES Initiative. Through this, we will be reaching out to those in our community for education and in-hospital experiences, as well as turning inward and connecting with our coworkers.

Because we believe in taking care of yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically, we have begun ACCESS CARES: Compassion Fatigue Training Program, exclusively for ACCESS Employees, provided by board-certified psychologist, Dr. Kathleen Ayl. We are certain that providing support and training for our staff will result in healthier, happier caregivers.

Each department will spend one hour learning about how to recognize, treat, and recover from Compassion Fatigue, as well as how to help their coworkers, family members, and pet parents who may be struggling as well. Additionally, each employee will have the opportunity to have a private, confidential session with Dr. Ayl to talk about anything that may be on their mind.

We’re excited to launch this program this month and look forward to having our second set of sessions around the holidays. From there, we’ll have this training every six months to support and guide those we work with.

Although these sessions are specifically tailored for veterinary team members, Dr. Ayl’s services are open to anyone. Please call the ACCESS Hospital nearest you for more information on counseling.

Shannon Brown
Marketing Coordinator | ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospitals