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


Lance: A Southern Gent in SoCal…


Lance is one of our many sweet, insightful, and talented ER team members. We work with him every day and wanted to know more about who is he and what brought him from Houston, Texas to Southern California.

Why Veterinary Medicine?
“It found me” says Lance. After high school, Lance attended the University of Texas and soon returned to his roots in Houston. He has always loved animals and attended a job fair where he found a career as a veterinary assistant. He was able to do some on the job training and eventually earned his Certified Veterinary Assistant certification, or CVA. It’s been all animals, all the time ever since!

What does Lance like about emergency medicine?
Lance actually prefers the ICU, where our most delicate and critical patients are. He finds that he is able to remain calm under pressure and fits in with a fast paced environment. Lance is “comfortable in the hustle and bustle and likes having the ability to save a life.”

Where is his favorite place to visit?
Lance loved visiting Germany and Europe! Ever the traveler, he also enjoys Mexico, the Caribbean, and seeing places with rich history and culture.

What is Lance’s favorite animal?
Big cats! Lance has loved cheetahs ever since he was little—their speed caught his attention, as they’re the fastest land animal! Lance also loves domestic cats since he “finds their personalities intriguing. They’re sensitive, so you have to treat them gently. One cat may not like having his back feet touched, another might love to be petted. Veterinary medicine is all about figuring out the pieces of the puzzle to make it work.”

What would he be doing if he weren’t at ACCESS?
Lance could see himself working at a pharmaceutical company, following his passion for science and problem solving.

What is Lance’s favorite dish?
Pizza and barbecue, of course!

Does Lance collect anything?
He used to collect baseball cards and had over 5,000! Now, Lance is working on his collections of gold and silver pieces, family heirlooms, and old books. His favorites? Shakespearean books from the 1800s.

What are his tips for pet owners?
Please understand that the animal emergency process is similar to that of the human side—the most critical patients come first.“We get emotional too.” Lance adds. From the front desk staff to the technicians and assistants, to the doctors, we all want the best for the little guys and are just as emotional as the pet owners.

What is the most challenging case Lance has ever had?
Lance will never forget a sweet little cat from his very first year in the veterinary world. The cat had been severely burned in a house fire and he still vividly remembers that night as the most emotionally trying night of his career.

Lance does enjoy a good challenge though, which is why he enjoys emergencies. He helped in a save a Weimaraner with a twisted lung. Lance sat with the pup all night long to make sure he was comfortable and receiving all of the treatments he needed to survive the night before his emergency surgery. The pup lived, and Lance continues on in the field that stole his heart.

What does he consider his greatest achievement?
“Helping take care of my niece and nephew in Texas.” Lance is close with his family and found fulfillment in guiding his young relatives and watching them grow up and become good people.

When he’s not working, you can find Lance hanging out with friends, enjoying a good barbecue meal, or keeping up on the latest advancements in veterinary medicine. Lance brings a positive attitude, humble know-how, and a heaping helping of manners to each and every day he works. Lance is one of Lead Technicians for the emergency room, which means he is the go-to guy on his shifts and he recently took over scheduling for all of our technicians! We are lucky to have Lance on our team and hope that you say hi to him the next time you visit us!



Kiki’s Nephrolithotomy: Big Word, Little Dog.

Surgically Assisted Nephrolithotomy

What to do with complicated kidney stones in dogs? Laser them out!

Kiki is a beautiful four-year-old female spayed Japanese Chin who was kindly rescued with pre-existing kidney issues and an abnormal eye. Kiki repeatedly saw Dr. Erinne Branter, head of our interventional radiology department, for kidney stones and kidney disease. The kidney stones were not able to be medically dissolved and as a result, Kiki kept having painful urinary tract infections.


Often, kidney stones can be left alone if they are not causing any issues, but Kiki had developed stones causing obstructions to her kidneys by blocking the ureter, the tube that brings urine to the bladder from the kidney.

Dr. Branter discussed options to remove the kidney stone with Kiki’s owners—shockwave lithotripsy from outside the body, lasering the stone in the kidney in a minimally invasive way, or a surgery where the kidney is cut open to remove the stone.


Kiki’s owners opted to remove the stone with a nephrolithotomy, a minimally-invasive procedure to remove stones from the kidney by using a small catheter through a small incision, and then place a ureteral stent. This made sure the kidney had very little damage and that all the stones were able to be removed. We used a combination of minimally invasive approaches to the kidney to reduce damage to kidney tissue. We then used an endoscope and a laser to break up the stone and make stone fragments that were small enough to be removed without damaging the kidneys.


This entire process is called a nephrolithotomy (kidney stone removal) and is the standard of care for humans with complicated kidney stones. Although few have been done in veterinary medicine, Kiki was able to go through the procedure without any issues and is recovering very well with no negative changes in her kidney values or function. We are thrilled to report that little Kiki is now stone free! Many pet owners do not know that their pets can suffer from many of the same illnesses that humans do. Unfortunately, pets suffering from illness can also experience the same pain and discomfort as we do, though they may be better at hiding it.

If you suspect your pet is experiencing urinary issues, contact your primary veterinarian right away.

Key words for pet owners:

  • Kidney stones- A hard mass formed in the kidneys
  • Lithotripsy- A treatment, typically using ultrasound shock waves, by which a kidney stone or other calculus is broken into small particles that can be passed out by the body
  • Nephrolithotomy- A minimally-invasive procedure to remove stones from the kidney by a small puncture wound (up to about 1 cm) through the skin
  • Stone retrieval- A process in which a doctor retrieves and removes stones from within the body
  • Ureteral stent- A thin, flexible tube threaded into the ureter
  • Ureteral stones- Stones that form within the ureter
  • Urinary obstruction- An obstruction that occurs within the urinary tract. Obstructions in the urinary tract cause distension of the walls of the bladder, ureter, or renal pelvis, depending on the location of the obstruction
  • Urinary stones- Stones that form within the urinary tract
  • Urinary tract infection- An infection in any part of the urinary system, the kidneys, bladder, or urethra


This is why we’re here!

Giovanni was hospitalized at ACCESS LA (#ACCESSLA)and became best friends with Leo. We pride ourselves on patient care–not only making sure that they are treated medically, but also cared for emotionally.

Leo did a great job of making Giovanni happy and comfortable!



From Sudden Paralysis to Up and Running…

SimbaSimba, a male Chihuahua, came in to ACCESS LA for suddenly not being able to walk. This can be very unnerving for many owners, as there are several reasons for how this may have happened. Luckily, Simba was in the care of Dr. Clarisa Robles in our Neurology Department. After some diagnostics, Dr. Robles concluded that Simba had a condition called atlanto-axial subluxation, or AA Lux for short.

This means the first two bones in Simba’s neck were unstable in relation to each other. This can be very dangerous, as an AA Lux causes compression of the spinal cord, resulting in signs as mild as neck pain to complete paralysis of all limbs.

After speaking with Simba’s owner and discussing all of the options and possible outcomes, it was decided that Simba would go through surgery to correct this scary issue. Along with technicians and assistants to monitor anesthesia and assist with the procedure, Dr. Robles was able to stabilize these two bones with screws and bone cement. After some time for careful recovery, we are pleased to say that Simba is walking well these days and back to creating mischief!

If you suspect your pet has a back, neck, spinal, or brain injury, please contact your veterinarian right away.


No Stone Left Unturned…


Ozzie is a beautiful 12 year old Himalayan cat who was referred to Dr. Erinne Branter at ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospital, Los Angeles, after being hospitalized for several days at his primary veterinarian’s office with a right ureteral obstruction. Ureteral obstructions are blockages that prohibit urine to drain from the bladder and can be caused by blood clots, mucus, crystals, strictures, tumors, or in Ozzie’s case, stones. Blockages are no walk in the park for any patient—animal or human— but can be deadly to dogs and cats. Untreated, a blockage can cause death due to complete kidney shut down.

Typically, a stent (tube that links the kidney to the bladder) can be placed to help a patient’s body pass the urine and stones. Ozzie had a stent implanted previously, which worked well for him for some time. Unfortunately, some patients are simply prone to re-obstruction, and in Ozzie’s case this called for a different approach.

Dr. Branter, the head of our Interventional Radiology Department, consulted with Ozzie’s owners, and it was decided that a subcutaneous ureteral bypass, or SUB, would be placed to help Ozzie pass urine.

(Click on image for larger view.)

The SUB works as a secondary ureter, having one end of a small catheter implanted into the kidney and leading to the port, which rests under the skin, and connects to the end of the catheter which leads to the bladder. The port makes it possible for a veterinarian to flush the catheters to obtain urine samples for testing; while the catheter acts as a filter for the urine, making it possible for the fluid to pass through successfully.


Dr. Branter performed the SUB placement alongside Dr. Kim Carey, an ACCESS surgeon. With two veterinary technicians to assist and another to monitor the anesthesia, Ozzie was in good hands. The sub was placed successfully and they also were able to extract fat cells to culture stem cells. Ozzie’s stem cells will be used to help his kidney function in the future. It is not uncommon for cats to stop eating while they are under stress from being out of their normal environment, so Ozzie also had an esophageal feeding tube, or e-tube, temporarily placed to help him during his recovery process. After recovering well from anesthesia, Ozzie stayed in our hospital for a few days to be monitored after his surgery. It’s safe to say that Ozzie stole all of our hearts here during his stay, and we are so happy to have been able to help him.

Ozzie’s case is not uncommon, though it may be hard for some owners to recognize the signs of an emergency with their cat. Symptoms of ureteral blockages may include change in appetite and general signs of lethargy, vomiting, or reduced appetite. These are not typical “urinary” signs as seen with bladder or urethral issues, but they should be evaluated by a doctor.

If you think your cat may be blocked, call your primary veterinarian immediately. Additionally, if your cat has elevated kidney values, please have him or her checked with an ultrasound of the kidneys. This is very important as you can significantly improve kidney function by addressing ureteral obstructions.


Shannon Brown
Marketing Coordinator | ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospitals


The Hot Facts About Heat Stroke and Your Dog


It’s summertime— the sun is bright and the days are long. You’d like to go for a jog with your best friend and there’s a nice breeze, so you suspect that it is not too hot… Fido should be fine!  What you don’t know is that serious injury could be lurking right outside your door, for you and your pet.

Did you know that when dogs pant it helps cool their bodies much like sweating cools us down? Panting is their main cooling mechanism; without the ability to pant, they overheat.

If you put a muzzle on your dog, or any other device that prevents the mouth from opening wide enough to pant, you could cause your dog to overheat.
Sometimes, even if a dog is able to pant, the body can get so hot that the heat buildup overwhelms the panting mechanism and heat stroke can ensue. Imagine that your dog is a car—if your car isn’t able to run properly, it can overheat and breakdown. Unfortunately, if your dog overheats, he or she could die.

It is important to note that the temperature outside doesn’t matter. It could be 70 degrees with a breeze and your dog could still get heat exhaustion or worse. Dogs particularly susceptible to overheating on walks are brachycephalic breeds (dogs with a short snout) like Bulldogs, Pugs, Brussels, and Griffons; overweight dogs; and thick coated dogs such as Huskies, German Shepherds, and Bernese Mountain Dogs.

Please, never leave your pet in a car. On a 78 degree day, the temperature in a car, even with windows cracked, can elevate to 120 degrees within minutes.

Signs indicating that your pet is overheating and has potential for heat stroke include: lethargy, vomiting, shallow breaths, seizures, and confusion. If you note any of these signs, you must immediately remove your pet from the heat source, give your pet water to drink, fan your pet,and allow him or her to rest. In severe cases of heat stroke, you may wet the dog’s body with room temperature to slightly cool water. However, please be careful because if the water is too cold, it could shock the system. It is important to see a veterinarian right away if mild or severe signs of heat injury appear.

Summer should be full of time outside and fun with family, friends, and your pooch. Please be safe and play outside on cooler days, as well as earlier or later in the day for short amounts of time on warmer days. Always be sure there is plenty of water for Fido, and if there are any signs of overheating, rest your dog and seek veterinary advice immediately. Also, be sure to report any animals inside of a car to the proper authorities. You could save a voiceless creature’s life.