Chloe: Vet Tech, Animal Lover, Cancer Survivor…

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Chloe Thum is one of the many talented Registered Veterinary Technicians who works in our interventional radiology department at ACCESS Los Angeles. This bilingual California native brightens our workday with an ever-present smile, constant optimism, and total adoration for her patients. We wanted to find out more about what led Chloe to ACCESS, so we spoke with her about her interest in veterinary medicine, her battle with cancer, and her “Beast Master” skills.

What brought Chloe to ACCESS?
She is from Northern California and decided to come to Los Angeles when her sister, then a veterinary student, came to ACCESS for an externship. Chloe ended up working with us as a veterinary assistant, saying “this hospital trained me as a tech, I owe a lot to this place.” After leaving to work in an oncology practice (and later a general one) she completed her RVT and, returned to ACCESS to work in our interventional radiology department.

Why veterinary medicine?
Chloe was diagnosed with stage IV cancer and was in renal failure at just 18 years of age. Against all odds and after two years of chemotherapy and radiation, Chloe beat cancer and came out of the ordeal with a new best friend, her Samoyed named Jenner. Jenner is a recovery dog and went to all of Chloe’s college classes with her. After graduating from UC Berkeley with degrees in Spanish and Anthropology, Chloe fell in love with dogs and felt it was time to take care of others – in this case, animals.

Why did Chloe become an RVT?
“It opens doors. With a certification you can do rehab work, and even work in many facilities in South America.”

What is her favorite place to visit?
“I loved the Peruvian jungle! It was beautiful and filled with awesome birds and animals.”

What is Chloe’s favorite animal?
This was a tough one for Chloe, but she narrowed it down to birds (specifically raptors and parrots) and dogs. Though she says all dogs are amazing, she prefers the big, wooly breeds.

What is her favorite thing to do at the hospital?
Although Chloe works in our interventional radiology department, which utilizes fluoroscopy to do minimally invasive lifesaving procedures, she loves the basics! She really enjoys caring for patients, making sure they’re comfortable, well fed, and loved. She also really enjoys anything with abscesses. There’s a satisfaction to providing immediate relief for a patient and cleaning out an infected area.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
“Getting my RVT license. I was working full time in the veterinary field during the day and coming home to work on my license at night. It’s no joke—it’s medical boards! …oh, and I beat cancer!” Luckily, Chloe has been cancer free for ten years, and we couldn’t be more thankful for that!

What is the most challenging case she’s ever had?
Chloe’s most emotionally challenging case involved one of our beloved patients, a yellow lab who was anemic and had kidney disease. Chloe became very close with the family and was one of many staff members who fell in love with the sweet dog. It was very difficult to watch the dog’s health decline.

Chloe, a self-proclaimed Beast Master, has raised wildlife in the past! This was one of the most challenging yet rewarding times in her veterinary career, as young raccoons and crows require great attention and care.

What are her tips for pet owners?
Chloe tells pet owners to “pay attention, animals will tell you when something is wrong. Spay and neuter for the love of God!” She also wants to advise owners to speak with their primary veterinarian before changing their diet.

Does she have any advice for me?
Chloe’s best advice to anyone is to “laugh loudly and work hard” and we couldn’t agree more!

“She is amazing. She’s so talented and intelligent” says coworker Krystle. Always willing to lend a hand to those who need help, Chloe’s caring, devoted, happy demeanor is absolutely contagious. You can catch Chloe nurturing her patients at ACCESS, Los Angeles working alongside Dr. Erinne Branter and her skilled team. Outside of work Chloe likes to read, collect original contemporary art pieces, and sing folk music.

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Dr. Annie Lo: A Cut Above the Rest…

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We are thrilled to announce that Annie Lo, DVM, DACVS is now a board-certified veterinary surgeon. Dr. Lo, a California native who grew up in San Francisco, received an undergraduate degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of California, Berkeley in 2000, after which she extended her studies with research in human hematology.

In 2009, Annie completed her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at the University of Illinois, going on to complete a small animal surgical and medical internship at the University of Pennsylvania, where she stayed on as a Small Animal Surgical resident.

Today, fully entrenched in the Department of Surgery at ACCESS Animal Specialty Hospital in Los Angeles, she is a highly regarded doctor, with interests in minimally invasive procedures (laparoscopy, thoracoscopy, and arthroscopy), surgical oncology, reconstructive wound surgery, emergency surgery, urinary tract surgery, and various orthopedic procedures. Dr. Lo enjoys reading, gardening, and crafting. She has a special interest in origami, and utilizes her penchant for precision to create beautiful paper flowers.

We want to congratulate Dr. Lo on such an impressive accomplishment!

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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

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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.

 

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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

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Good Luck Dr. Blackburn!

This week we said goodbye to Amanda Blackburn, DVM, DACVIM, one of our amazing internal medicine specialists at ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospital, Los Angeles.

Dr. Blackburn is a California native who grew up in Leona Valley, California and has been with us for over four years. Those who know her have seen her dedication, compassion, and intelligence at work.

However, there’s another side to our beloved doctor… she’s also a triathlete! She loves cycling and even met her now fiancé in a bike race in Italy. We will miss this bicycle riding, jellybean loving, incredible doctor and friend, but we are so happy for the new practice she will work at in San Francisco, because we know Dr. Blackburn will be an amazing addition to their team!

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