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.