From the Client Perspective: Tucker


Heather searched Petfinder every day for over a year looking for just the right dog. It wasn’t until an ordinary Saturday morning that she was headed to Costco, that an “Adoption Day” sign outside of PetSmart reeled her in. She saw Tucker immediately and fell in love. His big ears and sweet, lovable personality stole her heart. She stood there holding him for over two hours when the people running the adoption said, “Ma’am, you’re going to have to make a decision, we have to hit the road in about 15 minutes.” They only accepted cash so Heather bolted across the parking lot, hit up an ATM and minutes later, Tucker was hers.

At home, Tucker proved to be an extraordinarily sweet dog with a passion for the outdoors. Squirrels, rabbits and deer were daily visitors and Tucker could chase them all day. Heather said the hardest thing about training Tucker was that he wasn’t food motivated, “he learned how to open the front door as a pup and would run around the block for hours! Neighbors would bring out an entire rotisserie chicken and he still wouldn’t come. He thought it was all just a fun game!” Life with Tucker was great as the next nine years went by, and now they’ve added Adam, Heather’s fiance, to their family. Tucker is a part of everything that they do.

One day after work, Heather and Adam came home and found Tucker upstairs laying on the bed having trouble breathing. “His tail was wagging, but he was working so hard to get air.” They took him outside for a walk hoping they were overreacting, but his breathing was still restricted. His nostrils were flaring, the rise and fall of his chest was off, and he was coughing intermittently. Heather and Adam knew something was wrong. “We stayed awake the entire night watching over him. We knew our vet’s office opened up at 9am, so at 8:30am we began calling every three minutes until someone answered.”

Tucker-Enjoying-Life“We explained what was happening and they told us to come in right away,” Heather said. “We took a video of Tucker’s breathing to show the doctors and after listening to his chest, they took him back for an X-ray.” The doctor came out a few minutes later and said, “I’m so sorry, there is something in his chest.” Heather and Adam were devastated. Their vet recommended that they bring him to NorthStar VETS. Heather called to to let them know they were on their way. The family of three got back into their car and made the trip to Robbinsville. “I was sobbing the entire way,” said Heather.

Air was escaping into Tucker's chest, creating a life-threatening situation.

Air was escaping into Tucker’s chest, creating a life-threatening situation.

Tucker had his chest tapped, which means that air was removed from his chest allowing the organs to sit properly again.

Tucker had his chest tapped, which means that air was removed from his chest allowing the organs to sit properly again.

When they arrived at NorthStar VETS, they were greeted at the front desk and a technician was out within seconds to get treatment started. “Everyone was warm and reassuring to us, which gave a sense of comfort that we brought him to the best possible place.” Heather and Adam were taken to an exam room for privacy as they were visibly upset. Dr. Laura Tasker of the Emergency and Critical Care team came in and explained what had happened. Tucker had a pneumothorax, which is a dangerous condition where air escapes from the lungs and fills the chest cavity. Dr. Tasker calmly explained that a chest tap was necessary, which is a procedure where they remove the air with a needle, to give him some relief and allow the organs to re-expand. Heather said, “Dr. Tasker was so patient and kind. You could immediately feel her love of animals and knew that she wanted what was best for Tucker.” Heather and Adam trusted her and agreed to the chest tap.

Dr. Tasker returned to the exam room and said that the procedure went well but that unfortunately, she was concerned that it would happen again. She reviewed the potential causes of a pneumothorax. These range in severity from cancer to tiny blisters that form on the lungs called blebs or bulla. She reviewed the corresponding treatments, recovery times and life expectancies associated with each. Heather and Adam were devastated about the possibilities. They asked a ton of questions to better understand and Dr. Tasker stayed with them as if she was family. “She was better than any human doctor I’ve ever had. I could feel her heart hurting for us, so I trusted her expertise and opinions.”

Tucker-Drop-OffDr. Tasker called them into another room to review the before and after X-rays. She explained that Tucker had to be admitted overnight and that a CT scan the next morning would diagnose the cause and provide better direction with what options Tucker had.

Before they left for the night, a technician brought Tucker to them again. “It was an emotional moment for us,” said Heather, “we weren’t sure if it would be the last time we saw him.”

The next morning, Heather and Adam received a call from Dr. Steven Berkowitz of the Emergency and Critical Care team. Dr. Berkowitz said that he did well overnight and that they should expect a call from the surgeon at noon to discuss the CT results. He advised that it would be ideal to make a decision quickly. Tucker would be under anesthesia and that if he needed surgery, which was highly likely, they wanted to limit the risks of sedation. “Our number one priority was quality and longevity of life” Heather recalled.

Dr. Barri Sarowitz of the NorthStar VETS Surgery team called Heather and Adam a few hours later and explained that there was no mass or cancer, which was a huge relief. She said that it was blebs on his lungs and that they had to open Tucker’s chest to find and remove the source of the leak. The surgeon allowed them a few minutes to discuss it privately and only a few minutes later Heather and Adam called back and said, “do the surgery.”

About five painstaking hours later, the doctor called and said that the surgery went well and that he had come out of the anesthesia. The surgeons removed two lung lobes where the air was leaking into the chest. They said they would keep him for at least a night or two to recover. Heather and Adam were so relieved, “it felt like the first breath we had taken in days,” Heather said.

Tucker stayed in the Intensive Care Unit with Dr. Berkowitz for continued monitoring. “Dr. Berkowitz called us regularly with updates. We knew Tucker was being well taken care of by the way Dr. Berkowitz talked about him. He explained his personality and details of what he was doing, which every dog mom knows is so important to hear.”

They kept close tabs which Heather said, “the doctors and staff didn’t seem to mind at all. They all were so kind.” Heather said that she will never forget the call she received from Dr. Berkowitz only two days after his surgery. “I was at Bed Bath and Beyond and when I saw the number, I was so hopeful it was the good news we were waiting for. He called to say that it was time to take him home! I told Dr. Berkowitz that I loved him and for sure, did a little dance right there in the aisle!”

Tucker-Going-HomeWhen Heather and Adam got to NorthStar VETS, Dr. Berkowitz came out to greet them. He went over the medications Tucker would be on and gave instructions for caring for him at home post-surgery. “Dr. Berkowitz was so wonderful. He felt like family and was so patient with all of my questions. He let us know exactly what to expect which was really helpful. Tucker came out a few minutes later and we were headed home to be a family again.”

Today, Tucker is getting back to normal at home. “We’ve made accommodations for him,” said Heather. “We’ve been sleeping with our mattress on the floor so Tucker can still be with us at night. We’re still trying to keep him from getting too much activity, which is truly the hardest part. He’s going for walks again and loves laying in the grass in his t-shirts! We’re so grateful to the team at NorthStar VETS for their expertise, compassion and for allowing us to continue our life with Tucker!”

Tucker-at-HomeTucker-WalkTucker-T-shirtTucker-Resting

Learn more about the Emergency and Critical Care service at NorthStar VETS.


Laura Tasker, DVM, CVMALaura Tasker, DVM, CVMA
Dr. Tasker earned her bachelor of science degree in animal science from the University of Delaware. She continued her veterinary studies at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, with a year of clinical training at Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She completed an internship in emergency and critical care at the Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center in Levittown, Pennsylvania. Her professional interests include trauma stabilization, wound care, and metabolic diseases. She is certified in both large and small animal veterinary acupuncture, and has a particular interest in pain management. Outside of NorthStar VETS, Dr. Tasker enjoys spending time with her family and friends, playing with her Australian Shepherd, and all things horses.

Steven Berkowitz, DVM (practice limited to emergency and critical care)Steven Berkowitz, DVM (practice limited to emergency and critical care)
Dr. Steven Berkowitz attended St. Georges University and did his clinical year at the University of Illinois. Berkowitz joined NorthStar VETS after serving as the Chief of Emergency and Critical Care at another specialty hospital. Prior to that, he completed a three-year residency in Emergency and Critical Care medicine at the Oradell Animal Hospital in Paramus, NJ. His residency was completed at one of only a few recognized veterinary trauma centers in the United States. Prior to his residency, he was a staff Emergency Veterinarian at Animal Specialty Center in Yonkers, NY as well as serving as an emergency doctor at Animal Emergency and Referral Associates in Fairfield, NJ for 3 years. Dr. Berkowitz can be seen on seasons 5 and 6 of “Animal Precinct” on Animal Planet, which was filmed during his internship at The Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital of the ASPCA in New York City.
Dr. Berkowitz has special interest in the management of metabolic and endocrine derangements, trauma, as well as management of the septic patient.

Barri Sarowitz, VMD, DACVSBarri Sarowitz, VMD, DACVS
Having grown up in south Jersey, Dr. Sarowitz is excited to join the surgery team at NorthStar VETS. Dr. Sarowitz obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Cornell University in 2007. She moved to Philadelphia and worked as a veterinary technician for a year before completing veterinary school at the University of Pennsylvania in 2012. After graduating, Dr. Sarowitz completed a rotating internship at Red Bank Veterinary Hospital in Tinton Falls, NJ. Following her internship, she completed a three-year residency in surgery at Red Bank Veterinary Hospital in 2016. Her surgical interests include surgical oncology, minimally invasive surgery, cardiothoracic surgery, and wound management. She is trained in the tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO) and lateral extracapsular suture techniques for cranial cruciate ligament disease. Outside of work, she enjoys hiking, traveling, and football.

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Cool Case Spud


Spud was rescued in North Carolina by Patti’s son while he was in school. After school, Spud came back to New Jersey where he joined Patti’s family which included another dog, Sinatra. The two dogs bonded and because of their relationship, Spud stayed with Patti when her son moved away. Spud has been a member of the family for the past five and a half years.

Spud1Two years ago, Spud was diagnosed with diabetes mellitus and has been receiving care ever since. Recently, Spud had to come in to NorthStar VETS to be monitored, and his experience was made much better this time with a new device. Spud has a fair amount of fear and anxiety when visiting the veterinarian, and having to get repeatedly poked to measure his blood sugar only made matters worse. This time, Drs. Kimberly Hammer and Stacey Wylie of the Internal Medicine team at NorthStar VETS placed a continuous blood glucose monitoring device on Spud. This new device, once in place, can be read with a hand-held scanner giving the NorthStar VETS doctors the information they need in helping Spud manage his condition, without ever having to draw blood from him. As a result, Spud was much calmer and less stressed during his stay.

Spud2“The team at NorthStar VETS gave Spud a great experience as always and I know he received exceptional care,” said Patti, “He was so sick going in, but everyone was so sweet with him. They made accommodations for him so he was comfortable.” Today, Spud is at home enjoying his normal life. “He still has cataracts from his diabetes mellitus, but he navigates the house and still enjoys going for walks,” added Patti. “I take all three of my dogs to NorthStar VETS. Their staff is top of the line!”

Spud didn’t need to be monitored at home, but if he did, the device could remain in place allowing both the doctors and the pet parents to get the information they need from Spud while he was at home.

Learn more about the Internal Medicine service at NorthStar VETS.


Kimberly Hammer, DVM, DACVIMKimberly Hammer, DVM, DACVIM
Dr. Hammer received her veterinary degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 2000. She spent a year at Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine for a small animal internship and returned to the University of Pennsylvania for a two-year residency in small animal internal medicine. She earned board certification from the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine in 2004. She has a special interest in interventional radiology/endoscopy and minimally invasive procedures. Her other interests include endocrinology, gastroenterology and hematology. She currently serves as the medical adviser for the NorthStar VETS blood bank. She joined the NorthStar VETS team in September 2007.

Outside of work she enjoys hiking, mountain biking, going to music concerts and reading.

Stacey Wylie, DVM, DACVIMStacey Wylie, DVM, DACVIM
Dr. Stacey Wylie is a Pennsylvania native who received her undergraduate degree from Millersville University in 2009. She earned her veterinary degree from Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2013. After graduation, she completed a small animal rotating internship at Oradell Animal Hospital in Paramus, NJ. She then returned to Michigan State University and completed a 3-year residency in small animal internal medicine in 2017, receiving Resident of the Year in both 2016 and 2017. Dr. Wylie is excited to be part of the NorthStar VETS team. She loves all things medicine, but her special interests include renal, hepatobiliary, gastrointestinal, and respiratory diseases as well as endoscopy and feline medicine.

She currently resides with her husband, their 3 cats (Aeris, Yuffie, and Leon) and adorable pittie mix (Arya). Outside of work, she enjoys spending quality time with her family and friends, playing ice hockey and volleyball, reading, and playing video games. She is also a passionate MSU Spartan and Philadelphia Flyers fan.

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Meet the NorthStar VETS team: Amanda Joslin, DVM, DACVO


Dr. Amanda Joslin is a Veterinary Ophthalmologist at NorthStar VETS. In this blog post and video, she talks about how her father inspired her to get into veterinary medicine, the types of cases she sees, and what she loves about working at NorthStar VETS.

Dr. Joslin’s Path to Veterinary Medicine
We caught up with Dr. Joslin, who was checking on a patient. Dr. Joslin is a doctor in the Ophthalmology service at NorthStar VETS and her father originally inspired her to become a veterinarian. “My dad is a veterinarian in South Jersey. Ever since I was a child I knew that I just loved animals. I love being around them and love helping them. I did kennel work, I did blood work, I helped to hold animals during procedures, and I’ve truly spent my whole life around animals.”

“I went to undergrad at the University of Delaware and then I went to veterinary school at Oklahoma State University. I did my rotating and ophthalmology specialty internship at the Animal Medical Center in New York City, and then I recently completed my residency at Cornell University. I came back to NorthStar VETS because during my fourth year of veterinary school, I did a preceptor here with Dr. Vygantas. I really liked the environment, the people, and it’s definitely the area I love.”

The Types of Cases Dr. Joslin Sees
The Ophthalmologists at NorthStar VETS see a wide variety of patients and cases. “We see dogs most commonly here and they are the bulk of our caseload. There are a lot of dogs that have diabetes, or develop cataracts, so we do a lot of cataract surgery pretty routinely to help them get their vision back after they’re blind from that. We see a lot of cats, too, that have different eye issues, and then less commonly rabbits, which can also get eye issues.” Cataract surgeries can often result in a quick and major improvement in a patient’s eyesight. “The first patient on which I performed cataract surgery was at Cornell during my residency. It was a very small, little Yorkie. We did surgery in both eyes. The pet parents were obviously very nice and very compassionate and very optimistic that their dog would do well. We’re always optimistic that they’ll be in the successful group. We did the surgery at Cornell. They stay there a few days longer than here, which is overnight. When we brought the patient back into the room to see its family, I had never seen such an excited dog in my entire life! Everything was wiggling, they were so happy, jumped right into the client’s arms and pretended like they never met me.”

What Dr. Joslin Loves about NorthStar VETS
Dr. Joslin has only been at NorthStar VETS a short time, but she already enjoys working alongside the team here. “NorthStar VETS just has a great group of people working here. Ever since I started, which was kind of recently, everyone has been very supportive, very helpful, and I can ask a question of anyone who is walking by, even if they’re on their way to do something else. I’ve found this group of people to be very welcoming and very helpful.”

Learn more about the Ophthalmology service at NorthStar VETS.

Amanda Joslin, DVM, DACVO
Amanda-JoslinDr. Joslin is a graduate of Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She completed a rotating small animal medicine and surgery and specialty ophthalmology internship at the Animal Medical Center in New York City. She then went on to complete her ophthalmology residency at Cornell University in 2018. Dr. Joslin became a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists in 2018. Her special interests include cataract surgery, the retina, and exotic animals.

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Meet the NorthStar VETS team Benjamin Donati VMD


Benjamin Donati, VMD is a doctor in the Emergency and Critical Care service at NorthStar VETS. In this video, he talks about his path into veterinary medicine, the types of cases he likes to treat, and why growing up in this area is an asset to the way he practices.

Dr. Donati’s Path to Veterinary Medicine
We caught up with Dr. Donati, who was checking on a patient. Dr. Donati works with Emergency cases and he originally planned to go to law school before talking to a friend about veterinary school. “The older brother of one of my classmates was in veterinary school at the time and when he came to visit my friend in college, he was talking about his school experience. It sounded interesting, so I did some shadowing at local general practices, and then I went to a couple of veterinary schools to talk to their admissions counselors, sat in on classes and labs, and then decided that this is what I wanted to go for after graduation.”

“I went to the University of Maryland for undergrad, and then prior to veterinary school, I had to take a lot of prerequisite classes, so I did those at various universities in Philadelphia and Washington D.C. and then went to the University of Pennsylvania for my four years of veterinary school. After I graduated from UPenn, I did a rotating internship in Internal Medicine and Surgery at a referral hospital in Brooklyn called Veterinary Emergency and Referral Group (VERG). At the end of my year there, I was looking for a great place hospital-wise and teamwork-wise and I loved NorthStar VETS. I had only heard good things about the hospital itself, and the clinicians and staff here.”

The Types of Cases Dr. Donati Likes to Treat
The Emergency and Critical Care team at NorthStar VETS must deal with a wide variety of cases. “Some of the more interesting cases I see are the ones that I don’t actually manage. There are poly-trauma cases that end up seeing Surgery for multiple fracture repairs, and then there are these longer protracted Internal Medicine cases which take some time to figure out exactly what’s been causing issues for months or years in a certain patient. On an emergent basis, I like doing laceration repairs. When something happens like a dog fight and there are bite wounds, something that seems traumatic at first, but can be easily remedied in-hospital, and we can send a dog or a cat back home to be with their family where they ideally spend most of their time, that is pretty rewarding. And cases where I’m able to distill a lot of confusing information into a compact discussion or delivery to the client is pretty rewarding to me as well. It’s hard enough to know what’s going on with our own bodies and health, but when we live with a creature that we love and all of a sudden they look way different than they did before, it can be really traumatic to see at home. These are things like first-time seizure cases, respiratory distress, and things where it’s hard to know what’s going on immediately, but within a couple hours of diagnostics, we’re able to give the owners an answer, come up with a treatment plan, come up with a prognosis, and set them up for what to expect going forward.”

Why Growing up Locally is an Asset
Dr. Donati grew up in Princeton and he recently treated a runaway cat from his hometown. “The cat was a diabetic and basically went into a diabetic crisis and had to be hospitalized for it. Having that discussion and for me, realizing what street the client was from, and that it was right around the corner from where we both went to school, really allowed us to make a connection. That helps build rapport between the two of us and it’s easier to come from a joint level of understanding and that we’re on the same team.”

What Dr. Donati Loves about NorthStar VETS
Dr. Donati is looking forward to helping clients and their pets. “I really like the way the clinicians all work together as a team. Client communication is at the forefront of what NorthStar VETS cares about and making sure that pet families are in the loop with what’s going on with their pets, and that the family veterinarian is involved and that we’re all part of the team effort toward great healthcare for our companion animals.”

Learn more about the Emegency and Critical Care service at NorthStar VETS.

Benjamin Donati, VMD
Dr. Donati came to NorthStar VETS after completing a rotating internship in medicine and surgery in Brooklyn, NY. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland (GO TERPS!) and his doctorate in veterinary medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, where he discovered his passion for emergency medicine. Ben is a Princeton native and is glad to be back near family in his hometown. He spends his free time riding his bike, walking his goofy Newfoundland, Wellington, and trying to play as much golf as he can.

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Cool Case Hedgy


Hedgy5When Hedgy the hedgehog started suddenly bleeding somewhere from her hind end, her family was worried. They brought her in through the Emergency service at NorthStar VETS where Dr. Stacy Rebello, Medical Director of the Emergency and Critical Team, examined her. After examination, it appeared that the bleeding was either coming from her urinary system or her reproductive system.

An ultrasound was done by Dr. Kate Kerrigan, of the NorthStar VETS Radiology team, to look at these organs and found that the reproductive system looked abnormal and was the likely source of the bleeding. Dr. Matthew Grootenboer of the Avian and Exotics team had bloodwork performed to see how anemic Hedgy might be since she was bleeding. He found that her packed cell volume (PCV), a measure of the proportion of blood that is made of the blood cells was only 10%. In a normal hedgehog, that number should have been closer to 30-55%. Knowing Hedgy would need further care, Dr. Rebello handed the case to Dr. Kristin Britton of the Avian and Exotics team the next day.

Hedgy4The level of Hedgy’s anemia was concerning and a blood transfusion was necessary before surgery could be attempted to remove her abnormal reproductive system. Hedgy’s family reached out and found a breeder, who brought in Meatloaf, another hedgehog who was able to donate blood. Meatloaf’s blood was carefully collected under anesthesia and a special test was performed to make sure his blood would be a good match for Hedgy, and luckily for her it was! Dr. Britton performed the blood transfusion which went very well, but due to Hedgy’s continued bleeding her PCV was only up to 13% the next day.

Hedgy3Surgery, although risky due to her anemia, was the next step to stop the continued bleeding once and for all. In surgery, Dr. Britton removed the abnormal reproductive system with special surgical tools to avoid any bleeding. Hedgy recovered well from the procedure and no further bleeding was seen! The reproductive system biopsy revealed a condition called Lymphoplasmacytic Endometritis which causes the tissue in the reproductive system to become thickened, causing excess secretions and risks for uncontrolled bleeding. There was also an abnormal polyp in Hedgy’s reproductive tract, which was a benign tumor, but her polyp was another source of her bleeding.

Hedgy went home after surgery where she was reported to be doing well. At her 1-week recheck, Hedgy’s PCV was 23%, much closer to normal range, indicating that the surgery was a success and Hedgy would continue to make new red blood cells to correct her anemia. Hedgy should have a great life going forward with her wonderful family!

Learn more about the Avian and Exotics service at NorthStar VETS.

Kristin Britton, DVM
Dr. Kristin Britton attended veterinary school at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine and graduated in 2012. She went on to complete a small animal rotating internship at the Animal Emergency Medical Center in Torrance, CA. She was then accepted into a wildlife specialty internship in medicine and surgery at The Wildlife Center of Virginia. Dr. Britton then traveled to Saskatoon, SK to complete a wildlife, exotic, and zoological internship at the University of Saskatchewan’s teaching hospital. She then accepted an ABVP Avian Residency position at the Veterinary Center for Birds & Exotics in Bedford Hills, NY. Dr. Britton has worked with a wide variety of exotic pets, wildlife, and zoological animals ranging from as small as a vole to as large as a whale. After finishing her residency, she has landed here at NorthStar VETS where she’s excited to continue to practice high quality medicine with a wide range of exotic patients!

Dr. Britton is originally from California, but currently lives in Morrisville, PA. She shares her home with her boyfriend, and a charming grumpy old Shih-Tzu named Riley. She likes to keep active and loves hiking, scuba diving, kayaking, and exploring all that the East coast has to offer.

Matthew Grootenboer, VMD
Dr. Matt Grootenboer attended veterinary school at the University of Pennsylvania and graduated in 2015. He went on to complete an internship in small animal medicine at Oradell Animal Hospital. From there, he traveled to Florida to complete an internship in exotic animal medicine at Broward Avian and Exotic Animal Hospital where he appeared on the National Geographic TV show Dr. K’s Exotic Animal ER. He has returned to his home state of New Jersey to continue working with exotic companion animals at NorthStar VETS. An extension of his passion for exotics is his interest in zoo animals and wildlife. He has worked with a variety of unusual species throughout his career, including kinkajous, kangaroos, and giraffes. Dr. Grootenboer is a firm believer in the idea that all animals are equally important no matter how small or short-lived and to their parents these pets mean as much as a dog or cat would.

He lives in Princeton, NJ with his cat Penny, rat, and hamster. When not working, Dr. Grootenboer likes to stay active whether that means going to the gym or for a bike ride/hike. He also likes to play the drums in his spare time. Each fall Dr. Grootenboer becomes a bit difficult to reach on Sundays as he cheers for his favorite football team, the Miami Dolphins.

Learn more about the Emergency and Critical Care service at NorthStar VETS.

Stacey Rebello, DVM, MS
Dr. Rebello is a New Jersey native who completed her undergraduate degree in biology at Fairfield University while working as a technician at a local veterinary clinic. She earned a master of science degree in theriogenology, studying equine placentitis and placental drug transfer at the University of Florida. She continued her studies at UF and was awarded her doctor of veterinary medicine degree in 2008. Dr. Rebello returned to New Jersey for an internship in small animal medicine and surgery at Garden State Veterinary Specialists in Tinton Falls. She joined the NorthStar VETS emergency department in 2009, where her clinical interests include trauma care and perioperative management of surgical emergencies.

Learn more about the Radiology service at NorthStar VETS.

Katherine Lynch Kerrigan, DVM, MS, DACVR
Dr. Kerrigan, originally from Connecticut, is a graduate of the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. She completed a rotating internship at the University of Pennsylvania and returned to Illinois to complete her residency in diagnostic imaging in 2014. During the course of her residency, she also completed a Master’s degree in veterinary clinical medicine. Dr. Kerrigan joined NorthStar VETS in 2014. Her clinical interests include CT angiography, and emergency imaging.

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Cool Case Murray


For a couple of days, Murray was drinking more than normal. Later that week, he started throwing up. Stacy and Chris have loved and cared for Murray for the past eight years, so Chris took him to see the family veterinarian the next morning where they took some blood for testing. It turned out Murray had early-stage diabetes, and the conversation turned to Insulin injections. A few days after returning home, Murray was not himself again and didn’t want to get up. At their second visit to the veterinarian, they discovered Murray also had a bad case of Pancreatitis and was referred to NorthStar VETS.

Murray1At their first visit to NorthStar VETS, Murray was treated for his Pancreatitis by Dr. Stacy Wylie of the NorthStar VETS Internal Medicine team. Dr. Wylie described the case. “Murray is an 8-year-old dog who presented to NorthStar VETS initially for vomiting, inappetence, and increased drinking and urination. He was diagnosed with pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) and diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which is a life-threatening complication of diabetes mellitus.”

Dr. Wylie continued, “Murray was hospitalized and received IV fluids, anti-nausea medications, acid reducers, insulin therapy, and pain medications. Initially, Murray seemed to have responded well and even went home with continued care.” Back at home, Stacy found him hiding under a workbench and shortly after that he stopped eating. That’s when they decided to bring him back to NorthStar VETS through the Emergency service.

When Dr. Wylie put an ultrasound probe to Murray’s belly, she found an abscess. Dr. Wylie recounted Murray’s second visit. “During this period of hospitalization, Murray’s pancreatitis was more severe. Given the severity of his condition at this point, Murray was kept under close supervision in the Intensive Care Unit under the supervision of Dr. Steven Berkowitz.” This led to a conversation between doctor and pet parent about what to do next. It was upsetting for Stacy and Chris to see Murray so sick. He was only turning nine and they wanted to fight for Murray’s health, so Dr. Wylie offered a surgical option. That’s when they were introduced to Dr. Daniel Stobie of the Surgery team.

“Murray not only had removal of the pancreatic abscess, but also had to have a splenectomy (removal of the spleen) and placement of a biliary stent (a device placed to hold open the bile duct which was blocked), as well as biopsies,” said Dr. Stobie about Murray’s experience in the operating room. Murray’s Pancreatitis was worse than anyone thought. The biliary stent Dr. Stobie placed allowed Murray to drain bile normally once again. When Stacy received the call and a text message photo of Murray in recovery from Dr. Stobie, they were happy. Murray made it through surgery, but Dr. Stobie took a cautiously optimistic approach. “We needed to see that photo, and appreciated Dr. Stobie’s straightforward but gentle tone,” said Stacy.

After making it through the first 24 hours in the ICU under the care of Dr. Steven Berkowitz of the Emergency and Critical Care team, Murray then crossed the 48-hour mark and was continuing to do well. It was a slow recovery, but he got better every day. “Dr. Berkowitz is our family’s hero. He called me every day and never rushed me, even when I had a list of questions for him,” said Stacy. “He was beyond fantastic and cared for Murray as his own during the long stay.” Murray finally reached a point where he was strong enough to go home with medications.

Murray2“Our trip to NorthStar VETS with Murray was totally worth it,” said Stacy. “We are so grateful to Dr. Wylie, Dr. Stobie and Dr. Berkowitz for how they worked together to care for our dog. Murray is like our first kid, even though we have children of our own now. They really get that.” Murray is back to normal and back at home. “It’s unbelievable,” said Stacy, “he goes for walks, he’s playful, and you’d never know he was so sick. He’s a fighter, but where his health is now is amazing!” Dr. Wylie echoed the excitement about Murray’s progress, “Murray is doing well thus far and has even been able to come off of just about all medications. He will need continued close bloodwork monitoring, lifelong insulin for his diabetes, and a low-fat diet to help prevent recurrence of pancreatitis.”

Stacy wrote a nice letter to the doctors who helped Murray and had this to say. “Not only did you save our Murray, but you did so with such sensitivity to our family and our own needs. You knew we needed frequent calls throughout the day with updates on Murray. You showed us patience and love, answering every and any question we had. You not only healed our Murray, but you loved him like your own. Murray now has a second chance at life and we have a whole new appreciation for him. Everything he does, from a kiss on the nose to a morning cuddle, is even more special. Two words that certainly do not encompass all we feel, but for lack of the proper words we will say it forever, THANK YOU.”

The team at NorthStar VETS as well as Murray’s family are hopeful that he will continue to do well at home. Murray is a tough cookie and still has a lot of love to give, and we are so glad that he has done so well on his road to recovery!

Learn more about the Internal Medicine service at NorthStar VETS.

Stacey Wylie, DVM, DACVIM
Dr. Stacey Wylie is a Pennsylvania native who received her undergraduate degree from Millersville University in 2009. She earned her veterinary degree from Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2013. After graduation, she completed a small animal rotating internship at Oradell Animal Hospital in Paramus, NJ. She then returned to Michigan State University and completed a 3-year residency in small animal internal medicine in 2017, receiving Resident of the Year in both 2016 and 2017. Dr. Wylie is excited to be part of the NorthStar VETS team. She loves all things medicine, but her special interests include renal, hepatobiliary, gastrointestinal, and respiratory diseases as well as endoscopy and feline medicine.

She currently resides with her husband, their 3 cats (Aeris, Yuffie, and Leon) and adorable pittie mix (Arya). Outside of work, she enjoys spending quality time with her family and friends, playing ice hockey and volleyball, reading, and playing video games. She is also a passionate MSU Spartan and Philadelphia Flyers fan.

Learn more about the Surgery service at NorthStar VETS along with more about the Surgery team.

Daniel Stobie, DVM, MS, DACVS – Chief of Staff
A New Jersey native, Dr. Stobie completed his undergraduate work at Cook College/Rutgers University and is a 1990 cum laude graduate of the University of Missouri-College of Veterinary Medicine. He completed an internship in small-animal medicine and surgery at the Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston, then went on to complete a three-year surgical residency at the University of Minnesota and earn a Master’s Degree in Veterinary Surgery, Radiology, and Anesthesia in 1994. Dr. Stobie became a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons in 1995. In 2007, he completed the mini-MBA certificate program at the Rutgers School of Business. Learn more about Dr. Daniel Stobie.

Learn more about the Emergency and Critical Care service at NorthStar VETS.

Steven Berkowitz, DVM (practice limited to emergency and critical care)
Dr. Steven Berkowitz attended St. Georges University and did his clinical year at the University of Illinois. Berkowitz joined NorthStar VETS after serving as the Chief of Emergency and Critical Care at another specialty hospital. Prior to that, he completed a three-year residency in Emergency and Critical Care medicine at the Oradell Animal Hospital in Paramus, NJ. His residency was completed at one of only a few recognized veterinary trauma centers in the United States. Prior to his residency, he was a staff Emergency Veterinarian at Animal Specialty Center in Yonkers, NY as well as serving as an emergency doctor at Animal Emergency and Referral Associates in Fairfield, NJ for 3 years. Dr. Berkowitz can be seen on seasons 5 and 6 of “Animal Precinct” on Animal Planet, which was filmed during his internship at The Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital of the ASPCA in New York City.
Dr. Berkowitz has special interest in the management of metabolic and endocrine derangements, trauma, as well as management of the septic patient.

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Meet the NorthStar VETS team: Daniel Stobie, DVM, MS, DACVS


Daniel Stobie, DVM, MS, DACVS is the founder, chief of staff, and a doctor in the Surgery service at NorthStar VETS. In this video, he talks about why he built NorthStar VETS, how the team is advancing veterinary medicine, and the kind of case that makes it all worthwhile for him.

Dr. Stobie’s Education
We caught up with Dr. Stobie, who was checking in on a patient. Dr. Stobie grew up right here in New Jersey before going on to college here. “I’m a New Jersey native,” he began, “and I went to Rutgers University for undergraduate studies. Unfortunately, New Jersey does not have a veterinary school, so I had to go out to the Midwest. I attended veterinary school at the University of Missouri and then I did my internship at the Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston. After that, I did a three-year surgical residency and master’s degree program at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine.” Dr. Stobie went on to become a surgeon, and worked at hospitals in New York and New Jersey before opening his own practice that would go on to become NorthStar VETS.

Following his North Star
Ranger“When I decided to open the practice, I envisioned a place where we could do everything under one roof and not have to send the cases away to other hospitals for different specialties and pets could get everything taken care of in one place.” Dr. Stobie leads a team of more than 40 doctors who work in more than a dozen different specialties. “All the surgeons here do all types of surgery from soft-tissue surgery, orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, to emergency and trauma surgery. The things that I have special interest in are orthopedics and joint-replacement surgery. I’m the one surgeon here in the practice who does those procedures.”

The Kind of Cases that Dr. Stobie Loves
With a hospital in Robbinsville and in Maple Shade, Dr. Stobie is often tied up in the management and business side of NorthStar VETS, but he still enjoys the chance to work personally with clients and their pets. “We get to do what we love every day, interacting with people and pets. Probably the most rewarding thing is seeing an animal that is really connected to their person and their person is connected to them. When they’re really sick maybe with a not-so-good prognosis for a good outcome, and then we take that animal, fix them, get them well, we love to see them be healthy again and the joy on the person’s face when they’re reunited with their pet. That is the most rewarding thing about this job. There’s one case from a couple years ago. It was a little dog that came in with this swelling in his inguinal area (his groin). It turned out he had an incarcerated hernia. The dog was very sick, the intestine was being strangled, so we had to do an emergency surgery. We went in and removed that damaged part of the intestine and then hooked everything back up. What I didn’t know at the time was that the woman who took care of this dog was wheelchair-bound. This dog was her constant companion and she was lost without him. Getting this dog well and returning him to her was important. He would ride around with her in the wheelchair and get things for her like a service dog. Those are the types of things that are very rewarding and make every day, even the hard days, worthwhile.”

How the Team at NorthStar VETS Advances Veterinary Medicine
NorthStar VETS is always developing new and improved techniques to better treat their patients. “We’re always trying to develop new procedures, new techniques and do clinical trials. These give us new and innovative technologies and techniques in medicine to help the animals and when we put those into place and when they actually work, that is really rewarding.” Dr. Stobie and the team at NorthStar VETS will continue to provide world-class care to their patients. “We have a great team here and I wouldn’t be able to do it without all the people who work here. All of us working together has created something that I think is really special.”

Learn more about the Surgery service at NorthStar VETS along with more about the Surgery team.

Daniel Stobie, DVM, MS, DACVS – Chief of Staff
A New Jersey native, Dr. Stobie completed his undergraduate work at Cook College/Rutgers University and is a 1990 cum laude graduate of the University of Missouri-College of Veterinary Medicine. He completed an internship in small-animal medicine and surgery at the Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston, then went on to complete a three-year surgical residency at the University of Minnesota and earn a Master’s Degree in Veterinary Surgery, Radiology, and Anesthesia in 1994. Dr. Stobie became a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons in 1995. In 2007, he completed the mini-MBA certificate program at the Rutgers School of Business. Learn more about Dr. Daniel Stobie.

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Cooper and Otis


Cooper is a blood donor cat through the NorthStar VETS Blood Bank for Dogs and Cats

Cooper is a blood donor cat through the NorthStar VETS Blood Bank for Dogs and Cats

Otis needed a blood transfusion and came to NorthStar VETS. Dr. Kimberly Hammer of the Internal Medicine team and head of the NorthStar VETS blood bank, brought in her own cat, Cooper to help. Cooper is a British Shorthair, and has the less common Type B blood that was needed to successfully treat Otis. After Cooper made his contribution, it was given to Otis, who is now back home happy and healthy. His cat-mom sent this lovely letter to Cooper thanking him for his kind act. The NorthStar VETS Blood Bank for Dogs and Cats helps many patients throughout the year.

Cat-Letter-frontCat-Letter-back

See if your pet is eligible to become a blood donor at NorthStar VETS.


Kimberly Hammer, DVM, DACVIMKimberly Hammer, DVM, DACVIM
Dr. Hammer received her veterinary degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 2000. She spent a year at Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine for a small animal internship and returned to the University of Pennsylvania for a two-year residency in small animal internal medicine. She earned board certification from the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine in 2004. She has a special interest in interventional radiology/endoscopy and minimally invasive procedures. Her other interests include endocrinology, gastroenterology and hematology. She currently serves as the medical adviser for the NorthStar VETS blood bank. She joined the NorthStar VETS team in September 2007.

Outside of work she enjoys hiking, mountain biking, going to music concerts and reading.

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Biddy the Farm Dog gets Knee Surgery


Biddy the farm dogJohn, a third-generation farmer and retired mechanical engineer and his wife Ginny, a teacher, own a small twenty-acre family farm in Wading River on the east end of Long Island. Last spring, they lost their 10 year old American Field Lab Sadie to cancer. Life wasn’t the same without her. She was John’s sidekick and loved the farm. After about 8 months of looking for a puppy they found Biddy, an eight-week old American Field Lab puppy.

Biddy exploring life on the farmBiddy loves the farm and enjoys running, digging and smelling everything. When the work boots go on Biddy knows where John is going, and she knows that she is on the way for another adventure on the farm.

At the end of one particular day, Biddy was limping a little, so John and Ginny brought her to see the family veterinarian. They got X-rays of Biddy’s back legs, but it was too difficult to see what was wrong. They sent the radiographs to a Radiologist for review and that’s when they suspected Biddy had a torn Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL). A local veterinary Surgeon offered to perform the surgery, but John wanted to get a second opinion, and brought Biddy to another veterinary practice. The second doctor agreed with the torn CCL diagnosis, so John then reached out to his breeder.

The breeder from which Biddy came recommended that John reach out to NorthStar VETS. He did, and spoke with Dr. Daniel Stobie of the NorthStar VETS Surgery team. Dr. Stobie requested some additional X-rays of Biddy’s legs along with a CT scan to get a good look at what was going on. The diagnostics revealed that Biddy had not just one, but avulsion fractures on both of her knees. That means that little chips of bone were pulled away by the ligament and were sitting inside her knee joint. In puppies, the ligament is actually stronger than the bone until their skeleton matures, so when an injury occurs, the ligament can pull pieces of the bone apart. John and Ginny were shocked at this point, because all of the vets they’d seen and breeders they’d spoken with up to this point had never seen this in a four-month old puppy.

Feeling confident in Dr. Stobie, they moved forward with plans for surgery. They drove down to central New Jersey from eastern Long Island on surgery day feeling good about their decision. “Biddy is our baby,” said Ginny, “and means so much to us. Now that our children are grown, John wanted another work partner and I love snuggling her at the end of the day.” They spent the day waiting at the hospital while the surgery was performed and the stress of it all finally caught up with them, but eventually Dr. Stobie came to them with good news: the surgery was a success!

Since Biddy is a young puppy and her growth plates are still open, the surgery team could not perform a TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy) which is one of the best procedures for repair of cruciate ligament injuries in large breed mature dogs. Instead, Dr. Stobie employed an innovative technique called Proximal Tibial Epiphysiodesis to help Biddy. First, the bone chips were removed minimally-invasively with arthroscopy. Then screws were guided with fluoroscopy (like a live video X-ray picture) into place face down into the top of each tibia. As Biddy grows, the presence of the screws will help change the slope of the top of her tibia and eventually have the same result as a TPLO performed in a mature dog. This technique was chosen because of Biddy’s young age and CCL tear diagnosis, and because it is less invasive with a shorter recovery time than other types of corrective knee surgery.

Biddy3Biddy after her surgery

“We love NorthStar VETS.” said Ginny. “We felt good about coming here for Biddy’s surgery and knew that Dr. Stobie would do a good job for her. We are so relieved now that it is behind us and now John will have Biddy by his side again.” John echoed the sentiment. “Our anxiety about Biddy’s unique situation instantly disappeared after we met and talked with Dr. Stobie. His natural ability to converse and answer our questions and explain in great detail helped us to feel at ease and gave us the confidence that he would be able to help Biddy. We were both very impressed with the personal treatment that was shown by Dr. Stobie towards us, and the amount of time that Dr. Stobie spent with us going over every detail of his treatment for Biddy. His dedicated skill as a doctor and the great care that he has for both his patients and their owners are what impressed us both.” John is in the process of turning over the farm to its fourth generation as his son gets more involved, but he’ll always have Biddy with him even if he isn’t covering the twenty acres every day.

Learn more about the Surgery service at NorthStar VETS along with more about the Surgery team.

Daniel Stobie, DVM, MS, DACVS – Chief of Staff
A New Jersey native, Dr. Stobie completed his undergraduate work at Cook College/Rutgers University and is a 1990 cum laude graduate of the University of Missouri-College of Veterinary Medicine. He completed an internship in small-animal medicine and surgery at the Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston, then went on to complete a three-year surgical residency at the University of Minnesota and earn a Master’s Degree in Veterinary Surgery, Radiology, and Anesthesia in 1994. Dr. Stobie became a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons in 1995. In 2007, he completed the mini-MBA certificate program at the Rutgers School of Business. Learn more about Dr. Daniel Stobie.

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Miracle Maggie


Maggie is a 4-year-old dog who came to NorthStar VETS with vomiting and bloody diarrhea. She developed shock from severe fluid losses, and a clotting problem from internal bleeding. It’s possible that she ate something she shouldn’t have eaten. This can be a common progression in some dogs with sensitive gastrointestinal (GI) tracts and dietary changes or indiscretion. What is unique is the complication that developed during her treatment.

Maggie in the Intensive Care Unit

Maggie in the Intensive Care Unit

Maggie was hospitalized and received fluids, acid reducers, multiple nausea medications, antibiotics, and had plasma transfusions to support her lost blood. She was under close supervision of the Emergency and Critical Care specialists, Dr. Barbara Maton and Dr. Steven Berkowitz. Her initial ultrasound with Dr. Kate Kerrigan of the Radiology team showed severe intestinal irritation. After a few days in the hospital, her GI signs lingered, and on New Year’s Eve she developed more severe internal bleeding and shock, needing both red blood cell and plasma transfusions. Her ultrasound was rechecked with Dr. Jackie Williams of the Radiology team, and an exploratory surgery was recommended due to the intestinal problems.

Maggie posing with Dr. Kelly Kraus (left) of the Surgery team and Dr. Barbara Maton (right) of the Emergency and Critical Care team.

Maggie posing with Dr. Kelly Kraus (left) of the Surgery team and Dr. Barbara Maton (right) of the Emergency and Critical Care team.

Fortunately, Surgeons are on call 24/7, and on New Year’s Eve, Dr. Kelly Kraus of the NorthStar VETS Surgery team performed an abdominal exploratory surgery. We were concerned her GI tract was in big trouble, but what was found was shocking! She had developed a mesenteric torsion (twisted intestine), and the majority of her intestine was black and dead. A small, moveable object was identified in the intestine and removed along with the dead intestine. Maggie needed a lot of intensive support and monitoring during her surgery, and post-operatively to keep her stable. She also received additional blood transfusions (plasma and red blood cells) due to severe GI tract bleeding and bleeding from torn blood vessels involved in the twist. Thanks to the Blood Donor program at NorthStar VETS, the team was able to give her the blood product support that she needed. Maggie rolled out of the operating room to the Intensive Care Unit around 10pm New Year’s Eve, in time for the ball drop!

A mesenteric torsion can be triggered by anything that triggers gastrointestinal irritation; including changes in food/diet/dietary indiscretion, infections, and parasites. Unfortunately, because it is so severe, rapidly progressive, and involves a lot of tissue death and shock, the prognosis is grave and the mortality rate is high. Mortality rates have been reported as 50-100% in German Shepherds, but are variable and lower in other dog breeds, if diagnosed and treated rapidly. There are some publications of animals surviving with rapid aggressive interventions, surgery, and intensive care. Maggie is one of those miracles!

Maggie is doing well after her surgery

Maggie is doing well after her surgery

Maggie was treated intensively post-operatively with the Emergency and Critical Care specialists, and received nutritional support through a feeding tube to support her GI healing. She was able to be sent home with medications, and thus far is doing well! Unfortunately, due to the amount of intestine that had to be removed, Maggie is at risk of short bowel syndrome. This can lead to chronic diarrhea, mal-absorption/mal-nutrition, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, and other complications. She will need close bloodwork monitoring as well as a low-fat prescription diet, B vitamin supplementation, and other medications to help her heal. Fortunately, the GI tract is very adaptable, and has the potential to improve over the course of weeks to months. The team at NorthStar VETS is hoping for a great outcome as Maggie is a strong girl, and is already on the road to recovery!

Learn more about the Emergency and Critical Care service at NorthStar VETS.

Barbara Maton, DVM, DACVECC
Dr. Maton is originally from Florida, where she earned her undergraduate degree in biology from the University of North Florida, and studied veterinary medicine at the University of Florida, obtaining her DVM in 2006. She completed a rotating internship focused on emergency medicine at SouthPaws Veterinary Specialists and Emergency Center in Virginia, then moved to Pittsburgh where she worked as an emergency veterinarian for two years and completed her residency in the specialty in 2012. After helping to start a critical care service at an established veterinary referral hospital in Delaware, she joined NorthStar VETS in 2014. Her clinical and research interests include trauma, electrolyte derangements, anticoagulant therapies and CPR medicine.

Outside of work, Dr. Maton enjoys spending time with her husband, cooking, gardening, foreign travel, running, cycling and swimming. She shares her home with a possessive bird, two cats, and a lovable mixed-breed dog.

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