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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NorthStar VETS Cool Case Dobby


Dobby is a Chihuahua born with deformities in his upper legs. Through advanced veterinary medicine, Dr. Daniel Stobie of the NorthStar VETS Surgical team used 3D printing as a tool in helping this dog have good legs to stand on.

Dobby had trouble walking normally as a puppy, and as he grew, the problems became more pronounced. His mom, Lori, shared her experience. “By the time he hit about a year old, we realized there was something seriously wrong with the left leg, not realizing there was anything wrong with the right leg.” Doctors soon determined just how serious Dobby’s problem was.

“His patellas were not sitting in place.” explained Dr. Daniel Stobie of the veterinary Surgery team at NorthStar VETS, “The patella is the knee cap, and normally it should sit in the middle of the femur on the leg, but it was moving off to the inside of the leg. That did not allow for him to support weight on his hind legs, and it also caused the bone in his left femur to grow crooked.”

Dr. Stobie decided to perform multiple surgeries to help fix both of Dobby’s legs. “The left leg was much worse than the right leg, the left leg was a grade 4 patellar luxation and the right leg was a grade 3 patellar luxation. We decided to repair the one that was not as badly affected first to give him a good leg to stand on after the surgery on the left side. The left leg is going to require what is called a corrective osteotomy because of the abnormal forces. What that means is that the bone grew crooked. We were able to do a CT scan of his whole pelvis and 3D print the bone. The bone has grown to where it’s sloping medially (medial varus), and is not straight because of the pressure from the patellar luxation.”

Lori commented on how things went during the surgical process. “Dobby sailed through. Everyone here is so compassionate and kind and patient with him. They always told me what to expect, told me how to handle it, and it all went as expected.”

Dr. Stobie and the team at NorthStar VETS printed a 3D model of Dobby’s bones to help plan the details of the surgery and he walked us through that process. “It allows us to look at the bone in three dimensions and measure the angles and the slope of the bone. These models are made out of a plastic that we can cut which will allow us to practice the surgery ahead of time so we can make sure we have the right angle, take the right amount of bone out, and have a special plate made that attaches to the outside of the bone to hold it in its new position once it’s repaired. You can even see from this model how far off the bone is from the straight edge of the plate.” He gestured to the 3D model held against the plate. “That degree of angulation is going to be taken out so that when we repair it, that bone will sit against the plate and be held in its new position. It’ll allow him to have a nice straight leg to walk on and should allow for us to get the knee cap back in place.”

After eight weeks of recovery after Dobby’s first successful surgery, Dobby underwent another surgery to great success. Lori gave us an update after the second surgery. “Now that he is about 90 days out after the surgery, he’s putting his leg down. Not that I doubted it would happen, but after seeing him hold it up for such a long time, it was hard to imagine how he would ever walk on four legs, but he is putting weight on it! He’s almost like a normal little dog again. In fact, he comes to work with me every day, and now instead of having to carry him everywhere we go, I have to remember to put him down on the ground and let him walk like a normal dog because he can. Everyone who sees him is actually impressed and amazed to see that he can actually walk now, because for such a long time, just to get ten feet across the room was exhausting to him. I was concerned about his back and having long-term issues with his back or other legs, but now he’s like a normal little dog. We’re really happy about it!”

Dr. Stobie and the team at NorthStar VETS will continue to utilize new technologies to better serve and treat their patients. Dr. Stobie summed up Dobby’s case. “Being able to have this new technology allows us to do new, innovative procedures. That is always exciting! Bringing the latest, greatest technology to our hospital means better patient care and better outcomes for the pets.”

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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Cool Case Marzipan


Marzipan and Dr. Erin Rockhill share a moment

Marzipan and Dr. Erin Rockhill share a moment

Poor Marzipan has always suffered from incontinence from around the age of 6 months. To her good fortune, she grew up in the home of Dr. Erin Rockhill, a veterinarian at Belle Mead Animal Hospital. Dr. Rockhill has a big heart for Marzipan, and has always done everything she could give her the best quality of life. That included using a drug named Proin designed to reduce urine leakage. “I knew the urine leaks weren’t her fault,” said, Dr. Rockhill, “so we started her on Proin. As time went on, we had to keep increasing the dose until we maxed it out. Eventually, we added a second drug, but she was still having trouble.”


It was at this time that Dr. Rockhill reached out to Dr. Kimberly Hammer, an Internal Medicine specialist at NorthStar VETS. “I remembered Dr. Hammer doing an interesting case a few years ago for a dog with a bladder issue, so I asked her what could be done for Marzipan.” recalled Dr. Rockhill. “She told me about a new procedure where they inject collagen into the sphincter muscles in the urethra to plump them up and help prevent urine from dribbling through. I trusted Dr. Hammer to do the procedure, and after researching it for myself, decided to explore this option further with her.”

“Marzipan, a 7-year-old Doberman Pinscher, is affected by one of the most common urinary tract diseases in female dogs: urinary incontinence,” explained Dr. Hammer. “Urinary incontinence is when the sphincter that connects the bladder to the urethra is weak. This results in urine leakage when she is not urinating. The amount that leaks can be variable: sometimes a few drops at night, sometimes a constant drip all over the house. It is most commonly seen in female spayed dogs and there may be some connection to the loss of hormones (mainly estrogen) when a female dog is spayed,” Dr. Hammer continued. “We have many options with respect to treating urinary incontinence including drugs to help tighten the sphincter and procedures that tighten the sphincter. In Marzipan, we performed collagen injections into the sphincter to help tighten it up.”
Marzipan4Marzipan5

Dr. Rockhill had Marzipan checked out by Veterinary Cardiologist, Dr. Karen Meltzer, at NorthStar VETS. “I dropped her off for an echocardiogram,” explained Dr. Rockhill, “to make sure her heart was good and Dr. Hammer checked Marzipan to rule out any structural issues before moving forward.”

Marzipan2Dr. Hammer performed collagen injections into Marzipan’s urethra. This was done cystoscopically (a camera was passed through the vulva into the urethra with no incisions made). Collagen was injected into the tissue at the smooth muscle sphincter. “If you’ve ever seen a celebrity after getting collagen into their lips to make the lips look fuller,” said Dr. Hammer, “then you can picture what we did for Marzipan.” The procedure was a success and Marzipan when home the same day. “Everyone treated us well,” said Dr. Rockhill, “I’ve been coming to NorthStar VETS recently with my cat, Mango, so I’ve gotten to know a lot of the team there.”

Back at home, Dr. Rockhill exclaimed, “Things are going well! I know it’s not a permanent fix, but it’s really helped Marzipan a lot. Over time, the collagen will get reabsorbed into Marzipan’s body, allowing more urine to slip through the sphincter. As that happens, we’ll add Proin again to maximize our time, then consider a second collagen injection in the future. I’m hoping we get at least 18 months from this.”

“I named Marzipan after a cartoon character, not the dessert topping,” revealed Dr. Rockhill, “I just loved the name. We got her as a puppy at three months of age and she has been my dog ever since. Even with her issues, we’ve made every accommodation for her. Our furniture has cloth covering so we can clean up after her. I love her no matter what, but it’s great that we were able to improve her quality of life through this procedure!”

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.

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