NorthStar VETS Buddy Pet Oxygen Mask Initiative

Buddy’s Story
Buddy3Dr. Steven Berkowitz, Emergency and Critical Veterinarian at NorthStar VETS, recently visited the Florence and Chesterfield Fire Companies. The brave firefighters from these townships rescued a service dog named Buddy from a condo fire back on February 21. Buddy was brought to NorthStar VETS due to his extensive injuries from the fire. Dr. Berkowitz picks up the story from here. “When Buddy came, he had pretty significant burns on his body as well as serious smoke inhalation. He had trouble breathing and was very uncomfortable. We quickly got him some nasal oxygen therapy and pain medications and starting treating him immediately for his smoke inhalation and burns. Twenty percent of his body’s surface area was covered in burns and he really was affected by the fire. Due to all his injuries and smoke inhalation, Buddy was not able to make it through his ordeal, even though he fought hard for 24 hours. He was tough, as was his family. In response to this, we at NorthStar VETS decided that we wanted to help local heroes in the area (the firemen) by delivering masks that will be able to be used in first response for smoke inhalation pet victims and we’re doing it in the name of Buddy. I can’t think of a better family. Buddy is a great dog. His owner is a veteran from the war. I can’t think of two better heroes to be associated with this. They are amazing.”

What the The NorthStar VETS Buddy Pet Oxygen Mask Initiative is About
NorthStar VETS has donated a number of specialized kits to firehouses across the area. Dr. Berkowitz explained what was in the kits. “Each kit contains three differently-sized oxygen masks that will provide higher quality and quantity oxygen than first responders can provide with masks designed for humans. The masks they use now provide flow-by oxygen. With the new masks, first responders can place the pet oxygen mask over the pet’s face and place their muzzle into the mask which plugs into a standard oxygen line and oxygen source that first responders already have on their rigs. Some of the other things included are first aid supplies such as gauze, sponges, a slip leash (which is important for pets missing their collar and for pets when a clip-on leash is not handy), and a cooling blanket. The blanket is really helpful to pets when they have burns by keeping them nice and cool and helping with some of the discomfort associated with skin burns.”

Reaction from First Responders who Received the Kits
Chesterfield Fire Company Recieving Award from NorthStar VETSAndrew Popso, Fire Commissioner for Florence Township, gave us his reaction to receiving the pet oxygen masks. “NorthStar VETS actually beat us to the punch and saw a need. They took this idea and ran with it, which is fantastic. My father, a very good man, always said, ‘It’s easy to hurt somebody. If you want to do something great in life, learn how to heal.’ And I think that is what NorthStar VETS did. They presented something to this town, and it’s a very generational town, that will spread by word of mouth and everyone will hear and know that their ‘loved one’ will be taken care of as well. We know of a lot of people that try to go back into the building as well as people in motor vehicle accidents that concern themselves with their animals, and now this is another step in being able to provide that service them.”

These masks will allow firefighters to better help pets in an emergency. Kyle Asbrand, Fire Chief of the Chesterfield Hose Company, also gave us his reaction. “We treat pets in house fires like a normal human. We give them oxygen through non-rebreather masks that we would treat a human with as well. At that point, we do the best we can with the blow-by oxygen. Now with these new oxygen masks, it’s going to help us deliver more oxygen immediately to the animals whether it’s a cat or dog and it’s another tool in our toolbox that we can add to our truck.”

What this Initiative Means for Pet Owners Like You
Dr. Berkowitz explained a little more about how the masks work better for pets. “The air you and I are breathing now is about 21.7 percent oxygen by law of physics. When we have an oxygen line going to a patient via flow-by, we can get to about 23 to 24 percent. With these pet oxygen masks, we can get as high as 40 to 50 percent oxygen. This is tremendously beneficial to a patient that has carbon monoxide or cyanide poisoning from a house fire.”

Andrew Popso continued by detailing what this means to pet owners. “We can now not only support patients and victims that we normally deal with, but now we’re going to have the opportunity to provide better care for the animals. For me and my family, we grew up around animals and have always had animals. I look at my pets as if they’re children of my own.”

Buddy’s New Legacy
The Buddy Pet Oxygen Mask InitiativeBuddy was a service dog to a local veteran and a loving family pet, and this memorial will allow him to continue helping others. Dr. Berkowitz summed it up. “To be able to help a dog like Buddy and his family is amazing. And especially to have this initiative named after Buddy, who was a war veteran’s dog. It’s great.” And Kyle Asbrand added his additional remarks as well. “The guys are so happy that NorthStar VETS realizes and appreciates how much we do and try to do for everybody, and were able to come here to us and present us with this award. It’s another thing that helps motivate our guys to keep training hard and do good work.” Andrew Popso agreed. “To take a positive out of a negative tragedy is fantastic. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

NorthStar VETS will provide additional masks to other first responders in the area in the months ahead.

Steven Berkowitz, DVMSteven Berkowitz, DVM
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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Ask the NorthStar VETS Vet: Zika and Heartworm Disease

Some pet owners are curious about how the Zika virus may affect them and their pets. While there is still much for health scientists to learn on that front, we DO know that heartworms are another mosquito-borne disease affecting pets across the US.

Dr. Jennifer Schneiderman, Cardiologist at NorthStar VETS, started her conversation by talking a little bit about who she is. “I’ve always loved animals and wanted to help them and take care of them. As I got older, I really started to enjoy the math and sciences, so going into veterinary medicine was a great fit for me. My passion for cardiology developed in veterinary school. I always liked that subject, but while I was a student, my family dog ended up having cardiac disease, so it really inspired me to go down that path to help other peoples’ pets, too.”

“I really enjoy being a vet and especially being a Cardiologist. I love that in my field, I get to help these dogs with heart disease both with medical management as well interventional management and surgery such as pacemaker placement. It’s great to work in a hospital that has so many specialists that work so well together. It’s really a team effort on every case.

Mosquito larvae

Image via CNN

Zika Virus

Dr. Schneiderman provided some information on the Zika virus for pet owners. “The Zika virus is a virus that is transmitted by mosquitoes. Right now it’s mostly in South and Central America. We know that when people get bitten by an infected mosquito, they can get some mild clinical signs such as lethargy, rashes, and muscle aches, but usually can recover from it in a week or two. The big concern is if a pregnant woman gets the Zika virus, that can have really catastrophic complications for the baby. Babies can develop a condition called microcephaly, which is when the brain becomes underdeveloped. That can lead to really bad neurological complications and sometimes even death.”

“In animals right now, we’re still learning a lot about the virus, so we’re not sure yet whether the virus can affect dogs or cats. Our main recommendations are to maintain adequate mosquito control. That means not having stagnant water in the back yard that can stay in pails, buckets or flower pots.”

Mosquitos can pass parasites to their host

Image via CNN

Heartworm Disease

There are more than one million heartworm positive cases each year across all fifty United States. More than seventy types of mosquitoes carry the disease and a mosquito can travel up to one hundred miles. Because they thrive in backyard microclimates and can take advantage of traveling pets as well as local wildlife, they are a major threat to pets. And the worms themselves can live for five to seven years. This is why veterinarians recommend year-round heartworm prevention for pets.

Symptoms of heartworm disease include lethargy, coughing at night, shortness of breath, or even no symptoms at all.

Dr. Schneiderman had more important information to pass along regarding heartworm disease. “We DO know, especially with dogs, that they can get heartworm disease, which is also transmitted by mosquitoes. We can prevent that by giving year-round monthly heartworm preventive to our pets. We always recommend to do that because heartworm disease can have serious and life-threatening complications in both dogs and cats. The heart worms tend to live in the pulmonary circulatory system. Dogs can be infected with hundreds of worms that can grow as long as twelve inches, which can really affect their circulatory system and cause complications with clots and anaphylactic reactions, so it’s definitely better to prevent them from getting these kinds of diseases and be proactive about giving the heartworm preventive, rather than waiting to help them after they’ve had such a serious infection.”

For more information on parasite-related diseases affecting pets in the United States, visit the sites for the Companion Animal Parasite Council, Dogs and Ticks, and the American Heartworm Society. For more information on eradicating mosquitos from your back yard, check out this recent story from Public Radio’s You Bet Your Garden. Make sure your pets are on year-round heartworm preventive and see your family veterinarian regularly for checkups.

Jennifer Schneiderman, DVM, DACVIM (Cardiology)Jennifer Schneiderman, DVM, DACVIM (Cardiology)
Dr. Schneiderman received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine degree at Ross University in 2009 before moving back home to Long Island, New York where she completed a one-year rotating internship in small animal medicine and surgery at Atlantic Coast Veterinary Specialists in March 2010. After that, she completed a three-year residency in Cardiology at Atlantic Coast Veterinary Specialists in July 2013 and then stayed on there as a Staff Cardiologist until June 2014. Now a board-certified Veterinary Cardiologist, Dr. Schneiderman joined the NorthStar VETS team in August 2014. Her clinical interests include treatment of congestive heart failure and complex arrhythmias along with an interest in interventional procedures such as pacemaker implantation, balloon valvuloplasty and patent ductus arteriosus occlusion. Outside of work, Dr. Schneiderman enjoys traveling, scuba diving, going to the beach and spending time with her two tuxedo cats.

The information presented on this web site is not intended to take the place of your family veterinarian’s advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Discuss this information with your own veterinarian to determine what is right for your pet. All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. We can not and do not give you medical advice via this blog. The information contained in this online site and emails is presented in summary form only and intended to provide broad understanding and knowledge. The information should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of a visit, call, consultation or advice of your veterinarian. We do not recommend the self-management of your pet’s health problems.

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Meet the NorthStar VETS team: Lauren Higgins, DVM

Dr. Lauren Higgins is an emergency veterinarian at NorthStar VETS. In this video, she talks about how she got into veterinary medicine and the kinds of things she does most commonly for pets.

Lauren Higgins, DVMLauren Higgins, DVM
Dr. Lauren Higgins is a New Jersey native who completed her undergraduate degree in Animal Bioscience at Penn State University. From there, she moved to Southern California to pursue a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine at Western University of Health Sciences and graduated with honors in 2011. She then returned to New Jersey and completed a small animal rotating internship in medicine and surgery at Garden State Veterinary Specialists in Tinton Falls, NJ. Dr. Higgins joined the emergency team at NorthStar VETS in August 2012. In her spare time, she enjoys horseback riding, reading, and spending time outside.

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Advice from Pet Owners Who Have Been There

If you’re like us, you look to reviews and input from others to help you make decisions. Here’s Johanna from NYC. She tells the story of her spaniel mix, Molly, who seemed a little “off” one Saturday. Being an “overprotective pet parent” as Johanna says, she called her vet who recommended a nearby veterinary hospital in NYC since it was Saturday and they were closing.

Johanna packed up Molly and took her to the local veterinary hospital only to have them do a quick overview, tell her they thought it might be cancer and they could do exploratory surgery.

In a panic, Johanna called her parents who live in Pennington, NJ. They recommended she bring Molly down and they’d all go to NorthStar VETS together. They’d heard good things about them and it seemed worth another opinion.

Johanna agreed, checked Molly out of the NYC hospital and hopped a train to Pennington where her parents took her and Molly to NorthStar VETS.

DSC_4379In Johanna’s words, “They were so nice. They checked out Molly and said they weren’t sure what was wrong, but they could do a small test to check out a lump. Dr. Anderson, the Internal Medicine Specialist, said it could be ‘anything.'” They walked Johanna and her family through everything they were doing. “They explained everything clearly and gave us a tour of the facility. I felt like they were concerned for my dog’s health and not just focused on money. We are the biggest fans of NorthStar VETS.”

Another patient left this review on our Yelp page.

“Oh my gosh, I cannot express how impressed we are with NorthStar VETS. NorthStar is remarkably service-oriented, open and collegial in tone. Patient guardians are easily able to access imaging of their pets on their home computers simply by providing their patient ID. Veterinarians work and consult side by side from easily accessible offices. The patient’s families are graciously informed throughout their animal’s care.” Via Georgette on Yelp.

If your pet has to stay overnight or for a few days for care at NorthStar VETS, we welcome you to visit your sick pet. We know you have a close relationship and being with you can help your pet feel better.

Here’s what Ryan said. “Upon entering, we were quickly met by a welcoming staff that had us fill out two papers as my wife talked to a nurse about our puppy’s ailments. Certainly contradictory to the come in, check in and ‘eventually’ be seen approach to most ERs. We were quickly checked into an exam room and waited only about 15 minutes to be seen by a veterinarian, as we were told they had 3 emergency cases before us. I saw everything from cats, dogs, and even a bird on a busy Saturday afternoon. The doctor was extremely friendly and handled our Charlie Boy with such great care.” Via Yelp.

If you’re thinking of checking us out in person, feel free to read what clients are saying about NorthStar VETS in advance of your visit on our page on Yelp, Facebook as well as on our website.

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Visit Your Local Emergency Pet Hospital Before Your Pet Has an Emergency

Human and Animal Blood Drive at NorthStar VETS

Human and Animal Blood Drive at NorthStar VETS

Every year, 1000’s of pet owners rush their beloved pets to the emergency pet hospital for a variety of reasons. However, gastrointestinal illness and trauma top the list. If you have a pet, you don’t want to wait until there’s an emergency before you visit the local emergency pet hospital. The panic of Googling your options as you watch your pet in obvious discomfort will only add to your stress.

The Blessing of the Animals event is held at NorthStar VETS in October

The Blessing of the Animals event is held at NorthStar VETS in October

Instead, ask your family veterinarian who they recommend in emergency situations and after hours. They may have rotating vets on call or recommend a local emergency pet hospital. Don’t forget to add the contact information to your phone. It’s also a good idea to leave it in a prominent location like on the refrigerator in case another household member or a pet sitter needs it. NorthStar VETS can supply you with a refrigerator magnet with this information.

Dr. Kimberly Hammer, Medical Director for NorthStar VETS says, “By visiting your emergency veterinary hospital beforehand, you will not only know how to get there, but also have a chance to meet the people who work there and understand the process of how your pet gets the very best care possible.”

One of the Pet First Aid lectures held at NorthStar VETS in 2016

One of the Pet First Aid lectures held at NorthStar VETS in 2016

If you’ve visited your local emergency pet hospital in a time of calm, you’ll have a little more familiarity with the people, place and process. As Hammer says, “Your focus can be on making the very best decisions for your pet in a time of need.”

NorthStar VETS provides plenty of excellent opportunities to visit the hospital in non-emergent situations. Sign up for our e-newsletter or follow us on Facebook to be in the loop on upcoming events like pet first aid lectures, human and animal blood drives, and the blessing of the animals. You can also schedule a time to come by for a tour.

Kimberly Hammer, VMD, DACVIMKimberly Hammer, VMD, DACVIM
Dr. Hammer graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2000. She then spent a year at Mississippi State University for a small animal internship and then returned to UPENN for a 2-year residency in small animal internal medicine. She earned board certification from the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine in 2004. Dr. Hammer’s professional interests include endocrinology, hepatic and gastrointestinal disease, renal disease, and critical care medicine to name a few. Deeply committed to her patients, Dr. Hammer’s primary goal is to provide the very best patient care, both diagnostically and therapeutically. She joined the NorthStar VETS team in September 2007.

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NorthStar VETS ACVO Service Dog Eye Exams 2016

eye-exams1Peggy Breuninger and her Great Dane, Alma, sat in the waiting room of NorthStar VETS in Maple Shade awaiting their eye appointment with Dr. Vygantas. Alma is a service and therapy dog and works with autistic children, and also visits hospices and hospitals. But on this day, they were at NorthStar VETS for the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmology (ACVO) National Service Animal Eye Exams event. Dr. Vygantas explained, “The ACVO has put together a service event that’s nationwide where the diplomates of the college donate their time and services to examine pets and animals that are working in a service capacity to help people who are disadvantaged, or disabled in other capacities. We do an eye exam to ensure that the eyes are healthy and that they are able to perform their duty in the best way possible.”

Dozens of service animals visit NorthStar VETS each year for a free exam. Dr. Vygantas explained further. “The service dogs will be getting an exam just like any of our clinical patients. There is a lot observation, both looking with the microscope and with special lenses to see deep into the eye. We check ocular surface health by checking with a fluorescein stain to see if there are any abrasions, we check lubrication of the eye with a test called the Schirmer tear test, we check the pressure of the inside of the eye with an instrument that we actually touch to the surface of the eye called the Tono-pen or the Tonovet to make sure these pets don’t have Glaucoma. It’s a general exam much like what you would get when you go to your eye doctor, just to make sure that their eyes are healthy.”

Stacy Milazzo of Stokes Pharmacy, the main sponsor of this national event, told us what the event is all about. “Stokes Pharmacy is a proud sponsor of the ACVO Service Animal Eye Exams which happen in the month of May. They’re free exams given by Veterinary Ophthalmologists to screen service animals and catch any problems before they happen so they can make sure these animals will be ready to serve for the rest of the year.”

eye-exams2These service animals have a wide variety of jobs. Ruth Osman and her dog, Kelsey, were also there to see the Ophthalmologist. Ruth gave us her volunteer story about her work with Kelsey and the Tri-State Canine Response Team. “Kelsey and I are a therapy dog team with some extra training. We’re trained to respond in case of a disaster or crisis and give comfort and stress relief to first responders, family members of victims and even visiting shelters after disasters. Other times we visit libraries, schools and nursing homes.” Sue Keenan and Xena were another team doing search and rescue. “Xena will be seven in December,” said Sue. “She was found as a stray and I adopted her from the Associated Humane Society in Newark. She had no obedience training or related work done with her, so we started first with obedience training and we got into trailing and finally scent detection. Xena is a trained search and rescue dog. She is certified through two organizations, NASAR search and rescue and the North Carolina Police Dog Association. She is certified to search for human remains and we do searches for missing people around the country, but mostly down south.” And Xena gives back in other ways as well. “We’ve also been participating for the last several years with the NorthStar VETS Canine and Feline Blood Bank. She donates blood there to dogs that are injured or sick and need blood.”

Thanks to ACVO and Stokes Pharmacy, these dogs are seeing great and ready to get back to work. Sue Keenan concluded, “These eye exams are great because the ACVO does this every year and allows us to visit Dr. Vygantas at NorthStar VETS to have her eyes examined.” And Stacy from Stokes Pharmacy added, “It’s been a wonderful experience for us. We’ve been able to go out and see some of the clients and see how vital these animals are to the people that they serve. It’s been a really nice thing for our organization to be able to sponsor that.”

To learn more about the event, visit the ACVO Service Dog Eye Exam website.

James Clinton, VMD, DACVOJames Clinton, VMD, DACVO
Dr. James M. Clinton received his veterinary degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He then completed an internship in small animal medicine and surgery at the prestigious Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston prior to undertaking a residency in ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Clinton has been a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmology since 1972.

Dr. Clinton opened the Animal Eye Clinic of New Jersey in 1971, which was one of the first independent ophthalmology referral practices in the country and the first one on the East coast.

Kristina R. Vygantas, DVM, DACVOKristina R. Vygantas, DVM, DACVO
Dr. Vygantas is a graduate of the New York State College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University. She completed an internship in small animal medicine and surgery as well as her residency in ophthalmology at Auburn University. Dr. Vygantas became a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists in 2001. She was in private practice in Birmingham, Alabama, for four years prior to joining NorthStar VETS in 2005. She also served on the board of the exam committee of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists. Her special interests include corneal surgery and wound healing as well as equine ophthalmology.

The information presented on this web site is not intended to take the place of your family veterinarian’s advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Discuss this information with your own veterinarian to determine what is right for your pet. All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. We can not and do not give you medical advice via this blog. The information contained in this online site and emails is presented in summary form only and intended to provide broad understanding and knowledge. The information should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of a visit, call, consultation or advice of your veterinarian. We do not recommend the self-management of your pet’s health problems.

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From the Client Perspective: My Dog was Diagnosed with Kidney Disease

From time to time, we will share stories from the client perspective, giving insight into some of the thousands of stories that take place at NorthStar VETS every year. This is the story of Butterscotch, who was diagnosed with kidney disease.


Butterscotch was bleeding from his mouth one day, so I called my family veterinarian. The technician suggested that maybe he had a broken tooth, but the bleeding continued, so I brought him in. One of the associate veterinarians immediately looked at him. There was concern about cancer, but after some tests it turned out to be chronic kidney failure. Butterscotch was given some medicine to control the bleeding and sent home.

A couple of weeks later, over the weekend, Butterscotch continued to bleed on and off as he tried to eat and drink. He continued to remain very weak and something was not right. Monday morning, I called my family veterinarian. After a second examination, his numbers were worse than on my initial visit and his situation was more serious. My family suggested I get him to NorthStar VETS right away. We were on an emotional rollercoaster, but we were ready to fight for the health of our precious family member.

When he presented to NorthStar VETS a few days before Thanksgiving, his numbers were dangerously high from all the blood loss and they were worried about his condition after five days of dehydration and anemia. They kept him for two days and after 37 hours of IV fluids and a blood transfusion, his numbers were much better. We brought home a happy and excited dog. The staff from top down at NorthStar VETS could not have been more honest, attentive, friendly, concerned, and supportive. I was overwhelmed with gratitude.

Butterscotch2A week later, he was doing well and went for a recheck and his numbers were settling down to present a true picture of his kidney disease. Dr. Anderson at NorthStar VETS suggested a renal diet and fluids at home. Five months later, Butterscotch is doing very well with the subcutaneous fluids.

Thank goodness I took him to NorthStar VETS and he is being treated and monitored for kidney failure. NorthStar VETS didn’t just save my dog; they saved a member of our family!


If you would like to share your story in an upcoming “From the Client Perspective” blog post, email Marketing Director Phil.

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Human and Animal Blood Drives at NorthStar VETS

photo1NorthStar VETS is hosting TWO human and animal blood drives this June! These are excellent opportunities for you and your pet to give back with the gift of life. Find the event most convenient for you and sign up right away!

Human and Animal Blood Drive with the Community Blood Council of NJ
Thursday, June 23 from 10:00am-2:00pm
NorthStar VETS in Maple Shade, NJ
2834 Route 73N, Maple Shade, NJ 08052
Humans can sign up at the Community Blood Council website.

Human and Animal Blood Drive with the American Red Cross
Wednesday, June 29 from 9:00am-2:00pm
NorthStar VETS in Robbinsville, NJ
315 Robbinsville-Allentown Road
Robbinsville, NJ 08691
Humans can sign up at the Red Cross website. Type in zipcode 08691 or scroll down to June 29 and select the event at NorthStar VETS.

You can begin your pet’s pre-screening process today at

Blood Bank 012Learn more about the NorthStar VETS Canine and Feline Blood Bank
See some of the NorthStar VETS Superheroes saving lives every day
Read some success stories of pets saved with donated canine and feline blood

See TV news coverage from last year’s Human and Animal Blood Drive at

Watch the NorthStar VETS video covering the 2015 human and animal blood drive

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3 Ways to Ensure a Safe Veterinary Waiting Room Experience

My Oncology team and I have more than thirty years combined working in veterinary hospitals. Over the years, we have seen many different interactions in the waiting room. These are the top three things you can do to ensure a safe experience for everyone while you wait to be seen.

  1. Make sure children understand how to interact with other people’s pets
    Most pets in the NorthStar VETS lobby are either sick or painful. It is best to not to interact with other people’s pets without permission. Encourage children to ask permission before interacting with a pet, and help them understand that a sick/hurting/scared animal may not want to be pet.

    This applies to your four-legged children as well. Dogs naturally want to sniff or play with other animals in the waiting room, but you don’t always know why other owners have their pets in the hospital. If those pets are sick, they may not want to play.

  2. Avoid retractable dog leashes
    Many clients like retractable leashes, but they do come with risks. With a retractable leash, dogs can be more difficult to control, may not understand their boundaries, and the leash has the potential to snap due to wear over time. It also tempts dogs to greet other dogs in the waiting room. Read Dr. Marty Becker’s post on the top 10 risks of retractable leashes

  3. Use a carrier for smaller pets
    If you own a cat, bird or other small animal, please keep them in a carrier. Some dogs have a strong prey drive, and may take an unwelcome interest in your pet. And having smaller pets in a carrier makes it easier to get them into the hospital and into and out of the exam room.

    This is another important tip. If your pet requires a muzzle, allow your veterinary professional to place it on your pet. Many of us are very skilled at understanding the scared or hurt pet that might be potentially reactive. In most cases, we are able to gently restrain a pet without the aid of our clients.

    Our top priorities are the pet, their well-being and safety for everyone.

    Jennifer Kim, DVM, DACVIM (Oncology)Jennifer Kim, DVM, DACVIM (Oncology)
    Dr. Kim grew up in New York and received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania. After two years at the National Cancer Institute performing cancer genetic research, she attended veterinary school at Tufts University. Dr. Kim completed a rotating internship at the Animal Medical Center in Manhattan, New York, and an oncology internship at Cornell University. She began at NorthStar VETS as an emergency clinician in 2005 and returned in 2010 to treat oncology patients after completing her residency in medical oncology at Michigan State University School of Veterinary Medicine. In her free time, Dr. Kim is an avid foodie and knitter.

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How Rehabilitation Improves Quality of Life for Patients

Sheila is a Veterinary Technician who specializes in animal Rehabilitation, who was inspired when she had to get care for her own dogs. “I was a dance teacher for more than twenty-five years and had a couple of Dalmations of my own,” said Sheila. “As they became senior dogs, they required a lot of nursing care. And during the process of nursing my Dalmations, I realized that I really liked the profession and it was something that I really wanted to do. I knew at some point I was going to retire from teaching dance, so when I did, I went back to school to become a Veterinary Technician so that I could help. I did my externship from school here at NorthStar VETS and absolutely fell in love with the place. I stayed and never left.” She laughs. “I spent time in different departments around the hospital, particularly in Surgery and Radiology. And then one Summer, they asked if I would come and help out in the Rehabilitation department and I said, ‘Sure!’ It just seemed like the perfect fit from the dancing career to Rehabilitation so I decided that I wanted to specialize in it.”

Sheila performing a laser therapy session on a patient

Sheila performing a laser therapy session on a patient

NorthStar VETS sees hundreds of pets each week and Sheila is always staying busy. She remarked, “We run two or three appointments simultaneously. I help assist the doctor, who is a Veterinary Physical Therapist. I am a Technician Physical Therapist. We see all of our post-operative Neurologic cases as well as Orthopedic cases. It’s actually part of their surgical packages. Their suture removals are done with us and then we start them on an exercise program. It helps to speed up recovery, it helps to build that animal-owner bond, and also helps to build their relationship with us as well. Often, those patients will come back to us years later and now they have some arthritis or some pain in other places and they end up seeing us for other modalities such as our therapeutic laser, acupuncture or underwater treadmill. And we can always redo their home exercise program. We combine this with medications as well to help everything work synergistically together to help improve our patients’ quality of life.”

The water treadmill is another tool that Sheila uses to help patients get back to full strength. “Our underwater treadmill is wonderful in that it gives them support so that an animal that cannot stand is often able to stand when they’re in the treadmill. And then when the belt moves, it causes their legs to move which gives them that exaggerated range of motion. They also get proprioceptive feedback when their feet strike the belt every single time. It works really well with our neurologic patients. It’s one of the top therapies that we use with those patients.”

Sheila, and the team an NorthStar VETS, will continue to provide the best in veterinary medicine for you and your pets. “Every single day I love seeing the patients and we get to see a lot of them on a regular basis so we become very attached to them. They’re just a joy! And it’s wonderful when you see a patient completely paralyzed and unable to walk transform over six to eight weeks and get back to normal. They’re playing and having a normal life again which is very rewarding.”

Sheila Mills, CVT, CCRPSheila Mills, CVT, CCRP
Mills is a native of New Jersey with a Bachelor of Science degree from Houghton College (Houghton, NY) in Business Administration. After a long career as a dance instructor, she obtained an Associates of Science degree from Manor College (Jenkintown, PA) in Veterinary Technology. In 2012, Sheila completed an externship at NorthStar VETS and was licensed by the state of Pennsylvania to become a Credentialed Veterinary Technician (CVT). She joined the NorthStar VETS team that same year as a full-time technician spending much of her time in the Radiology, Surgery and Rehabilitation departments.

In 2014, Sheila completed a specialty in Canine Rehabilitation from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine to become a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner (CCRP). She currently focuses her efforts in the Rehabilitation department providing therapeutic treatments, including Laser Therapy, Therapeutic exercises and Underwater Treadmill, for both in-patients and out-patients.

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