Surgery Success: Alana

In spite of all she’s been through, Alana has the heart of a fighter and the guts of a survivor. Recently, she was rushed to NorthStar VETS for weakness. In the following hours, our ER team (Dr. Higgins, Dr. Jones, and Dr. Tasker), along with Cardiologist Dr. Keegan and Dr. Kerrigan of the Radiology team discovered that Alana had a mass on her heart which was bleeding into her pericardial sac. When too much blood filled the space, the pressure caused her heart to collapse. Three times a needle was inserted removing the pooling blood and stabilizing her for surgery. In addition, Alana had masses on her spleen. She went into surgery with Drs. Johnson and Zuendt along with Critical Care specialist, Dr. Berkowitz, and Veterinary Technicians Caitlin and Rachel managing anesthesia. All of Alana’s masses were successfully removed, and the next day she impressed us all by walking around and eating.

She’ll return to tackle her cancer with oncologist Dr. Barber, but for now, she goes home bright and strong.


Alana’s Care Team:

Lisa Barber, DVM, DACVIM (Oncology)

Originally a native of New York City, Dr. Barber received her DVM degree from The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1992. She went on to pursue a rotating internship in small animal medicine and surgery followed by a residency in medical oncology at the University of Pennsylvania. She then served as a staff oncologist at Penn until 2001. Dr. Barber joined the faculty of Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in 2002 and became section head of oncology in 2003. During her 18 years at Tufts, she treated a variety of different types of animals for cancer, conducted clinical trials of new therapies, published many scientific articles, and trained veterinary students and residents. She is a recipient of the Artemis Award for Clinical Excellence and the Zoetis Award for Veterinary Research Excellence. She remains an adjunct professor at Tufts. Dr. Barber joined NorthStar VETS in 2020. Her interests are both innovative therapies for the treatment of cancer in companion animals and palliative care, but her primary focus is preserving and enhancing quality of life in pets with cancer.

Steven Berkowitz, DVM, DACVECC

Dr. Steven Berkowitz attended St. Georges University and did his clinical year of training at University of Illinois. Dr. Berkowitz joined NorthStar VETS after service 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 Oradell Animal Hospital in Paramus, NJ. His residency was completed at one of the first level one veterinary trauma centers in the United States. Prior to his residency, he was a staff emergency veterinarian at Animal Specialty Center in Yonkers, New York, as well as at Animal Emergency and Referral Center in Fairfield, NJ. Dr. Berkowitz can be seen on seasons 5 and 6 of “Animal Precinct” on Animal Planet, which was filmed at the Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital of the ASPCA wherein he did his rotating internship after completing veterinary school. Dr. Berkowitz’s professional interests include management of metabolic and endocrine emergencies, as well as management of septic patients. He is published as the primary author in the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care with his article “Resolution of spontaneous hemoabdomen secondary to peliosis hepatis following surgery and azithromycin treatment in a Bartonella species infected dog.”

Dr. Berkowitz proudly serves on the Board of Trustees for “Mickey’s Kids,” which helps provide service dogs in New Jersey for children in need. He is also on the Board of Diversity and Inclusion with the College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, as well as serving as a critical care reviewer for Vet Companion, which is an online service for veterinary professionals. He is also currently involved in the reviewing process for the newest version of the RECOVER Guidelines for advancing knowledge in CPR in the veterinary field.

Lauren 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.

Kelly Johnson, DVM, MS, DACVS

Dr. Kelly Johnson is a Vermont native who received her undergraduate degree from the University of Richmond in 2002. She earned her veterinary degree from Michigan State University in 2006. After graduation she completed a small animal rotating internship at the Hope Advanced Veterinary Center in Vienna, VA followed by her surgical residency at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. During her residency she also completed a Master?EUR(TM)s Degree in Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences. Dr. Johnson practiced as a small animal surgeon in northern NJ for nine years before joining NorthStar VETS in 2020.

Dr. Johnson is trained in the tibial tuberosity advancement (TTA) and lateral extracapsular suture techniques for cranial cruciate ligament disease. Outside of work she enjoys paddle boarding, yoga, downhill skiing, traveling, attending country concerts and watching the New York Rangers.

Veronica Jones, DVM

Dr. Veronica Jones received her Bachelor of Science in Animal Science from Cook College at Rutgers University. Prior to attending veterinary school, she worked as a veterinary assistant and technician for 3 years. She moved to Alabama and completed her DVM at Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2016. Dr. Jones started in general practice after returning home to South Jersey, and then practiced emergency medicine. She has interests in surgery, trauma, and critical care. Dr. Jones enjoys listening to music, reading, and traveling during her free time. She also spends time with her two sweet miniature poodles, Duchess and Bella.

Ryan Keegan, DVM, DACVIM (Cardiology)

Dr. Keegan attended the University of Notre Dame and received his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University. He then completed a one year rotating internship at Oradell Animal Hospital. After his internship, Dr. Keegan completed a 3-year residency in cardiology at Red Bank Veterinary Hospital and received Board Certification in Cardiology in 2014. His goal is to provide the most accurate diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment for your pet’s heart condition.

Dr. Keegan’s special interests include early treatment of pre-clinical mitral valve disease and cardiomyopathy, improving quality of life for chronically coughing animals and advanced cardiac cases, accurate assessment of pulmonary hypertension (high lung pressure), and long-term management of congestive heart failure and arrhythmias. In his spare time, Dr. Keegan enjoys swimming, the beach, and participating in rescue/shelter work. He resides with his wife, their cat, and a loving pack of dogs.

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.

Laura 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.

Gregory Zuendt, DVM

Dr. Zuendt graduated veterinary school from the University of Illinois in 2015. He went on to complete a small animal rotating medicine and surgery internship at Oradell Animal Hospital. Following this, he completed a surgery-specific internship in Nashville at BluePearl Veterinary Partners. Dr. Zuendt then joined NorthStar Vets in July 2017 and has a special interest in surgery, critical care medicine, neurology, and cardiology.

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