My Veterinary Journey
I first became aware of wanting to become a veterinarian at the age of 12. I met with my middle school counselor the next year and he really didn’t encourage my pursuit of the career, since very few women were veterinarians in the early 70’s. I refused to give up on that dream, even though the operation of our home bakery was a deterrent to having my own pets. I snuck a kitten into the house at around age 10. We had to stash him quickly in my bedroom when the sanitation inspector showed up, unannounced. I persevered in taking all the necessary steps to move forward toward my dream profession: pet sitting for neighbors, volunteering at our local vet office, and studying hard to get excellent grades in science and math.
Once I finished my undergraduate studies at Michigan State University at the age of 19, I applied to the veterinary school there. The admission committee concluded that I was not mature enough for the graduate program. I was really disappointed. I then left school for a year to work in the animal health research and development division for Upjohn Pharmaceutical Company, during which I was assigned to evaluate whether the drug minoxidil (Rimadyl) would increase wool growth in sheep. I had my own little flock of sheep and my study showed promise! After I left for vet school, the study was transferred to the human medical division as the remedy for baldness still being used today. At age 20, I was admitted into the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine in an accelerated 3-year program. I graduated at age 23 and was accepted into a 1-year internship in small animal medicine and surgery at a prestigious specialty practice in West Los Angeles. LA has been my home since then.
Westside Hospital for Cats
After five years of honing my clinical skills in dog and cat medicine, I began to become aware that cats were not always treated with the same thoroughness as dogs and made a decision to open a practice limited to cats. In 1985, I built my first practice in Santa Monica in a small former home on Fourteenth Street. I owned and operated that practice from 1985 until 2000, when my patient numbers had increased to a point where I could no longer accommodate them in my tiny space.
I built a much more spacious, modern clinic in West LA, which remained in operation until 2013. At that facility, I expanded services to include endoscopy, ultrasound, chemotherapy, and complex surgery. I also operated a boarding facility on the second floor. I also began teaching veterinary students from schools in the United States, teaching four-week blocks in feline medicine and surgery. I hosted and trained numerous international students who participated in summer internships. I became involved in national leadership in my profession in 2000, I started out as the feline regent and eventually becoming the president of the council of regents for the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners. I also served as an Executive Director for the American Association of Feline Practitioners.
Mobile Pet Care
As the years passed, I became interested in providing veterinary services for dogs and cats in their own homes. Pets, especially cats, are much less stressed and more comfortable being examined and treated for minor ailments in their own homes. Home care for cats also eliminates the conflict and possible injury to owners that often occur when the attempt is made to get them into carriers. It also eliminates the terror they experience when riding in the car and encountering dogs at a clinic. Since pets are living longer lives, I became aware of the need for assisting pet owners in providing comfortable hospice care at home. I already had performed home euthanasia for many of my patients over the years and more people were requesting this service all the time.