Summer 2017

State of the VMTH 2016-2017

The hospital’s more than 120 board-certified faculty and staff veterinarians, along with a team of 350 highly-trained staff members, saw approximately 50,000 patients for the year. Training in each of these patient visits were our 109 house officer veterinarians (residents, fellows, interns) and the 134 members of the Class of 2017. Many hospital services saw double-digit percentage increases in caseload: neurology, equine ophthalmology, behavior, zoological medicine, cardiology, nutrition, equine reproduction, community surgery, and radiation oncology.

Beef Cattle Operation Benefits from Herd Health Veterinarians

Tucked into a picturesque mountain range 175 northwest of campus sits the Eden Valley Ranch, where a menagerie of animals benefit from visits by UC Davis veterinarians and students. The Livestock Herd Health and Reproduction Service (LHHR) recently made its annual trek to the ranch, much to the delight of everyone involved.

Leadership Training Inspires Large Animal Clinic

Twenty faculty and staff members of the UC Davis veterinary hospital’s Large Animal Clinic recently completed a leadership training seminar to maximize efficiency and morale among the team. The Zoetis PeopleFirst™ Leadership Certificate Program covered four 2-day sessions spread out over seven months for a total of 70 hours. An overwhelming consensus taken away from the training was an eagerness to share this exercise with other members of the team and begin implementing the outcomes.

Veterinary Licensing Program Begins

California state law previously allowed for all veterinarians employed by the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) to be exempt from holding a license under the California Veterinary Medicine Practice Act. This exemption also applied to veterinarians employed by the State or Federal Government and working in California, and also to the only other veterinary school in the state, Western University. Most state and academic veterinary institutions around the country have this same policy.

Oral Surgeons Repair Dog’s Tongue after Getting Caught in Trap

Hank, a 10-year-old male Australian cattle dog, lives with his family in a rural area in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. After roaming the property recently, he returned home bleeding profusely from the mouth, and it appeared his tongue was missing. Hank was taken to a local animal hospital where veterinarians were able to stop the bleeding and manage his shocked condition. Due to the severe nature of his wound, he was transferred to the UC Davis veterinary hospital.

Annual VMTH Staff Awards Given Out

Congratulations to this year’s VMTH staff award recipients. Their hard work and dedication to providing the best patient care and customer service is much appreciated.

Stacy Zindel
Rachel Smith Employee of the Year Award


Michele Ortiz
Small Animal Clinic Staff Award


Gabe Gil
Large Animal Clinic Staff Award


Michele Santoro
Laboratory, Pharmacy, Central Services and Diagnostic Imaging Services Award


Theresa Varland
Client Services, Hospital-Wide Administrative Services Award

UC Davis Livestock Veterinarians Save Potbellied Pig

Pickles, a 5-month-old male potbellied pig, was brought to the UC Davis veterinary hospital after he started coughing up blood and vomiting. He was diagnosed with an acute hemothorax (blood in the thoracic cavity) causing severe anemia and was extremely unstable. Treatment for suspected rodenticide intoxication was initiated immediately by the Livestock Medicine and Surgery Service.

UC Davis Veterinarians Remove Heartworm from Cat's Femoral Artery

Stormie, a 4-year-old female Siamese cat, has had a history of heartworm disease since she was adopted at 1 year of age. She and her owner live in Los Angeles, but were visiting family in the Bay Area when she developed pelvic limb lameness. Fearing she had fallen off something or down a staircase, Stormie’s owner brought her to a local veterinary emergency room in Berkeley, where she informed them of the history of heartworm disease. After ultrasound showed a suspected heartworm in the arterial system, and a heartworm antigen test resulted in a strong positive, Stormie’s owner was advised to bring her to specialists at the UC Davis veterinary hospital.

UC Davis Veterinary Surgeons at Forefront of Innovations in Minimally Invasive Surgery

Makana, a 7-year-old female yellow Labrador retriever, was diagnosed with bilateral adrenal tumors so her owners brought her to the UC Davis veterinary hospital. Working together with the Internal Medicine Service, who were managing Makana’s case, surgeons with the Soft Tissue Surgery Service developed a plan to address her complicated condition. Surgeons at UC Davis are pioneering laparoscopic procedures for small animals, and have extensive experience in dealing with adrenal tumors.

Featured Clinical Trial

Dr. Jodi Westropp is recruiting dogs with radio dense bladder stone(s) for a new clinical trial.  The trial aims to evaluate the efficacy of a therapeutic diet for struvite dissolution in dogs. Owners are encouraged to enroll any dog with bladder stones and concurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs) with urease-producing bacteria that do not already have concurrent disease, are consuming urinary prevention/dissolution diets, or are receiving antibiotics for more than five days. Learn more about this and other groundbreaking trials or email

UC Davis Welcomes New Clinicians 

Cardiology Service

Dr. Catherine Gunther-Harrington, DVM, DACVIM (Cardiology) – Assistant Clinical Professor 

Dr. Catherine Gunther-Harrington has been with UC Davis for many years as a student, resident, and staff veterinarian. Congratulations to Dr. Gunther-Harrington as she now has been appointed to a faculty position as assistant professor of clinical cardiology. She obtained her B.S. in Animal Physiology and Neuroscience from UC San Diego in 2002. After working as a marine mammal scientist, Dr. Gunther-Harrington attended veterinary school at UC Davis, graduating in 2012. She completed a rotating medical and surgical internship at North Carolina State University. She then returned to UC Davis for her residency in cardiology, becoming board certified in cardiology in 2016. Dr. Gunther-Harrington’s clinical interests include acute and chronic management of congestive heart failure, interventional procedures, and congenital cardiac defects. She enjoys tailoring medical management to fit the patient’s disease and client’s needs with an emphasis on quality of life. Dr. Gunther-Harrington’s research interests include innovative diagnostic imaging approaches, early identification of cardiac disease, and minimally invasive diagnostic and therapeutic options. Given her background, Dr. Gunther-Harrington also has an interest in cardiologic assessment of exotic animals, wildlife, and non-domestic species.

Livestock Medicine and Surgery Service

Sarah Depenbrock, DVM, MS, DACVIM (Large Animal Internal Medicine) – Staff Veterinarian

Dr. Depenbrock earned her veterinary degree from UC Davis in 2009. She spent three years in mixed animal private practice before specializing in production animals. In 2012, Dr. Depenbrock pursued a three-year residency in large animal internal medicine at The Ohio State University. Dr. Depenbrock is board certified in Large Animal Internal Medicine, and also completed a Master's degree in Veterinary Clinical Sciences. Prior to joining UC Davis in 2017, she served as a clinical instructor and a staff veterinarian, respectively, at University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Depenbrock has a special interest in small ruminants and a research interest in antimicrobial use in livestock.

Did You Know?

…that Dr. Anna Massie, a second-year surgery resident, won the 2017 Boehringer Ingelheim Veterinary Graduate Award? This prestigious national award is open to veterinarians who are in the final one to two years of residency training in the fields of veterinary pathology, medicine, surgery, radiology/imaging, or laboratory animal medicine. Dr. Massie presented her research on the use of bone morphogenetic protein to repair nonunion fractures at the National Veterinary Scholars Symposium in Washington, D.C. Congratulations, Dr. Massie!  

…that our video of a heartworm removal surgery garnered more than one million views on Facebook? Drs. Gunther-Harrington, Ingrid Balsa and Maureen Oldach, collaborated to successfully remove a 13 centimeter heartworm from a cat’s femoral artery. The procedure was featured as our July “Case of the Month.”

…that the Soft Tissue Surgery Service just removed a nearly volleyball-sized lipoma from Molly the dog? Her owners thought she was just gaining a little weight until they noticed one side of her abdomen getting bigger than the other. The benign tumor was removed by faculty member Dr. Michelle Giuffrida and surgical resident Dr. Shannon Kerrigan. Molly lost nearly 8 pounds due to the surgery and is recovering wonderfully.

Thanks & Praise from Grateful Clients

Dear UC Davis veterinary hospital,

Your recent article on Harvey was brilliantly written and epitomizes the care that animals receive at your facility. I am testament to that. I have had four dogs come through the hospital over the last four decades for various reasons (bladder stone issues/contributed to research with a Dalmatian while being treated, immune system issues with another Dalmatian, spinal cord injury with two surgeries with a third Dalmatian, and an English pointer). From these experiences, everything you wrote was spot on. When I brought my last dog up for the personality/emotional trauma issues, the resident remembered me and my previous dog. Amazing! The caring and love that your staff puts in is so heartwarming. 


With each of my dogs, if I had to leave them occasionally and drive home, it was a 90-minute trip each way. That was heart wrenching. I would drive back every day to be there for my dog—so they would not feel abandoned—until it was ok to release them to go home. The staff in the wards were just as wonderful as the doctors. The students are the same. Warm, welcoming, full of answers for all my questions and even had tissue for tears when needed. 


I am forever indebted to all of you for the care you provided to my loving pups and to the compassion shown to me as an owner.


Keep it up everyone. You are helping the world, one four-legged (and human two-legged) living being at a time.


Thank you,


Kathie R., Santa Rosa, California  

CE Calendar

Upcoming Veterinary Continuing Education Events:

  • October 13-15: Fall Festival, UC Davis
  • February 3-4: Winter Conference, UC Davis
  • February 23-24: Wildlife & Exotic Animal Symposium, UC Davis


Learn more about these and other upcoming CE events.

Help Advance Veterinary Care

With a simple online donation, you could help save a life – like Finley, who was able to have a rare eye tumor removed thanks to the generosity of others.