Summer 2019
UC Davis Veterinary Hospital Opens
Client Call Center
In order to provide better service to clients and improve clinical workflow, the UC Davis veterinary hospital opened a new call center in late August 2019. The hospital receives upwards of 1,800 phone calls per day, fielded by 10-15 client service representatives (CSRs) at the busiest times – all of whom were physically located in one of three walk-up reception areas. The new call center is housed away from the reception areas to give CSRs an opportunity to provide dedicated one-on-one client service.
Hospital Recognizes Outstanding Staff
Staff members of the UC Davis veterinary hospital were recently recognized for their dedication to providing the best customer service and contribution to clinical care. Five awards were handed out during the annual hospital staff awards presentation.
Dr. Jenessa Gjeltema Treats Creatures Great and Small
Dr. Jenessa Gjeltema of the Zoological Medicine Service is one of only 215 board-certified zoological veterinarians in the world. As part of a UC Davis community partnership, her office is located among the more than 500 animals at the Sacramento Zoo. Recently, her undergraduate alma mater, the College of Charleston, profiled her in their alumni magazine.
Novel Surgery Successful for Former Event Horse
When Goose, a 20-year-old Thoroughbred gelding known for his goofy personality, came into the UC Davis veterinary hospital for fever and inappetence, his prognosis was grave. He was diagnosed with a stone in his urinary tract that was obstructing his ureter and causing a kidney infection. Initial attempts to break up the stone using laser lithotripsy were ultimately unsuccessful. Clinicians with the Equine Surgery and Lameness Service were aware of an alternative method for stone removal through a flank laparotomy, but it had only been reported in the veterinary literature in two horses. Dr. Cheryl McCullough, a veterinary pathologist and Goose’s owner of 13 years, was willing to give it a chance.
Exotics Team Treats 61-Year-Old Tortoise
Mohave, a 61-year-old desert tortoise, was recently brought to the UC Davis veterinary hospital for a recurrence of bladder stones – an issue he was previously treated for in 2014. A few weeks ago, his caretakers noticed that his urates (component of a reptile’s urine) were thick and pasty. Shortly thereafter, Mohave prolapsed his cloaca (common exit for the urinary and gastrointestinal tract); most likely due to straining to eliminate the pasty urates. Thanks to a SVM alumna connecting with her alma mater, Mohave is on the mend.
Veterinary Medical Center Update
The Veterinary Medical Center's All Species Imaging Center will be a central hub of all imaging technology utilized by the hospital.
There’s been exciting movement this quarter with our new Veterinary Medical Center . The new Large Animal Support Facility is nearing completion with a new hay barn and new blood donor pastures located south of Garrod Drive. Inside the current hospital, a new Feline Treatment and Housing Suite is being constructed to more efficiently care for hospitalized cats. And perhaps you’ve noticed the construction at the front entrance to the Small Animal Clinic. Please pardon this interruption as we offer better efficiency to our staff by relocating the laundry facilities from the basement to the first floor. When these updates are complete, we will focus on the next major aspect of Phase I – the All Species Imaging Center . Plans for this new central hub of imaging technology are being finalized, with construction slated to begin in 2020. Please consider joining us on this journey , as we boldly create the world’s preeminent veterinary care facility.
Welcome New Faculty Clinicians
Anatomic Pathology Service
Natalia Vapniarsky-Arzi, DVM, PhD, DACVP
Dr. Natalia Vapniarsky-Arzi joined the Anatomic Pathology Service as an assistant professor, effective June 1, 2019. Dr. Vapniarsky-Arzi received her DVM (2003) from Szent Istvan University in Hungary. She completed her residency training in anatomic pathology at UC Davis, and is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists. Following her residency, she completed a PhD and a postdoctoral fellowship (2013-2017) in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at UC Davis. Dr. Vapniarsky-Arzi successfully completed a KL2 award through the CTSC as an assistant researcher (2017-present) in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology & Immunology at UC Davis. Her primary research interests are related to tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, and immunobiology of the host-implant interface, with a special focus on cartilage and the temporomandibular joint. Dr. Vapniarsky-Arzi will also be participating in necropsy and biopsy clinical service.
Anatomic Pathology Service
Stefan Keller, DVM, PhD, DECVP
Dr. Stefan Keller joined the Anatomic Pathology Service as an assistant professor, effective August 1, 2019. Dr. Keller received his DVM (2003) from the University of Berlin in Germany. He then completed postdoctoral training in anatomic pathology at the University of Zurich in Switzerland and became board certified (2008) from the European College of Veterinary Pathologists. Dr. Keller also earned a PhD (2015) in Comparative Pathology from UC Davis, and then served four years as an assistant professor at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph in Canada. Dr. Keller’s primary research interests are focused on adaptive immunity, specifically the role of lymphocytes and their antigen receptors in health and disease. He has worked extensively with canine lymphoproliferative and inflammatory disorders and clonality testing in dogs. Dr. Keller will participate in the anatomic pathology biopsy clinical service, teach in the professional curriculum, and train residents and graduate students.
Small Animal Internal Medicine Service
Sina Marsilio, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, DECVIM
Dr. Sina Marsilio joined the Small Animal Internal Medicine Service as an assistant professor, effective August 1, 2019. Dr. Marsilio received her DVM (2007) from the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover (Foundation) in Germany. Following graduation, she completed an internship (2008) at the European Veterinary Specialist Center in Germany and a residency (2012) at Justus-Liebig-University Giessen in Germany and Royal Veterinary College in London. Following residency training, Dr. Marsilio served as a clinical lecturer at Justus-Liebig-University and a clinical trials manager at Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health in Germany. She then served as a clinical lecturer at the University of Leipzig in Germany prior to completing a PhD program at Texas A&M University. She is dual board certified by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and the European College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. Dr. Marsilio’s research interests and expertise are in the area of small animal gastroenterology, especially feline gastrointestinal microbiota, metabolomics, and proteomics related to inflammatory bowel disease and small cell lymphoma.
Equine Field Service
Jessica Morgan, DVM, PhD, DACVSMR
Dr. Jessica Morgan joined the Equine Field Service as an assistant professor, effective September 1, 2019. Dr. Morgan received her PhD (Comparative Pathology, 2012) and DVM (2013) from UC Davis. She then completed a one-year internship (2014) at Peninsula Equine Medical Center in Menlo Park, California, and a three-year residency (2017) in equine sports medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, New Bolton Center. Following her residency training, Dr. Morgan remained at New Bolton Center, first as a lecturer in equine exercise physiology and then as a lecturer in large animal ultrasound and cardiology. She is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation. Dr. Morgan’s research interests and expertise are in basic and applied science related to equine performance, musculoskeletal disease, and lameness diagnosis, including early detection and treatment of performance limiting conditions of horses and characterization of the roles that matricellular proteins play in tissue degeneration and disease prediction.
Equine Field Service
Jennifer Cassano, DVM, PhD
Dr. Jennifer Cassano will join the Equine Field Service as an assistant professor, effective September 15, 2019. Dr. Cassano received her DVM (2013) and PhD (Comparative Biomedical Sciences, 2016) from Cornell University. Upon completion of graduate school, she completed a combined academic/private practice one-year rotating internship (2017) at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University/Massachusetts Equine Clinic. Since 2017, Dr. Cassano has worked as an associate veterinarian at EquidDoc Veterinary Services in Massachusetts. Dr. Cassano’s research interests and expertise are in the general area of stem cell biology and therapeutic actions of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), and particularly in alterations in gene expression profiles of MSCs during exposure to inflammatory environments, and in the use of licensing agents to create more uniform MSCs exhibiting therapeutic traits such as chondroprotective activity.
Clinical Pathology Service
Karen Shapiro, DVM, PhD, MPVM
Dr. Karen Shapiro joined the Clinical Pathology Service as an associate professor, effective August 15, 2019. Dr. Shapiro received her DVM (2002), PhD (Comparative Pathology, 2009) and MPVM degrees (Epidemiology, 2011) from UC Davis. After completing her PhD, she continued as a Postdoctoral Scholar (2010-2012). Dr. Shapiro then accepted a position as an assistant researcher (2012-2018) in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology & Immunology and is currently an associate researcher (2018-present). Dr. Shapiro’s primary research interests are in waterborne pathogens with a primary focus on protozoa, specifically Toxoplasma gondii. Her research spans molecular to ecosystem-scale approaches for investigating waterborne transmission of zoonotic pathogens, molecular epidemiology, food safety, and pathogen detection in environmental and clinical specimens.
Companion Exotic Animal Medicine and Surgery Service
Danielle Tarbert, DVM
Dr. Danielle Tarbert recently joined the Companion Exotic Animal Medicine and Surgery Service as a staff veterinarian. Dr. Tarbert received her DVM (2012) from Washington State University. Following veterinary school, she completed a one-year rotating internship at Coral Springs Animal Hospital in Florida (2013). Dr. Tarbert then began focusing her career on exotic animal care by completing a one-year internship in exotic pet and wildlife medicine (2014) and a three-year residency in zoological medicine (2017) at Cornell University. She then served as a zoological medicine clinician at VCA West Los Angeles until joining UC Davis. Dr. Tarbert’s clinical interests include endoscopy, surgery and critical care. Her research interests include diagnostic testing of reptiles, especially in relation to infectious respiratory disease. The extensive training and background Dr. Tarbert brings to UC Davis is a tremendous asset to the exotics team and will allow the service to expand clinical offerings. She also serves as a valuable resource in the clinical training of students and residents.
"Evening with Vet Med" Lectures
Summer Health Hazards for Dogs
Drs. Rebecca Hersh-Boyle and Simon Hagley deliver a lecture on topics such as overheating, heat stroke, foxtails, fleas/ticks, and much more. They'll teach you how to keep your dogs in the best health possible throughout the summer and beyond. We want your dogs to be as happy and healthy as possible and to enjoy everything summer has to offer. 
Backyard Chicken Management
Dr. Rodrigo Gallardo, a poultry specialist at UC Davis, delivers a lecture on the differences between "commercial vs. backyard vs. village" poultry; proper management and disease prevention (biosecurity); and also a discussion of the current Virulent Newcastle Disease outbreak in Southern California.
Upcoming Lecture:
Why do Horses Need Regular Dental Care?
1030 Valley Hall, UC Davis
September 17, 2019
7 p.m.
Upcoming Lecture:
Biosecurity at Your Ranch or Farm
1030 Valley Hall, UC Davis
October 15, 2019
7 p.m.
Cases of the Month
Cat Travels from Canada to California for Groundbreaking Surgery
Rhyme, a 2-year-old male ragdoll mix cat, was being medically managed for a liver shunt for the past six months. That followed nearly two years of trying to discover the root of his illness, which seemed to have plagued him for as long as could be remembered. When a specialist in Rhyme’s hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia finally diagnosed the shunt, he recommended Dr. Bill Culp at the UC Davis veterinary hospital, who has been performing a minimally invasive procedure to correct shunts in dogs for many years. Luckily for Rhyme, Dr. Culp has also utilized this technique in cats when presented with a similar scenario.
Attacked Dog Saved by Multiple Specialists
Charlie, a 2-year-old male Maltese mix, and his owner, Tyler Wilcox, were on a routine walk in their neighborhood when Charlie was severely attacked by a much larger dog. The other dog had Charlie is his mouth—shaking him violently—and was not letting go. Wilcox was forced to intervene, having to get physical with the other dog in order to save Charlie. Charlie was rushed to the nearest veterinary clinic where he was sedated and stabilized, but it was clear that his injuries were life threatening – he would need surgery within a few hours.
Three-Day Eventing Horse Returns to Training Following Colic Surgery
Monty, a 6-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, was down and displaying signs of colic when owner Ashley Aguado received the late-night call that he was sick. She rushed to him and found her three-day eventing horse in a dire condition. “When I arrived, Monty’s face was cut up from all the rolling he was doing,” said Aguado. “He was sweating and just didn’t look good overall.” Having never experienced colic with her horses, Aguado called Monty’s veterinarian and his trainer. Due to the late hour, they suggested getting him to the UC Davis veterinary hospital immediately, as its Large Animal Clinic’s 24/7 emergency service was the only place that could help him.
Did You Know?
…that the Veterinary Emergency Response Team was recently honored with a commendation from the State of California Emergency Medical Services Authority for their brave work during the devastating 2018 Camp Fire? Upon acceptance of the recognition, VERT Director Dr. John Madigan stated, “We will to continue to serve our community to the best of our abilities and continue our mission of helping one animal at a time.”
…that veterinary cardiologist Dr. Joshua Stern led a team of researchers that has found a link between some popular grain-free, legume-rich dog diets and a type of nutritional deficiency and canine heart disease known as taurine-deficient dilated cardiomyopathy? The FDA took notice and issued warnings about the potential connection. The veterinary hospital compiled a list of several resources for pet owners to gather more information on this discovery.
…that four residents recently took home research awards from the 2019 American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) annual conference? As one of the largest veterinary conferences in the world, ACVIM receives resident research submissions from some of the best and brightest young minds in veterinary medicine.
…that Dr. Danika Bannasch, chief of the Genetics Service, recently received an International Canine Health Award for her role in transforming dog health?
Featured Clinical Trial
Drs. Jodi Westropp and Jonathan Dear are recruiting dogs with UTIs for a clinical trial. The trial aims to find an alternative effective therapy to antibiotics in order to reduce selection of bacterial resistant strains. Owners are encouraged to enroll any dog with clinical signs (small amounts of urine frequently, and frequent or painful urination, blood in the urine, straining to urinate or urinary incontinence that has resolved with past antibiotic treatment) and either has had more than one UTI in the past 12 months or has had a multi-drug resistant bacterial strain identified in the urine. For more information about this and other groundbreaking trials, visit the Veterinary Center for Clinical Trials at or email
CE Calendar
Upcoming Veterinary Continuing Education Events:

  • October 4-6 SoCal Vet Series: Canine and Feline GI Disorders, Long Beach
  • October 27 Fall Festival, UC Davis
  • November 2 6th Annual One Health Symposium, UC Davis
  • November 16-17        2019 FIP Symposium: PURRsuing FIP and WINNing, UCDavis
Help Advance Veterinary Care
With a simple online donation , you could make a difference for a hospitalized animal in need by supporting the hospital’s Compassionate Care Funds.
Vet Med Apparel Available
Looking for UC Davis Vet Med swag? Dozens of items are available online through the UC Davis bookstore.