THE PAW PROJECT TEAM
Jennifer Conrad, DVM – Founder and Director
Shayda Ahkami, DVM – Coachella Valley, CA Director
Katrina Breitreiter, DVM – Texas Director
Hugh Chisholm, DVM – Atlantic Canada Co-Director
Laura Cochrane, DVM – Oregon Director
Nicholas Dodman, BVMS, DVA, DACVAA, DACVB – Director, Animal Behavior
Jennifer Doll, DVM – Iowa Director
Kirsten Doub, DVM – Utah Director
Katie Dyer, DVM – Michigan Director
Gitte Fenger, DVM – Ontario Director
Stephanie Globerman, DVM – Georgia Director
Marcy Hammerle, DVM, DABVP – Missouri Director
Lisa Hsuan, DVM – Los Angeles Director
Michal Hess, DVM – Queens, NY Director
Suzanne Hurst, DVM – Oklahoma Director
Eileen Jefferson,DVM – Veterinary Ethics and New York State Legislative Affairs Director
Aubrey Lavizzo, DVM – Colorado Eastern Slope Director
Danya Linehan, DVM – Ohio Director
Nicole Martell-Moran, DVM, MPH – Indiana Director
Frances Minty, DVM – Atlantic Canada Co-Director
Cynthia Olsen, DVM – Illinois Director
Janet Gordon Palm, DVM – Colorado Western Slope Director
Jamie Rothenburger, DVM, MVetSc – Veterinary Pathology Director
Margie Scherk, DVM, DABVP – British Columbia Director
Allan B. Simon, DVM – New York Co-Director
Enid Stiles, DVM, MSc – Quebec Director
Craig Tebeau, DVM – Washington Director
Willem-Jan van Deijck, DVM – Florida Director
Mitsie Vargas DVM, CVA, CVFT, CTP – Central Florida Co-Director
Susan Whittred, DVM – New York Co-Director
Kelly Wright, DVM – Orange County, California Director
Jim Jensvold – Paw Project Assistant Director
Daniel Filion – Consultant, Feline Behavior (Comportement Félin)
Ingrid Johnson, CCBC – Consultant, Feline Behavior and Georgia Assistant Director
Jacqueline Munera, CCBC, PCBC, CAP 2 – Consultant, Feline Behavior
Jean Hofve, DVM – Consultant, Veterinary Science and Research
Kirk Wendelburg, DVM, DAVCS – Chief of Surgery, Animal Specialty Group
Michelle Naden – Digital Marketing
Bob Hershon – Animation and Video Editing
Karen Woodward and Priscilla Roche Mutharasan – Social Media Producers
About Jennifer Conrad, DVM – Founder and Director, Paw Project
Dr. Jennifer Conrad has cared for wildlife on six continents for over two decades. She is an impassioned advocate for animal welfare, who has seen first-hand the suffering and exploitation of animals, destruction of habitat, and gratuitous hunting—all of which threaten the welfare and very survival of many species. Dr. Conrad has participated in many programs to protect and improve the lives of wild animals. She has traveled to Namibia to de-horn rhinos, making them unattractive targets for slaughter by poachers who prize the horns for ornamental uses. While in Africa, she worked with the Cheetah Conservation Fund, collecting information to help fortify the dwindling numbers of this species. In Nepal, Dr. Conrad treated endangered Asian elephants, and in the Galapagos Islands, she joined government scientists treating a threatened population of sea lions.
Dr. Conrad is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine and is a member of the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA), the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians (AAZV), and the European Association of Zoo and Wildlife Veterinarians (EAZWV).
Currently, Dr. Conrad's professional responsibilities are divided between working with nonprofit wildlife sanctuaries for unwanted and abused animals in southern California and administering her own company, Vet to the (Real) Stars, which provides humane veterinary care to animals appearing in television and movies. Some of her animal actors have appeared in The Life of Pi, Transformers II, The Hangover, Zoo Keeper, Doctor Doolittle 2 and The Planet of the Apes.
In her former role as head veterinarian at a wildlife sanctuary, Dr. Conrad founded the Paw Project, which rehabilitates big cats, such as lions, tigers, cougars and jaguars maimed by declawing. Actually an amputation of the last bone in the cat's toe, declawing often cripples these magnificent creatures, both from the pain caused by the bone fragments left behind, and from the progressively debilitating arthritis produced by abnormal stress on other joints as the cats try to avoid walking on their painful, amputated toes.
About Aubrey Lavizzo, DVM – Director, Paw Project-Colorado Eastern Slope
Dr. Aubrey Lavizzo, Paw Project's, first state director, retired from private practice in 2012 after 40 years as a companion animal practitioner in Denver CO, although he continues to serve the veterinary profession as the Practitioner Diversity Representative on the Admissions Committee of the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biological Sciences (CSUCVMBS).
In early 2013, Dr. Lavizzo joined Dr. Conrad in her efforts to end declawing through education and legislation. He appears prominently in The Paw Project documentary. Since then he has been a strong advocate for the humane treatment of cats and all animals through his presentations to diverse audiences throughout Colorado, including Colorado state legislators; veterinarians, technicians and members of the CSUCVMBS faculty; and the Colorado Veterinary Medical Associationís (CVMA) Executive Committee.
Dr. Lavizzo has been recognized for his mentorship of veterinary students and graduate veterinarians through service on the board of the Veterinary Leadership Institute. He has also been recognized for his work in the community as a co-founder with the Childrenís Museum of Denver of an educational exhibit called Ready, Vet, Go! and with PetAid Colorado (formerly, Colorado Veterinary Medical Foundation) as a co-founder of the program known as Community Outreach, which provides services to persons and animals in need in Colorado.
In 2006 the Colorado Association of Certified Veterinary Technicians awarded Dr. Lavizzo its first annual CACVT Advocates Award for his advocacy for certified veterinary technicians, and in 2011 Dr. Lavizzo was honored by the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association as the Colorado Veterinarian of the Year.
About Kirsten Doub, DVM – Director, Paw Project-Utah
Dr. Kirsten Doub is originally from Baltimore, Maryland. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia in 2002 and her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in 2009. Dr. Doub specializes in surgery, dentistry, and preventative medicine. Dr. Doub has her own practice, Union Park Veterinary Hospital, in Salt Lake City, Utah where the motto is "to treat your pets like members of our family". Her patients receive the most progressive ethical and medical care. Dr. Doub is a member of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Dr. Doub joined the Paw Project's efforts to end declawing when she realized that there were other veterinarians like her who were pushing to end the inhumane practice of declawing. Dr. Doub is proud that she has never declawed and never will. Dr. Doub established the Utah chapter of the Paw Project with the goal to use evidence-based medicine to change professional veterinary standards. Paw Project-Utah has garnered support in the Salt Lake community and has connected with ethically-minded veterinary professionals nationwide. Dr. Doub is excited to work with the Paw Project team to form a growing group of veterinarians and animal advocates who are leading their communities toward more ethical treatment of animals, including an end to declawing.
About Nicole Martell-Moran, DVM, MPH – Director, Paw Project-Indiana
Dr. Moran graduated with honors from Central Michigan University in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a Chemistry minor. She then went on to graduate from the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2009 while simultaneously earning a Master's degree in Veterinary Public Health through the University of Minnesota. Dr. Moran is also a Veterinary Medical Officer in the USDA's National Animal Health Emergency Response Corps, responding to national and international emergencies and disease outbreaks that involve companion animals and livestock. She is an active member of the American Association of Feline Practitioners, the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Indiana Veterinary Medical Association. She has a special interest in nutrition, pain management, dentistry, and infectious diseases.
Dr. Moran grew up in Northeastern Michigan and has practiced small animal medicine in the Indianapolis area since 2009 and feline-only medicine since 2012 at the Cat Care Clinic of Indianapolis. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, gardening, genealogy research, traveling with her husband, and spoiling her cats Ricky, Randy, Salma, Sylvia, Alton, and Velveteen.
Dr. Moran is an active participant in the Paw Project movement and hopes to help cats in the Midwest live a healthier more stress and pain-free life.
About Susan Whittred, DVM and Allan B. Simon, DVM – Co-Directors, Paw Project-New York
Dr. Susan Whittred graduated with special honors from Hunter College in 1999. In 2003, she graduated from Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine, receiving a special award for outstanding interest and ability in feline medicine and surgery from the American Association of Feline Practitioners. Dr. Whittred currently lives in Long Beach, NY with a parcel of furry "kids" and practices veterinary medicine at Animal Hospital of the Rockaways. Dr. Whittred is Director of Veterinary Medicine of the Patricia H Ladew Foundation, a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) orgnization that provides housing and medical treatment for unowned cats. Dr. Whittred is a member of the Cornell Feline Health Center, The Association of Feline Practitioners, The Association of Shelter Veterinarians, The Long Island Veterinary Medical Association, The New York State Veterinary Medical Society, The American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Humane Association.
Dr. Allan Simon is a co-founder of the Animal Hospital of the Rockaways, established in 1977. He attended Cornell University as an undergraduate and also received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine there in 1973. He is a member of the the Long Island Veterinary Medical Association, the New York State Veterinary Medical Society, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the New York City Veterinary Medical Association, Cornell Feline Health Center and the New York City Medical Reserve Corps. He enjoys his two children, sailing and tennis. In his off-time he volunteers with The Habitat for Humanity helping to rebuild Breezy Point NY, an area hard hit by super storm Sandy. He also volunteers at an animal shelter in Queens, NY.
About Stephanie Globerman, DVM and Ingrid Johnson, CCBC – Paw Project-Georgia
Dr. Stephanie Globerman was born and raised on Long Island in New York. She attended the State University of New York at Albany where she obtained an undergraduate degree in Business Administration. After undergrad, she moved to Florida to pursue a degree in veterinary medicine. Dr. Globerman graduated from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in 1999. After graduation, Dr. Globerman did an internship with Veterinary Specialists of South Florida, after which she worked as a small animal practitioner in the Vinings area of Georiga. It was not until working with both cats and dogs that Dr. Globerman realized her passion was in the practice of feline medicine. Dr. Globerman worked at the Cat Clinic of Roswell for over 4 years, specializing in the care of feline companion animals. In 2006, she opened Paws Whiskers & Claws, The Feline Hospital in Marietta, Ga. where she works today with her co-director, Ingrid Johnson, IAABC cat consultant. Together they work to better the lives of their patients through education of each kitty's parent.
Dr. Globerman and her husband Kyle have two sons, Ben and Zak. They share their home with two rescued dogs, six rescued cats, a bearded dragon and some fish!
Ingrid Johnson is a Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (CCBC) through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC). She is also employed at Paws Whiskers and Claws as a veterinary technician and feline groomer. Ingrid has been working exclusively with cats since 1999. Animal welfare and has been her passion since her early teens and she has been working toward societal change in this arena ever since, encompassing all areas of animal exploitation including domestic cruelty, animals in research, factory farming and the like.
Ingrid operates Fundamentally Feline, providing both in home and phone consultations for clients experiencing behavior challenges with their cats. Fundamentally Feline publishes educational blog content for clients as well as managing Facebook and Twitter pages. In addition to behavior consultations, Ingrid also makes her own line of feline foraging toys, scratching posts and scratch pads, and litter boxes. Ingrid and her husband Jake will also design and install custom built vertical space installations for families with cats. Ingrid currently shares her home with husband Jake, twelve cats, and Elsa, a rescued Burnese Mountain Dog.
About Hugh Chisholm, DVM – Co-Director, Paw Project-Atlantic Canada
Dr. Hugh Chisholm is the Director of Paw Project-Atlantic Canada, which includes the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. In 1987, Dr. Hugh Chisholm and his wife, Kathy, opened Atlantic Cat Hospital, the first veterinary hospital in Atlantic Canada devoted exclusively to cats and their owners, which he operated until 2010.
Dr. Chisholm is currently agent/publisher at Ailurophile Publishing, which has produced Kathy Chisholm's books: "Urban Tigers - Tales of a Cat Vet", "Urban Tigers Two - More Tales of a Cat Vet", and "ME: A Memoir by Tuxedo Stan". He continues to work as a part-time feline practitioner for the PetFocus Group in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Dr. Chisholm also works with local cat rescue groups in Halifax, NS. He manages the Tuxedo Party Facebook Page, the @TuxedoParty & @TuxedoEarlGrey Twitter accounts, as well as the website www.tuxedostan.com.
Dr. Chisholm recently asked the Nova Scotia Veterinary Medical Association to ban declawing surgery in the province. The declaw ban was voted down, but Dr. Chisholm says banning the surgery is long overdue and says it's already banned in over 22 countries. "It's a barbaric mutilation that does nothing to benefit the cat," Dr. Chisholm says. "It's something that should become history. It's an embarrassment to our profession."
About Danya Linehan, DVM – Director, Paw Project-Ohio
Born and raised in New England, Dr. Danya Linehan has worked in the veterinary field since 1983 and has been a practicing veterinarian since 1993. She obtained a BS in animal science at the University of New Hampshire and her veterinary degree at Ohio State University.
Danya met her first pony in her fifth year on the planet. This being northern New Hampshire in the middle of February, the ground was covered with snow and ice. Still, this kid asked the farmer if she could please feed his pony some of the grass she had been stuffing in her pockets all summer and fall in anticipation that someday she might meet a pony. And that's how it started. Her first job at 15 years of age was as 'The kennel girl' and sometimes veterinary assistant for mentor, Dr. David Berliner in Concord, NH. In addition to small animal medicine, her career has included wildlife rehabilitation, shelter work for both large and small animals, and outreach education with the Massachusetts Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Dr. Linehan spent 11 years learning from Dr. Donn Griffith and, thanks to him, earned her veterinary acupuncture certification in 1997 from the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society.
Dr. Linehan is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Ohio Veterinary Medical Association and the Association of Veterinary Technician Educators. She began teaching at Stautzenberger College in 2006. Working with future veterinary technicians, developing curriculum, writing and teaching classes on campus and now online, became her more than full-time job. Teaching has become yet another passion and huge learning experience.
Other animal-focused waking hours are spent doing volunteer shelter work, serving on the Ohio Pet Fund Board and helping provide TNR, food and shelters for local feral colonies. Dr. Linehan spreads the word about animal issues - physical, societal and behavioral - through radio and webinar appearances and at seminars for the pet-owning public and for shelter staff and volunteers. She also participates in big cat rescue operations with The Exotic Feline Rescue Center in Indiana.
Dr. Linehan's interest in all things feline behavior evolved in an effort to make her own super-multi-cat family as happy, enriched and harmonious as possible. It also became a necessity in response to an ever-growing influx of feral kittens in need of socialization before placement, and to the needs of our fearful and displaced shelter animals. Danya lives with her husband Mike Parks, a musician and sculptor by trade and dedicated animal advocate by nature, and over a dozen animal friends.
About Margie Scherk, DVM – Director, Paw Project-British Columbia
Dr. Margie Scherk graduated from the University of Guelph in 1982 with a DVM from the Ontario Veterinary College. She founded the Cats Only Veterinary Clinic in Vancouver, BC in 1986. In 1995 she became board certified in the specialty of Feline Practice by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP). One of the things she is most proud of is her pioneering the use of the Transdermal Fentanyl Patch for the alleviation of pain in companion animals. She has collaborated and co-authored several other papers; she has written a chapter for two editions of Ettinger and Feldman's "Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine," numerous chapters in Little's "The Cat: Clinical Medicine and Management" as well as several other chapters in other texts.
She has served on the Board of the American Association of Feline Practitioners and was 2007 President of the organization. She has the privilege of being on the AAFP Feline Vaccine Recommendations Panel since 1995. She has volunteered also on the ABVP exam committee and the CE committee and has served on the scientific advisory committee for the World Small Animal Veterinary Congress and been the editor of the WSAVA Proceedings for the Vancouver 2001 meeting. As a participant on the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam Committee (NAVLE), she interacts with top teachers and practitioners to create a fair way of assessing the competence of new graduates. She founded the Feline Internal Medicine folder on Veterinary Information Network (VIN), and through many opportunities on the online medium, has grown to love teaching veterinarians, vet students and veterinary care providers both online and around the world. She is the North American editor for the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery.
In "real life", she shares her home with her husband Jim, misses her adult children, loves to cook and is allowed to serve four cats: Nimitz, Jules, Monty and James.
About Professor Nicholas Dodman, BVMS DVA DACVAA DACVB – Director, Animal Behavior
Nicholas Dodman, Professor, Section Head and Program Director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, North Grafton, Massachusetts, is one of the world's most noted and celebrated veterinary behaviorists. He grew up in England and trained to be a vet in Scotland. He attended Glasgow University Veterinary School in Scotland where he received a BVMS (equivalent to the US degree DVM). He was a surgical intern at the Glasgow Veterinary School before joining the faculty. It was at this time that Dr. Dodman began specializing in surgery and anesthesia. He received a specialty qualification, the Diploma in Veterinary Anesthesia, from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in 1975.
In 1981, Doctor Dodman immigrated to the United States where he became a faculty member of Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. He became board certified in anesthesiology by the American College of Veterinary Anesthesiologists in 1982. Shortly after his arrival in the US, Dodman became interested in the field of animal behavior. After spending several years in this area of research, most importantly pioneering equine research, he founded the Animal Behavior Clinic - one of the first of its kind - at Tufts in 1986. Dodman began to see clinical cases in 1987 and since 1990 has devoted all of his time to his specialty practice of animal behavior. In 1995, he received an additional board certification in animal behavior from the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.
Dr. Dodman is an internationally recognized leader in his field. He has had produced five trade books, two textbooks and more than 100 scientific articles and contributions to scientific books and journals. He also holds 10 US Patents for various inventions related to the control of animal behavior. Dr. Dodman appears regularly on radio and television. Nicholas Dodman is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists. He is also a member of the Leadership Council of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association. He lives near Tufts University with his wife, Dr. Linda Breitman, a veterinarian who specializes in small animals, and their children.
About Frances Minty, DVM – Co-Director, Paw Project-Atlantic Canada
I am joining Paw Project-Atlantic Canada as its Co-Director, along with my classmate, Dr. Hugh Chisholm. My education included BSc from Acadia University, MSc from the faculty of Medicine at the University of Western Ontario, and DVM from the University of Saskatchewan in western Canada.
I began companion animal practice in 1986 in St. John's, Newfoundland, and returned to my home province of Nova Scotia in 1992. I retired from practice in September 2013, but returned to work part-time on the beautiful Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia.
Of all the creatures great and small, cats have always been closest to my heart, and I have a special interest in surgery and dentistry. I feel a ban on declawing is long overdue, and regret that I have not shown the strength to speak out before now.
I share my home with one human, my partner Bill, one token canine, Simon, and we all happily serve three cats, Frank, Mick and Reuben.
About Lisa Hsuan, DVM – Director, Paw Project-Los Angeles
Dr. Lisa Hsuan is a graduate of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. She has received veterinary research fellowships from Stanford University and the University of Tokyo. She works with dogs, cats and exotic animals, and has completed clinical rotations at various zoos.
After veterinary school, Dr. Hsuan moved back to Los Angeles and worked in her private practice, Animal Health Care Center. In the last several years, she spent much of her time in the non-profit sector. She has special interests in spay/neuter programs, feral cat trap-and-release programs and anti-cruelty initiatives. Dr. Hsuan was honored with President's Volunteer Service Awards in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
At home, Dr. Hsuan enjoys spending time with her three cats, a lovable 90-pound Sulcata tortoise, and four utterly spoiled pups.
About Cynthia Olsen, DVM – Director, Paw Project-Illinois
Dr. Cynthia Olsen graduated from University of Illinois, College of Veterinary Medicine, with honors, in 2006. She has always been interested in alternative modalities, as she led holistic groups and conferences while in veterinary school. Dr. Olsen achieved certification in animal chiropractic through International Veterinary Chiropractic Association in 2009. She became certified in veterinary acupuncture through International Veterinary Acupuncture Society in 2013.
Dr. Olsen opened her own practice, Ravenswood Animal Hospital, in 2014. She practices small animal medicine and surgery, and offers acupuncture and chiropractic for small animals and horses. Her professional interests include internal medicine, soft tissue surgery, dentistry, and complementary therapies.
In addition to her passion for veterinary medicine, Cindy is an avid equestrian. She has competed with hunter jumpers, western pleasure horses, and Saddlebreds. She adores all animals, but her favorites include Shiba Inu dogs, Rex rabbits, orange tabby cats, and Palomino horses. Her other loves are playing music, the Cubs, and vegetarian food.
About Enid Stiles, DVM, MSc – Director, Paw Project-Quebec
Dr. Enid Stiles graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College with a DVM in the year 2000. Prior to her veterinary degree, she completed a Bachelor of Science (Conservation Biology) at the University of Ottawa and, in 2009, completed a Masters in Clinical Sciences (Behaviour Medicine) at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Montréal. Dr. Stiles was born in Newfoundland, however since 1987 she has had the opportunity of living in Zimbabwe, Ottawa and Guelph and now Montréal.
Dr. Stiles is passionate about helping animals and their families by providing excellent care and compassion to all of her patients, no matter how big or small. She has been working very hard for the past 14 years at increasing her knowledge and experience in Veterinary Behaviour Medicine. She has achieved this by seeing over 600 behaviour cases and by completing a Clinical Masters degree in veterinary behaviour medicine. Feline behaviour cases are common place and she has seen the direct result of declawing on behaviour. As a founding member of Vets without Borders Canada, Dr. Stiles has also been fortunate to work with people and animals around the world. She believes strongly in working for, and with communities in need to foster the health and welfare of animals, people, and the environments that sustain us all.
In 2009, when Dr. Stiles opened her very own veterinary hospital, Sherwood Park Animal Hospital, she was adamant that it be a pro-claw clinic. She believes that change is possible, one case at a time! It is her life-long dream to make this procedure a thing of the past in North America. By working together with the Paw Project, she believes change IS possible.
Dr. Stiles lives in the west island of Montréal and has 3 children, a dog named Bruce, two cats, Hero and Frank, and a simply fantastic husband!
About Jennifer Doll, DVM – Director, Paw Project-Iowa
Born and raised in Minnesota, Dr. Jennifer (Jenni) Doll graduated from the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine in 1991 and worked as an associate in private small animal practice near Seattle until 1999. After moving to Iowa, Dr. Doll worked with a number of animal welfare organizations and has testified in several neglect cases. She has also worked with law enforcement in cases involving cougars, emus, a black bear, and other wildlife.
In 2010, Dr. Doll was awarded the first-ever Direct Care Practitioner of the Year by the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association presented - by HSVMA Leadership Council member and Paw Project team member Dr. Nicholas Dodman - for her work in helping prosecute animal cruelty cases and as a founder of the non-profit, Witty Kitties Inc., that cares for special needs cats and provides medical care for rescued wildlife. Jenni has helped sedate and move a 600 pound boar from an interstate median and has been bitten by a timber rattlesnake, which caused disseminated intravascular coagulopathy, then shock. Forty-four vials of antivenin later she was back at work. Currently, Jenni and Witty Kitties have in their care a 10 foot alligator and several caimans and giant pythons, but for some reason, no timber rattlers.
In 2013, Dr. Doll opened the Iowa Humane Alliance Veterinary Services. Since then the clinic has performed over 23,000 surgeries using methods set forth by the Humane Alliance. Recently, she led a post-film discussion of "The Paw Project" documentary at the Marcus Coral Ridge Cinema in Coralville Iowa.
About Suzanne Hurst, DVM – Director, Paw Project-Oklahoma
When I was young, my big dream was to help animals. I wanted to conquer pet overpopulation and euthanasia and suffering and achieve a stray-free world. I became a veterinarian instead and had to put aside the "big dream" and settle for the little victories I could achieve in daily practice. By joining the Paw Project, I feel I am happily getting back to my bigger dream of doing something important on a larger scale.
I was raised in Connecticut, Rhode Island and rural Missouri. I received my BA from The University of Tulsa and my DVM from Oklahoma State University. After practicing in Florida for 12 years, I returned to my Midwest roots and opened my own practice in Tulsa in 2010. I initially tried to counsel clients away from declawing and succeeded most of the time. But in the instances when this failed and I performed the procedure, I was left feeling ashamed and angry and nauseous. Finally I decided to just stop. If a client was unhappy, then so be it. And now I sleep a little better. Unfortunately I know that most of the clinics around here will mutilate the poor cat when I refuse. So let's get to work!
We share our hospital, Kindness Animal Hospital, with 4 clinic kitties and 2 rats. I share my home with my partner Kim, 2 dogs, and 6 cats, all fully clawed!
About Craig Tebeau, DVM – Director, Paw Project-Washington State
Dr. Craig Tebeau earned a Bachelor Degree in Zoology from the University of Washington, Seattle in 1992. He completed a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at The University of Minnesota in 1996. Dr. Tebeau and his wife, Dr. Nettie Tebeau (also a veterinarian) worked as associate veterinarians until they purchased The Cat Doctor Veterinary Center, located south of Seattle, Washington in 2006.
Troubled by the practice of declawing cats, Dr. Tebeau officially announced his hospital's decision to change from a policy of discouragement of the procedure to an outright ban of declawing in 2014: "As a group of cat-loving cat owners, who happen to be veterinarians, we would never consider declawing one of our own cats. We have always been very actively discouraging to clients who requested declaw procedures, and in the last 5 years, we have seen very few people get through our robust discouragement protocol and actually still insist on having it done. Even with advanced pain management protocols and every pre-caution, we still felt that the procedure was a disfigurement which ultimately was 100% problematic, despite claims to the contrary. I felt it was time that we closed the door on those last hold-outs and just say, no more. Every one of our staff veterinarians, technicians and clients are cheering our decision, and I hope I can entice other veterinarians to join this movement."
Dr. Tebeau is a member of the American Association of Feline Practitioners, the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management, and the Washington State Veterinary Medical Association. Drs. Craig and Nettie have many companion cats, and also enjoy companion house rabbits (exact numbers are not listed to protect the innocent).
About Kelly Wright, DVM – Director, Paw Project-Orange County, CA
I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2002. I practiced 5 years in Hartford, Wisconsin a small town of 12,000 before moving to Southern California in 2006, eventually owning The Cat Clinic of Orange County in 2007. I was born and raised in the Midwest but have lived in a multitude of places in my life, including Australia for a short time.
Animals have always been my passion, especially cats. I have always felt a great bond with the feline species and despite training early on in my career that made declaws seem like a routine procedure, my participation in this brutal surgery hurt my soul. Proudly, our clinic stopped offering this unnecessary and damaging surgical procedure to our clients at near the same time the Paw Project was spearheading declaw bans in nearby southern California cities. I felt as a feline clinic, especially one that's goal is to protect the health and wellbeing of our patients, we needed to take a stand and be an example for other clinics in Orange County. I will never regret that decision. Thank you for the honor of allowing me to join the fight!
Katrina Breitreiter, DVM – Director, Paw Project-Texas
Dr. Katrina Breitreiter received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in 2013. After graduation, she worked for the local humane society, providing medical care to homeless pets and supporting trap-neuter-vaccinate-return programs in Austin, Texas. She also partnered with various non-profit organizations to provide low-cost veterinary care for animals in need.
After a year of shelter work, Dr. Breitreiter moved to general practice. Her special interests include feline medicine, animal welfare, and animal behavior. She is an active member of the American Association of Feline Practitioners, Association of Shelter Veterinarians, American Veterinary Medical Association, Texas Veterinary Medical Association, and Capital Area Veterinary Medical Association.
Dr. Breitreiter joined the Paw Project to help improve the welfare of cats nationwide. She strongly believes in humane alternatives to declawing and is actively working to educate cat guardians about those alternatives.
About Janet Gordon Palm, DVM – Director, Paw Project-Colorado Western Slope
Dr. Janet Gordon Palm is a practicing veterinarian of 33 years whose passion, energy and enthusiasm for veterinary medicine continues to increase. Dr. Gordon Palm graduated from Kansas State University in 1981 and has practiced in Minnesota for 27 years. Combining her passions keeps practice fun. During her 27 years at New Hope Animal Hospital, she provided medical and surgical care for small animals, avian, and exotics, and proudly proclaimed New Hope Animal Hospital to be "Declaw Free!" She has since moved to Colorado where she continues speaking out against declawing as a Paw Project Director.
Dr. Gordon Palm's other interests include her involvement in Parelli Natural Horsemanship and she uses the behavior principles of respecting body language in all of the species she works with. This results in an enhanced veterinary experience for all. She has used Low Level Laser Therapy for the past several years, which has opened the doors to other integrative modalities.
Dr. Gordon Palm strives for all animals and people to have an outstanding quality of life , and encourages people to express their passions in living life outrageously!
About Laura Cochrane, DVM – Director, Paw Project-Oregon
When Laura Cochrane was in 6th grade, she remembers her family cat, Tiffany, going in for a big surgery called "The Spay/Declaw Package." She recalls nursing her cat back to health and vividly remembers the bloody bandages on Tiffany's paws. Even at age 11, something didn't feel right about declawing, and it stuck with her.
Later in life, Laura would decide to become a veterinarian, but it wasn't until after graduating from vet school that she began to really explore the truth behind declawing. When entering the profession of veterinary medicine, every vet takes the "Veterinarian's Oath" and vows to "do no harm", and to Dr. Cochrane that included NEVER performing a declaw surgery.
Dr. Cochrane worked in private practice for several years then in shelter medicine and high volume spay/neuter. Eventually, she took on the role of Managing Director at 1st Care Animal Health Clinics in LA, establishing some of the highest standards of care for a mobile vaccine and preventive care clinic. Dr. Cochrane realized that cat owners needed more support when it came to inappropriate scratching. She launched Dr. Kind Klaws, an in-home service that provides cat nail maintenance, including nail caps and monthly nail trims. Dr. Cochrane is excited to expand Dr. Kind Klaws to her new home of Portland.
About Michal Hess, DVM – Director, Paw Project-Queens, NY
Dr. Hess received her BSc in Life Science, with honors, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the Koret School of Veterinary Medicine in 2003, with honors. Dr. Hess practiced veterinary medicine for 3 years in Israel, and then relocated to NY, where she worked at the Veterinary Clinic of East Hampton for 4.5 years, and at the Animal Hospital of the Rockaways for 2.5 years. Since 2014, she has worked at Glendale Veterinary Clinic.
Dr. Hess enjoys every aspect of small animal medicine, with emphasis on soft tissue surgery, internal medicine, cardiology, and ultrasound. She is internationally qualified in ultrasonography. Dr Hess is strongly opposed to declawing cats, and sees it as an unnecessary mutilation.
Dr. Hess enjoys travel, photography, yoga, and foreign languages.
About Katie Dyer, DVM – Director, Paw Project-Michigan
Dr. Katie Dyer is a 1993 graduate of Michigan State University. She currently owns two small animal practices in southeast Michigan, Family Pet Practice, located in Waterford and Wixom, but has worked in large animal, exotic, and emergency veterinary practices during the course of her veterinary career. She is the mother of two teenaged boys and a menagerie of horses, dogs, cats, and various pocket pets. In her free time, she loves to spend time outside, riding the horses, camping, kayaking, and SCUBA diving.
About 5 years ago, a staff member brought to Dr. Dyer's attention a disturbing correlation she had detected between cats that were euthanized due to inappropriate urination and/or aggression and cats that were declawed. One of the cats that was currently living at the hospital had been relinquished due to urinary issues and had been declawed. He did not seem particularly lame, but he rarely jumped up on things. Dr. Dyer was truly shocked at the extent of the bone disease, severe tendon contracture, and retained bony fragments of P3 seen when she radiographed his feet. Dr. Dyer performed surgery to remove the bone fragments and to release the tendons. It wasn't ideal, but the cat was more active and started jumping again.
Dr. Dyer says, "It took me a few more years to come to terms with the fact that there was NO good reason to declaw a cat. The long term effects on the cat just were not worth the short term relief of the owner. No matter how good your surgical technique is and how well you control post-op pain, I have now taken enough films to know, the deterioration of the entire musculoskeletal system will eventually occur."
About Willem-Jan van Deijck, DVM – Director, Paw Project-Florida
Dr. Willem-Jan van Deijck worked for several years in a very busy 24/7 emergency clinic in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, where he gained a great deal of experience in both emergency work, including surgery, as well as regular veterinary care. In 2003-2004 he was on Dutch National Television, filmed by a camera team during his regular working hours (day and night) to get an impression of the life of a veterinarian in an emergency animal hospital.
In 2005, Dr. van Deijck came with his wife and two children to start a new life in beautiful Florida. After four years working in Palm Coast, he realized his biggest dream; opening his own clinic. With his team and experience gained over 15 years, he provides the best care possible for the animal members of the family. Having a Boxer and an English bulldog (both rescue animals) at home, Dr. van Deijck knows how strong the bond can be between a pet and owner.
Dr. van Dejick has a strict no-declaw policy in his practice. He says, "While we respect anyone's opinion on these procedures, we at Pet Street Veterinary Care Center have strong ethical beliefs against declawing, ear cropping, and tail docking."
Dr. van Dejick spends most of his free time with his wife Barbara and their two kids, Tobias and Alisa. Besides being a family man, he loves martial arts, soccer, and golf. Dr. van Dejick is a member and past president of the Volusia Flagler Veterinary Medical Association (VFVMA) and is currently a member of the following professional organizations: AAHA, AAFP, AVMA, FVMA and the Ormond Beach Chambers of Commerce.
About Jamie Rothenburger, DVM, MVetSc – Director, Pathology
Dr. Jamie Rothenburger is originally from Radisson, Saskatchewan and attended the University of Alberta prior to enrolling in the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Following graduation in 2010, Dr. Rothenburger worked as a small animal veterinarian in rural Alberta. The following year, she began training in anatomic pathology and obtained a MVetSc degree in 2012 and completed the Senior Residency in 2013 at the WCVM.
Dr. Rothenburger is a PhD student at the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph, Ontario and a member of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and the College of Veterinarians of Ontario. In addition to researching wild rats, conducting autopsies and reading biopsies, she is an active science communicator to the general public with regular contributions to the Western Producer, Canadian Dog Fancier, and Twitter.
Ever since she was shown the declaw procedure during a surgical lab in veterinary school, she has been adamantly opposed to declawing cats. "I was shocked to learn a declaw was actually an amputation and I'm sure many cat owners would feel the same if they knew." Dr. Rothenburger has never declawed a cat and never will.
In her free time, she enjoys reading, crocheting and learning about animal behaviour and training. This includes clicker training her two cats, Sencha and Cleo, her dog Marty and her horse, Tesoro.
About Gitte Fenger, DVM – Director, Paw Project-OntarioOriginally from Denmark, Gitte moved to Canada with her parents and siblings when she was 8 years old. She was raised on a hobby farm in rural Ontario with barn cats, sheep, chickens and free roaming guinea pigs.
Gitte graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph In 2000. In 2010, she bought Park Animal Hospital, an AAHA accredited and Gold Level Cat Friendly certified practice in Mississauga, Ontario, with a strong focus on maintaining the highest level of medical care for their patients. She proudly made it the first animal hospital in the Greater Toronto Area to stop declawing. Cropping ears, docking tails, debarking and other convenience/cosmetic procedures also are not performed.
Gitte loves being a general practitioner and has a special interest in behaviour, nutrition, and breed-specific problems. She mentors students and them to stay true to their values, to know what it is to be kind to animals from the animal's perspective, and to speak up when something feels inherently wrong.
Declawing was not in the OVC curriculum, and Gitte was taught this procedure by her first employer. She will never forget the brutal and unnecessary pain she caused that cat – the procedure took over 30 minutes and caused the paws to swell to twice their size. She deeply regrets this and has dedicated the rest of her life to preventing other cats through what she and that cat went through. Each day she tries to teach at least one person something about declawing that they did not know to help them understand why this procedure is so wrong. She tells her pro-declaw colleagues that no matter how "good" they are at managing the acute pain, the chronic pain is the bigger problem – but she is sure that by working with the Paw Project team, everyone will one day wonder how they could have missed something so obvious.
Gitte's passion for the humane treatment of animals – pets, captive wildlife, and animals used in food production, too – continues outside of working hours. She is an active member of OCAW (Ontario Captive Animal Watch) with whom she is currently working towards ending the use of wild animals in circuses and theme parks. In 2014, she was proud to be a part of the movement that stopped the Bowmanville Zoo from declawing their lion and tiger cubs, a practice they had undertaken for the previous many decades.
Gitte shares her home with 3 cats, 2 dogs, and 1 goldfish – all of whom have come to her "second hand." She unwinds and recharges with yoga, hockey, hiking, traveling, family time and afternoon naps with the furbabies.
About Eileen Jefferson, DVM – Director, Veterinary Ethics and New York State Legislative Affairs
Dr. Eileen Jefferson graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Biological Sciences and then received her DVM with honors from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in 2008. A former staff veterinarian at the San Francisco SPCA, she now operates her own innovative animal advocacy-based mobile practice, Ethical Veterinary, in Ulster County, New York. In addition to her blog, Ethical Veterinarian, she writes op-eds to further humane causes. She regularly joins with the Humane Society of the United States to bolster its animal advocacy campaigns and assist with its rescue operations in the field.Most notably, she helps lead and organize the growing humane veterinary lobby for New York State, including recent efforts to ban declawing statewide.
While in veterinary school , she won multiple awards for her persuasive writing on animal issues and served as an associate editor for the Student AVMA Journal. She is a member of both the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association.
Outside of animals, art, music, and nature, her joys in life include: satirical writing, fiction writing, persuasive writing, expository writing, and guacamole. She hopes that is a healthy enough balance.
About Daniel Filion – Consultant, Feline Behavior (Comportement Félin)
Daniel Filion is known as the The Cat EduCATor (EduCHATeur in French). His firm of 15 consultants, based in Montréal, averages more than 300 private consultations per year and helps many shelters with his Cat Behavior Shelter Program. Daniel is also very active in the French media, hosting the cat portion of the national TV show ANIMO at Radio-Canada. He's also a columnist with various well known magazines, newspapers and websites.
Daniel has trained with many renowned non-veterinarian and veterinarian behaviorists. Currently more than 75 veterinary clinics refer their clients to his firm and half of these clinics have opted for his Cat Friendly Hospital Program.
Daniel teaches widely, using his unique combination of humor and simple concepts to get cat owners to enjoy learning about cat behavior. He reaches overs 2000 owners each year, traveling to many French countries.
He also has created a cat behavior website and Facebook French page (EduCHATeur). He uses his skills to educate people on the alternatives to declawing. He firmly believes that by educating people and making them try the right alternative methods, they will soon realize that declawing is unnecessary. He advocates talking about the alternatives rather than engaging in moralizing debates about declawing.
About Marcy Hammerle, DVM, DABVP – Director, Paw Project-Missouri
Marcy Hammerle, DVM, DABVP (canine and feline) is a 2003 graduate from the University of Missouri. She received diplomate status from ABVP in 2011.
Dr. Hammerle owns her own AAHA accredited practice, The Pet Doctor, in O'Fallon, MO and also owns a non-profit rescue for cats and dogs called The Pet Doctor to the Rescue. They are a no-kill rescue and are proud to find forever homes for many pets.
Dr. Hammerle was an author on the AAHA behavior guidelines for veterinarians, published in 2015. She was also chosen as one of 2015's America's Favorite Veterinarians by the AVMF. She is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
Dr. Hammerle is Vice President of the Greater St Louis Veterinary Medical Association, a committee member for the Missouri Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) and a board member for their charitable organization, the MVMF. She is also an active supporter of pet rescue organizations and local TNR efforts.
Her time away from veterinary medicine is spent with her family and a large group of four-legged family members on their small free-range, organic, suburban farm.
The Pet Doctor was the first veterinary practice to establish itself as a no-declaw practice in the state of Missouri and hopes to inspire other veterinarians to do the same. Her practice also offer consultations/surgical repairs to rescues and cat owners who have cats with medical or behavioral issues related to previous declaw surgery.
About Shayda Ahkami, DVM – Director, Paw Project-Coachella Valley, CA
Dr. Shayda Ahkami is the Director of Shelter and Veterinary Services for the Palm Springs Animal Shelter (PSAS) in Palm Springs, California. PSAS is proud to be an open admission shelter operating under the "no kill" philosophy, the only one of its kind in the Coachella Valley. Dr. Ahkami has served on the board of directors for the Friends of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter since August 2013, demonstrating her unwavering commitment to the PSAS mission of saving lives and donating her skills and expertise in the surgery suite. Dr. Ahkami continues to be a leader in the "no kill" movement by acting as Co-Chair for the No Kill Coachella Valley Coalition.
Dr. Ahkami graduated from St. George University in Grenada, West Indies and is currently pursuing her Master's degree in Veterinary Forensics through the University of Florida. Prior to earning her veterinary degree she worked as a wildlife rehabilitator for 11 years at the Fund for Animals Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. During her time caring for wildlife and illegally owned exotic animals, she was first introduced to Paw Project Founder and Director, Dr. Jennifer Conrad, who became a mentor and inspiration. Dr. Ahkami is a strong opponent to declawing as she has seen the mutilation and adverse effects firsthand. Dr. Ahkami continues to pursue her passion by advocating for various animal welfare issues, including acting as the Paw Project Director in Coachella Valley.
About Mitsie Vargas DVM, CVA, CVFT, CTP – Director, Paw Project-Central Florida
Dr. Vargas received her DVM from Tuskegee University in 1994. In 1996 she established her AAHA accredited Orchid Springs Animal Hospital in Winter Haven, FL. In 2009 she started her studies at Chi Institute, eventually garnering certifications in Acupuncture, Chinese Herbology, Food therapy and Tui Na. She is an assistant teacher at Chi Institute and has worked as a consultant for Disney Animal Kingdom.
Dr. Vargas is also a frequent speaker at veterinary meetings, including the AVMA convention in 2011 and the World Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) Congress in 2015. She is a certified veterinary journalist and has published hundreds of articles including her Monthly Lakeland Ledger newspaper pet care column, and is a guest blogger for "Better Homes and Gardens." She served as an AVMA Spokesperson for Hispanic market and has recorded many PSAs and radio interviews promoting responsible pet ownership. Her love for Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine manifested in her book Alt-Vet: The Revolutionary Pet Care and Longevity Solution.
Dr. Vargas writes, "After much soul searching I stopped declawing because I realized I was doing so under false beliefs. For example: I thought I was helping kitties stay with their owners while in reality many declawed cats end up in a shelter or euthanized due to behavioral problems. The Paw Project movie allowed me to clear my mind, to re-evaluate what I was doing, and to re-ignite my passion to heal animals and honor my Veterinarian's Oath. I vow to help botched declawed cats be pain free again and to educate as many people about the reality of declawing. Our efforts must reach our colleagues and our legislators so we can end this cruel, senseless procedure."
Dr. Vargas's passion for helping animals and her voluntarism has awarded her state and national recognition including the Purina National Pet Care Award, Bay News 9 Medical Hero Award, Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce Business Award, Bright House Regional Business Finalist, Girls Inc "She knows where she is going award," and the Florida VMA Gold award. She was honored by the American Veterinary Foundation as "America's Favorite Veterinarian" in 2015. She lives in sunny Winter Haven, Florida, with her husband, two daughters and a menagerie of pets.