Introducing to you…(drum roll, please)…
… Dr. Julie Bitz!
She has a cat, Lulu, and a dog, Franny (pictured right). Lulu is about 17 and Franny is old too, but not that old. Franny was actually found as a stray, tied up outside of a Plaid Pantry. We asked Lulu to model matching sweaters with Julie, but she declined to participate.
When Dr. Bitz is not working she enjoys photography, travel, and reading. Sometimes she “runs very slowly,” too.
Julie has a great sense of humor, and her medical style fits in well with ours. We expect that it will feel as though she has been with us forever in no time at all! She has, in a way, been with us for quite a while as a Relief Doctor.
Welcome to the VCA North Portland Veterinary Family, Dr. Bitz!
Dear Friends and Family,
In 1966, I graduated with a degree in Pre-med from Purdue University. I interviewed at several Medical Schools, but decided to go into Veterinary Medicine instead. It has been a wonderful profession to work in and I look forward to going to work every day. Many of my clients, I consider my friends and I considered my staff part of my family. Two years ago, I sold North Portland Veterinary Hospital to VCA. This has allowed us to do things that we might not have been able to do otherwise. VCA has invested in New Surgery Lights, Non Invasive Surgery, Radiology, and Ultrasound. Consultation with some of the best veterinarians in the United States helps us to practice better medicine. Being a part of VCA also insures that the hospital will be able to serve our very special clients and their family members for many years to come. It wasn’t easy making the decision, but I knew that this was the best way for the practice to continue.
A lot has changed since I started practicing. When I bought Dr. Carter’s practice in 1972, I had a wooden surgery table and wooden kennels. The X-ray machine must have been made in the 1940’s. I had no anesthesia machine and no monitoring equipment. There were no Specialists in town, no Veterinary School and no Emergency Clinic. Today, we have specialists in Portland in almost every discipline, three of our veterinarians actually graduated from the Oregon State Veterinary School and we have Dove Lewis Emergency Clinic and four other emergency clinics in the Portland/Vancouver area. We have ultrasound, MRI’s, CAT Scans, Radioactive Iodine Therapy and Chemotherapy available. It’s much harder to diagnose by the seat of your pants. And now we have gone to Electronic Medical Records.
I turned 70 this year and went on Social Security and Medicare. My wife and I have been lucky to have a successful marriage for forty-six years. She worked in the practice for many years and the practice has been our life for most of those years. Now it’s time to sign up for the next chapter while we are still healthy. In October, we are spending two weeks on a dive boat in the Sea of Cortez (I can still climb back in the boat). I will be back at work for the three weeks after that, but retirement is set for the end of October. Thanks for allowing me the privilege of taking care of your special friends over the years. I have a lot of confidence in the doctors and staff at the practice and know they will take great care of you when needed. And by the way, that’s where I will continue to take our three dogs and three cats after retirement.
Did you know… there are specialists for animal anesthesia, just like there are for human anesthesia?
Some people have increased risk of complications when they go under anesthesia. The same is true for some animals. When a person is at increased risk, a specialist can be brought in to administer anesthesia and monitor them while they’re under. The same is true for animals!
Did you know… you now have access to a board-certified veterinary anesthesiologist at VCA North Portland Veterinary Hospital? Dr. Heidi Shafford is available to assist with surgical procedures requiring anesthesia right here at our clinic.
While human anesthesiologists are common, veterinary anesthesiologists are rare; there are only about 40 in private practice in the country. We are lucky to have Dr. Shafford practicing right here in the Portland area!
Anesthesia is like any medical procedure; there are benefits and risks. The benefit of anesthesia is that your pet gets the care they need to keep thriving, with minimal pain and stress. The most feared risk of anesthesia is death. Anesthetic-induced death is actually uncommon: approximately 1 in 1000 for healthy cats and 1 in 2000 for healthy dogs.
Although the risk of anesthetic death is low, especially for healthy pets, it can be higher for older pets or pets with additional medical conditions. In those cases, it is often beneficial for everyone involved to bring in a specialist — a veterinary anesthesiologist — to administer anesthesia and monitor your pet during and after the procedure.
If you are worried about your pet and anesthesia, talk to your veterinarian about including Dr. Shafford as part of your veterinary team.
About the author: Dr. Heidi Shafford earned her DVM from Colorado State University in 2000. Following residency and graduate training in veterinary anesthesiology and physiology at the University of Missouri, she attained board certification by the American College of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia in 2005. Dr. Shafford works with private practices and pet owners to improve anesthesia safety and enhance the comfort of all creatures through patient care, education, and consultation.
Dr. Julie Kittams (yup, that sounds like “kittens”) has officially joined our staff as an Associate Veterinarian! She has worked with us for a long time in a relief (substitute doctor) capacity. Some of you may have already met her as an urgent care doctor on days when we were short-staffed. (Doctor’s take vacations and have sick days too.) We have loved having her around so much that we invited her to come aboard as a regular doctor.
Dr. Kittams obtained both her undergraduate and doctorate degrees from Oregon State University, and has been a veterinarian since 1997. She lives nearby, in North East Portland with her 18 year-old dog Tyne.
When she’s not busy at work with our beloved furry family, she enjoys gardening, travelling, and kayaking. She’s volunteered her veterinary services in many foreign countries including, the Dominican Republic, Belize, Australia, and Thailand. Domestically, Julie has also volunteered on American Indian Reservations throughout both Arizona and New Mexico. Her volunteering has also led her to be a trail veterinarian for Alaska’s Iditarod Sled Dog race several times over the past decade.
Before joining our team, and around stints working as a vagabond veterinarian, she has worked for emergency clinics in Corvallis, New Mexico, and Portland.
Julie’s desire to nurture the human-animal bond is seen in the way she addresses the needs of both you and your pets. Her warmth and great sense of humor make her fit right in with our family atmosphere. We hope you enjoy working with her as much as we do.
We are saddened to announce that Dr. Barnes has decided to retire at the end of July. Her departure brings an end to her 23 year journey as part of our, and your, extended VCA North Portland Veterinary Hospital family. She has been a cherished member of this family and we will miss her greatly as she begins the next part of her life journey.
To us, her friends, clients, and extended family, one and all, she had this to say:
Over the years, VCA North Portland has been my “home away from home,” my second family. I have loved being a part of it. I hold dear to my heart the special lives that you have shared with me, yours and your pets. Along the way we have changed and grown together. I find myself at one of those life changes now, as I find that my first family needs me now more than ever. Because of this, I will be retiring from veterinary medicine and VCA North Portland at the end of July.
I know that I leave you in the hands of fantastic doctors at VCA North Portland. I wish you all the best, and will miss you in the years to come.
Thank you for being such an important part of my life and allowing me to be part of yours.
Post by Cara
For many dogs, food is a powerful motivator. You may notice that we like to use food “bribes” liberally (especially Heather Bruce and Dr. Warner!). While we have many types of treats to chose from, it would be best for your dog’s health if we used their regular food to accomplish our mission.
How can you help? We would like to have you save half of your dogs breakfast to use for treats during routine visits. (For appointments later in the day, use half of their dinner allotment.) Bring the rest of the meal with you. This way we can go overboard with the food, not upset tummies or allergies, or ruin dinners and diets.
If your dog is already too nervous to take food when you bring them in for visits; we encourage you to come in for “pawsitive reinforcement” visits. Speak with your doctor’s assistant about how to best do progressive “pawsitive reinforcement” visits.
For dogs that are not interested in food, but are toy motivated, please bring one or two of their favorite toys with them.
We would love to make this a “pawsitive” experience for all.
Bringing your kitty into see us can be a scary, worrisome time. The car ride alone can be stressful enough. Cats that are “crate trained” tend to tolerate the car ride more. Covering the carrier during the car ride can help ease ride anxiety.
How can we make your visit to see us a better experience?
When you check in at the front desk, please ask for a Feliway towel. Feliway is a happy cat pheromone, and having a towel to hide behind adds to the calming effect. We try to get you into an exam room as quickly as possible, but using a Feliway towel can make any waiting more tolerable for your kitty. We have a separate waiting area for people with cats or dogs that are scared of other dogs.
On this end, we would like to take more of a hands off approach. What does this mean? For many cats, taking the lid off of the carrier and leaving them in for the exam (taking them out to get their accurate weight on our little scale).
Please bring your own catnip so it is fresh.
Together we can make the routine veterinary visit a “pawsitive” experience.
Believe it or not, the week leading up to July 4th is one of our busiest times of year. This is because so many pets need medication to help them tolerate the fireworks and festivities. As the big day approaches and hearing the booms of fireworks becomes more frequent, we realize that stress and anxiety for many pets is escalating. Here are some ideas of things that you can do (besides or in addition to medicating) to help make the 4th a less stressful event for your fur-babies.
Create a Safe Space
- Somewhere quiet in your house. Think of places your pet already likes to hide. This might be the bathroom or under your bed.
- Install a pheromone diffuser.
- Close any doors and shut the curtains. If you aren’t able to block light comingin from outside, leave the lights on in the safe room.
- Turn on music, or nature sounds, to help muffle the noise.
- Include food, water, your pet’s bed and favorite toy, and a blanket that smells like you.
Set your pet up in the Safe Room well before the fireworks start.
If the room has screens, it is best to keep the main door or window closed. Many pets break through screens to get away. Some will even break through glass windows.
Bring outdoor pets inside for the evening.
Take a picture of your pet in the daytime to have on hand “just in case.”
Make sure all pets — even indoor-only cats — have a collar with identification on or a microchip.
The Oregon Humane Society has a great page on what to do if your pet gets lost.
We hope all of our extended family, two-legged and four alike, have a happy and safe holiday!
Post by Cara