THE PAW PROJECT TEAM
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.
Dr. Shayda Ahkami is the past 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.
Dr. Marty Becker has spent his life working toward better health for pets and the people who love them. He is the founder of Fear Free®, which works to prevent and alleviate fear, anxiety, and stress in pets by inspiring and educating the people who care for them. He practices at VCA North Idaho Animal Hospital in Sandpoint, Idaho.
Dr. Rocio Bellido earned her veterinary degree from San Marcos National University in Lima, Peru. From a young age she wanted to be a veterinarian and would bring injured stray animals home to take care of.
After graduation she worked in private practice for a couple of years before moving to the US. In her native Peru, declawing was not a common practice, nor taught in school. The first time she saw a declawing surgery in the US, she was shocked at the pain the cats endure and at how often this surgery was performed.
Since 2014 Dr. Bellido has been working as a shelter veterinarian with Kansas City Pet Project, the Kansas City, Missouri municipal, no-kill, open admission shelter where she continues advocating for homeless animals.
Dr. Bellido has a special interest in forensics, gaining experience on animal abuse cases by working in the shelter setting and attending workshops with law enforcement. Her passion is small animal surgery, and she enjoys learning new surgical techniques that help the shelter animals have the best outcome possible.
She has also volunteered on international trips and has traveled to Mexico and Peru with Rural Area Veterinary Services (RAVS) and The Perros Project, respectively.
Dr. Bellido has been active against declawing cats by educating new owners, as well as being part of an innovative shelter program for declawed cats. Many declawed cats are surrendered to a shelter due to behavioral issues. Under this program, every declawed cat in the shelter is evaluated behaviorally and medically, and, if needed, undergoes surgical repair. Dr. Bellido has been performing surgical repairs for the past two years on shelter cats with amazing results, and she is hoping to compile enough data to help ban this procedure.
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, ultimately opening South Austin Cat Hospital. 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.
Dr. Michelle Brownstein is owner and veterinarian at Henrietta Animal Hospital in Henrietta, New York, near Rochester. She earned her B.S. in Animal Science at Cornell University, an M.S. at Ohio State University, and her D.V.M. at the University of Georgia. After completing her education, she returned to her hometown of Rochester, NY to begin her practice. In 1986 Dr. Brownstein chose to devote her life to small animal medicine and surgery, and she hasn’t looked back. Dr. Brownstein is a member of the Genesee Valley Veterinary Medical Association, the New York State Veterinary Medical Association, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Association of Shelter Veterinarians.
Dr. Brownstein states, “I stopped declawing cats many years ago when I began to notice that a significant portion of cats that were declawed were not only highly aggressive, but also had behavioral issues. Often, it leads to their surrender to shelters and subsequent euthanasia. We encourage routine nail care, scratching posts and nail caps to preserve furniture. The declaw procedure, regardless of the technique, is brutal and life altering. Consider how one would feel if the tips of ones fingers were one day amputated. It would be a traumatic and painful surgical procedure despite aggressive pain management. The end result is still a mutilated cat condemned to a life of pain and misery. I, along with other humane veterinarians, encourage all our colleagues to stop this needless inhumane procedure.”
Dr. Heather Carleton first moved to her future home, Jackson, Wyoming in 1989. She later graduated from Colorado State University’s veterinary school and completed an equine medical and surgical internship in Bend, Oregon.
She then practiced in Montana and in Vermont, where she also donated her time at a local Humane Socety, performing free neuters for cats and starting the “homeward bound fund” to help sponsor cats who were in desperate need of homes.
In 2008 and 2009, Dr. Carleton volunteered at Soi Dog, a non-profit organization dedicated to saving the street dogs of Thailand. In 2010, the Humane Society International sponsored Dr. Carleton to travel to Bhutan to assist with their countrywide spay/neuter task force.
Returning to Jackson, Dr. Carleton spent 8 years on the board of the Animal Adoption Center and still donates a large amount of her free time to helping the Center. She founded the Spay/Neuter Wyoming program for low income families in need of assistance. To date, over 12,000 dogs and cats have been altered. Her efforts have helped decrease the number of animals euthanized up to 90% in some towns.
In 2014, Dr. Carleton started her own practice, the Jackson Animal Hospital, in partnership with Dr. Randy Acker. In 2016, Dr. Carleton was named Citizen of the Year by the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce for her efforts to help shelter animals and for her veterinary work on the Wind River Indian Reservation.
Dr. Carleton is the proud parent of Mah Di, a three-legged Thai dog who traveled back with her after her first visit to Asia. Since then, she has brought back seven other Thai dogs who have all found amazing homes in Jackson – most likely the luckiest dogs to have ever been born in Thailand!
When Karel Carnohan was growing up, her family always had a cat. Cats were her solace and constant companions as a kid. She loved other animals too and used to bring home strays begging her parents to keep them. Karel declared that she wanted to be a vet at an early age and entered college with that goal. However, life takes funny turns and she ended up majoring in theatre and English and finally going to business school (because that WAS what you did in the late 70’s). After a successful career in business, Karel Carnohan finally followed her heart and applied to and got into veterinary school in 2001. After graduating from Kansas State in 2005, Dr. Carnohan spent time working in British Columbia as a mixed animal vet and also in a cats-only clinic.
Dr. Carnohan bought Cat Care Clinic of Asheville in 2013, wanting to build her own veterinary practice and develop a cat clinic that emphasizes a cat-friendly environment and low-stress handling techniques. Cats are special creatures and need unique and specialized medical care. Dr. Carnohan loves Asheville and the western mountains of North Carolina and consider it her new home.
At home, Dr. Carnohan has twelve special felines, including Marmalade, a former paraplegic; Munchkin (a tailless, three-legged tuxedo cat; and Zizou, who was found in Colorado City hit by a car and taken to Best Friends in Kanab, Utah, where Dr. Carnohan was then working (Zizou has had surgery to remove her colon and is doing fine); July, a cured hyperthyroid kitty; Ella, thrown out of a moving car as a kitten ending up at the emergency clinic pretty much DOA: Fuzzy, a Norwegian Forest Cat who peed on the bed (not anymore); three tuxedos, Squeaky, Jelly Bean, and Sebastian, who were found under a house; and Mitchell, a long-haired, blue-eyed pretty boy; two large Kansas cats, Tabitha and Spalding, who have huge personalities, just like the state of Kansas. Dr. Carnohan also hase a parrot, Woody, who keeps everyone in line.
When Dr. Carnohan is not tending to kitties, she is an avid hockey fan, having played for many years. Dr. Carnohan loves to read, listen to live music, and scoop litter boxes.
Dr. Daniela Castillo is a veterinarian born and raised in Oaxaca, Mexico. She is very passionate about animal rights, wildlife and environmentalism. Valedictorian of her class, she graduated with a Veterinary Medicine degree from Universidad Veracruzana in 2008. She did her one-year internship in a government funded zoo in Veracruz City. She obtained a full scholarship from the Mexican government to study a masters degree in Wildlife Conservation at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia.
As soon as Daniela landed back in the United States in 2010, she pledged to live vegan for the rest of her life. In 2011 she started volunteering at St. Francis Wildlife Association, a wildlife rehabilitation center in Quincy, Florida. Thanks to her dedication and academic qualifications, she became the Director and licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Daniela realized she could not help wildlife and other animals as much as she wanted without being licensed to practice veterinary medicine in the United States. In 2016 Daniela became a licensed veterinarian in California. Dr. Castillo works for a future world where all animals are free of pain, slavery and a cruel death. She envisions a world where veterinarians will be legal guardians for animals to defend these simple rights for them.
About declawing, Dr. Castillo says, “I have always loved cats and always have places available for them to scratch at their own will. After all, it is just furniture and their claws and joy are more important to me than anything in the world. Declawing is just never a consideration.
Dr. Gretchen Cawein practices at Saugerties Animal Hospital in Saugerties, New York. She began her career in veterinary medicine in New York City in 1993 as a receptionist, office manager and kennel aide. She then became a licensed veterinary technician, and then obtained her DVM at Cornell in 2014. Dr. Cawein has also trained in surgery and internal medicine in New York City. She also trained at the New York City ASPCA in Humane Law Enforcement.
Dr. Cawein has worked extensively with small and large animals as well as exotics, in both private practice and at the Wildlife Health Center at the Bronx Zoo. She has also worked in underserved communities in the U.S and in Africa, Malaysia and Indonesia. She worked at an exclusively feline practice in New York City and, later, at a small animal general practice on the Upper West Side, until moving to the Catskill Mountains in the fall of 2018.
Dr. Cawein is a member of the New York Bar Association Animal Law Committee, as well as the AVMA. She is also accredited by the USDA Category II, and is an animal rights advocate that considers declawing and ear/tail docking gratuitous and egregious mutilation. She currently lives on a Christmas tree farm near Woodstock, surrounded by the flora and fauna that make this world beautiful.
In addition to her private practice Voorheesville, NY, The Village Animal Clinic, serving companion animals and wildlife, Dr. Cheever presents programs to elementary through college level students on environmental and animal welfare issues. She also is a regular lecturer at veterinary schools, providing mentoring in the practice of veterinary medicine with an emphasis on animal welfare. She serves as a consultant for local, state, and national animal protection organizations, and assists law officers in animal abuse cases, both by lecturing to them on how to implement the State’s anticruelty laws effectively, and by serving as an expert witness for the prosecution. She has also worked for many municipalities and states to eliminate the cruelty involved in urban carriage horse tourist rides.
For her work in helping to prevent animal cruelty, Dr. Cheever has won awards from the New York State Troopers, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the Humane Society of the United States. She was named Veterinarian of the Year by the New York State Humane Association in 1991, and was Good Housekeeping’s veterinary columnist from 1997 to 2001.
Dr. Cheever is a founding member of the Leadership Council of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association (affiliated with the Humane Society of the United States) and is also vice president of the New York State Humane Association. She is on the advisory board for the New England Antivivisection Society, having retired from their Board of Directors.
Dr. Cheever was educated at Harvard University, graduating summa cum laude, and was ranked #1 on graduation from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University. She resides on a small farm sanctuary in upstate New York with her husband and a host of barnyard friends; their four grown children return to the farm as often as they can.
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 & Labrador. He earned a BSc degree from Dalhousie University in 1977 followed by a Diploma in Education from the University of British Columbia in 1978. After a few years of teaching in northern British Columbia, he studied at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatchewan where he earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 1986. In 1987, Dr. 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 the president of The Tuxedo Party of Canada Cat Welfare Society, a group that advocates to improve the lives of cats in Nova Scotia and around the world. He is also an avid outdoor photographer – you can view his images at https://hughchisholm.ca.
Dr. Chisholm is happy to report that declawing has been banned in all four Atlantic Provinces as well as the four western provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba). He believes that banning the surgery is long overdue, noting that it’s already prohibited 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.”
Dr. Chisholm received the Nova Scotia Veterinary Medical Association’s Award of Merit in 2019 in recognition of his advocacy on behalf of cats in Nova Scotia.
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.
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.
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.
Since graduating from the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois in 1986, Dr. Downing has been blazing her own trail within veterinary medicine, providing state of the art and state of the heart medical care.
1991, she purchased Windsor Veterinary Clinic, an accredited American Animal Hospital Association hospital. She passionately shares her vision for the bright future of veterinary medicine and the Family-Pet Bond through her daily work, her writing, and speaking nationally and internationally at veterinary meetings. She serves as a Trustee for the Morris Animal Foundation and is an affiliate faculty member at the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine. In 2001 Dr. Downing was presented the prestigious Excellence in Veterinary Healthcare Award by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Dr. Downing was the third veterinarian in the world to credential as a Diplomate in the American Academy of Pain Management, a human pain management organization. She is also credentialed in animal chiropractic care, canine medical massage, and medical acupuncture for animals. She was a founder of the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management and served as that organization’s second President.
Dr. Downing is recognized as an international leader in the arena of animal pain management and teaches at conferences around the world, as well as hosting veterinary students, veterinary technician students, and post-graduate veterinarians and veterinary technicians at Master-class learning. In January 2015 Dr. Downing achieved Diplomate status in the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation, the newest specialty college in veterinary medicine. There are fewer than 200 Diplomates in the ACVSMR.
For fun, Dr. Downing enjoys fiddling, playing the guitar, singing, writing, reading, and spending time with her animals: Kula, Molly, Moses, Virginia, Zoey, Muffin, and Flower.
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 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.
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.”
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.
Originally from Denmark, Gitte moved to Canada with her parents and siblings when she was eight 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 three cats, two dogs and one 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.
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 four years, specializing in the care of feline companion animals. In 2006, she opened Paws Whiskers & Claws, The Feline Hospital in Marietta, Georgia where she works today with Paw Project 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. 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 practiced in Minnesota for 27 years before relocating to Colorado. 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!” Since moving to Colorado, 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!
Dr. Hess received her BSc in Life Science, with honors, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, with honors, from the Koret School of Veterinary Medicine (Jerusalem) in 2003. Dr. Hess practiced veterinary medicine for 3 years in Israel and then relocated to New York, where she worked at the Veterinary Clinic of East Hampton and at the Animal Hospital of the Rockaways. Since 2014, she has worked at Glendale (NY) 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.
Stephen Holdeman is the head of the Feline Behavior and Training Department at KC Pet Project, the high intake municipal open-admissions No-Kill shelter facility for Kansas City, Missouri. Stephen is focused on addressing many issues for cats he encounters in the shelter industry, and has seen much success implementing his concepts at KCPP. He has worked in multiple shelters in the Kansas City area since 2008, and currently maintains numerous special programs for cats of all types. He also provides a behavior consultation service stationed out of KC Pet Project for owners experiencing issue with their cats that may be considering surrendering them to a shelter. This consultation service is the only free service available to local owners, and has seen a 92% success rate at addressing behavior issues in 2017. Stephen is the author of “Feline Enrichment: Best Practices for Municipal Shelters.”
Stephen has always been focused on the “ground level” of Animal Welfare. He has gathered most of his life’s attention into creating a more conscious, honest approach to servicing cats in the shelter environment. Since his beginning in Animal Welfare, Stephen has sought to identify and support various types of shelters cats who he has felt have been “left behind” by the even the most well-meaning shelter system. He has typically held a difference in opinion on what is obtainable for cats in the shelter environment, and has had great success in implementing programs that had previously been given criticism over their goals or logistics.
Since his time at KC Pet Project, Stephen has been able to create several special initiatives for his population, including the only adoption program in the area for Feline Leukemia positive cats, as well as the area’s first program aimed at diagnosing and repairing damage from declaw operations on shelter cats. He hopes his work in creating a program attentive to the issues of declawed cats will cause similar programs to spring up around the country. His most recent growing program is called “Pioneer Cats,” aimed at re-examining how shelters interact with their “feral” populations of cats, including the viability of adoption and behavior modification, as well as the effectiveness of Barn Cat and community programs.
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 she 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.
When I was young, my big dream was to help animals. I wanted to conquer pet overpopulation, euthanasia, 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 Midwestern 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 four clinic kitties and two rats. I share my home with my partner Kim, two dogs, and six cats – all fully clawed!
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.
Ingrid Johnson is a Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (CCBC) through The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC).
Ingrid owns and operates Fundamentally Feline, providing consultations worldwide for clients experiencing behavior challenges with their cat(s). In addition to behavior consults, Ingrid also offers medicating consultations to help clients overcome, or get ahead of, medicating challenges. Prevention and training, the best medicine! She makes her own line of feline foraging toys, scratching posts, vertical space, and litter boxes. She lectures nationwide on cat behavior at veterinary conferences such as AAFP, VMX, ACVC and the like. She is the Hospital Manager, tech and groomer at Paws Whiskers and Claws, a feline-only veterinary hospital, and 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.
In the Fall of 2016, a paper she co-authored, “Food puzzles for cats: Feeding for physical and emotional well-being”, was published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery (JFMS) and to compliment it she co-developed FoodPuzzlesforCats.com. To date it is the most popular and widely downloaded paper in the history of the journal. Ingrid’s home, cats, and environmental enrichment expertise has been featured on Animal Planet’s Cats101 show and featured in numerous publications including the website WebMD. She has created a series of educational How-To videos of her own, viewable on Fundamentally Feline’s website and YouTube channel. Ingrid regularly interviews and offers her expertise for various media outlets. She is Co-Director of Paw Project-Georgia, working towards ending the cruel practice of de-clawing cats.
Cat Fancy magazine’s 2008 “Home Issue” showcased her feline friendly accommodations and the aesthetically pleasing ways you can provide for your cats innate basic needs while still having a home the humans can enjoy. Ingrid is a huge advocate for enrichment and is determined to thwart the belief that one’s home will look unsightly in efforts to provide it.
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.
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 practiced small animal medicine in the Indianapolis area starting in 2009 and feline-only medicine from 2012 to 2017 at the Cat Care Clinic of Indianapolis. Dr. Moran recently relocated to Texas. 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 live healthier more stress and pain-free lives.
Dr. Leila McIntyre graduated from the University of Leipzig in Germany in 2003. She obtained her postgraduate degree in virology/prion diseases from the University of Leipzig in 2007 before moving to Alberta to join the veterinary virology lab at the University of Calgary as a postdoctoral fellow. After working in research for a few years, Dr. McIntyre decided to obtain her Certificate of Qualification so she could practice veterinary medicine in Canada. In order to gain some clinical experience, she joined the team at a 24 hour veterinary hospital in Calgary in 2010. This was the first time Dr. McIntyre became aware of the impact of declawing on her feline patients. While the hospital she worked at did not declaw cats, she saw the effects that the surgery had on some of the feline patients that were presented there: chronic pain (arthritis, paw and back pain), behavioural changes, cystitis etc. Dr. McIntyre was shocked when she learned that the declaw surgery was considered a routine procedure in many hospitals across Canada.
In 2013 Dr. McIntyre obtained her Certificate of Qualification. After moving to Nova Scotia, she worked in several small animal clinics until becoming an associate veterinarian at the Cobequid Animal Hospital in Lower Sackville in 2015. One of the owners of the hospital, Dr. Melissa Burgoyne, was one of the driving forces behind the ban of declawing in Nova Scotia (during her NSVMA presidency in 2017). Dr. McIntyre has never declawed a cat, and she has always been very outspoken about her feelings in regards to the procedure, especially after seeing the effects of this surgery on her feline patients, the hospital staff, pet owners and herself on a physical as well as on an emotional level. Dr. McIntyre is trying to raise awareness amongst pet owners and veterinary workers on the long term consequences of declawing. She is very proud and happy that the Nova Scotia Veterinary Medical Association banned declawing, and she hopes that other provinces and states will follow suit soon.
Jacqueline Munera is a Certified Cat Behavior Consultant and is co-instructor of the Companion Animal Sciences Institute’s Diploma of Feline Behavior program. She has a B.A. in Honors Biological Psychology from New College of Florida, where she pursued studies on animal cognition and behavior, and thesis work on coat color as an indicator of cat personality.
Jacqueline presents nationally and internationally on a variety of cat training and behavior topics and has published multiple award-winning cat and dog related articles. While never being an advocate for partial-toe amputations (declawing) on cats, she didn’t realize the extent of the devastation caused by the procedure until working with shelters to design and implement cat behavior programs.
One of her rescued four-paw declawed cats, Daphne, has the unfortunate honor of being in The Paw Project documentary. Another of her adopted cats, Jazzmanda, was the first feline Delta Society Pet Partner registered in the Tampa Bay area. Jazzmanda and another adopted cat, Pedro, have starred in winning videos for Karen Pryor’s clicker-training film festivals.
She is especially interested in promoting positive attitudes about cats through her consulting business, Positive Cattitudes. Her CD, done in partnership with Carol Byrnes, “What is My Cat Saying?” Feline Communication 101 is available at www.dogwise.com. You can see some of her videos, articles and schedule for upcoming presentations on her website www.PositiveCattitudes.com.
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 she 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.
Michael Petty, DVM, CVPP, CVMA, CCRT, CAAPM is a 1980 graduate of the veterinary school at Michigan State University. As the owner of Arbor Pointe Veterinary Hospital and the Animal Pain Center in Canton, Michigan; he has devoted his professional life to the care and well-being of animals, especially in the area of pain management.
Dr. Petty is a Diplomate of American Academy of Pain Management, a Certified Veterinary Pain Practitioner, a Certified Medical Veterinary Acupuncture, and a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist.
Dr. Petty is the past president of the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management. He is frequent speaker and consultant and has published articles in veterinary journals and serves as a adviser on topics of pain management.
Dr. Petty has been the Investigator/Veterinarian in over 12 FDA pilot and pivotal studies for pain management products. He has authored many books and article and has lectured both nationally and internationally on pain management topics.
Dr. Heather Pineo is a native of Calgary, Alberta. She has aspired to be a veterinarian since early childhood and has a strong memory as a seven-year-old of splinting a frog’s broken leg after finding him injured on the road. She was fortunate to have supportive parents who allowed her to fill their house with animals of all sorts. She was a junior national team springboard and platform diver in her youth and her interest in justice for animals, humans and the environment has seen her support many organizations.
Dr. Pineo graduated with distinction from Saskatoon’s Western College of Veterinary Medicine in 1994. A three year stint in rural small animal practice exposed her to many conflicting experiences and demands that left her disillusioned with the ethics of veterinary practice. As a young, newly graduated associate vet, it was not as easy to advocate for animals and their needs as she had envisioned. She was expected to perform declaw surgeries on cats, contrary to her ethical convictions. Heather moved to Calgary with her husband and worked at multiple clinics while building her family of three lovely boys. She has seen many cats who have suffered from painful consequences of declaw surgery. Dr. Pineo has been an associate vet with Marda Loop Veterinary Centre since 2007, where declawing is not offered and is actively discouraged.
Dr. Pineo is adamant about banning the inhumane practice of declawing cats. A ban will prevent associate (employee) veterinarians from being pressured to perform declaw surgeries in order to retain their livelihood.
In her spare time she volunteers as an international level diving judge, sits on two diving-related boards of directors and loves to scuba dive, read books, do hot yoga and spend time outdoors. Dr. Pineo’s family shares their home with two rescue dogs (Flip and Sunny Beaudelaire), three rescue cats (Youssarian, Saphira and Punk, all born on her kid’s bed) and a 27-year-old box turtle named Sammy Nella.
Lisa Pope grew up on Long Island, New York. She attended the State University of New York at Farmingdale, graduating with honors as a registered veterinary technician. Two years later, she signed up at the State University of New York at Stony Brook in order to complete her Bachelor’s degree in biology. From there, she traveled west to study veterinary medicine at the University of California in Davis, graduating with her DVM degree in 1994. Dr. Pope is the owner and Chief Medical Director of Stevenson Ranch Veterinary Center.
As a veterinarian, she particularly enjoys helping senior pets and strongly believes that no animal needs to live with pain. Dr. Pope and her husband, Gary, have two children, Caden and Kyle. The Pope family also includes Willie, the golden retriever, and Georgie, the recently rescued kitten. When she has a spare moment between her work and family life, Dr. Pope enjoys fine food and wine, hiking, bicycling, and kayaking with her husband and kids. Dr. Pope also loves everything about whales.
Dr. Margie Scherk graduated from the University of Guelph with a DVM from the Ontario Veterinary College. She founded the Cats Only Veterinary Clinic in Vancouver, BC soon afterward. 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 also volunteered 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 worldwide web, she 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,” Dr. Scherk 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.
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.
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.
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 since 2002 at increasing her knowledge and experience in Veterinary Behavior Medicine. She has achieved this by seeing over 600 behaviour cases and by completing a Clinical Masters degree in veterinary behavior medicine. Feline behavior cases are common place and she has seen the direct result of declawing on behavior. 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 three children, a dog named Bruce, two cats, Hero and Frank, and a simply fantastic husband!
Dr. Stocking has 20 years of experience as a small animal veterinarian and after a few years in mixed dog and cat practice found herself focused on feline medicine and surgery. She has worked as an associate veterinarian, as a clinic owner twice as she also previously built and ran Cat Hospital of Saskatoon, in Saskatchewan, Canada, and as an Assistant Professor training veterinary students at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, St. Kitts, West Indies.
After receiving her B.Sc. from University of Maryland, College Park, Dr. Stocking qualified as a veterinarian with her D.V.M. from Ross University, School of Veterinary Medicine and did her clinical year at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She has practiced in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean, and she currently holds veterinary licenses in California and Michigan.
Currently, she is the owner of Red Barn Cat Clinic in Richland, Michigan, a feline-exclusive hospital she built with her husband in a repurposed horse stable on their home property.
Dr. L. Ruey Stocking has been an avid proponent of cats keeping their claws since first introduced to the surgical declaw procedure early in her career. She is an enthusiastic fan of nail trimming, SoftPaws® nails caps, scratching posts, Feliway® pheromone therapy, Sticky Paws® and other alternatives to surgical declawing. She makes it a focus to help cat owners learn that declawing is not in their cats’ best interest and explains what the options are so the cats and their owners can live happily and in peace with furniture and skin intact.
Dr. Stocking is a long-standing member of the American Association of Feline Practitioners as well as the American Veterinary Medical Association. She is on the board of directors of two 501(c)(3) non-profit animal rescue groups in her region. She and her veterinarian husband have 13 cats and a Pomeranian dog living with them in their home and a few more cats live or are being fostered at her practice. Declawing is not permitted at her practice and complimentary nail trims come included with every patient examination.
Dr. Snyder initially pursued a career as a writer and editor after earning a bachelor’s degree in English from Hollins University in 1998. She discovered her passion for veterinary medicine only after graduating when she rescued a litter of kittens on the campus of her alma mater. In 2008 she earned her doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Missouri. After graduation, she moved to Bloomington, Indiana, where she worked with dogs, cats, and even Indiana wildlife. Over the years, she has spent many hours learning about the care and enrichment of shelter animals through her volunteer work. She served as a volunteer veterinarian at both the Monroe County and the Morgan County municipal shelters, as well as a local wildlife rescue facility. She consulted with a dedicated group of feline advocates to help them start the Morgan County Community Cat/TNR program. She provided spay/neuter and vaccine services for the Morgan County shelter and served on the board of directors of the Monroe County Humane Association, working to begin low-cost vaccine and microchip clinics.
In 2015 Dr. Snyder took a position at the Humane Society of Indianapolis, where she has continued to serve as an advocate for shelter animals. In this role, she has seen the high return rate of declawed cats because of their unique behavior and medical conditions. Through working with other members of the Paw Project, she has been able to provide declawed shelter residents relief by performing paw repair surgery and overseeing medical management of their pain. At the Humane Society of Indianapolis, she enjoys her ability to educate the public about feline enrichment and advocate for the end of declawing in Indianapolis and hopefully the country as a whole.
Until his passing on September 8, 2019, Dr. Gordon Stull was Director, Paw Project-New Jersey. Dr. Stull earned his Veterinary Degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1971. He was a member of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association (HSVMA) Leadership Council. He served on the Board of Directors for the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights (AVAR) from 2003-2007. He was the Director of the Burlington County, NJ, Feral Cat Initiative, as well as the President of the Millennium Wildlife Sciences. He had practiced companion animal medicine, even during his long illness, since 1978.
Dr. Stull, when he joined the Paw Project, stated, “I have been in active small animal practice for over 40 years. I am fiercely opposed to the practice of the declawing of cats. It matters not how well the procedure is performed nor how much post-operative pain medication is offered – the long term consequences are often the same and damaging to the pet. Declawing always cause physical damage and quite often emotional damage to the pet with long term consequences. Declawed cats, without their natural defenses often become aggressive and are more likely to bite. Declawed cats more often show anxieties that manifest in urinating or defecating in inappropriate places, which can often result in relinquishment of the pet to a shelter where the final result is often euthanasia. In my career as a veterinarian, I have seen and/or treated hundreds of declawed cats with these behavior problems, most of them showing signs of chronic problems, regardless of the declaw technique.”
Dr. Stull was an unfailingly kind and compassionate man, and his passing is a profound loss for his family, his community, animals of all kinds, and for us at Paw Project.
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 they also enjoy companion house rabbits (exact numbers are not listed to protect the innocent).
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.
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.
Since graduating from the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois in 1986, Dr. Downing has been blazing her own trail within veterinary medicine, providing state of the art and state of the heart medical care.
Dr. Sarah West is originally from Morro Bay, California. During a family gathering there when she was only five years old, she responded to the proverbial “What do you want to be when you grow up?” with an unequivocal “I’m going to be a vet or a nun.” Good thing she got into veterinary school because she’d have made the world’s worst nun!
Dr. West has had a myriad of species as pets over the years but never has one eclipsed her deep and fundamental love for everything feline. The combination of beauty, power, independence and joy in every cat calls to her and she cannot fathom how anyone would deprive them of their claws especially when educating clients about training and declawing alternatives so closely aligns with a veterinarian’s oath to ‘above all do no harm’. It is her strong opinion that all veterinarians should educate not mutilate.
Dr. West graduated from UC Berkeley in 1989 with a degree in Zoology and UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 1994 with her DVM. She completed an internship in Small Animal Medicine and Surgery at Purdue University in 1995 and a Veterinary Radiology Residency at the University of Georgia at Athens in 1998. She has been a board certified veterinary radiologist since 1998 and has run a successful mobile radiology practice, West Radiologic Services, in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2000. She enjoys her daily work with domestic cats as a consultant at local practices as well as her pro bono work with San Francisco Zoo’s wild felids and other species.
Dr. West currently lives in Oakland with her awesome cat-loving husband, Eric Kubly, and her feline overlords, Walle and Squirrel. She is pictured with her true feline forever love, Bubbles Marie, who she lost to congenital renal disease in 2016 after a courageous battle that lasted ten years – a whopping seven years longer than her predicted life expectancy!
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.
I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2002. I practiced five years in Hartford, Wisconsin, a small town of 12,000, before moving to Southern California in 2006. 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 declawing 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 that as a feline clinic, especially one whose goal is to protect the health and well-being of our patients, we needed to take a stand and be an example for other veterinarians in Orange County. I will never regret that decision. Thank you for the honor of allowing me to join the fight!
Jim Jensvold has been active in animal protection efforts for over twenty years and has served on the Board of Directors for several Southern California nonprofits. He is a former Animal Services Commissioner for the City of Los Angeles. He has served as Assistant Director of Paw Project since 2002.