Dr. Marylisa Reynders: McClelland Small Animal Hospital

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How long have you been a veterinarian?

I have been a veterinarian in the Buffalo area since 2003, so 15 years. Prior to that, and including my first job, I have worked in veterinary hospitals, (knowing this was my passion at age 6), since the age of 16.  So 27 years.  It seems like just yesterday and a long time all the same, but I would not change it for the world.  My most passionate times are when new procedures or thinking out of the box and pushing the boundaries of medical management, work.  When I see what I can inspire in other people and clients, and I get to continue learning, and helping creatures that are so dear to me, it's the best.  Our pets are priceless.

Where did you go to college?

  • Calasanctius School, Buffalo, NY.
  • State University at Buffalo, Magna Cum Laude, Biological Sciences, Class of 1996.
  • Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Class of 2003.

I had also completed two summer enrichment programs at the veterinary school prior to that, one in the junior year in high school, familiarizing myself with the College of Veterinary Medicine, and taking college courses, (psychology and literature!-which were pretty cool, but required a good deal of work).  I attended summer anatomy labs, and pathology rounds- where they discussed with the students causes of death, and disease processes.  The other summer was spent shadowing as part of a program for minority individuals to give them other enrichment opportunities upon entering the College.  I am Hispanic.

I currently sit on the board of the Western New York Veterinary Medical Association (WNYVMA), and am a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), The Niagara Frontier Veterinary Society (NFVMS), and the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP).  I love challenging medical case management.  I also do a fair amount of soft tissue surgery.  I work with private clients, breeders, and rescue organizations.

When did you realize you wanted to become a veterinarian?

Quite early on.  I grew up with a household including 5 cats and a sheepdog.  That was our family dog.  Those animals tolerated my "practicing" taking care of them, nurturing them, and various shenanigans.  Like a collection of construction paper hats.  They were not as fond of my creative/original construction paper hat collection, as I was.  

What is the best part about your job?

The fact that I get the opportunity to do what I love everyday.  

What is the hardest part about your job?

Counseling families to make hard decisions about their "four legged" family members. Sometimes we laugh, sometimes we cry, but we always consider decisions that are right for a particular family or home life circumstance.

At what age do you recommend spaying or neutering your pets?

At a very early age, small stature, difficulty with control of body temperature and blood sugar represent risks to anesthesia for animals.  I usually recommend spaying and neutering when the body can physiologically handle these things.  Juvenile pets can be safely spayed and neutered at 4-6 months of age.  They reach sexual maturity at 7 to 12 months, so we usually spay before a first "heat cycle", i.e. menstrual cycle.  Older pets can be spayed and neutered safely.  I hear so many people say, "well, the dog is too old", etc. etc.  This is part of client education to take responsibility for the total lifestage health of their pet.  Early spaying and neutering can decrease the incidence of serious health problems such as breast tumors, uterine infection called pyometra, testicular tumors, and prostatic issues as well.

Why is it important to microchip your new pet?

In an era where many people pick up and move more frequently than they once did, and in an age where the world is connected through easier travel than in times past, it is important to microchip pets.  A small device the size of a grain of rice is inserted just under the skin, and the chip and owner's data is then registered with a central database the microchip company keeps. It is the owner's responsibility to register the chip by phone or online with their personal address and phone contact data.  Without this step, there is no chance for an animal's safe return.  Once registered, any veterinary hospital, shelter, SPCA, can scan for the chip.  

In an age where rescue organizations also transport animals across state lines and from other countries (we work with The Silver Linings for Pitbulls, Inc. a great local rescue, who transports dogs from Korea), this is one way as veterinary professionals we can advocate for the safe return and reuniting of animals and owners. If someone finds a dog or cat, contact a local animal hospital or shelter.  Scanning for the presence of a microchip costs nothing!

If you could give a new pet owner any advice, what would it be?

Have patience, and persistence.  Working with a new pet takes time, diligence, and repetition. And be aware that the rough patches usually pass.  Early socialization is key to having a confident pet that is well adjusted to their surroundings.  I usually recommend socialization with family members' pets or friends' known vaccinated pets.  Before venturing too far outside, complete age related puppy vaccinations, and consult your veterinary professionals for their recommendations before close contact with new or unknown animal.  Don't take things way too seriously though, and enjoy the entertainment that a new family member brings.  Usually entertainment and laughs are plentiful.  Savor that time!

Do you have any pets? Names, ages

Do I have any pets!?  Of course I do, and thank you for asking.  

I also have pretty severe pet allergies which I manage everyday to work in this field.

"Aubrey"- neutered male, modern, Blue point siamese, age 10.  So his ears feet and tail are grey, his face is narrow and he is a wise guy, who meows as soon as he hears my car, and people can hear him from the street.  IF he choses to be bothered to get out of bed and bellow, that is.

"Tater tot" - neutered male, brown tabby cat, age 5 years.  He was rescued as a kitten from the streets of downtown Buffalo, and weighed just 0.6lbs.  He arrived to me as a practitioner with a severe upper respiratory infection neglected outside to the point that both of his eyes completely ruptured.  The stress of this infection, allowed another gastrointestinal virus to take hold and almost prove fatal in his case.  That virus was feline distemper, also called feline panleukopenia.  It impairs the immune system.  Everyone told me he would have to have his eyes removed, might not make it, etc.  But with love and TLC, supportive medicine, and human antisepsis drugs, he rallied, surviving, and became my "best guy".  AND HE IS VISUAL, kept both eyes and is happy!  The living proof that persistence and diligence by practitioners and support staff can change outcomes.

"Rocket" -neutered male, grey tabby cat, age 3 years.  A young man I fostered, who was not supposed to walk after being diagnosed with a congenital rear leg deformity.  This guy is our house "boss" and character.  He walks, runs and jumps, and is a personality who completes our household.  Such a go getter personality, you cannot be sad with him around.  He is always getting into mischief.

What do you do for fun?

Listen to music, everyday in our house we have some form of music going, and enjoying in the background.  My other hobby is classic French cooking and cuisine.  So it is amazing that I am not dramatically overweight, ha. Not yet.

Anything else you would like to add?

I think there are niches in veterinary medicine that can add to the life quality and life span of pets.  These include but are not limited to: 

  • Good nutrition with high quality ingredients.  Things one would recognize and want to eat, wholesome nutrients that offer a balanced diet.  This is the beauty of having the Buffalo Barkery to consult, and people can obtain supportive advice from their professionals.  
  • An active pet lifestyle for emotional and physical enrichment.
  • Utilizing all the modalities we have open to us now in the field for better pain management and senior care including laser therapy, swim sports, acupuncture.  Baseline metabolic blood work is recommended at my office for any animal 6 years of age or greater.

FAVES: 

Band: Range depends on mood. Female jazz standard singers such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday. Nat King Cole, Stan Getz, Diana Krall, Esperanza Spaulding. Sting and Stevie Wonder.

Movie or TV Show: The Notebook, Shawshank Redemption.

Bar or Restaurant: The Left Bank- if you like seafood pasta, always get the carrot papardella.

Place to go unwind: My couch, but also, I recently found the Tifft Nature Preserve.

Animal:

  • Puppies/kittens. I love pediatric medical cases, or senior pets with numerous issues to consider. 
  • I think primates are pretty amazing.  
  • I love to learn about evolutionary strategies for animal survival. 
  • Bird song qualities, and the deliberate nature to their calls/songs.

Food: Anything made from potatoes- most specifically an artfully designed, savory au gratin. Delish.

Drew Williams