Pet Connections

Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center

By Carla Mader

Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center (PVSEC) is western Pennsylvania’s most comprehensive multi-specialty referral and emergency veterinary center. They provide small animal veterinary services in 14 disciplines and 24/7 emergency services. PVSEC is conveniently located and easily accessible in North Hills off I-279.

Pittsburgh is very fortunate to have a premier veterinary center like PVSEC in our region.  The specialty and emergency services at PVSEC support and compliment the care local veterinarians offer.  PVSEC does not provide any routine or preventative veterinary care and, with the exception of the emergency service, only sees patients that have been referred by local veterinarians. PVSEC’s 34,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art facility offers advanced diagnostics and procedures all under one roof.  They are also open 24 hours a day 365 days a year, with emergency veterinarians and critical care specialists on site and able to consult with the other specialist at all times, unlike other emergency clinics.  

What is a veterinary specialist? 

Veterinary medicine has become sophisticated, as in human medicine. Since the mid-seventies, specialty disciplines in veterinary medicine have been formally established and continue to grow.  The American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) certifies veterinarians in the specialties of Cardiology, Oncology, Neurology, Large Animal Internal Medicine, and Small Animal Internal Medicine. Additional colleges include The American College of Veterinary Surgery (ACVS), The American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO), The American College of Veterinary Dermatology (ACVD), The American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC), and The American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care and The American College of Veterinary Radiology (ACVR).  

To become a diplomate of a veterinary specialty college, it is much the same as in human medicine. Veterinarians must complete additional training usually comprised of a one-year internship, followed by two to four years in a residency program for their specialty, followed by extensive board examinations. 

Veterinary Technicians also can receive specialty certification in surgery, internal medicine, critical care, nutrition, dentistry and more. 

Why do veterinarians refer to PVSEC?

PVSEC’s philosophy of providing outstanding care and being a leader in veterinary medicine is recognized by our area vets. A very large referral base of veterinarians in western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia consult with and refer patients to PVSEC daily, for the advanced services and exceptional client and patient care offered.  PVSEC also builds strong relationships with referring veterinarians through open communication and continuing education.

Your veterinarian may refer you to a PVSEC specialist for advanced care when medically indicated.  The PVSEC specialists have extensive training and experience managing complicated and critical cases.  This expertise can help achieve a better outcome or a faster diagnosis when time is of the essence.  Veterinarians also know many cases are complicated and require more than one specialist.  PVSEC offers the most diverse team of specialists in Pittsburgh, with fourteen veterinary services represented, allowing consultations between disciplines for the most comprehensive care possible. Advanced diagnostics such as MRI, CT, ultrasound, digital radiography, endoscopy, and much more assist them in rapidly diagnosing problems and devising an appropriate treatment plan for your pet.  The value of this cannot be overstated when your pet’s health is at stake. Early referral by your veterinarian also can prevent problems from progressing, saving time, money and even your pet’s life.

The Diverse Team at PVSEC

PVSEC has an incredible team of veterinarians, veterinary technicians and client services team.  The highly compassionate and qualified support staff is fostered with a work environment that encourages teamwork, supports professional advancement and rewards superior performance. This has resulted in a highly skilled staff that is passionate about their profession, and this shows in the care they give clients and patients alike. 

PetDx Veterinary Imaging at PVSEC is overseen by medical director Dr. Gerald Frye, VMD.  PetDx offers a high-field closed magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) unit and computed tomography (CT) scanner for pet-safe imaging. These advanced imaging tools assist in obtaining a diagnosis and creating effective treatment plans.  MRI is used to see soft tissues more clearly and CT scan uses x-rays to provide a better image of bony structures. PVSEC has a licensed MRI/CT technologist, Chris Wilson, R.T., CT, MR, who worked in human medicine for 18 years before joining PetsDx.

Dr. Christopher Warrington, DVM, DACVR is PVSEC’s radiologist. He works with the other specialists to assist them in obtaining a better diagnosis via his expertise in reading radiographs, CT and MRI studies and also performing ultrasound exams.

PVSEC internal medicine specialty team is headed by Dr. Sherwood Johnson, DVM, DACVIM, and includes Dr. Tracey Peterson, DVM, DACVIM, Dr. Emily Klosterman, DVM, MS, DACVIM, and Dr. Lisa Sepesy, MPH, VMD, DACVIM.  They have extensive experience in management of cases referred for kidney, liver, intestinal and urinary diseases, immune-mediated disorders, infectious diseases, and endocrine disorders, such as diabetes, thyroid problems, and Cushing’s disease. 

The PVSEC Comprehensive Cancer Center is comprised of medical and radiation oncologists, surgeons, and support services such as radiology.  PVSEC medical oncologists Dr. Rebecca Newman, Dr. Todd Erfourth and Dr. Bridget Urie, and Dr. Christine Anderson all are board-certified in oncology by the ACVIM, and Dr. Anderson is also board-certified in radiation therapy.  Patients most commonly are referred to the oncologists for cancers of the soft tissues and bone such as lymphoma, sarcomas, carcinomas, and more. They offer diagnostics and treatment plans for chemotherapy, as well as radiation therapy.  

PVSEC’s Veterinary Radiation Oncology department was founded in 2010 and joined the oncologists and surgeons to create Pittsburgh’s only comprehensive cancer treatment facility.  Dr. Christine Anderson, DVM, MS, DACVIM (Oncology), DACVR (Radiation Oncology) provides radiation therapy using their state-of-the-art linear accelerator.  CT scans and advanced software are used for precise positioning and planning for radiation therapy.  Radiation therapy is a non-invasive form of treatment that most commonly is used for sarcomas, mast cell (and other round cell) tumors, nasal and brain tumors, bone tumors, and metastatic anal gland tumors, but has applications in many different types of cancers.  Dr. Anderson routinely works with the oncologists, internists and surgeons on cases, coordinating care between all three services in order to obtain the best possible outcome.

The Neurology/Neurosurgery department at PVSEC is comprised of Dr. Edward MacKillop, DVM, DACVIM and Dr. Kendra Mikoloski, DVM, DACVIM, who are Western Pennsylvania’s only board-certified neurologists. The Neurology department employs numerous diagnostic technologies, including MRI, CT and electro-diagnostic tools, such as auditory, muscle function and nerve conduction testing, to diagnose and treat both acute and chronic neurological disorders. They also perform surgery on the brain and spine for problems varying from tumors to ruptured vertebral discs. 

The Cardiology department offers work-ups including echocardiography, ECG, blood pressure measurement, and thoracic radiography. They also offer OFA/ARCH Exams which are cardiac screenings for purebred dogs to identify hereditary cardiac diseases (i.e. subaortic stenosis, pulmonic stenosis, valvular dysplasia, patent ductus arteriosus, etc).  OFA/ARCH Exams do not require a referral, and are appropriate for show or field trial dogs, or for screening prior to breeding. Dr. Eva Sikorska, DVM, DACVIM and Dr. Erin Anderson, VMD, MSc, DACVIM are PVSEC’s cardiologists.

Dr. Lawrence Bagley, DVM DACVO founded the Animal Eye Clinic of Pittsburgh in 1997. He merged with PVSEC in 2008 to form the Ophthalmology department.  Along with Dr. Rachael Keller, DVM, DACVO, Dr. Michael Finn, DVM, MS, DACVO, and Dr. Kara Gornik, DVM, and Dr. Bagley sees patients referred for ocular conditions such as uveitis and glaucoma. They perform testing and procedures in their own dedicated surgical suite specialized for ocular procedures.  OFA Eye Certification Registry Examinations (formerly CERF Exams) are offered without a referral. OFA exams are ophthalmic screening tests for purebred dogs that identify hereditary ocular diseases (i.e. corneal dystrophy, cataracts, PRA). OFA Eye Certification Registry Exams are appropriate for show or field trial dogs, or in preparation for breeding. 

Pittsburgh Veterinary Dermatology was founded in 2003. Dr. Sandra Sargent, DVM, DACVD and Dr. Bill Oldenhoff, DVM, DACVD are the only dermatologists in western Pennsylvania. They specialize in conditions affecting the skin and ears including skin allergies, immune mediated skin disorders, hormonal abnormalities and bacterial, fungal or parasitic infections. They have video otoscopy available to treat and diagnose chronic ear infections and do in house intradermal allergy testing and vaccine formulation.

Advanced dentistry is also offered at PVSEC by the only board certified veterinary dentist in western Pennsylvania, Dr. Krista Mendoza, DVM, DAVDC.  The dentistry department offers state-of-the-art diagnostics and equipment, such as digital dental radiographs, and performs tooth-saving procedures such as caps and root canals.

Pittsburgh Veterinary Surgery was started in 1993, by Dr. Anthony Pardo MS, DVM, DACVS. It was initially a mobile veterinary surgical service. The practice initially settled in Shaler Township, PA and became one of the founding practices of Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Center. Dr. John T. Payne DVM, MS, DACVS partnered with Dr. Pardo in 2004. Dr. Pardo and Dr. Payne are joined by 5 additional AVCS board-certified surgeons, Dr. Julie L. Compton, Dr. Jonathan Anderson, Dr. Michael Doornick, Dr. Hope Chisnell, and Dr. Katrin Saile.  Soft-tissue and orthopedic surgical diseases as well as traumatic injuries are treated in the state-of-the-art operating rooms.  Advanced surgeries include total hip replacement, cruciate ligament repair, thoracic surgery, and minimally invasive procedures such as laparoscopy.  Technicians certified in both human physical therapy and veterinary rehabilitation help PVSECs orthopedic and neurological patients get back on their feet and enjoy a better quality of life.

PVSEC is also proud to have the expertise of a board-certified veterinary anesthesiologist.  Dr. Dianna Ovbey, DVM, ACVAA, assists specialists in fields as varied as surgery, ophthalmology, and radiation oncology to achieve optimal pain and anesthetic management in PVSEC patients.

The PVSEC Emergency department offers emergency medical care 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, including all holidays, providing pets with quality emergency care around the clock. The team is headed by Dr. Kenton D. Rexford, VMD and Dr. Christine Guenther, DVM, DACVECC and boasts 3 critical care specialists and 10 experienced emergency veterinarians. Along with their highly skilled technicians, the emergency department is staffed and equipped to provide your pet with the highest quality emergency medical care, including hospitalization if necessary. Because of the urgent nature of emergency care, the PVSEC Emergency department welcomes walk-ins.

PVSEC offers hospitalized patients very comfortable and impressive wards, in which to rest and recover. The intensive care unit is equipped with supportive equipment, such as oxygen cages and monitoring devices, which can be observed from the main treatment room and the critical care and emergency doctor stations nearby.  As with all of the veterinary technicians, the nursing staff is highly trained and gives every patient careful attention and compassionate care. 

Enough cannot be said about the support staff at PVSEC. Karen Seger, Referral Liaison, states “Our technicians, assistants, and kennel assistants take excellent care of the patients, and the outstanding client care team is there to warmly support clients from the first phone call, to greeting you for a return appointment. The team is always there to answer questions and assist you through the referral process and follow-up appointments. “

PVSEC is located at 807 Camp Horne Rd. Pittsburgh, PA 15237. Please call PVSEC at 412-366-3400 or visit for additional information.


December 14, 2023
December 14, 2023


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November 22, 2023