Monthly Archives: June 2012


  We asked our Medical Director, Dr. Lee Pickett, a few questions so that we could all get a better idea about the amazing things that she does in our coummunity! Where are you originally from? I was born in Ohio, but when I was in second grade, my family moved to Chester County, PA. How long have you been in the area? I started working in Berks County in 1995, and I moved to Bernville in 1997. How long have you been at Bernville Vet? I worked here as a part-time relief veterinarian for a number of years and then joined the staff full-time in January 2012. Where did you go to school? I graduated from Hartwick College ( as a biology major and then worked in the pharmaceutical industry and with my own medical-legal consulting firm. In my 30’s, I went to the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine ( where I focused on companion animal medicine. At graduation, I was honored to receive the Mikus Prize for proficiency in veterinary medicine and for upholding veterinary medical ethics. Describe your role in the area’s pet community. I play three roles, which suits me just fine because I like variety. First, I am the medical director at Bernville Vet, which is meaningful to me because animals are my passion and I am fascinated by how the body works, its ability to heal itself and how I can “tweak” things to improve the healing process. Also, for the past ten years I have been writing a weekly newspaper column called “Ask the Vet’s Pets” ( that appears Fridays in the Reading Eagle ( Well, to be honest, I don’t write it — my pets, Daisy Dog and Christopher Cat, do. I enjoy my part in producing the column because client education is very important to me. Finally, I have always volunteered for local animal shelters and rescue organizations, having done everything from feral cat spay-neuter surgery to serving as president of the Humane Society of Berks County ( and board member of Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue ( What would you say is the most important impact your organization has? I am proud that Bernville Veterinary Clinic is improving the health of companion animals in our area. We serve clients in Berks, Schuylkill and Lebanon Counties, providing compassionate care, friendly client education and convenient service. Our goal is to help our patients live long, healthy lives in the homes of the people who love them. What would you say was the one greatest pet-related community accomplishment you have had? About 12 years ago, I read in my veterinary journals that domestic violence affects not only humans but also family pets. I hadn’t realized that pets are abused too, and that abused women often won’t leave the home because they know their pets will be tortured or killed if they do. Domestic violence shelters accept the women and their children, but usually not the family pets. So I approached Berks Women in Crisis and the Humane Society of Berks County, and together we established PetNet to care for these pets until they could be reunited with their people in a safe environment. The program ( has been recognized by Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government for its innovation. Since then, PetNet has expanded to provide temporary foster care for pets impacted by other personal catastrophes, including house fire, flooding and human medical problems. At what point in your life did you realize that you had such a deep connection with pets? My connection to animals has been a part of my being since I was born. I’ve wanted to be a veterinarian for almost that long. In late elementary school, I announced to my parents that I loved my friend Pam’s pony, and I wanted one too. They responded, “If you want a pony, go figure out how to get one.” So every day after school, I rode my bike to the farms near my rural home, asking if the staff would let me clean stalls in exchange for riding lessons. Finally I found someone, Sally Graburn, who agreed to take me on as a working student. Only later did I learn that she was one of the nation’s top dressage and eventing trainers. An extraordinary horsewoman and role model for any girl lucky enough to know her, Sally taught me about horses and life. I worked for her every day of every week, for years. One of my jobs was to assist the veterinarian and to carry out the medical recommendations he made — and it was always a “he” in those days. Despite the gender problem, I’d insist to my mom when she picked me up after I’d cleaned horse stalls all afternoon that I wanted to be a veterinarian when I grew up. She’d scoff, knowing it was man’s work, and tell me, “You can’t do that, or you’ll always smell as bad as you do now.” List your pets and their names throughout the years (including childhood ones). As a toddler, my first “pet” was Orangy-Reddy, an orange-red caterpillar. Each day, I’d take him outside in the grass for an “airing,” until one day I was crestfallen to discover he was missing and a cocoon took his place. That was my first lesson in the phases of life. From there, my family pets became more typical: hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, budgies — and a dog and a cat. In sixth grade, I adopted two of our classroom mice, Missy, a white female, and Ringo Starr, a sable male with a white star on his forehead. I started breeding experiments, carefully recording the coat colors that resulted from various breeding combinations. Finally, when Missy grew very old, she developed cancer. Our collie, Lad, died of cancer, too — and I learned about grieving the loss of loved ones. Our pets do teach us life’s most important lessons, don’t they? Through the years, I’ve had too many pets to tell you about, most of them dogs and cats. Almost all were adopted from shelters or rescue organizations. At present, I live with two dogs, two cats and one husband. The cats, Carlie and Claire, maintain control over the dogs, an Irish wolfhound named Ollie and a black standard poodle called Lincoln. Please share one other personal fact. My favorite color is blue.




Saturday June 23rd 2:00-4:00

Meet the following: – Our entire staff including an “ASK THE VET” table – Pet Bereavement Counselor: Marianne Sharon – Willow Street Photography: the area’s leading animal photography studio – Watch our groomers demonstrating live throughout the afternoon – Learn about Fire Prevention & Pets from The Bernville Fire Department – ARL’s Grey Muzzle Foster Program for senior pets – Hill’s Pet Nutrition – The Animal Rescue League of Berks County

Everyone who attends get a FREE Overnight Stay Coupon at the Spa & Resort


Laura shared this fun story and picture about her dog:                 “Dieter was a stray that I rescued. He has a lot of German Shepherd qualities both good and bad. Separation anxiety was our biggest obstacle to overcome, and with training he is doing much better. Last year we enrolled in agility which was a lot of fun for the both of us. He enjoys car rides, running and playing with my two mini donkeys and getting his picture taken. This picture was taken a few weeks ago when he was visiting my brother at a Vietnam reenactment.”


Tick time

June 12, 2012, 12:31 a.m. EDT
Reading Eagle
Ticks are everywhere this summer, and experts say the weather and a shortage of white-footed mice are to blame. Disease-carrying insects that burrow under human and animal skin, ticks are exothermic. That means they get their energy from heat. So the mild winter and pleasant spring has boosted the area’s tick population, said Dr. Kenneth DeBenedictis, director of epidemiology, infection control and prevention at Reading Hospital. Ticks live on the blood of mammals, and mainly the white-footed mouse, DeBenedictis said. But because oak trees produced fewer acorns last fall, something that fluctuates from year to year for unknown reasons, there are fewer of the mice, so more ticks are latching onto humans and pets for nourishment. And with many people enjoying the good weather, DeBenedictis recommends that everyone aggressively protect themselves from ticks. “The habitat here is extremely friendly for ticks,” he said. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say it’s best to apply insect repellent with at least 20 percent DEET, an oil that repels ticks. Those spending time outdoors should also conduct a full-body tick check with a mirror and wash off as soon as they go inside. Pennsylvania is a main breeding ground for ticks because of the state’s high population of “tick food,” like deer, mice and squirrels, DeBenedictis said. Ticks are dangerous because they carry Lyme disease and the less-common Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Lyme disease initially causes fever, headache, fatigue, and a rash, according to the CDC, and can lead to heart, joint, and nervous system complications if left untreated. Rocky Mountain spotted fever comes with similar symptoms, but can be fatal if not treated within the first few days of noticeable irritation. Over the past decade in Pennsylvania, 2,000 to 6,000 cases of Lyme disease were reported each year, while 20,000 to 30,000 were reported nationwide in those years, the CDC reported. In Berks County, 518 cases were reported to the state Department of Health between 2007 and 2009, the latest years for which figures are available. Ticks are a big problem for pets in Berks County, said Dr. Lee Pickett, a veterinarian at Bernville Veterinary Clinic. She said most dogs that have been infected with Lyme disease come to her office limping from one leg to another, and can suffer from a fever and loss of appetite. Cats rarely get the disease, she said. “After (pets) go for a walk, run fingers through their hair and coat,” Pickett recommended. “Also, use a fine-toothed flea comb on the dog to pull out the ticks.” Since ticks thrive among vegetation, the CDC recommends that people keep their yards free of leaf litter, mow the lawn often and treat grass and plants with acaricide, a tick pesticide. DeBenedictis said people visiting other parts of the country, especially states in the north-central U.S., should also be wary of tick bites. “When people go on vacation, they forget,” he said. “They don’t bring caution with them.”


On June 11, 2012, communities all over the United States will end the killing of healthy and treatable animals, even if it is just for one day. Traditional animal shelters, animal control centers, no kill shelters and rescue groups are taking a pledge to work together to empty the shelters the good way. Adorable puppies, kittens, cats and dogs – all available for adoption – will put their best paw forward to encourage Americans to open their hearts and homes and adopt. Special adoption events will take place all across the nation. Check with the many shelters & rescue groups in the Reading / Berks County Area.


There’s so much to tell you!

June 23rd from 2:00-4:00

Take a tour of our renovated Spa & Rsort and get a behind the scenes tour of the clinic. Come and hear the following LIVE WORKSHOPS:
  • Pet Summer Safety: presented by Dr. Lee Pickett
  • Care for Older Pets: presented by Grey Muzzle’s Marcy Tocker
  • The Truth about Pit Bulls: Presented by The Berks CountyAnimal Rescue League
  • Newest Trends in Pet Nutrition: Presented by Betsey Gallagher from Hill’s Pet Nutrition

Everyone who attends get a

FREE Overnight Stay Coupon at the Spa & Resort!!!

Also meet:

  • Pet Bereavement Counselor: Marianne Sharon
  • Willow Street Pictures : the area’s leading animal photography studio
  • Meet our own vets at the “ASK THE VET TABLE” (ask them any question you want!
  • Watch our groomers demonstrating live throughout the afternoon
  • The Bernville Fire Department will be speaking about Fire Prevention & Pets
  • …and so much more!

Dodgers Pitcher Chad Billingsley Supports the Berks ARL!

The Animal Rescue League of Berks County (ARL) is proud to announce that Los Angeles Dodgers’ starting pitcher and Berks County resident Chad Billingsley has committed to support the ARL’s 60th anniversary Diamond Jubilee celebration. For every strikeout thrown by Chad, he will donate $100 to the ARL and for every game he wins, Chad will donate $1000 to the ARL. To date, Chad raised $7,200 towards the Diamond Jubilee fundraiser. During a recent interview with Chad, he stated, “There wasn’t a single day of my life that we didn’t have a furry family member, and they were just that, members of our family. I now continue that with my own family, and our two dogs, Riley and Roxy. The Animal Rescue League best exemplifies the love and caring that all animals need. They go above and beyond any other animal shelter, to truly care for each animal coming through their door, and no one will ever be turned away. Hopefully, with my continued support, the Animal Rescue League will be able to help many more of our furry friends.” Here is your chance to play in the big leagues! Pledge a matching donation for Chad’s strikeouts and/or his game wins and get a chance to meet Chad. A $100 pledge gets you an invitation to the Meet and Greet on November 7 at the shelter; a $1000 pledge or greater gives you two tickets to join Chad at the Animal Rescue League’s Annual Gala on November 9th at the Reading Crowne Plaza. “Chad and Tiffany are two of the best people I have met in all of my years in animal rescue. They are true animal lovers and I am thrilled to have them as major supporters of the Animal Rescue League,” says Board President Barrie Pease. For more information contact or

Cute Pet of the Week: Teddy Bear

Teddy Bear looks like his cuddly namesake, but he requires much more care than a stuffed animal. Two years ago, Dr. Westfall rescued the homeless dog and diagnosed severe heart disease. Nevertheless, his adoptive mom, Irene, shown here holding Teddy after his Mother’s Day haircut by our groomer Tina, made a lifetime commitment to doing whatever is necessary to keep him healthy. Luckily, she is related to Desiree, one of our veterinary nurses, who helps with his care. So he’s often here at Bernville Vet, and his care is “all in the family.”