PennVet | Alumni Updates
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Ryan Hospital Philadelphia, PA

Alumni Updates

Published: May 6, 2013


The American College of Veterinary Surgeons has selected Robert Leighton (V’41), professor emeritus at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, to receive the 2011 Foundation Legends Award. The award is presented to an ACVS Diplomate who has developed a surgical or diagnostic procedure of significant value, which has become the treatment or test of choice for a given condition. Leighton specialized in small animal orthopedic surgery. He placed a metal pin into bone to connect each side of a broken bone; this intramedullary pinning procedure stabilized the fracture until bone could regrow around it. Along with the technique, he invented the Leighton Shuttle Pin and the Leighton Pin Introducer, which veterinary surgeons used to repair fractures for more than 20 years. He is associated with novel repairs of ruptured anterior cruciate ligaments in dogs. Leighton also collaborated with a veterinarian, physician and an engineer who together developed one of the first practical canine total hip replacements.


Jessica Dimuzio (V’78) has published her first book, Bark! Bark! Bark for My Park! (Nature Tales and Trails, LLC), which tells the story of a grassroots campaign to save a local park from development with the help of best friend Johnny Angel, a Papillion. For more information, visit A portion of the sales proceeds will go to the Farm Park Preservation Association.

Linda Rhodes (V’78) recently accepted the position of CEO of Aratana Therapeutics, a start-up company developing innovative new medicines for dogs and cats. Dr. Rhodes travels between the company’s Kansas City and New York City offices on a regular basis and in her personal time has learned to sea kayak. She writes, “Now if only I could hang out with a few cows now and then, I would be totally content!”

In October 2011, Louise Wechsler (V’79) was awarded the second of two grants from the Rhode Island Foundation to produce a follow-up edition to her 2010 DVD, Are You Ready for a Cat? The first grant facilitated the creation of DVDs, which include a Spanish version, Estas Listo para un Gato? More than 500 copies of the first run have been distributed to animal refuge facilities, mainly through the Placing Paws Animal Shelter, which sponsored Dr. Wechsler in applications to the foundation. The second grant will permit a new production in Portuguese. DVDs are available at


Kenneth A. Harkewicz (V’81) was elected to serve as president of the Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians (ARAV) at the 2011 ARAV Conference.


Denise McAloose (V’93), chief pathologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), led a team of investigators in studying the threat of distemper to wild Amur tigers of Siberia. Working with Primorskaya State Agricultural Academy and Moscow Zoo, Dr. McAloose and her team are collaborating to understand the role of distemper in the disappearance of these tigers. Said Dr. McAloose, “This is a great example of what international collaboration can achieve. Without our Russian associates there on the spot, knowing what samples to collect and how to preserve these specimens, samples would never have made it to our lab, and the cause of death would remain unknown.”

Donatella Hecht (V’99) has been added to the animal health care team at the Central Animal Hospital in Scarsdale, NY. Central Animal Hospital is a full-service veterinary clinic providing wellness care, spay and neuter procedures, emergency care, dog and cat surgery, pet boarding and exotic veterinary services to the Westchester pet communities.

Christine Polaneczky (V’99) opened her own practice in September 2011. The Village Veterinarian, located in Fairless Hills, PA, cares for small animals including cats, dogs and many small mammals. For more information about the practice, visit


Benjamin Brainard (V’00), DACVA, ACVECC was recently promoted to associate professor of critical care at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia. Dr. Brainard also won the UGA clinical research award in 2009 and the UGA hospital service award in 2010.

Vincent Carroll (V’02) recently passed the ACVP board certification exam (anatomic pathology) in September 2011.


Pontillo on October 8, 2011 in Brownsville, PA. The couple is residing in Brackney, PA with their cat Clyde and German shorthaired pointer Ellie. Dr. Pontillo is an associate veterinarian working with small animals at Southern Tier Veterinary Associates in Vestal, NY.

Matt Montresor (V’11) has been named to Mayor Michael Nutter’s Animal Care and Control Team (ACCT) board in the City of Philadelphia. ACCT will assume Philadelphia’s animal control services, including the operations of the City’s animal shelter, from the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PSPCA) when its current contract expires. Dr. Montresor is a staff veterinarian at the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).


1945 Manuel “Doc” Gilman on November 25, 2011.

1948 Richard Detwiler on January 7, 2012.

1956 Charles D. Knecht on September 20, 2011.

1972 Mary Alice Brown on November 4, 2011.

1981 Timothy J. Donovan on September 30, 2011.

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Have you received a promotion, gotten married, had a baby or received an award? Have you volunteered somewhere special, moved into a new building, ventured into a new business or discovered the cure for avian flu? Please share with us all of your good news to include in the CLASS NOTES section of the Bellwether and the website. All residents, interns and fellows are also invited to share!

Forward all alumni news to Jillian Marcussen, interim director of alumni relations, at or write Office of Alumni Relations, 3800 Spruce Street, Suite 172 E, Philadelphia, PA 19104.