NC Regional Wildlife Medicine Symposium

Friday, July 27, 2018
Hosted by the May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center
Lees-McRae College Campus

An opportunity for non-wildlife specialists to learn treatment techniques for sick and injured wildlife

The second annual NC Regional Wildlife Medicine Symposium provides a continuing education opportunity for veterinarians and veterinary technicians focused on the recognition, triage, and treatment of wildlife. From legal implications to safe handling and zoonotic diseases, the veterinary team plays a crucial role in the overall health of the animal and, in some cases, the finder.

Hosted by the May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at Lees-McRae College, this symposium will also allow networking opportunities between local veterinarians, veterinary staff, state officials, and other experts in the field. 

Earn eight hours of continuing education credit while learning from experts in the field!


  • Veterinarians: $175
  • Veterinary Technicians: $50
  • Students/Non-students/Other: $30

Payment is available via credit card by clicking the Get Tickets button below. The early registration deadline is Saturday, June 30, 2018. After that date, an additional $25 fee will be charged.

Symposium Schedule

78 a.m. Registration
King-Shivell Gallery, Cannon Student Center
8 a.m. Opening Remarks
Billy Carver, PhD – Dean, School of Natural and Behavioral Sciences
8:109 a.m. Triage Care: The First Step in Wildlife Rehabilitation
Sarah Reich, DVM: University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine
9:10–10 a.m.   Wildlife Fluid Therapy and Nutritional Support
Ernesto Dominguez, DVM: Wildlife Center of Virginia
10–10:20 a.m. Break
10:20–11:10 a.m. Zoonotic Diseases Potentially Encountered in Wildlife Rehab
Karen Gruszynski, DVM, MPH, PhD
11:20 a.m.–12:10 p.m. Updates on Analgesia in Birds and Small Mammals
Olivia Petritz, DVM, Dipl. ACZM: NC State College of Veterinary Medicine
12:10 a.m.–1:30 p.m.  Lunch
1:30–2:20 p.m. Reptile Triage and Complementary Treatments
Tara Harrison, DVM, MPVM, Dipl. ACZM, Dipl. ACVPM: NC State College of Veterinary Medicine
2:30–3:20 p.m. You Want Me to Fix That?: Wound Healing, Dressings, and Bandaging
Sarah Reich, DVM: University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine
3:20–3:40 p.m. Break
3:40–4:30 p.m. More Than Skin Deep: Using Clinical and Behavioral Metrics to Assess Wildlife Health
J. Patrick W. Cusaac, PhD: Center for Wildlife Health, University of Tennessee
4:40–5:30 p.m. Avian Cardiology
Ernesto Dominguez, DVM: Wildlife Center of Virginia
5:30 p.m. Closing Remarks and Introduction of Student Poster Presentations
Distribution of CE Certificates

Speaker Biographies

Sarah Reich, DVM
Instructor, Wildlife and Zoological Medicine
University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Sarah Reich is originally from Massachusetts but her education has taken her all across the US. Dr. Reich completed her undergraduate degree in biology and animal science at Cornell University before heading to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for veterinary school. During veterinary school, she was heavily involved in the wildlife medical clinic and public outreach. She also travelled to numerous institutions, including San Diego Zoo and Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, to further develop her love of exotic species. After veterinary school, she completed a small animal and exotics emergency internship in Milwaukee and a wildlife medicine and conservation internship at Tufts University Wildlife Medical Clinic before returning to the University of Illinois as an instructor in wildlife and zoological medicine. Outside of work, Dr. Reich is an avid bird bander (having gotten her license at the age of 16) and loves to spend time with her ever-growing menagerie of pets (1 dog, 2 cats, 2 lizards, and a sassy conure).

Ernesto Dominguez, DVM
Hospital Director - Wildlife Center of Virginia

Dr. Ernesto grew up in Mexico City. He always loved animals, and after a safari in South Africa in 2002, he knew he wanted to be a veterinarian. After two years of studies in medical school (2003-2005), he quit med school to follow his dream of becoming a veterinarian. Dr. Ernesto graduated from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) School of Veterinary Medicine in 2013. Since the second year of veterinary school, he volunteered at the Wildlife & Exotic Pet Hospital at UNAM. During his last year of veterinary school, Dr. Ernesto spent some time doing his graduation project in avian orthopedics at the Wildlife Center of Virginia. After getting his degree, he completed different postgraduate training in wildlife centers and zoos around the world, including the Belize Wildlife and Referral Clinic, Arcas Wildlife Center in Guatemala, The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, Africam Safari Zoo in Mexico, the Johannesburg Zoo in South Africa, and a second externship at the Wildlife Center of Virginia as a veterinarian. From September 2015 to June 2016 he completed an internship in Raptor Medicine and Surgery at the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota. He is interested in Conservation Medicine. Dr. Ernesto is excited to be back at WCV to work with black bears and reptiles, and be part of the staff. Ernesto is currently pursuing board certification by the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine.

Karen Gruszynski, DVM, PhD, MPH
Epidemiologist – Lincoln Memorial University, Center for Animal and Human Health in Appalachia

Dr. Karen Gruszynski originally became interested in wildlife diseases while volunteering with a wildlife rehab clinic during undergrad at the University of Minnesota.  During veterinary school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she took a wildlife medicine class in South Africa and externed with the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study (SCWDS).  After she graduated from veterinary school, she went on to do a PhD at Louisiana State University where she worked on West Nile virus.  In 2009, she joined the Virginia Department of Health as the veterinary epidemiologist.  She conducted several studies on Salmonella in wildlife during her time there and was a member of several statewide wildlife working groups.  Earlier this year, she joined the faculty of Lincoln Memorial University as the epidemiologist for the Center for Animal and Human Health in Appalachia where she focuses on One Health projects.

Olivia Petritz, DVM, DACZM
Clinical Assistant Professor – North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Olivia Petritz is a native of Indiana, and graduated from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Purdue University.  She then completed several internships and a three-year exotics, zoo, and wildlife residency at University of California, Davis.  She is a boarded diplomate of the American College of Zoological Medicine, and has worked with a large variety of North American wildlife in Indiana, Texas, and California.  Dr. Petritz recently joined the faculty at NCSU in their exotics and zoo service, and she looks forward to working with all species in her new state of North Carolina.

Clinical Assistant Professor – North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Tara Harrison graduated from Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine with her DVM degree. Afterward, she earned a Masters of Preventive Veterinary Medicine degree at the University of California-Davis, where she worked with Dr. Linda Munson as a post-doctoral fellow in the contraceptive advisory group. She did veterinary internships at Toledo Zoo and Wildlife Safari. She then spent ten years working as a veterinarian and curator at Potter Park Zoo and an additional year as the Director of Animal Health at Potter Park Zoo. Dr. Harrison was also an Assistant Professor at Michigan State University during that time. She then went back to UC Davis and was an Assistant Professor in UC Davis’ Department of Medicine and Epidemiology and a veterinarian at the Sacramento Zoo. She is currently a Clinical Assistant Professor at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine Exotic Animal Medicine Service. She is board certified in the American College of Zoological Medicine and the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine.

J. Patrick W. Cusaac, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Associate - Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries
University of Tennessee Center for Wildlife Health

Dr. Patrick Cusaac is a post-doctoral researcher in the Center for Wildlife Health at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture.  He is a physiological ecologist whose research background includes reptile and amphibian ecology, ecotoxicology, and animal behavior.  He now studies the susceptibility of amphibian species to the salamander chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans.

About the May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

The Dan and Dianne May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is situated adjacent to the Elk River on the campus of Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, NC. The Center annually admits more than 1,500 injured and orphaned wildlife patients from the western part of North Carolina. 

Under the guidance of Director Nina Fischesser and veterinarian Dr. Amber McNamara, students simultaneously contribute to the success of the rehabilitation program while engaging in a one-of-a-kind, hands-on learning experience.  Open 365 days per year, students comprise a large portion of the rehabilitative operations at the Center. 

Spend the Weekend in Banner Elk

Banner Elk is a popular getaway in the Blue Ridge Mountains of the North Carolina High Country. It’s a place that blends small town relaxation with the amenities of a larger city.

Visitors enjoy a richness of culture and adventure. Within 15 minutes of the town’s lone stoplight you can experience the great outdoors, fabulous dining, theater and the arts, family attractions, and the two largest winter sports venues in the South. (via

For More Information

Amber McNamara
Veterinarian, May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center
Assistant Professor of Biology  |  828.898.3521

Radiograph courtesy of Appalachian New River Veterinary Associates.

This program 1111-32740 is approved by the AAVSB RACE to offer a total of 8.00 CE Credits (8.00 max) being available to any one veterinarian: and/or 8.00 Veterinary Technician CE Credits (8.00 max). This RACE approval is for the subject matter categories of:
Category Two: Non-Scientific-Clinical using the delivery method of Seminar/Lecture. This approval is valid in jurisdictions which recognize AAVSB RACE; however, participants are responsible for ascertaining each board's CE requirements. RACE does not "accredit" or "endorse" or "certify" any program or person, nor does RACE approval validate the content of the program.