MEET OUR TEAM
Dr. Sari Kanfer, originally from New York City, was able to escape the big city and attend veterinary school at Colorado State University. Shortly before vet school she became hooked on rabbits and later followed her addiction to the west coast. After 10 years of building a great clientele in the exotic pet community, she opened the Exotic Animal Veterinary Center as a full service hospital dedicated to high quality, compassionate veterinary care for avian and exotic pets. Dr. Kanfer believes that no matter how small or unusual your pet is, it deserves the best veterinary medicine has available.
Dr. Kanfer is our resident small mammal guru and sees primarily rabbits, guinea pigs and chinchillas. She has a special bond with the rabbits and is well-known for her extensive medical knowledge in treating them. Dr. Kanfer is also well versed in treating dental issues with rabbits, guinea pigs and chinchillas. Dr. Kanfer has been featured on NBC Los Angeles.com discussing rabbit ownership and was also featured on ABC LA News discussing Santee Alley bunnies. She has written articles in numerous publications discussing exotics. Dr. Kanfer not only “talks the talk” but “walks the walk” with the 11 rescued bunnies with chronic health issues that live with her.
Dr. Kanfer’s special interests involve cutting edge veterinary care for mammals, and she provides advanced therapeutics, ranging from extensive dental abscess surgeries, rhinotomies, blood transfusions, and feeding tubes, to abdominal surgeries, and cancer treatment. She also advises owners on mammal behavior and trains them to care for their geriatric and paretic pets.
Dr. Sarah Wills joined our staff as a full-time associate. Dr. Wills is an East Coast transplant from Virginia who completed her undergraduate degree at Radford University and then continued to Texas A and M where she attained her masters in Veterinary Anatomy and Neurology. Afterwards, she attended Ross University and earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. After graduation she moved to Belize and spent a year there working with the local wildlife. Dr. Sarah was accepted into a prestigious AVMA accredited internship for Avian and Exotics and it was there she honed her understanding and treatment skills for the diverse species seen at EAVC. Once her internship was completed, Dr. Wills worked in her native state for a year before deciding she needed year-round warm weather, wanted to treat exotics exclusively and moved across the country to join us! Her southern accent is still intact.
Dr. Curtis Eng, one of our part time doctors, spent a large part of his career in zoo medicine before trading his “walk on the wild side” for a calmer stroll at EAVC. Dr. Eng has a special interest in reptiles and is the parent of eight (Yes, 8!) snakes. He also has an affinity for our feathered friends but is more than capable of treating our furry patients as well. When not practicing at EAVC, Dr.Eng puts on his professor hat and shares his knowledge with students enrolled in the Veterinary School at Western University. He was also instrumental in helping EAVC become the first exotics preceptor site for these veterinary students. Dr.Eng is known around the clinic and to his clients as EAVC’s “Zen Doc” because of his extremely calming presence, which is helpful in a clinic full of women.
Sometimes great things come when you least expect them. EAVC was thinking about adding another veterinarian to our staff after the first of the year but when Dr. Kanfer received an outstanding resume from Dr. Laurence Labrecque we knew immediately we had to hire her.
Dr. Laurence graduated from the University of Montreal where she learned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and this Canadian comes to us with a lot of experience in exotic medicine. She gained familiarity with birds of prey working at a rehabilitation center during vet school. She did externships at numerous zoos throughout the world including The Johannesburg Zoo in South Africa, The Assiniboine Zoo in Manitoba and our own Santa Barbara Zoo. Her wildlife experience came from volunteering at a wildlife rehab center in Belize. Dr. Laurence continued to expand her experience when she participated in a spay and neuter clinic in Northern Canada’s First National Villages. This clinic was designed to help counteract a pet overpopulation problem within Canada's Native American population.Dr. Laurence cut her teeth in the “real world” when she worked for an exotic and companion animal practice. She also developed an exotics’ protocol and trained the staff members in exotic animal medicine for an animal shelter in the Montreal area
Dr Laurence treats all exotic species seen at EAVC but has a soft spot for the smaller parrots. Because of this love for the little guys, she earned the nickname “the budgie vet.” She also has a big interest in small mammal dentistry. Dr. Laurence strongly believes client education is one of the most important aspects of the veterinary profession especially for our exotic companions. In addition, she is a big proponent of preventative medicine for all species.
Dr. Laurence is already enjoying SoCal's weather. She loves all water sports, including kite-surfing, windsurfing and scuba diving in water that gets above 50 degrees during the summers. She is also contemplating buying another motorcycle now that she can ride year -round. EAVC is pleased to have Dr. Laurence as the newest member of our team. We are confident she is going to be a tremendous asset to Exotic Animal Veterinary Center, our clients, and most importantly our patients. Dr Laurence is now accepting appointments on Mondays, Wednesdays. Thursdays and Fridays.
Dr. Holly Richards, originally from Michigan, recently moved to California from Chicago. Over her years in Chicago, she attended both Loyola University and Northwestern University for 2 different purposes and 15 years apart. Her first career was at Brookfield Zoo where she was a zookeeper for 12 years, taking care of everything from newts and kookaburras to polar bears and rhinos.
She attended University of Illinois for her veterinary degree and has been practicing medicine full time at an all-exotics animal clinic in Chicago since graduation in 2015. Some of her interests include surgery, dentistry in rabbits and rodents, behavior and enrichment, and diagnostic imaging (ultrasound and radiography). She is experienced in the care of all of the species that we see at Exotic Animal Veterinary Center including amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. She loves caring for a wide variety of species and the challenges faced daily as an exotic animal veterinarian keep her on her toes. One of her hidden talents is on-the-spot improvisation; whether it is to make adjustments to improve patient care or complete tasks more efficiently. She keeps a stash of tape, Velcro, cable ties, and other doohickeys and gadgets nearby.
Having cared for exotics for many years as a zookeeper, Holly now prefers pets that relieve themselves in designated areas and she shares her home 2 older kitties named Digger and KC. Despite this, she really worries that she could fall victim to both rabbit and cockatiel ownership at any point. One of her favorite aspects of the job is nurturing the intense connections that owners share with their pets. And she thinks that one of her role models, Temple Grandin, said it best – “animals make us human.”
Favorite pastimes include traveling, being outside, paper art and card making, locating and consuming delicious food with friends.
EAVC’s support staff is exceptional! All of our nurses are accomplished and well versed in the exotics world and share a passion for pets who are just a little bit different. Our technicians and assistants at Exotic Animal Veterinary Center have an unbelievable technical skill set needed for the care of our patients and the knowledge they possess of the many different species we see is unsurpassed. Most importantly, they also care.
Our receptionists have amazing skills as well! They juggle the schedules for 5 doctors flawlessly and effortlessly in addition to responding to emails from clients and other hospitals, answering our phones & maintaining our app. They also keep the process for making appointments and surgeries uncomplicated and will go out of their way to accommodate clients’ as often as they can. Our receptionists’ knowledge of the species seen at Exotic Animal Veterinary Center is superb as well and they are usually able to answer many of the questions our clients may have regarding their furry (or scaly, feathered or prickly) family members.