Meet Our Team

We are proud to introduce you to our highly qualified team of veterinarians, veterinary staff, and specialists. Click below on each name to learn more about the team serving you and your extraordinary pet.

Our Veterinarians

Dr. Laurie Hess, DVM, Diplomate ABVP (Avian Practice)
Owner & Medical Director
Avian & Exotic Pet Veterinarian

Dr. Hess is board-certified by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners in avian (bird) medicine and served as the President of the Association of Avian Veterinarians from 2009-2010. She is also an active member of the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians and the Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians.

After graduating summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Yale University, Dr. Hess received her veterinary medical degree from Tufts. She then completed a one-year internship and a two-year residency in avian and exotic pet medicine and surgery at the world-renowned Animal Medical Center in New York City.

Dr. Hess has lectured both nationally and internationally about exotic pet care and has published numerous articles and book chapters on birds and other exotic species.

She is especially interested in exotic pet nutrition. In the late 1990s, she completed groundbreaking nutrition research on the importance of pelleted diets in birds. She presented these findings both in Europe and in the U.S. and later published the research in 2002.

Dr. Hess is a guest exotic pet expert on Animal Planet's exotic pet series "Little Pets 101" and "Peculiar Pets 101.” She has also appeared on Animal Planet in Drs. Foster and Smith's TV series, "Faithful Friends,” and has been a guest on the "Martha Stewart Show," discussing the importance of educating yourself about exotic pets before you get one. Dr. Hess has also appeared on CBS’s morning show, "The Doctors," where she discussed exotic pets for people with allergies, and on Fox TV’s “Inside Edition,” where she discussed bird behavior. In addition, Dr. Hess has been a guest on both the WPIX Morning News in New York City and on the Fox morning show, “Good Day NY,” where she highlighted the benefits of exotic animals as pets. Dr. Hess has been a featured veterinarian on CBS's popular news magazine show, "48 Hours," and she appeared weekly as the "Exotic Pet Vet" on the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut cable station, RNN TV. Dr. Hess also discusses bird health on her monthly radio show, "Bird’s Eye View," on www.petliferadio.com and makes guest appearances regularly on radio stations throughout the U.S. and Canada discussing exotic pet issues.

Dr. Hess has written several articles about exotic pets in syndicated columns nationwide and in well-known exotic pet magazines such as Bird Talk, Birds USA, and Critters Magazine. She also blogs regularly about exotic pet topics on well-known pet websites, including www.Vetstreet.com and www.birdchannel.com. She is a senior editor of the Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery, as well as a guest editor of the Journal of Exotic Pet Medicine, Veterinary Clinics of North America (Exotic Animal Series) and of Exotic DVM Magazine. She also has been published in internationally recognized veterinary journals including the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association and Veterinary Record.

Michelle Ravich, DVM
Avian and Exotic Pet Veterinarian

Michelle graduated with a Bachelor of Science in biology from Cornell University, and she received her veterinary education from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. She then completed a competitive rotating emergency, medicine and surgery internship at BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Tampa, Florida. During her internship, she had the opportunity to treat numerous exotic patients on an emergency basis. Dr. Ravich also completed an additional one-year internship in avian/exotic animal medicine and surgery at the Veterinary Center, and she will be finishing a two-year residency at the Veterinary Center this summer. She has a special interest in bird and exotic animal behavior.

Michelle has always had an interest in exotic animals. She has had multiple experiences working with exotic species including at the Boston Zoo (Zoo New England), Bronx Zoo, White Oak Conservation Center in Yulee Florida, Minnesota Raptor Center, and even the Greenburg Nature Center in Scarsdale, NY. Michelle shares her home with her husband Jared, who is also a veterinarian, as well as Toby the dog, Trogdor the leopard gecko, and Ajax the ball python.

Dr. Lauren Thielen
Avian and Exotic Pet Veterinarian

Dr. Lauren Thielen received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, and went on to veterinary school at Texas A&M University. She completed a one-year exotic exclusive internship at Broward Avian and Exotic Animal Hospital in Florida. She will be completing a two-year residency at the Veterinary Center so she can achieve her life-long goal of becoming a board certified avian specialist. Dr. Thielen has always wanted to be an exotic animal veterinarian. She worked as a veterinary technician for 5 years during which time she participated in wildlife rehabilitation, one of her many passions. Her other exotic animal experiences include working at the animal health department of the Columbus Zoo in Ohio and conducting field research on macaws in the heart of the Amazon rainforest at the Tambopata Research Center in Peru. There, she climbed 100-foot trees and entered the nest of a macaw pair to examine their chicks, collecting data, and provide veterinary care, as needed. In addition, upon graduation from veterinary school, she was awarded the Kaytee Avian and Special Species award for her interest in and contribution to avian research and medicine. When she’s not practicing veterinary medicine, Dr. Thielen enjoys spending time with her two rabbits, her bronze wing pionus parrot, and her cat.

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Our Veterinary Support Staff

Jillian Spielman LVT, Practice Manager
Practice Manager & Licensed Veterinary Technician

A Chicago native, Jillian is happy to be home in the Northeast again. She started her veterinary career working with wildlife and soon became a licensed veterinary technician in the emergency/critical care department of a large referral hospital in Michigan. She, in fact, has published articles on veterinary technology in Veterinary Technician Magazine. Although Jillian enjoyed her years as a technician, in 2006, she found her niche as a veterinary hospital administrator managing a large emergency clinic. After spending years as a jack of all trades administrative, Jillian developed expertise not only in management but also in operational improvements, strategic planning, customer service, and exceptional patient care.

To advance her knowledge even further, Jillian is currently obtaining her bachelor’s degree in veterinary hospital management at Saint Petersburg College; she will complete her studies in 2014 to become a certified veterinary practice manager. With her attention to detail, meticulous sense of organization, and professional yet compassionate demeanor, Jillian is a terrific asset to the Veterinary Center.

Steve Young
Licensed Veterinary Technician
Head Technician

A Bronx, NY, native, Steve received his degree in veterinary technology from LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, NY, in 2003. He has worked with both pet exotic species in private veterinary practice and with wild species at the Bronx Zoo Wildlife Health Center and the Zoo’s Reptile House. He is also a certified technician in the field of human ultrasonography.

Steve has been interested in exotics since he was 4 years old. He loves all exotic pets but has a special passion for reptiles. Steve got his first pet snake at age 11 and was breeding snakes by the time he was a teenager. Currently, he owns 25 snakes, 3 cockatiels, and a marginated tortoise. With his upbeat attitude and eagerness to always be learning more, Steve is a great team player to have on the Veterinary Center’s staff.

Danielle D'Amato
Licensed Veterinary Technician

A recent graduate of the SUNY Ulster Veterinary technology program, Danielle comes to us with more than a decade of experience working in the veterinary field. In addition to working in both small and large animal practices, she has a great deal of experience with wildlife rehabilitation, working with many different species of wild birds and waterfowl and spending a great deal of time volunteering with a local SPCA. She has been interested in working with animals since she was a toddler, quite often depicting herself with her animal “friends” in childhood drawings. Danielle loves to continuously learn her trade and has made a commitment to obtaining a specialty certification with the Academy of Veterinary Technicians in Clinical Practice as an Exotics Technician. Danielle shares her home with her husband Matt, daughter Zoey, their French Bulldog Stitch, 2 cats named Ciao and Cricket, and 2 rats named Lemiwinks and Wikilinks. She is an avid photographer and crafter and enjoys traveling, touring baseball stadiums, and historical sites.

Jane Pluhowski
Licensed Veterinary Technician

A Rockland County native, Jane knew early on that she loved wildlife and wanted to work with animals. Since her childhood, she has worked in both wildlife and veterinary hospital settings. After graduating from Cornell University with a B.S., Jane worked as an intern at the Whale and Sea Turtle Animal Hospital at Mote Marine Laboratory in Florida. She then spent time honing her veterinary technical skills at several veterinary private practices in NY and NJ. She also achieved her Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology degree from Bergen Community College. As a veterinary technician, Jane worked at the world-famous Clinic for Rehabilitation of Wildlife in Florida where she confirmed her desire to work long term in the field of exotic animal and wildlife medicine. Jane has a special interest not only in exotics, but also in conservation medicine. When she isn’t at the Veterinary Center, Jane is likely outdoors, enjoying nature, and helping to rescue a wild animal in need.

Angie Macchia
Receptionist

Always a lover of exotic pets, Angie grew up with chinchillas, rabbits, and turtles of her own. Thus, she was a natural fit for working at the Veterinary Center. With her big smile and quiet demeanor, Angie greets all of the Center’s clients with a big hello on Saturday mornings. Although she is a terrific receptionist, Angie hopes someday to go to veterinary school, herself, and is gaining invaluable experience working at the Veterinary Center. If you stop by the Center on the weekend, be sure to give say hi to Angie, and tell her all about your special exotic pet.

Specialists We Work With

Marnin Forman, DVM, DACVIM

Dr. Forman is currently a staff internist at Cornell University Veterinary Specialists in Stamford, CT, and he visits the Veterinary Center for Birds & Exotics to perform abdominal ultrasound examinations. He is board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. Dr. Forman received his DVM from Texas A&M University Veterinary School and then went on to complete a rotating internship in small animal medicine and surgery at The Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition, he completed both a fellowship in nephrology and a residency in internal medicine at the University of California, Davis. Dr. Forman then worked as a staff internist in a large private specialty practice where he was involved in collaborative studies with veterinarians at Cornell University, the Ohio State University, the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine, and Idexx Laboratories. In addition to his focus on gastroenterology, Dr. Forman is trained in endocrinology, pulmonology, immunology, hematology, critical care medicine, nutrition, and management of infectious disease. Dr. Forman has lectured throughout the United States on multiple internal medicine topics including pancreatitis, acute and chronic kidney diseases, liver disease and nasal disorders, Cushing's syndrome, and diabetes mellitus.

Anthony J. Fischetti, DVM, MS, DACVR

Dr. Fischetti is head of the Diagnostic Imaging Service at The Animal Medical Center in New York City. He is board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Radiologists and has studied thousands of x-rays and CT scans from exotic pets of all kinds. He reviews both digital x-rays and CT scan results from the Veterinary Center for Birds & Exotics on an as needed basis and usually is able to report his findings to the Center’s doctors within 24-48 hours. He received his veterinary medical degree from Cornell School of Veterinary Medicine and then completed a rotating internship in small animal medicine & surgery at the University of Pennsylvania. He then achieved a master’s degree from The Ohio State University, where he stayed on to complete his radiology residency training. In addition to radiology, he has strong interests in MRI and CT scanning and abdominal ultrasonography.

Jean-Paul Petrie, DVM, DACVIM—Veterinary Cardiology

Dr. Petrie is founder and owner of Hudson Valley Veterinary Cardiology, LLC, a mobile echocardiography company that services the tri-state area. He is a well-known board-certified veterinary cardiologist who visits the Veterinary Center for Birds & Exotics to see patients, as needed. He is board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine in Cardiology and has a specific interest in echocardiography. He received his veterinary medical degree from the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph in Canada. He then completed an internship at Michigan Veterinary Specialists and a post-doctoral fellowship in cardiac physiology and interventional cardiology at the Robarts Research Institute, University Hospital, London, Ontario, Canada. Dr. Petrie went on to complete a residency in cardiology at The Animal Medical Center in New York City and stayed on as a staff cardiologist in the Department of Medicine at The Animal Medical Center for 11 years. He continues to lecture both nationally and internationally, is actively involved in clinical research projects, and has published several articles and book chapters.