Critical Care Service

About the Service

The Critical Care Service provides immediate evaluation, stabilization, and treatment of pets with emergent or serious conditions transferred from our other specialty services or referral clinics, as well as ongoing care for critically ill or injured pets 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We also work closely with veterinarians in the Southeast to ensure pets receive the most advanced care available.

The Emergency and Critical Care services became a Level I-rated hospital by the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society in 2015, the highest rating that can be awarded to a veterinary emergency and critical care facility. We are the only emergency and critical care service to earn this ranking in Alabama.

The Emergency and Critical Care services were also designated a Veterinary Trauma Center by the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care in 2016 becoming the first in the Southeast United States. The veterinary trauma center designation is part of an effort by the ACVECC Veterinary Committee on Trauma to create a network of lead hospitals that play a significant role in the development of trauma systems nationally.

These hospitals work collaboratively to define high standards of care and disseminate information that improves trauma patient management efficiencies and outcomes.

What We Do

A team approach is used to provide comprehensive expert care through collaboration with other specialty services within the hospital including dermatology, theriogenology, neurology, internal medicine, cardiology, ophthalmology, oncology, and surgery.


The Critical Care Service is composed of four faculty members who are board certified by the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care. Additionally, the service has five residents, a specialty intern, a director of critical care nursing, and the inpatient team of 19 technicians and assistants.

We strive to provide the highest level of patient care. A state-of-the-art Intensive Care Unit operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for patients requiring careful monitoring and extensive care. Individualized care is provided by our highly skilled nursing team, including those who are specialty trained and certified in emergency and critical care. Emergency and Critical Care faculty and residents are available 24/7 to direct patient care and consult as required.

Service Highlights

  • Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
  • Mechanical ventilation (respiratory life support)
  • Oxygen supplementation, including High Flow Nasal Oxygen
  • Continuous Renal Replacement Therapy (CRRT): a form of dialysis for supporting kidney function; treating certain toxicities, fluid overload and some immune mediated diseases
  • Therapeutic Plasmaphoresis
  • Nutritional support
  • Blood and plasma transfusion
  • Bedside ultrasonography
  • Non-invasive monitoring and invasive hemodynamic monitoring
  • Advanced pain management

Who We Are


Kendon Kuo, DVM, MS, DACVECC

Kathy Gerken, DVM, MS, DACVECC

Maureen McMichael, DVM, M.Ed., DACVECC



Leonie Bertram, DVM

photo of Dr. Bertram

Dr. Bertram is originally from Germany traveling to the University of Veterinary Medicine Budapest in Hungary to complete her veterinary education. She moved to the United States in 2020 to complete her small animal rotating internship at Tuskegee University. She joined the Auburn University Small Animal Emergency and Critical Care Residency program in 2021. Email:

Stephanie Harris, DVM

Dr. Harris is originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee. In 2018 she received her veterinary degree from Midwestern University in Glendale, Arizona. After graduation, she completed a rotating small animal internship at VCA Animal Referral and Emergency Center of Arizona. She then started a specialty internship at Auburn in July 2019 and began her residency in emergency and critical care in January 2020. Email:

Wan-Chu Hung, DVM, MS

photo of Wan-Chu Hung

Dr. Hung is originally from Taiwan and completed her veterinary degree at National Taiwan University, where she also did her rotating internship. Dr. Hung then came to the United States and finished her master’s at Purdue University. Following this she completed a small animal rotating internship at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada. She joined the Auburn University Small Animal Emergency and Critical Care team for her residency in the fall of 2020. Email:

Aina Claret Mora, DVM

photo of Dr. Claret

Dr. Claret hails from Spain and graduated with her BVSc from the Autonomous University of Barcelona in 2017 and a postgraduate degree in small animal emergency and critical care in 2019. She also completed a rotating small animal rotating internship from this institution in 2018. Before joining the Auburn family in 2021 for a small animal emergency and critical care residency, Dr. Claret worked as a small animal emergency and critical care intern at the Hospital Ars Veterinaria in Barcelona. Email:

David Sender, DVM

photo of David Sender

Dr. Sender is a native of Chicago, Illinois, completed his veterinary training at the University of Illinois. He then went on to do a small animal rotating internship at Colorado State University. Prior to beginning his residency at Auburn University, Dr. Sender was a Clinical Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at Midwestern University College of Veterinary Medicine. Email:

Specialty Intern

Pei-Han Lu, DVM, MVSc

photo of Dr. Lu Dr. Lu is from Taipei, Taiwan and graduated with her veterinary degree from National Taiwan University in 2017. She then received her MVSc from the University of Queensland in Australia before embarking in a surgical specialty internship at Queensland Veterinary Specialists. Dr. Lu joined the Auburn University Small Animal Emergency and Critical Care team as a specialty intern in 2021 with plans to pursue her residency in the fall of 2022. Email:

Veterinary Support Staff

  • Stephanie Pitzer, CVT, VTS-ECC
  • Ashley Patino
  • Amber Viox, LVT
  • Brittney Worley
  • Christina Zaccardi, LVT
  • Courtney Burbage
  • Courtney Sickler
  • Déja Patterson, LVT
  • Fallon Greer
  • India Leddy, LVT
  • Jessica Miles
  • Katelyn Hall
  • Kelli Matisak
  • Margaret Jacks
  • Megan Davis
  • Natalie Perez-Manso
  • Sharon Price, LVT, VTS-ECC
  • Terez Strickland
  • Taylor Henderson