Stillwaters Veterinary Care - End of Life Services for Pets

Compassionate Services

Because saying goodbye to a beloved pet is so difficult, Stillwaters Veterinary Care is committed to helping pet owners with end of life process including:

Meet our Service Family

Dr. Annette Otis, DVM, MS, CHPV - Veterinarian

Dr. Annette Otis, DVM, MS, CHPV
Veteranarian & Founder

I get asked all the time "how can I do this job, it must be so sad" and am told "I could never do what you do, I love animals too much" so I want to talk a little about 'why' I started this service.

I was a dedicated emergency veterinarian for 12 years and unfortunately had to perform a large number of euthanasias as part of my job. I know that saying goodbye is the most difficult part of having a pet and it was heartbreaking to see people do this in the stressful environment of the typical clinical setting. I began to think of ways to improve the euthanasia process for pets and their families. I realized that being able to say goodbye in a familiar and comfortable place with a process that encourages reflection and closure is more peaceful for you, and more importantly, your pet. So I stepped away from my emergency veterinarian career in order to provide these services to the local community because of the great need I saw to keep pets at home for their end of life needs. So as sad as it is to say goodbye to these beautiful souls it does bring me joy to see all the love and companionship they have shared with their families through their lives and help families give the gift of a peaceful passing to their beloved pets.

I grew up in the Finger Lakes and Central New York region and attended undergraduate at Cornell University. I continued my education at Colorado State University earning a Master's degree in Anatomy and Neurobiology and lived there several years before returning to New York to attend veterinary college at Cornell University. After graduating in 2005, I completed an internship in Virginia at Southpaws Veterinary Specialists and Surgery Center. I stayed in Alexandria, VA to practice emergency for another five years before missing the Finger Lakes and my family too much. I moved back to the area in the fall of 2011 and have lived in Skaneateles since. My "farm" currently consists of a Catahoula Leopard dog mix named "Effie," a Border Collie mix named "Keene," cats "Gonzalo" and "Hubris," and 10 pet chickens (the "Divas") named after various female singers. I love to hike, bike, paddleboard and do agility with my dogs in my free time. I am very passionate about improving the human animal bond and preserving our natural environment. The Adirondacks is my "happy place."

I am a Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Veterinarian (CHPV) and a member of the International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care. I am the first provider in the Syracuse area to complete their 18 month certification program. The IAAHPC promotes comfort care that addresses the physical, psychological, and social needs of animals with chronic and/or life-limiting diseases. They promote physical, emotional, and spiritual support for caregivers. They also educate professionals and advance research in the field of animal hospice and palliative care.

I am also a graduate of the Companion Animal Euthanasia Training Academy that focuses on the "Education in the Art of a Gentle Death."

Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Veterinarian by the International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care     Companion Animal Euthanasia Training Academy Seal Excellence in Healthcare Honoree

Recipient of the 2021 Excellence In Veterinary Medicine Award

We are honored that Dr. Otis was nominated and chosen as an honoree in the 2021 Excellence in Healthcare Awards by the Central New York Business Journal!

Dr. Cecilia Murch - Veterinarian, DVM, MPH

Dr. Cecilia Murch, DVM, MPH
Ithaca Area Lead Veterinarian

I joined Stillwaters Veterinary Care in August 2020 to extend our end-of-life services to Ithaca and the surrounding areas. It is an honor and a privilege to help families through the difficult transition of saying goodbye to their beloved pets. While we do share in the sadness of each family's loss, it is also heartwarming to see the beautiful bond that families share with their four-legged companions, and we strive to make this stage of their journey as peaceful as possible.

I am originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, and I earned my Bachelor of Science degree at Denison University in central Ohio. I then moved to Massachusetts where I completed a dual degree program at Tufts University, earning my Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Master of Public Health degrees in 2013. After graduation, I moved to Rochester, where I completed a one year rotating internship followed by a one year internal medicine internship at Veterinary Specialists and Emergency Service. I am a graduate of the Companion Animal Euthanasia Training Academy. I am also a Fear Free Certified Professional, trained in the gentle handling of your beloved pet. In 2015, I joined Colonial Veterinary Hospital (now VCA Colonial) in Ithaca, where I worked as a full-time general practice veterinarian for five years. I have since transitioned to a part-time general practice role so that I can also provide end-of-life services through Stillwaters.

Outside of work you may find me on the hiking trails with my fiance, Derek, and our handsome mutt, Finnegan. I enjoy all things outdoors when it is above freezing (and have even learned to appreciate bundled walks in the snow), and I dabble in yoga and have participated in a few of Cayuga Lake's sprint triathlons. I also volunteer with the Street Dog Coalition where I met Kim, who graciously introduced me to Stillwaters. I feel very fortunate to be a member of this compassionate and dedicated team.

Companion Animal Euthanasia Training Academy Seal

Dr. Jo Millard, DVM - Associate Veterinarian

DR. Jo Millard, DVM
Associate Veterinarian

I feel fortunate in joining the Stillwaters Veterinary Care team and look forward to serving families in the Syracuse community. Through several years of veterinary practice and caregiving I have found aiding in the end-of-life transition to be the most heartfelt and rewarding for me. I feel that providing a peaceful transition to our beloved companions is the greatest gift we can give them for all the unconditional love they have given us.

My desire to care for animals began as a child growing up on a small farm in Southern Michigan. I was always wanting to care for the sick barn cats. I earned my Bachelor of Science degree at Kalamazoo College, and went on to get a Masters in Bio-Organic Chemistry from the University of Minnesota. I began my Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University and completed my degree at Cornell University in Ithaca. After graduation I worked in general practice at the Boulevard Animal Hospital for 7 years until I took a break to attend to my son's special needs due to SMA. I later returned to general practice at Stack's Hospital for Pets in Fayetteville. Nine years later, I moved to Atlanta to continue provided support for my son and began working with Lap of Love in Atlanta. While there I discovered my passion - helping our beloved companions transition peacefully in the comfort of their homes surrounded by those who love them.

In my free time I enjoy spending time in nature, cooking, digging in the dirt, and being with my cat, Smeagol, and my Shiba Inu, Laddie.

Dr. Maya Kuratomi, DVM - Associate Veterinarian

Dr. Maya Kuratomi, DVM
Associate Veterinarian

I consider it an honor to assist families having to say goodbye to their kindred companions who have to leave this journey too soon. Our pets are dear spirits who deserve a peaceful crossing. I hope that my help can bring a little comfort in an otherwise very sad situation and give a respectful last thank you to a faithful self-less loving companion.

I am originally from Sacramento, California and have gradually moved eastward. I went to school at Iowa State University where I earned a B.S. in Agronomy and earned my Veterinary degree from the University of Minnesota. Since neither school has a good football team, I learned to love college basketball.

My menagerie consists of a revolving crew of 4 and 2 legged friends. Currently we have a cat, 2 horses, 15 cows, 8 chickens, a duck, and 2 kids. The kids are the wildest of the bunch. We live in Genoa where I also work on a small family dairy farm.

Companion Animal Euthanasia Training Academy Seal

Dr. Jeremy Eule, DVM

Dr. Jeremy Eule, DVM
Associate Veterinarian

I joined Stillwaters because I have realized, through my emergency work in veterinary medicine, how important end of life discussion is. It's a difficult decistion that involves a pet's quality of life, finances, and the owner's quality of life. I consider it the most amazing gift when we can give our pets a peaceful way to end their suffering. While euthanasia in the hospital is usually gentle and peaceful, nothing compares to an animal being relaxed and happy in their home on their favorite blanket or couch. I feel so honored to be a part of their lives during such a difficult time.

I am originally from Long Island, NY. I earned my Bachelor of Science degree from UCLA in California and then went to veterinary school at Cornell University, where I graduated in 2019. After graduation, I moved to New Jersey, where I completed a one-year rotating internship at the Oradell Animal Hospital, followed by one year there as an emergency veterinarian staff doctor. In 2021, I joined VCA Colonial Animal Hospital in Ithaca, where I currently work as an emergency doctor.

I have a beagle named Polly, a rabbit named Louie, and a fianceé named Laura (don't look into the order too much). Some of my favorite things include the color orange, the Tennessee Titans NFL football team, and black pugs. In my spare time, I love reading, listening to music, running, and trying new beers. I also volunteer with the Street Dog Coalition which serves low income pet families in the area.

Dr. Annie Johnson DVM, CVA

Dr. Annie Johnson DVM, CVA
Associate Veterinarian

I am proud to be a part of the wonderful team at Stillwaters Veterinary Care. In my career, I've had to perform euthanasias under a variety of circumstances and I always wished it could be a more peaceful transition for all involved. I believe all creatures deserve a kind, dignified death surrounded by loved ones. My varied experience has given me perspective to give comfort to families as they make the difficult decision to say goodbye to a family pet.

Growing up in Pittsburgh PA, I knew I wanted to be a veterinarian from a young age. I attended Kenyon College with a degree in Molecular Biology (2003) and then went on to Cornell University for my veterinary degree (2007). My education continued with a rotating internship at the University of Pennsylvania and a few years in emergency medicine at a large referral practice in Philadelphia. Western New York was our next stop, as my husband is a dairy veterinarian and we needed to find the cows. During that time, I also obtained a certification in Veterinary Acupuncture at the Chi Institute. This was inspired by my childhood dachshund, who benefited greatly from acupuncture in his geriatric years. After a stint as a rural general practitioner, we moved back to my beloved Ithaca area. I joined Colonial Animal Hospital, where I worked from 2015-2020 as a GP/ER/acupuncture veterinarian. I also joined Shelter Outreach Services, where I perform high volume spay and neuter surgeries for Finger Lake area shelters and rescues.

Our household consists of Percy, a goofy rescue Cavalier Spaniel, "foster fail" cats named Vizzini and Dread Pirate Roberts, eight chickens, and three young children. When not taking care of that menagerie, I enjoy hiking, knitting, baking, and traveling. Some favorite trips have included New Zealand, Germany, Ireland, and Puerto Rico.

Kim Apgar, LVT, ECC - Hospice Nursing Manager

Kim Apgar, LVT, VTS (ECC), CHPT
Hospice Nursing Manager

I joined the Stillwater's team in November of 2018. After learning about what Dr. Otis was doing for families, I fell in love with the idea of being able to help pets with their late life/end stage care in their home. I started my career as an office manager of an equine business, and then moved on to earn an Associates Degree in Veterinary Technology. I worked in a specialty clinic for 12 years and earned the Veterinary Technician Specialty in Emergency and Critical Care in 2014. I worked in many specialities during that time including surgery, oncology, internal medicine, and critical care. Bringing all this experience together to help families in their home is my biggest career reward. I became certified in hospice and palliative care through the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care in 2021 and am looking forward to continuing to help this part of the field grow.

My non-human family includes my pug Molly Elizabeth, my pitbull Angel Anne, and an African Cichlid I call Mr. Fish (very original). I also have a 9 year old paint mare, Sapphire. These guys are the lights of my life and keep me laughing every day.

In my free time, I love to walk my dogs, work with Sapphire, and volunteer in a program called the Street Dog Coalition. I like to paint, though I have zero talent, and I also love to spend time with my nephews, nieces, and grandchildren.

The photo above is in memory of my longest soulmate, Kiddo. He was 33 years old when he moved on and was my partner for 26 years. I lost him on July 7th, 2020. In January of 2022, I lost both of my cats, Gus and Mini. I know they are all frolicking by the rainbow bridge and they will forever be in my heart.

Animal Hospice and Palliative Care Certification Program
Brynna Elliott, LVT - Veterinary Nurse

Brynna Elliott, LVT
Veterinary Nurse

I grew up in Cortland County on a dairy farm with my parents and three older brothers. From a young age I was searching for barn kittens and feeding calves. I earned my associates degree from SUNY Delhi and became a Licensed Veterinary Technician in 2014. I worked in general practice for the next 6 years and joined the Stillwaters team in 2021. I am a graduate of Companion Animal Euthanasia Training Academy and am committed to making end of life care as comfortable and peaceful as possible. It makes such a difference to be in the home where the family and their loved one are most comfortable. That reduced level of stress is important to me and something that was lacking in the clinic setting. With every visit, I get to witness the power of the human animal bond and meet truly well-loved pets and their devoted families.

My family consists of my loving partner and our two fur children. My chihuahua mix, Pixie, has been with me since I graduated Delhi and we adopted her sister, Kona (our 40 pound lap dog), in 2019. The dogs love going fishing and hiking with us.

Companion Animal Euthanasia Training Academy Seal

Kim Apgar, LVT, ECC - Kimberly Siemers, BS - Pet Loss Counselor

Kimberly Siemers, BS
Pet Loss Grief Support and Hospital Manager

I have been working with Stillwaters Veterinary Care providing pet loss grief support since spring 2019. After working in the emergency veterinary field for several years while going to school for human services, I felt a strong passion to connect the two fields. Luckily, working with Dr. Otis, this dream became obtainable. I have a strong desire to help those who have lost their best friend understand the grief process and validate their feelings every step of the way. The loss of a pet can be one of the most traumatic experiences someone can go through. I am happy to be there to support you every step of the way.

I received my certification as a pet loss counselor through the Association of Pet Loss and Bereavement to help families in this heartbreaking time. I have my Bachelors of Science from Cazenovia College in Mental Health and currently am a Program Manager for a Residential Mental Health Program through a local nonprofit. I am also a member of the Syracuse Animal Cruelty Task Force and a facilitator for a jail diversion program for those convicted of animal abuse. Throughout my life, I have been drawn to animals and mental health, wanting to assist in any way that I can. Having pets as part of my family my whole life, I deeply understand the pain and suffering we experience when one of our beloved pets leaves our lives. I currently have 2 dogs - Harry (5 years old) and Dottie (12 weeks old), and a kitty named Lila (3 years old).

Rebecca (Becca) Hartz - Client Care Coordinator

Rebecca (Becca) Goyer, BS, MBA
Client Care Coordinator

I joined the Stillwaters team in June 2020. The Stillwaters team helped two of my dogs, Zack and Kenna, to pass peacefully in my home. Even though it was extremely difficult, it was such a peaceful and positive experience it made a very difficult time a little easier. Our dogs are part of our family and are our "kids." Being able to have their final moments in their own home with us gave us such peace. So when Dr. Otis asked me to join the Stillwaters team, it was a no brainer. I get to play a part everyday in helping other families and their "kids" through this very difficult experience and hopefully make it just a little bit easier.

I have a degree in Business Management with a specialization in Equine Studies from Cazenovia College and an MBA from SUNY Oswego. I started my career working in management positions at equine facilities. From there, I managed a CountryMax Store and then became a CSR at Voss Signs. I enjoy helping people and it was a natural move for me to become the Customer Care Coordinator for Stillwaters Veterinary Care. It blends my love for my dogs with a career that truly helps others.

We currently have 7 border collies: Tuck (6 months), Luna (2 yrs.), Dan (3 yrs.), Oscar (3 yrs.), Barley (5 yrs.), Moon (5 yrs), and Bella (13 yrs.). We compete in sheep herding trials and do as much hiking as we are able to fit in. Basically. my life revolves around my dogs!

Maggie Neider - Client Care Coordinator

Maggie Neider, BS
Client Care Coordinator

I joined the Stillwaters Vet Care team in February 2021. I believe in the work that we do here and I am grateful to have the opportunity to help both people and their pets during this difficult time. I have a Bachelor of Science degree from St. Lawrence University and I began my career in the equine industry managing a local horse farm. I also spent some time grooming show horses in Florida and at Fairfield Equine- a large veterinary hospital in Connecticut.

Born and raised near Cazenovia, I returned to the area to be near my family. My husband and I own North Hill Farm and breed warmblood horses. My husband also runs the family dairy farm. I spent six years as the office manager ofWillowind Farm Equine Services, a local equine veterinary practice. When my children were born I stepped out of the workforce and turned my attention to breeding horses. I currently have 5 broodmares and look forward to anywhere between 1-5 foals each year. For the last six years I have been a member of the Board of Directors of the US Sport Horse Breeders Association (USSHBA) and I also assist with the Equine Reproduction course at Cazenovia College. In addition to breeding, I enjoy riding and showing my horses. My riding horse is an 8 year old Oldenburg mare that I bred and raised at my farm. I am also very active and can often be found at the local YMCA. We currently have one dog, a Swedish Vallhund/Pembroke Welsh Corgi mix named Griffyn, several cats - Sapphire (Saphie), Silver, and Emerald (Emmy Lou), and three rabbits - Dandelion, Hopkin, and Cinnamon (Bun).


"Thank you Dr. Murch, my wife and I are so thankful we called Stillwaters. Your grace, quiet demeanor and professionalism, while you were at our home, made losing our Yorkie boy, BB this past weekend bearable. We lost his sister three years ago and wish we had known about you guys then, as her last moments are not something we like to think about. It is so hard to have our beloved companions around (for 16 years) and then one day they are not greeting us at the door anymore. Thanks again for doing what you guys do, so very, very well. And one last note, Maggie was very kind and helpful on the phone while setting all of this process in motion."

- Rob & Lynn Shepard Scott

"I wanted to take the time to write a review for Dr. Annette and Stillwaters Veterinary Care. During one of the most difficult decisions of my life Dr. Annette made me feel at ease. During the entire process the staff at Stillwaters comforted me along the way. When it was time for my Sadie girl to run free Dr. Annette made the entire process peaceful for the both of us. The care before, during and after are exceptional. I cannot thank Dr. Annette enough for giving my Sadie girl the best and most peaceful exit. If you have to make a difficult decision with your furry family please use Stillwaters they are top notch! Thank you again for everything Dr. Annette."

- Erin Putnam

"Saying goodbye to my dog is one of the hardest things I have done in my life. I knew it would be hard, but the amount of gut wrenching heartache is more than I expected. My sweet girl is no longer in pain after battling chronic kidney disease for the last 8 months. I am so glad my regular vet referred me to Stillwaters for end of life care. The process of euthanizing is not easy, but I have no regrets about my decision to have Stillwaters come to our home. Dr. Jo Millard was so caring and compassionate. She didn't rush me. She made sure my girl left with dignity and treated Georgia like she was her own dog. Thank you Dr. Jo for making such a hard thing a little bit easier by letting us say goodbye in the comfort of our home."

- Tana H

"I cannot thank Stillwaters enough for being there during the most difficult of decisions for us as a family. Kim was an angel and our senior cat, Buddy, had the most peaceful passing at home that I have ever had the privilege of witnessing. He left with a full belly, happy, warm, and so loved. Without Stillwaters he would have passed away at the vet's office and we just didn't want that for our boy. From the vets to the nurses to the administrative staff, everyone at this practice is truly, incredibly compassionate and caring. Thank you all for giving our Buddy, and us, peace."

- Maeva Considine

"We cannot thank you enough for what you did for our Elle. She was able to go to the Rainbow Bridge surrounded by her family at home in our backyard. It was so difficult to make that call but when Kim approached Elle I knew it was the right decision. Our girl let us know this by barking at Kim and going up to her and wagging her tail as if to say thank you. It was good for our hearts to know that even tho Elle was uncomfortable and wanting to be left alone that day [Kim] was able to give her comfort and peace."

- Sue Wiecek

"Yesterday was one of the hardest days, we had to say goodbye to our sweet Golden Retriever...Sophie. Kim who came to our house was wonderful...she was patient, kind and soothing. I cannot thank you enough. We were fortunate to have our girl for 14 years and will miss her horribly but knowing she is at rest now is comforting. Thank you again."

- Linda Siracuse

"Annette was so caring, compassionate and calming for our Scooby. We wanted in home euthanasia so she could pass on in her comfortable home, and Annette was a livesaver when it came to that. She passed on very peacefully with her family surrounding her. Annette was very knowledgeable and patient when it came to saying goodbye, and we cannot thank her enough."

- Carly H

"I cannot even put into words how grateful I am for Dr. Otis. I called and she came right to our door in just a few hours, she handled our girl so well with such care and compassion. She offers amazing service worth every single penny. Gave us as much time as we needed to say goodbye, and Lucy got to pass in the comfort of her own home in her own bed, not a care in the world. You can't put a price on that, making sure your precious furry children are comfortable calm and well taken care of in their last moments and afterwards. Thank you so much."

- Michele Cornelius

"As with many of your other clients, I sincerely can't express my thanks for your compassion, dedication and empathy. You came today to help us say goodbye to one of the dearest friends I have ever had. I can't possibly thank you enough, Annette. I will never forget you or your kindness. During what are some deeply troubling times, you were / are a brilliant shining light of goodness. I hope you and everyone who knows you understands what a difference you make."

- Matt Starr

"Yesterday was a pretty rough day on all of us when we had to put my Benny down. I want to thank Kim for everything that she has done for us. She gave us time to say goodbye and was there in every step of the way to comfort us. I'll never forget her words: remember you are giving Benny the best gift of all. The gift of love... Kim, thank you... Watching Benny cross the rainbow bridge in peace is the best gift you've given us."

- Daniel Chams

"Dr Murch came to our house when we needed her most. She provided the most loving care at this difficult time and during COVID when most Vets weren't allowing you to be with your pets at the end. I'm so thankful I found STILLWATER VETS. They were responsive, on time and not much more expensive than my regular Vet. Highly recommended."

- Skyemom C

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