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 - 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

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. 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

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. I fell in love with the idea of being able to help pets with end of life care in their home. Some people think it's very sad but I know that I am helping a family and their family members to care for their loved one in the kindest way possible. 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 and earned a Veterinary Technician Specialty in Emergency and Critical Care in 2014 and have worked in many specialities 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 recently became certified in hospice and palliative care and am looking forward to continuing to help this part of the field grow.

My furry family includes a pug called Molly Elizabeth who's 10 years old, a pitbull called Angel Anne who's also 10 years old, a 17 year old grumpy cat called Gus (whom I love dearly), a geriatric cat addition, Minnie Mouse, who's 14 and joined us in March of 2020, and an African Cichlid I call Mr. Fish. The newest addition is Sapphire, a 7 year old paint mare.

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 this year and was my partner for 26 years. I lost him on July 7th, 2020. He will always 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

Rebecca (Becca) Hartz - Client Care Coordinator

Rebecca (Becca) Hartz, BS, MBA
Care Team Leader

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).

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

Kimberly Siemers, BS
Pet Loss Grief Support

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).

Shannon Croyle - Aftercare Manager

Shannon Croyle
Aftercare Manager

I was born and raised in North Syracuse and I left the area to move to NYC to go to school as a cosmetologist. I was in NYC for 3 years where I worked as a Makeup Artist, Cosmetologist, and at a General Practice Veterinary Hospital. I moved back home to Syracuse to start a family and worked as an Emergency Coordinator. I still work as a cosmetologist and makeup artist but have never been able to not be in the Veterinary field in some capacity. I have been working in the Veterinary field for 17 years, both in general practice and an emergency room setting. Having such a broad experience in this field I see the need for a compassionate service like this.

I have 2 dogs, Finn and Dobby, and a cat named Applesauce. Dobby was brought into the ER as a cruelty case and was emaciated. Dr. Otis saved her and nursed her back to health. Dobby found her forever home with us as part of our family but we owe it to Dr. Otis for saving her life. I have seen the love that the Stillwater providers bring to every appointment and the ease from the families knowing their pets are at peace. I knew I wanted to be a part of such an amazing group of people.


"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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