Meet Our Doctors
Dr. Louise Rathjen, DVM, CHPV
Certified Animal Hospice and Palliative Care Veterinarian
Dr. Louise Rathjen was born in London, England and lived in Houston, Texas prior to settling down in California. She received her doctorate in veterinary medicine at Western University of Health Sciences in 2011 and completed an internship in small animal medicine and surgery at VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital. Dr. Rathjen and her family moved up to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2012 and she has been practicing here since. End of life care became increasingly important to her based on both personal experience and her time in practice.
During the last few months of her internship her black Labrador Retriever, Jake, became increasingly ill. She found herself in the difficult position of deciding when to put him to sleep. Dr. Rathjen, like all pet owners, was not ready to part ways with her best friend. She wanted as much time as possible with Jake, but didn’t want to put her own wishes above his comfort. Jake, being no different than other dogs, wasn’t fond of visits to vet’s office. He would get anxious with anticipation of tests or procedures he would have to endure. Jake’s happy place was his bed in the living room and that is where Dr. Rathjen decided to put him to rest.
This firsthand experience changed the way Dr. Rathjen felt about how and where euthanasia should be performed. Seeing how peaceful Jake’s passing was, Dr. Rathjen was inspired to give other pet owners this same option. She started Restful Paws so that pets could have a peaceful and dignified passing in the comfort of their own home.
Dr. Louise Rathjen
Dr. Rathjen’s beautiful black lab Jake while camping in Santa Inez in 2010. He was a very special boy and is missed.
Dr. Karen Vine, DVM
Originally from San Jose, Dr. Karen Vine attended college and veterinary school in Virginia, earning her DVM from VA Tech in 2000. Since then, she has been in private practice in Northern Virginia. Working at the same hospital for 17 years, she developed many close relationships with clients and their families, and helped guide and support them through good and bad.
Easing the pain and suffering of her patients, and helping owners through the loss of their beloved family members became increasingly important to her. She strived to make the process of euthanasia as peaceful as possible for both the owner and their pet, with both compassion and respect. She also learned that in many cases, it is difficult to achieve that peace in the veterinary hospital, and that most pets and people are more comfortable in their own home.
In 2012, Dr. Vine had to euthanize her beloved 16 year old lab mix. Although he loved going to work with her in his younger days, his illness made any kind of travel stressful and uncomfortable for him. As difficult as it was, Dr. Vine was so grateful to be able to ease his suffering at home, in his favorite bed, surrounded by family.
This personal experience along with her experience in practice helped Dr. Vine to understand the importance of end of life care for dogs and cats and their families.
Dr. Karen Vine and her dogs Cali and Maui
Dr. Helen Chuang, DVM
Born in North Carolina and raised in Utah, Dr. Helen Chuang came to Northern California to attend UC Berkeley and has lived here ever since. During her time in veterinary school at UC Davis, she was recognized for her commitment to the human-animal bond and for her work at the Pet Loss Support Hotline. After graduating in 1998, she worked in private practice for many years and enjoyed being able to treat pets over their entire lifetime: from their very first visit until their end-of-life care.
Soon after graduation, Dr. Chuang’s elderly cat, who had been her companion through all her years of college and veterinary school, took a turn for the worse. Having to euthanize him was difficult for Dr. Chuang, especially since this was the first time making this decision for her own pet. It changed her view on the way euthanasia could be done to make the process as comfortable as possible.
Over her years in practice, Dr. Chuang received frequent requests for at-home pet euthanasia and end-of-life care. Unfortunately, she found it challenging to accommodate these while working at a traditional clinic, but when she was able to do so, she saw how much peace and dignity it gave to owners and pets. This helped Dr. Chuang see how important fulfilling these requests was.
As a veterinarian and a pet owner, she is grateful that she is able to have choices in how end-of-life care will happen with her own pets. Now with Restful Paws, she is able to provide those important options to owners and their pets.
Dr. Helen Chuang and her dog Gunner