Serving Southern Arizona for 25+ years
Proudly Serving Tucson since 1994
The Southern Arizona Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Center (SAVS) was established in 1994 by Dr. Reuben Merideth and Dr. Mary Kay Klein to meet the needs of the southwest veterinary community for a multi-specialty veterinary facility offering the services of board-certified veterinarians. The original specialty services included dentistry, dermatology, internal medicine, oncology, ophthalmology, and surgery. The hospital also included a 24-hour emergency service. Previously, board-certified veterinary specialists in southern Arizona either practiced in general veterinary hospitals or in their own solo practices.
We are committed to providing the highest level of patient care delivered with compassion.
As individuals, we will treat each other respectfully and communicate to effectively achieve the highest level of teamwork.
By increasing and sharing our knowledge, we will be better tomorrow than we are today.
We will strive to exceed expectations in all that we do.
Growing to meet the demands of our community
Today, the Southern Arizona Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Center (SAVS) continues to grow to meet the demands of our community. We opened a second animal hospital in May of 2006 on the east side of Tucson to better assist the veterinary clinics and clients in that rapidly growing area. We continue to strive and make positive changes in keeping with our tradition of being a center of excellence in veterinary medicine serving southern Arizona. The doctors and staff of SAVS maintain a dedication to providing our clients with the latest techniques in diagnostics, treatment, and patient care, thus extending the general veterinarian’s abilities to offer specialty care to pet owners by referral. Equally important is the delivery of our services with gentle care, compassion, and professionalism to our patients and clients.
Internal Medicine Specialists
Cynthia Gordon, DVM
Dr. Gordon grew up near Augusta, Georgia around many types of animals, including cats, dogs, cows, and horses. She has a Bachelor of Science in animal sciences from Berry College and then continued her education at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. After working in a private practice for six years, Dr. Gordon transitioned to a spay and neuter clinic for another six years. In her professional interests, she has always been true to helping in any way that she is able. Dr. Gordon puts a strong focus on enhancing the pets’ quality of life and the enjoyment of the bond that they and their families share together. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and pets. When Dr. Gordon has time outside of work and family, she likes to watch wildlife, collect vintage t-shirts, and has hobbies in photography and music.
Luise King, DVM
Dr. Luise King is originally from South Africa and was raised on a small dairy farm. She received her B.S. in Animal Science in 2005 and her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 2008 from the University of Missouri. After spending a few months in a mixed animal externship, Dr. King returned to academia and completed her PhD in Biomedical Science at the University of Missouri. Her research work investigated the critical role of brainstem neurons in cardiorespiratory physiology. Dr. King is the author of several publications that details the neural mechanisms that are activated during cardiorespiratory challenges.
Dr. King is interested in evidence-based medicine and learning the newest treatment techniques for conditions and diseases. Her main interest in veterinary medicine is to help clients understand the disease processes in their pets/animals through careful explanations and education. She is passionate about teaching and has taught veterinary science students at the University of Arizona School of Animal & Comparative Biomedical Sciences and veterinary technology students at Pima Community College.
In her free time, Dr. King loves to spend time at a local non-profit organization, Therapeutic Ranch for Animal & Kids, where she helps with the care of rescued horses and all other kinds of animals. She also enjoys spending time outdoors, especially swimming, biking, and trail running.
Raj Joshi, DVM, PhD
Dr. Raj Joshi hails from Dallas, Texas, but has lived most of his life in Georgia. As a child, he developed a strong interest in animals by stalking the creeks and forests in search of insects, reptiles, and amphibians. Dr. Joshi’s love of animals and science blossomed into a strong interest in veterinary medicine and in 2012, he became a proud graduate of the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine.
After graduation, Dr. Joshi completed a one-year rotating small animal internship in Phoenix, Arizona where he developed an interest in emergency medicine for the past six years. His professional interests include medical emergencies, trauma cases, and rattlesnake envenomation. When time is available, Dr. Joshi likes to give back to the community by treating native wildlife and has worked with animals ranging from orphaned squirrels, possums, eagles, owls, and sea turtles as well as javelinas, coyotes, and bobcats.
Outside of work, Dr. Joshi enjoys spending time with his three dogs. He is very passionate about wildlife conservation, hiking, and traveling to places to observe and photograph endangered wildlife.
Haley Violetta, DVM
Dr. Violetta attended the University of Florida for her undergraduate degree and veterinary school. Go Gators!
She completed an internship in small animal and exotic emergency medicine at a busy ER practice in Tucson, Arizoa. Dr. Violetta has a special interest in emergency surgery, but her favorite part about emergency medicine is helping pets and their families during uncertain times.
In her free time, Dr. Violetta enjoys hiking, rock climbing, visiting craft breweries, scuba diving, reading, and traveling.
Haverley Coy, DVM
Dr. Haverley Coy graduated from college with degrees in biology and performance piano before going on to pursue her childhood passion of veterinary care. She graduated veterinary school at Colorado State University in 2011 and has been loving every aspect of being a veterinarian since then! Dr. Coy served on the Nevada state board for three years and was an examiner for the Program for the Assessment of Veterinary Education Equivalence test for foreign veterinary graduates. In her free time, she enjoys traveling to new places and cultures. Dr. Coy enjoys the company of her Pekingese and chihuahua when she is relaxing at home. She has practiced in multiple states across the country and is excited to be joining our team and calling Arizona her home.
Leah Dawson, DVM
Dr. Leah Dawson was born and raised in Southern Arizona. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Arizona. Upon graduation she moved to the Pacific Northwest to attend Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Following graduation she moved back to Southern Arizona to be closer to her friends and family. Dr. Dawson’s main career focus is to provide exceptional care for her patients.
She and her husband have three children, a cat, two dogs, two horses, a cow, chickens, and one bearded dragon. In her free time she enjoys camping, horseback riding, and spending time with her family and friends.
Dawn Bachman, DVM Diplomate ACVIM
Dr. Bachman’s interest in internal medicine developed from a strong desire to provide the most advanced diagnostics and care to pets with challenging medical disorders. Compassion and communication are an integral part of the treatment and care of all her patients. Dr. Bachman’s special interests include immune-mediated diseases, GI diseases/feeding tubes, and infectious diseases with an emphasis on immune-mediated thrombocytopenia and systemic mycoses.
Dr. Bachman has presented at the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Forum and numerous continuing education events for primary care veterinarians. Her clinical research focus has been on platelet antibodies and their role in immune-mediated thrombocytopenia.
Dr. Bachman spends her spare time enjoying beautiful Tucson with her husband, and corralling and spoiling her pets and children.
Mary Kay Klein, DVM, MS, DACVIM, DACVR
Diplomate American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Diplomate American College of Veterinary
Dr. Mary Kay Klein has focused her medical career on the diagnosis and treatment of animal cancer. In addition to her work with SAVS, she holds an adjunct faculty position at the University of Arizona Cancer Center. Dr. Klein was raised in Tucson and completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Arizona in 1979. She then traveled to Colorado State University to attend veterinary school and graduated with honors in 1983. After returning home to Arizona for two years and working at the University of Arizona Cancer Therapy Study, Dr. Klein returned to Colorado State University for a three-year oncology residency and became board-certified in medical oncology in 1990. She became board-certified in radiation oncology in 1996. Dr. Klein continues her research interests as a clinical lecturer at the University of Arizona Cancer Center. Author of numerous articles and text book chapters, Dr. Klein also served as President for the Veterinary Cancer Society in 2000 to 2002 and is currently the President-Elect of the American College of Veterinary Radiology Specialty of Radiation Oncology.
Caroline M. Wood, DVM, PhD
Dr. Wood grew up in Madison, Wisconsin. She moved to upstate New York for her undergraduate degree at Cornell University which she finished in 2008. She then returned home to Madison to start veterinary school at University of Wisconsin-Madison, finishing her PhD in Comparative Biomedical Sciences in 2014, and her DVM in 2016. Dr. Wood completed her medical oncology residency training in 2020 at the University of Minnesota. She has a special interest in cancer research and looks forward to advancing cancer knowledge both in the clinic and in the laboratory throughout her career. When Dr. Wood is not in the clinic, she is looking forward to exploring her new desert home with her husband and pup.
Curt Coffman, DVM, DAVDC
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Mike Balke, DVM
Dr. Michael Balke received his Bachelor’s degree in biology in 1999 and his doctorate in veterinary medicine in 2003 from the University of Missouri. After graduation, he worked as a general practice small animal veterinarian in St. Louis, Missouri with an interest in dentistry. Dr. Balke joined Arizona Veterinary Dental Specialists in August 2012 and completed his veterinary dental residency and fellowship under the guidance of Dr. Chris Visser, Dr. Curt Coffman and Dr. Glenn Brigden. He is a Diplomate of the American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) and also a Fellow of the Academy of Veterinary Dentistry (AVD).
Dr. Balke’s interests are oral and maxillofacial surgery as well as endodontic and periodontal therapy. He is a member of the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and the Arizona Veterinary Medical Association (AZVMA). Dr. Balke enjoys presenting lectures on veterinary dental topics locally and at national meetings.
Dr. Balke is a managing partner of Arizona Veterinary Dental Specialists.
Shawna Sawtelle, DVM
Dr. Sawtelle is originally from southern California, but is now proud to call Arizona her home. She graduated with a degree in Animal Science from the California Polytechnic State University and then went on to receive her doctorate in veterinary medicine from St. George’s University in 2009.
Upon graduating, Dr. Sawtelle started her rural career as a mixed animal practitioner in western Pennsylvania for two years before relocating to Arizona and working in small animal and exotic general practice while also starting her own equine practice focused on dentistry and acupuncture. Dr. Sawtelle’s strong interest in small animal dentistry as well as equine patients led her to pursue a residency training program in 2018.
She continues to work part-time at a general small animal practice as well as her equine practice focused on dentistry. In addition to her passion for dentistry, Dr. Sawtelle enjoys being able to provide acupuncture for her small animal and equine patients.
She is passionate about her own pets too, which include horses, sheep, dogs, cats, and desert tortoises. In her time off, Dr. Sawtelle enjoys scuba diving as well as riding and training her horses. She is excited about hitting the trails on horseback in beautiful southern Arizona, and often competes in trail challenges and other equine events.
Reuben E. Merideth, DVM, DACVO
Diplomate American College of Veterinary Ophthalmology
Dr. Reuben E. Merideth, DVM, Diplomate American College of Veterinary Ophthalmology is a national expert in animal ophthalmology and a contributing author of five veterinary textbooks. He graduated from the University of Missouri’s College of Veterinary Medicine in 1978. Dr. Merideth was a N.I.H. Fellow in Comparative Ophthalmology at the University of Florida from 1979 to 1981. He became board certified as a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) in 1981 and has since conducted a referral veterinary ophthalmology practice in Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona and in Kansas City, Kansas.
Dr. Merideth has authored more than 30 scientific articles and five chapters in veterinary texts. He is the past President of the Arizona Veterinary Medical Association Counsel on continuing education and service for the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists on residency training and testing. A Diplomate signifies advanced training and is the highest medical designation for veterinarians.
Sara Erlichman, DVM, Ophthalmology Resident
Dr. Erlichman received her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with a minor in Biology from Siena College in 2012. She developed an interest in comparative ophthalmology during her first few semesters of veterinary school. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine with the highest of honors and completed her year of clinical training at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2016.
Dr. Erlichman completed two veterinary ophthalmology externships in 2016 at Colorado State University and Texas A&M University. She finished her small animal rotating internship at Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Services in Rochester, New York in 2017. Dr. Erlichman completed an ophthalmology clerkship with Eye Care for Animals in Tucson, Arizona and stayed there to join the residency program with Eye Care for Animals in 2018.
Paul Barrett, DVM, DACVO
Dr. Barrett completed veterinary school at Colorado State University. He finished his residency in Veterinary Ophthalmology in Tucson, Arizona along with additional training at Stanford University. Dr. Barrett has been a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists since 1995.
Dr. Barrett’s clinical interests focus on corneal disease and ulcer management.