News & Press: General

In Remembrance - Marla Lichtenberger

Tuesday, April 16, 2019  

Marla Lichtenberger, DVM, Dipl ACVECC passed away surrounded by friends and family in her home in Wisconsin on April 4, 2019. Those of us who knew Marla were touched by her teaching and will miss her greatly. She inspired those of us in exotic animal medicine to improve our knowledge and skills in saving their lives. Marla brought her knowledge in emergency and critical care medicine in dogs and cats and developed it further for birds and exotic animals. We were introduced to her through her studies that she presented at AAV on fluid types for resuscitation on ducks in 2009 and the world of exotics has never been the same.

But most of us did not know that she had been interested in Exotics for a long time. At the age of 22, her parents put her on an airplane for her first time and sent her halfway around the world to study veterinary medicine at Punjab Agricultural University! As she would often say and appropriate here, “Can you believe it?” While there, she suffered with malaria and dysentery, but Marla’s tenacity earned her a veterinary degree in 1985. The animals that she saw as a student in vet school included water buffaloes, dogs and cats, elephants, camels and an odd mix of exotic animals.

From India, she then returned to do an internship at the AMC, with a residency in Milwaukee with Rebecca Kirby in emergency medicine and critical care. Marla wanted to do it all – from dogs and cats to exotics – so emergency medicine fit that interest. She went on to establish her own emergency hospital – Milwaukee Emergency Center for Animals where exotics were a big part of her practice.

Susan Orosz, PhD, DVM, Dipl ABVP (Avian), Dipl ECZM (Avian): Marla was a terrific lecturer that I had the great opportunity to work with at many conferences in the USA and in Europe. She got your attention and kept it from beginning to end. She was clear and made sure all could understand and most importantly use the concepts presented to make animals live. That was her goal. Our last lecture in Atlanta at ExoticsCon was filled to the brim and she said…. “Well, Orosz, we had them rolling in the aisles! Let’s do it again…… in London……” Doing that lecture won’t be the same without her. There will be no more deep stare into the eyes of each member of the audience and a quick turn…. With “Oh……MY…..GOD!” And then the answer with great clarity. We will miss her but her knowledge that she imparted will continue to make us better clinicians. Thank you, Marla!

Suzanne Topor, DVM, Dipl ABVP (Avian): I had the privilege of working with Marla as lab coordinator for AAV for several years. She always taught the emergency/critical care labs and if there are three words that I could choose to describe her they would be: educator, energetic, and generous. Marla was the consummate educator, always wanting the lab participants to really understand the procedures and jumping from table to table to help people out. Who can forget that wonderful gravelly voice as she lectured to us while walking up and down the center aisle waving her arms! Her energy was contagious and so very entertaining. She really knew her stuff and explained it eloquently, but was sure to also give us the dosages! She was so easy to work with in the labs, and like any good emergency clinician, could roll with it if things didn’t go as planned or needed to be rearranged. Walking into her lab room sometimes felt like entering the Starship Enterprise and working for the beloved Captain Kirk. You just wanted to be around her and do stuff for her and with her. I remember the year that our AAV Conference was in Milwaukee and Marla also served as my local contact. She had recently opened her new emergency practice there and didn’t hesitate to offer her help. She allowed me to ship supplies to her practice for the labs and borrow any needed last minute items, including a couple extra anesthetic machines. The staff there graciously helped me load the van to bring everything over to the hotel. Her commitment to our profession and our organization was extraordinary. Marla, you are a shining star and inspiration to all of us! We will miss you so very much!

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