Our Practice

Capitola Veterinary Hospital has been serving the people and pets of Santa Cruz County for over 20 years. We are a full-service animal hospital providing comprehensive pet healthcare services in Capitola, CA. Our veterinarians offer a wide variety of medical, surgical, and dental services. Our hospital has advanced equipment and technologies, including comprehensive in-house testing for accurate diagnosis, digital x-ray, surgical suite, dental suite, and a pharmacy. We are committed to providing quality care at every stage of your pet's life. From routine preventive care to early detection and treatment of a wide range of conditions and diseases, we have the expertise to provide the highest standard of care for your pet.

  • Dr. River May, DVM


    My name is Doctor River May and I am honored to be the Medical Director of Capitola Veterinary Hospital. I’d like to introduce myself and present my goals as your veterinarian.

    I have always been close to animals. In fact, my first memory is of a territorial black rooster whose aggressive attitude taught me to respect the animals on our family farm. The pets I grew up with gave me an appreciation for the immense value and depth of the human-animal bond. I was twelve years old when our family moved to California and I caught my first wave in front of Jack O’Neil’s house a few months later. Shortly after high school, I began my studies at UC Santa Cruz where I earned a degree in Molecular Biology. I cherished living by the sea and working in local veterinary hospitals, a marine biology laboratory, and a wildlife rescue center. Eventually, I left for Veterinary School dreaming of returning to the warmth and beauty of Capitola.

    I graduated from The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 1998 and began my career in a Bay Area specialty referral hospital. Working with board-certified veterinary specialists for over ten years allowed me to hone advanced skills including endoscopy, ultrasound, critical care, and surgery. My desire to work closer to home compelled me to start my own practice in Capitola.

    Capitola Veterinary Hospital combines friendly, professional, and compassionate service with advanced medical skills. Our progressive philosophy emphasizes preventative medicine to keep your pet healthy. Ongoing facility upgrades and continuing education allows us to offer better quality and more comprehensive services. We strive to accomplish growth while minimizing our environmental impact. I accept the privilege to care for your animals as an honor and look forward to meeting you.

  • Dr. Katie Volat, DVM


    I was born in Sydney, Australia and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. She attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa on a full academic scholarship and received a Bachelor’s degree in zoology in 2000. While attending UH, I volunteered at the Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Aquarium. I also spent time researching endangered native Hawaiian forest birds and monk seals. I have always wanted to become a veterinarian for as long as I can remember. After receiving my Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2004, I worked for 5 years in general practice in San Francisco. I moved to Santa Cruz in 2009 to enjoy the beautiful beaches, mountains, and friendly community. I have worked in a variety of settings in Santa Cruz and Monterey doing a mix of emergency, exotic and general practice. I have been serving the clients of Capitola Veterinary Hospital since 2011. I spend my free time surfing, camping, hiking, traveling and spending time with my 2 pets: Frankie, a 5 yr old medium haired kitty and Teddy, my 16 month old cattle dog who happens to be the fastest dog on the beach!

  • Dr. Tiffany Mitchener, DVM


    I grew up an only child deep in the Santa Cruz Mountains near Castle Rock State Park. My cat and dog were my constant companions in that childhood wonderland. In fact, my big fluffy grey cat used to tramp along beside me on my many explorations of the mountains. To this day, I remain a nature girl at heart (but my new hiking companions are my husband and two sons!). When I was very young, my sweet, loyal miniature dachshund slipped a disk in her back and was suddenly paralyzed in her hind legs. A team of veterinarians worked together in her diagnosis and surgery. She went on to live ten more adventure-filled years. Her accident and recovery had a profound effect on me and led to my personal calling: I wanted to be a veterinarian and help animals and their people, too.

    I graduated from Los Gatos High School, then went on to earn my bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from UCLA. Newly married, my husband and I packed up our few belongings and headed to the welcoming Midwest. There I attended the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. My extended family roots are deep in Wisconsin, and it was a fun time to learn the joys and trials of cheese, bratwursts, dairy cows, Packers football, and snow in the month of May. I graduated with my Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine in 1997.

    My husband and I soon found ourselves moving back to California. We drove cross country with two cats stacked in cat carriers in the backseat. I entered into a veterinary internship at Santa Cruz Veterinary Hospital, and my husband was hired as a math teacher at Aptos High School (where he still works today). Two sons quickly followed (and an adopted golden retriever puppy); I took time off from veterinary practice to raise them. That began my second career of volunteer work. Over the years, I have volunteered countless hours to the Aptos community as a soccer team mom, classroom volunteer, field trip driver, baseball scorekeeper and field prep, Sunday school teacher, Cub Scout den leader, and performing arts volunteer coordinator. In fact, I volunteered so often at Rio del Mar Elementary School that I was hired! Believing that math education is an essential foundation for the next generation, I was honored to work as a math specialist at Rio del Mar Elementary School for four years. It was a privilege to teach and, hopefully, inspire hundreds of students in our community.

    Despite developing a love for teaching, it was time to return to my first love of veterinary medicine. Having stepped aside from the profession to raise my sons, I felt it necessary to refresh my veterinary medical education. I turned to our community for help. For two years, I volunteered extensively in the veterinary clinic at the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter. I am deeply indebted to the veterinarians and the staff at the shelter for their willingness to share their time and wisdom with me. Our county is very fortunate to have such a fine shelter for our homeless animals. Numerous days shadowing private practice veterinarians in the community and completing a yearlong medical refresher course have made me ready to practice veterinary medicine again. It is my sincere pleasure to join the staff of Capitola Veterinary Hospital. I look forward to meeting you and, of course, your animals.

  • Shelly

    RVT + Hospital Manager

    Shelly is our Hospital Manager and RVT.  She grew up in Santa Cruz and has worked on the central coast in the veterinary field for over 25 years. She has experience with both small and large animals. Shelly received her RVT license after attending the Hartnell College Animal Health Technology Program. In her spare time she enjoys riding her horses, and spending time with her husband and their four legged family.

  • Leslie


    Leslie is a registered veterinary technician (RVT) with a BA in anthropology from Stephens College and an AS in veterinary technology from Foothill College.  Leslie worked in Silicon Valley and Boston in Information Technology for 10 years prior to switching to veterinary medicine.  She has worked in a variety of specialty practices including internal medicine, oncology, ophthalmology and surgery.   Leslie is a beekeeper and has an apiary at her home in the Santa Cruz mountains.  She has 2 Labrador Retriever rescues and 2 cats from our local shelter in addition to the occasional foster that her family may be helping with their transition to a forever home.  Leslie enjoys beach volleyball, waterskiing, wake surfing, snowboarding, and hiking in the redwoods.

  • Victoria

    Veterinary Assistant

    Victoria (Vic) is one of our Veterinary Assistants, who is a 5th generation local, born and raised in the heart of Santa Cruz, CA. Her love for animals started at the very early age of 5, where she then grew to dream of working in the veterinary field one day. Vic started her animal career in the equine industry as a trainer/coach for Hunter Jumper and Show Jumping horses. Upon becoming a successful coach, she then quickly broadened her love for animals from horse training to becoming a Veterinary Assistant which has currently lead to her career at Capitola Veterinary Hospital. Her love, compassion, and pure kindness for life has pushed her to strive in her career at CVH to fulfill all her patients well-being needs and necessities. She is bound by her loved one, Ricky, and her furr-son, Diesel. They advocate in Pit-bull awareness, enjoy hikes throughout the local scenery, long walks on the beach during the evening sunsets, and always love eating at Santa Cruz’s tastiest craft food spots. She hopes to one day work independently in the animal world but until then, she loves and appreciates every moment spent at Capitola Veterinary Hospital.

  • Celene

    Celene Vega was born and raised in Watsonville, CA and is one of seven siblings! She is a graduate of the Central Coast College Veterinary Assistant Program and is the first to graduate in her family. Ever since she was a little girl she has wanted to help sick or injured animals. She is always the first one to make sure that the animals in her life have everything they need – including the best veterinary care. She currently has two dogs of her own: a pit bull named Max and a chihuahua mix named Estrella. She also helps her boyfriend take care of his pit bull named Kush. All three dogs have a very special place in her heart. During her free time, she likes to spend time with her family, boyfriend, and four-legged babies! Becoming a part of the Capitola Veterinary Hospital family has given her so much joy and a chance to start her new adventure!

  • Jordan

    Jordan is one of our Veterinary Assistants who recently moved from the east coast to the best coast! She was born and raised in Madison Heights Virginia but feels very at home in sunny Santa Cruz. She was born with a desire to work with animals and has had the opportunity to work in a variety of settings in the shelter and veterinary world. Jordan is Fear Free Certified and is a Certified Feline Training and Behavior Specialist.

    She has two of the sweetest pups on the planet. Cooper has been in her life since he was a puppy, and Luna was rescued from local humane society in Virginia. They love life on the west coast and enjoy daily walks to the beach.

    Jordan can almost always be found with either an iced coffee or a donut from Ferrell’s in her hand. She’s a fan of everything paranormal, and loves a good podcast!

  • Michelle

    Michelle is one of our Client Service Representatives who moved to Santa Cruz county to get away from the hustle and bustle of San Francisco. Having an affinity for animals she switched careers from watchmaking to helping people and their beloved pets. Helping people through the good times and bad with their pets is very fulfilling for her and it’s the reason she entered this field. When she is not at work, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her cat Brutus The Mangler AKA Buddy.

  • Becca

    Becca is one of our client service representatives who moved to Santa Cruz from Malawi to go to UCSC and fell in love with the town. Though she misses her fur babies at home, working at a vet hospital was a no brainer. In her free time you can find her running or hiking around Santa Cruz, greeting cats on the streets, and hanging out on the beach.

  • Chelsea

    Chelsea is one of our client service representatives. She grew up in southern California before moving to Santa Cruz in 2016. She knew she wanted to work with animals since she was in third grade. She also volunteers at the Long Marine Lab helping with care and training of dolphins and a monk seal! Aside from this, she also volunteers with the Marine Mammal Center rescuing and helping rehabilitate marine mammals. In her free time, you can find her spending time with her wife and her 2-year-old kitty! Chelsea is currently working on her Biology degree and is hoping to one day work at a facility training dolphins.

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