Press Releases

VetStem Biopharma is Pleased to Share the Success Story of Harley Who was Treated at Advanced Veterinary Care of San Elijo with Stem Cell Therapy

Harley, an eleven-year-old Golden Retriever, was successfully treated for arthritis in her knees and wrists by Dr Sunshine Riehl with VetStem Cell therapy.

2016-10-18 --

In 2009 at the age of five years old, Harley was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in both carpi (wrists). Her pain was managed with medications every 8 hours, in conjunction with restricted exercise and playtime. In 2012 she suffered from mild cruciate tears to both stifles (knees), resulting in severe thickening and arthritis in both stifle joints. Harley struggled with standing up and lying down, and would lick her wrists in pain at the end of each day. On days when she would go for short walks or to the park, she would be stiff and sore for several days following. When Jordan, her owner, would take her to swim at the beach, she couldn't stand up without assistance for the rest of the day. “Harley was barely able to put herself into a "sit" position prior to her stem cell therapy, because her knees were so painful” said Jordan, “Her arthritis had taken away so much of what made her happy, it was hard for me to watch.”

Jordan, who works as a veterinary technician, heard from a friend in Colorado about Stem Cell Therapy. She decided that she needed to give it a try for Harley. She was ready to pack Harley up and make the drive to Colorado for the treatment when she found out the veterinarian she worked for was certified to perform the VetStem cell therapy procedure. Harley had her first treatment with stem cell therapy in December of 2015. A fat tissue collection from Harley was performed, similar to a spay, and the tissue sample was sent overnight to VetStem’s lab in California for processing. Once processed, the stem cells were quality checked and the injectable doses of Harley’s own stem cells were sent overnight for injection.

Approximately 8 months later, Jordan was working at a new animal hospital, Advanced Veterinary Care of San Elijo, when she decided Harley was in need of another round of stem cell injections. The veterinarians at Advanced Veterinary Care of San Elijo were not certified in the VetStem procedure, but at Jordan’s request, Dr Riehl became certified to perform the procedure. Because this was Harley’s second treatment, and VetStem had additional doses stored for her from the initial fat tissue processing, she did not need to have the fat tissue collection surgery again. Instead VetStem just prepared 5 of her stored doses for injection and sent to Advanced Veterinary Care. Since this was Dr Riehl’s first case, VetStem also had Dr Jeff Schaffer, VetStem’s technical services veterinarian, come along to help out. Dr Riehl injected Harley’s knees and wrists along with an Intravenous dose.

After her stem cell therapy, Harley's quality of life has been fully restored. Her need for pain medications has decreased significantly. She went from needing three medications every 8 hours to only needing one medication once daily. “After a few weeks she was more mobile, and started following us around the house again throughout the day” said Jordan. “Harley is now able to rise easily from a laying position, and walks without limping. She will only lick her wrists after busy days”. Harley is now allowed to play fetch, one of her favorite games, that she had been restricted from doing for over a year. Now not only can she chase the ball for almost 30 minutes, but she isn't even sore after. “We are now able to swim at the beach multiple times per week, and aside from mild stiffness/soreness the next day, she bounces back quickly and is able to keep up with her younger doggie-brothers” exclaimed Jordan. “We know that Harley's arthritis is not cured, but she is exponentially more comfortable, and SO much happier. She is able to participate in all family outings, and we no longer have to leave her at home alone when we take our other dogs to play. Thank you, VetStem, for giving my dog her life back! “

Stem cells are regenerative cells that can differentiate into many tissue types as well as being able to reduce pain and inflammation thus helping to restore range of motion and stimulate regeneration of tendon, ligament and joint tissues ( In a study using VetStem Regenerative Cell Therapy on dogs with osteoarthritis of the hip joint it was found that regenerative cell therapy (adipose-derived stem cells) decreases patient discomfort and increases patient functional ability.

Dr Sunshine Riehl received her BS from Loyola Marymount University. After college she worked as a veterinary technician, small animal research biologist and high school biology teacher. She then went to vet school at UC Davis. Dr Riehl completed a small animal internship at Loomis Basin Veterinary Clinic in northern CA where she fell in love with surgery and emergency medicine. She opened Advanced Veterinary Care of San Elijo with her friend and colleague Dr Paula Thomas in March of 2015. Advanced Veterinary Care is a 2,400 square foot, state-of-the-art veterinary hospital. The hospital mission is to promote pet wellness and safety through client education, preventative medicine, and aggressive emergency care, when necessary.” A commitment to medical excellence and a desire to provide compassionate care for all pets are just two of the core values that define the doctors and staff. Dr Riehl and Dr Thomas invited VetStem to train all of their staff on the basics of Stem Cell Therapy and its benefits.

About Advanced Veterinary Care of San Elijo
Advanced Veterinary Care (AVC), the 2,400 square foot, state-of-the-art veterinary hospital in the Melrose Plaza shopping center, has a strong educational mission. Both doctors have a lifetime passion for animal medicine. The hospital mission is: “To promote pet wellness and safety through client education, preventative medicine, and aggressive emergency care, when necessary.” A commitment to medical excellence and a desire to provide compassionate care for all pets are just two of the core values that define the doctors and staff of AVC.