Our Doctors

River May, DVM

My name is Doctor River May and I am honored to be the owner and 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. Inspirational childhood encounters with wildlife instilled in me a great sense of awe for the beauty and resiliency of life. The pets I grew up with gave me an appreciation for the immense value and depth of the human-animal bond. All of these animals planted the seeds of my desire to become a veterinarian.

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. 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 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. I was incredibly fortunate to meet my wife Doctor Cindy May there. The birth of our son and years of commuting stirred a desire for change and motivated me to join Los Gatos Dog and Cat Hospital. This was a phenomenal team yet my ongoing desire to be 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 a joy. I feel sincere gratitude for your trust and look forward to meeting you.

Katie Volat, DVM

Dr. Katie Volat  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, Dr. Volat volunteered at the Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Aquarium.  She also spent time researching endangered native Hawaiian forest birds and monk seals.  Dr. Volat has always wanted to become a veterinarian for as long as she remembers.   After receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2004, Dr. Volat worked for 5 years in general practice in San Francisco.  Dr. Volat moved to Santa Cruz in 2009 to enjoy the beautiful beaches, mountains, and friendly community. She has worked in a variety of settings in Santa Cruz and Monterey doing a mix of emergency, exotic and general practice.  She has been serving the clients of Capitola Veterinary Hospital since 2011.   Dr Volat spends her free time surfing, camping, hiking, traveling and spending time with her 2 pets:  Frankie, a 5 yr old medium haired kitty and Teddy, her 16 month old cattle dog who happens to be the fastest dog on the beach!

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.