Skip to main content

K9 Down Course Instructors

Rita M. Hanel, DVM, DACVIM, DACVECC, K9 Down Course Director 

Dr. Hanel graduated from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in 1998, after which she was part of the second rotating small animal internship class at Florida Veterinary Specialists (FVS), now known as BluePearl in Tampa. She then completed a residency in small animal internal medicine at the University of Florida with a successive fellowship in emergency and critical care at Blue Pearl in Tampa. Rita joined the faculty of the North Carolina State University (NSCU) College of Veterinary Medicine in 2006 and was Director of Emergency Services for six years. Over the past 10 years, she pursued her academic interests in the fields of traumatic and hemostatic disorders. She has published more than 20 manuscripts, book chapters and, recently, best practice guidelines for pre-hospital care of dogs and cats. Rita enjoys First Responder training, which she continues to pursue. Through these experiences she developed a passion for the advancement of small animal specialty medicine. In her new role with BluePearl, she plans to continue the tradition of helping clinicians achieve the highest levels of professional and personal accomplishment.

David Dorman, DVM, PhD, DABVT, DABT

Dr. David Dorman is a professor of toxicology in the Department of Molecular Biosciences of North Carolina State University. Dr. Dorman received his undergraduate training in chemistry at the University of San Diego and a DVM from Colorado State University. He completed a combined PhD and veterinary toxicology residency program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in toxicology at the Chemical Industry Institute of Toxicology (CIIT). He remained at CIIT as a staff scientist until joining NC State University veterinary school as Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies.

Meredith Kapler, DVM, DACVS

Adjunct Faculty at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Meredith Kapler received her veterinary degree from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. She completed a rotating internship at Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and an orthopedic fellowship at the University of Tennessee. She also completed a three-year small animal surgery residency at North Carolina State University where she regularly worked at our Cary hospital. Dr. Kapler became a diplomate in the American College of Veterinary Surgery in 2016 and has a special interest in oncologic and reconstructive surgery, minimally invasive surgery and cardiothoracic procedures.


Dr. Lee Palmer is a board-certified Emergency and Critical Care Veterinarian that provides training in K9 Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (TECC) to military, law enforcement and Search and Rescue (SAR) K9 handlers as well as Tier 1 operators and civilian tactical EMS (TEMS) personnel. Dr. Palmer serves as: Assistant Professor of Emergency and Critical Care at Auburn University Veterinary Teaching Hospital; a member of the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, Veterinary Committee on Trauma (VetCOT) Prehospital and Veterinary Advanced Trauma Life Support sub-committees; founding member and co-lead of the Committee for Tactical Emergency Casualty Care K9-TECC working group; Board of Adviser for the Committee of Tactical Emergency Casualty Care; Veterinary Consultant for the USAF Pararescue group and US Marshals Service; and Emergency and Critical Care consultant for the Veterinary Information Network (VIN). He has served in the military since 1996 in both active and reserve status in the roles of a Senior Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician in the US Air Force and then as a veterinarian in the US Army Veterinary Corps (currently serving in US Army Reserves). Dr. Palmer currently serves on the Lee County Reserve Deputy Sheriff team, as Adjunct Faculty for Southern Union State Community College EMS Program, and he maintains an active National Registry Paramedic, Wilderness EMT, EMT-tactical , and Tactical Paramedic (TP-C) certifications. Dr. Palmer has completed the University of Tennessee’s Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner (C.C.R.P.) program and he has a fond interest in the topics of prehospital trauma care and physical conditioning / sports medicine for the Operational Working K9.

Valery F. Scharf, DVM, MS, DACVS

Dr. Valery Scharf joined the Department of Clinical Sciences on August 15, 2014 as a Clinical Assistant Professor of Small Animal Soft Tissue Surgery. She received her BS from Stanford University and her DVM from Texas A&M University prior to completing a rotating internship at The Ohio State University and a surgical residency and MS at the University of Florida. Her research interests include novel treatments for canine osteosarcoma, the use of PCR for identification of bacteria in canine septic arthritis, and new applications of minimally invasive surgery. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, hiking, water sports, and running.

Brian Trumpatori, DVM, DACVS

North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine Adjunct Faculty 

Dr. Brian Trumpatori is a board certified surgeon who received a BS in animal science from Cornell University followed by his veterinary degree from North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Trumpatori completed a one year rotating medicine/ surgery internship at Colorado State University and then returned to NC State to complete a three year surgical residency where he conducted research related to local anesthesia. He went on to complete a one year fellowship with the Comparative Pain Research Laboratory at NC State, during which time he also served as a clinical instructor for the general and orthopedic surgery services. Dr. Trumpatori serves as VSH’s Chief of Surgery.

He is an adjunct faculty member at the North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine and was a member of the Board of Directors of the International Academy of Veterinary Pain Management from 2013-2017. His primary clinical interests include chronic and perioperative pain management (including regenerative therapies for osteoarthritis), orthopedics and sports medicine (fracture repair, arthroscopy and management of joint diseases), minimally invasive surgery (laparoscopy, thoracoscopy), oncologic and reconstructive surgery. He has authored book chapters and lectured on various topics related to pain management, wound management and oncologic surgery.