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About Our Veterinary Staff

Our Veterinarians and In-House Specialists

Dr. Ava Ackerman


A Chicago native, Dr. Ava Ackerman attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for both undergraduate studies and veterinary school.  During school, she worked three summers at the Brookfield Zoo outside of Chicago.  While in veterinary school, she had externships at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans and two different exotic pet clinics in the Chicago area.

After receiving her DVM degree in 1993, Dr. Ackerman continued her focus on exotic animals by working at a Madison, Wisconsin veterinary practice where exotic pets made up over half the patients.  Moving west, she joined the Belmont Pet Hospital in January of 1997.

Dr. Ackerman describes herself as an old fashioned family doctor.  She is happy to see all animal species including dogs, cats, rabbits, rodents, birds, reptiles, and ferrets.  She knows that all pets, big or small, are important members of the family and deserve the best quality care.

Dr. Ackerman is married with two children and one very demanding rabbit.  Despite living in California for 18 years, she is still a Bears, Cubs, and Blackhawks fan.  Once an avid horseback rider, she now enjoys treks in the Sierras, trips back to Chicago, and spending time with family.

Dr. Blake Milam


Dr. Blake Milam attended UC Davis for both his undergraduate and veterinary degrees. After finishing vet school in 1976, Dr. Milam spent his first year as a vet doing an internship with The Animal Medical Center in New York City. He has been in private practice since, including an 18-year period when he owned a vet practice in Santa Cruz.

Dr. Milam brings this extensive background with him to the hospital where he sees cats, dogs, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, ferrets, and other pocket pets. He has a special interest in working with older pets, particularly older cats. He also brings an interest in dermatology.

At home, Dr. Milam has a cat and 10 parrots, and he treats everyone’s pets as though they were his own. In his free time, Dr. Milam enjoys traveling internationally. He recently traveled to South America through his association with a biologist for the World Wildlife Fund. While there, he helped the biologist work with wild animals.

Dr. Clif Machado


Dr. Clif Machado grew up working in a veterinary hospital with his dad. Starting as a 10 year old giving dogs baths to becoming a veterinarian, Dr. Machado prides himself in knowing all the ins and outs that go into a veterinary hospital. Originally from San Francisco, he earned is DVM from the University of Illinois in 2018 and his special interests include dentistry and internal medicine. When Dr. Machado is not practicing veterinary medicine, he enjoys playing basketball and hanging out at home with his two dogs-Slinky and Carrie.