Sunday, March 31, 2013

Peeing Pebbles, the Struvite Soliloquy

Prepping a patient (Harley) for a cystotomy.

Today's question on Pawbly ( was a good reminder of why an open ongoing dialogue with your vet is so important. 
I also was curious why this person was so adverse to a prescription diet? (The limitation of a one-way dialogue via email is that I can't ask question, I love to ask questions,,we will work on the chat version of this service as our next evolution to this service). I think that there is some adverse feelings towards prescription diets and I know they are expensive. I wanted to share this question and answer in my blog and I wanted to discuss another JVC patient with a similar history.
Here is the Pawbly question;
I have a Bichon Frise who recently (last Thanksgiving) had 62 stones removed. She recoved nicely but her pH is still high. She is eating raw (Nature Variety). I put in Berry Balance in her food as well as Ammonil DL-Methionine Tablets), Biotic pH and Milk Thistle. Her pH did look like it came down a bit and she doesn't seem to be in pain as much. Is there anything else that I can feed her without going to prescription dog food (Science Diet).
Here is my answer;
Hello and 
Thanks for your question.

Unfortunately I would need more information to be able to specifically advice you on what to do.
First, I don't know what kind of stones were in your dogs bladder?. (Note, 62!!! I have retrieved a whole mess of stones, but to be truthful I never counted them).
I think that you feel that you need to alter the pH to reduce the likelihood of the stones forming, but it isn't as simple as that in many cases. The pH does influence the ability of stones to form but there are other factors also.
So I am going to go out on a limb and presume that your dog had struvite stones?
Struvite stones are formed because of infection, and NOT pH. So, the task to prevent the stones is to treat and prevent the infection. OK, here's where is gets a little tricky. The urine may consistently stay high because of the UTI (urinary tract infection), the bugs that are the infection are urease producing organisms. These urease producing bugs are usually Staph, it is the infection that causes the struvite and the infection changes the pH. So, the way to get rid of your high pH and your stones is to get rid of your infection..I know one vet who says "if you get consistently high pH you get your pet in the vet."
Most bacteria are happy critters at a pH of between 4-9, and dogs and cats can't acidify their urine below 5.5 so you can't ever acidify the urine low enough to prevent a UTI.
Also the experts advice is to make sure that you are checking the urine frequently throughout the day and using a pH monitor (not a urine stick), these can be found at any home or garden store, they are the monitors people use for testing their water. (It will be a little expensive but it is accurate..) Also, if it is struvite you might be able to dissolve the stones and therefore avoid another surgery.
I am not an advocate for adding things to the diet. I don't think it will help your current situation and I have unfortunately seen too many very well intentioned people make a bigger problem than they started with.
To identify IF and what kind of infection your dog might have you will need a culture and sensitivity done. Your veterinarian will take a sterile sample of urine from your dogs bladder and submit it to the laboratory for them to grow on a culture. They can then specifically identify what type of bug is present and also exactly which antibiotic to use to kill them.
I will tell you that in my experience the little white dogs seem to have the most problems with urinary stones..and I think that the prescription diets work very well, and adding lots of water to their food and encouraging water intake with a fountain or soupy food helps.
IF, your dog didn't have struvite then you would need to talk to your vet about a treatment plan for the specific stone. I do not think that it is question of pH in almost all cases. And some stones can only be resolved by surgery.
I hope that this helps, and I hope that your dog stays happy and healthy,
If you need any assistance from us you can find me at Jarrettsville Veterinary Center, we have an ultrasound and we could take a peek at your dogs bladder to get a sterile sample and see if any stones are floating around.

Not to long ago I was asked by one of the groomers if I could help her mother in laws dog who she had noticed was having bloody urine. She was pet sitting for their dog because her mother in law was in the hospital recovering from a serious illness. Turned out that she had 2 patients on her hands, one was recovering in the hospital and one was coming to visit ours. When she brought in Harley we were all amazed to learn that she had been hematuric (blood in the urine) for a very long time. As soon as the vet on duty palpated her belly we knew the source of her blood. She had a two fist sized sand filled sac of a bladder. It was very easily palpable and within minutes every set of hands in the building were on Harley. An x-ray put a digital picture to what we could already surmise. The next stop was asking me if I would extract them.
The bladder exteriorized from the abdomen and packed so that contents cannot spill back into the belly.
The bladder should be an empty sac but the numerous stones make it look full.
Can you imagine living with a bladder full of stones?

Removing stones from the bladder.

That's a big stone!

The next week Harley had her cystotomy (bladder surgery). 
Harley and her mom are both recovering well and we will continue to monitor Harley any signs of a return of her stones, or a change in pH, urine color, urine frequency, and at least twice yearly urinalysis.

The final stone tally. A bucketful!
Urinary calculi (stone) should be submitted for a calculi analysis. This is imperative in the treatment plan and prevention of future stones.

Friday, March 29, 2013

A Tawdry Tid-Bit

Every issue of every trade magazine has a "Tip" section.

In veterinary medicine we refer to these as "pearls". I always read this section, it's my equivalent of the funnies. I have learned some incredibly helpful insightful items from this collective collaboration of learned tricks of our trade. The tips are submitted by other readers and are in general inexpensive craftily created item to help us keep organized, efficient and safe.

When reading today's Veterinary Economics I saw that the 'tiny tip' that was submitted had a picture of a set of ear protection muffs associated with it. When I read the tip that corresponded to the picture i was disappointed to read the reason this tip was submitted.

"Recently our cages were full and every dog seemed to think they had to bark. Some were pretty high pitched, which made it even worse. So, I brought my ear muffs for shooting to the clinic. They worked great! I could still hear the phone yet my ears didn't hurt when I was done."

Argh! There are so many things that bother me with this statement.

"Dogs don't seem to think that they need to bark." They bark because they are stressed, excited, anxious, bored, frustrated, want attention, need something, etc. Not because they seem to think they need to...Is this kennel person ignoring a dogs need?

I was just talking to my kennel person about barking dogs. A barking dogs to me is a dog begging for something, it is a child crying for something, and those needs are not to be buffered out with ear plugs. How is that you not ignoring a patient?

If you are running a kennel that houses so many dogs that you cannot adequately care for them then scale down to a manageable size.

The March 2013 edition of Veterinary Economics.

Maybe the tiny tip should be to keep a happy kennel? My tip for that is lots of exercise, attention, and stimuli. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Furry Wisdom: Popular animal idioms.

I read this article and just thought it was so witty, and I love to learn about how our common sayings originated.

In or house we are not allowed to use the following idioms,  anything used in reference "to swinging a dead cat," or any other derogatory or harmful saying that might insinuate pain or suffering on a pet. You can't be an animal advocate and use these kinds of sayings, right?

Here is the article:

Animals and human beings have shared this planet as their home for ages. Human civilization is inextricably linked to animal life. Our language reflects this link. Here are some animal idioms with a common structure comprising two nouns and a preposition.

I came across “elephant in the room” only recently, though it comes from the 1950s. The elephant can refer to a problem that everyone can see, but feels embarrassed to talk about. It can also refer to a risk which people would rather ignore. Here is a sentence: “The problem was thoroughly discussed, but the elephant in the room was where the money would come from.”

Similar to elephant in the room is bull in a china shop. It refers to a person who is clumsy, and knocks down things around him. Today, its use is metaphorical rather than literal. The Merriam Webster online defines it thus: a person notably clumsy or ill-adapted to the situation in which he finds himself.

Another unwelcome visitor is dog in the manger. A manger is a trough from which horses or cattle can eat. The allusion is to one of Aesop’s fables, written in about 600BC. A dog rests in the manger in which there is enough hay for the cattle. But when the ox tries to eat the hay, the dog barks furiously and chases it away. At last the ox gives up and goes away muttering, “Ah, people often grudge others what they cannot enjoy themselves.”

Cats can generally be found in every part of the house, but when a cat decides to sit on the wall, there is a problem. The cat on the wall can be a fence-sitter, who does not take sides. Other people have to wait to know which way the cat would jump. Cats on the wall can be priceless commodities at the time of tightly fought elections.

Two idioms which appear similar, and have an old-world ring to them, are bee in the bonnet and bats in the belfry. To have bats in the belfry means to be insane. The belfry is the bell tower of a church. These can be dark spaces where bats linger.

A BBC report (August 2011) says that a North Yorkshire church had to cancel services and virtually close down because of the general damage done by bats that chose to stay in the belfry. The bat is a protected animal and to drive the bats out, the church needs a licence from a government agency.
A bee in one’s bonnet conveys the idea of someone being obsessed with an idea. The word is traced to Scotland. The speaker considers the subject very important and cannot stop talking about it, while the listeners don’t think it is important. She has a bee in her bonnet about dieting. This applies to a notion that you harbour, and you harp on it at every opportunity to the annoyance of listeners.
Fly in the ointment is an idiom which refers to a drawback in a situation which is otherwise enjoyable. The phrase has been traced to the King James Bible. “Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour” (Ecclesiastes 10:1). Wikipedia has the definition, a small defect that spoils something valuable or is a source of annoyance. Example: We will surely enjoy our school annual day. The fly in the ointment is that the teacher in charge of our group is a tough person.

An idiom that has its origin in India and China is frog in the well. The corresponding Sanskrit name is koopa mandooka. It can refer to a person with a closed mind, who refuses to see the big picture of the world outside.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

How to Face the State of My Profession?

Ask any vet why they spent the decades and hundreds of thousands of dollars to become a vet and most of them will say, "I wanted a job helping animals."

Ask us a decade or two later what we love and I am not sure how many of us would still say the same thing. How sad is that? All of the hopes, aspirations, and dreams were sucked out of us. Nothing seems sadder to me than the willing surrender of your purpose. The pressures of life, making a living, paying your bills, and people....., it's the people who will kill you.

I was at lunch today with two very good veterinary friends talking about how much veterinary medicine has changed. How it is evolving under the pressures of online pharmacies, big box stores now carrying flea and tick preventatives, and to make the picture seem even bleaker, we saw a flyer from our local feed store who is now offering low cost vaccines. 

To all of us it was just another instance of the writing being on the wall that is becoming larger, more indelible, and more looming. We are feeling the pressure from all sides and we are struggling to keep our chins up. How do we challenge Wal-Mart for affordable pet products when they are able to sell the same goods at a price we can't even buy them for? How do we keep a pharmacy in the clinic when Rite Aid offers antibiotics for $4.00, or even for free? And now the core of our existence, those yearly shots, are now available on a drive through basis like you and I get our flu shot in the check out line at CVS?

The answer? Well, the state of veterinary medicine is following in the foot steps of human medicine. 

Ask me if I believe this? Yes, I do. Veterinary medicine has always followed in human medicines footsteps. How does this affect all of us? Well, pets have better care, more options for care, and have moved from the great outdoors to the bed. Insurance is available for two and four legged creatures alike now. It has made health care affordable for many who otherwise wouldn't have access to expensive life saving and life changing procedures. With the advent of insurance, and our elevation of pets to human status the doors of opportunity has opened. We vets are as much to blame as anyone else. Our love for pets and our clients love for their pets has led to a multi-billion dollar industry. Where there are consumers there are providers. The marketplace is changing and the opportunities are widening. The days of James Herriot, the beloved vet who made house calls, treated every creature great and small and whose stories shaped our yearning for medicine are largely behind us.

Like every other species we vets need to adapt or be left behind.

But the core of who we are and why we are here cannot be replaced by Wal-Mart, CVS, Rite Aid, or a mobile vaccine clinic. 

Am I going to change with the times? I have to, am I happy to have my pup in my bed, Yes? And am I still James Herriot in spirit? Well, if you know me you know that time never changes this little girls heart. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

MD Man Dies of Rabies From Transplant

I said that I would keep everyone posted on the news that was reported a few days ago about a Maryland resident who had died from rabies. It was the first case reported since 1976.

I have been checking for any other news since.

It was revealed today that the man who died was given a heart transplant that was infected with rabies from the heart donor.

How terrible is that? Some poor guy waiting for a heart transplant, and then he gets a heart from a guy who died from rabies. Tragedy with a capital T!

To make the story even more devastating this isn't the first time that someone has gotten organs from a person with rabies. Organs for transplant are not tested for rabies because their are only 3 places that can test for rabies. The turn around time for this is about 2 days, which is to long for organs to wait.




Here is the complete story.

Tread-ing Lightly

It usually starts with a call..
"Dr. Mag!" I heard the receptionist yell. 
She came to the treatment area to find me, in the traditional 'yell first, walk to find later' method. Somewhere along the eight years I have owned JVC the last 3 syllables of my name got dropped. I know I never signed a consent for informality form, but none the less it disappeared and non of my staff take the time anymore to complete my name. It gets difficult when clients call and ask for me by my nickname, like I adopted it as an alias.
"Yes?" I replied. I could tell by the tone that I knew I didn't want to hear whatever it was she was about to report.
"There's a friend of Dr. T's on the phone. They said they found a cat in the road and that they think it was hit by a car. They have $100, but can't afford anything more." 
If I had a nickel for every time someone called with a pet that "needs to be seen immediately, and "Oh, by the way, here's my budget," I would be rich enough to be a non-profit shelter. (OK, so I am a non-profit for profit. Does that count? Please don't answer).
My response is always the same. "Tell them that it is $45 for an appointment and we can give them an estimate from there." I have learned to never believe what you hear, or what someone else thinks the diagnosis is, EVER!! Get your own eyes, hands, and ears on a pet before you ever make any decisions.
After a short chat with Dr. T I had a suspicions that my initial concerns were about to be validated.
It is hard to not get feeling like the world just keeps dumping lemons on you to see how much lemonade you can drink before the acidity tears your gut apart. (OK, this sounds a bit mello-dramatic but I really do feel this way, sometimes).
After a brief exam and an x-ray it was as bad as we thought it might be. 
Treads pelvis. The big red arrows are his fractures.

Here's what this patient had;
  • Broken right leg. Femur fractured, tibia fractured, and fibula fractured. Cats have three bones in their rear leg and all were broken.
  • Pelvis. Multiple fractures and luxations.
  • Not neutered.
  • Not owned.
  • No one to jump in and take responsibility (financial or otherwise) for him.

I looked as hard as I could for a reason to say "this one is too much for us." I started the mental checklist. 
  1. Cat had to be tame. (It is impossible to treat a feral cat with multiple fractures).
  2. Had to be FeLV/FIV negative.
  3. Had to be a stray cat or someone had to find a rescue that would take him. (Confession; I've been made to regret every person that I have helped myself. So I have learned my lesson). 
  4. Everyone was going to have to accept that I might be able to fix a leg fracture but I can't fix all of these fractures. 
The technicians were very quick to return their findings;
  1. "He is soo sweet."
  2. "He is FeLV/FIV negative."
About this point i was confident that I was about to hear a faint "Can we keep him mom?"

I said, "Put a pain patch on him, put him in a cage, and let me make some phone calls." Head lowers, I shuffle away and internal voice of a crazy person starts whispering in code.

A day later and another vet from the clinic was calling me. She says, "I called CVRC and they will fix his leg for $900." 

Long pause, sigh, and cursing, "Umm, I had a plan for him, and I don't have $900." She replied about how incredibly generous they were being, like I didn't already know that. "I'm sorry I don't have $900." I said again.

"If I can raise it can we do it." she said. Her last pitch to influence me.

"Yes, of course, if you can raise it." Now I feel guilty, and horrible about myself for being lazy, and not trying to find a way to fix him, and for not shelling out $900, especially because it was such an incredibly generous offer from the surgeons at CVRC.

With that the frenzy of social media sharing, texts, phone calls, facebook posts, rescue reach outs, and donation bins started.

Our very good friends at No Kill Harford posted a plea for Tread. (Yes, he had a name as soon as I said OK to putting him in a cage). I'm still not to fond of his name, but I guess I should be somewhat satisfied that we are both relegated to one syllable.

Within five hours JVC and No Kill Harford had raised the $900. And by the next day Tread was slated for  surgery. 

I may have learned my lesson in helping people pay for their pet and the insane liability that comes along with it, but I should have also learned to never underestimate the generosity of my community.

Tread is a very gentle, very easy going 6 month old neutered boy. He is in need of a home to recover, and for someone to take responsibility for him. (He will reward you with lots of affection in return).

Here is the plea that No Kill Harford posted;
Tread is a cat that came to us as a surrendered stray. He was hit by a car and has a shattered pelvis and multiple fractures that have all but destroyed his leg.
As a rescue with limited funds, amputation of Treads leg was discussed … but, through the generosity and compassion of the doctors at Jarrettsville Veterinary Center we have found an orthopedic surgeon that is willing to help us save Treads leg. Normally, the surgery required to save a leg this bad would be close to or even over $4,000. We have a doctor willing to do the surgery for $900!!!!! We just need to raise the money!
Tread is SUCH A LOVE and deserves any chance we can give him. Will you please help us help Tread keep his leg???
We need to raise $900 as soon as possible to save Treads leg. Any donations we receive over $900 will go to our FixHarford fund to help animals like Tread in the future.
At last count, we were almost 1/2 way there! Even $5 will go a long way towards helping Tread!!!!

UPDATE April 1, 2013

Last week, we posted about a stray cat named Tread. Tread was brought into Jarrettville Vet Center with a crushed pelvis and a badly broken leg.
We asked the community for help in raising the $900 needed to help repair Treads leg instead of amputating it. Our request was heard and with your help, we were able to raise all the money Tread needed.
Tread had his surgery and his leg was repaired with pins and metal rods. He did great! He’s getting better each day and is about to have his staples removed. In a few weeks, the rods will come out too.
Together, not only did we manage to save Treads leg, but we also found him a family to call his own. After hearing Treads story, a wonderful family opened there home to Tread and are in the process of adopting him.
Everyone on Team No Kill Harford is grateful to be a small part of a very large community that cares so much for animals … even the animals that they may never meet.
Thank you to everyone that asked about Tread, sent kind words of support, and donated. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Tread's new family.

Tread smiling after his surgery!

To learn more about No Kill Harford please visit them at;
For more information on Chesapeake Veterinary Referral Center (CVRC) please visit them at;

Here is Tread's post-op radiograph. Another BIG THANKS to the incredibly talented surgeons at CVRC!! We are so grateful!!!

Rice Crispies Nose

I started Pawbly because I know that many people have questions about just about everything and when they are in search of answers they will go looking for those answers in the easiest and quickest of places. 
My dear husband is a magnet for the little tangents and tidbits of info. He has more random useless trinkets of snippets of info on just about everything rolling around in his noggin at all times. On those long drives to the grocery store, or a friends house, he will parlay them to me. His favorite past time is to ask me about one of his factoids and quiz me about my knowledge of it. It's very impressive. How he ever amassed such an abundance of material is a mystery to me. Somehow he collected it in his travels, his treasure trove was done via person to person chatter. For the rest of us mortals we go surfing with a purse seine on the sea of the world wide web. 
Pawbly was developed to help provide people with pet questions a place that local experts could be found to help them find and understand their answers. Very simple, very important, and desperately needed. 
When we started building Pawbly we had to discuss and agree on a few things.
First, Pawbly could never take the place of bringing your pet to the vet. I know, better than anyone, that to understand a pet, to understand a guardians concerns, and to put all of the pieces of the puzzle together I need a pet and their parent in front of me. I need my eyes, my ears, my nose, and a long dialogue to get the mystery solved and the treatment plan in place. There is no way it is going to happen on the internet. 
Second, I knew that the public was going to find me, (Pawbly is free, after all), and they will want a cheaper easier option to replace their getting in the car, and paying for a service. So we had to devise some fail safes and some warnings. Pets in need of emergency care should not have their guardians looking for 'cures', 'treatment options', or advice on the internet, or anywhere else other than in a vets office. 
Third, we had to talk in a common language. This is very hard to do on a computer. Getting an understanding of your pet, your perceptions, and your options is about talking. And, lord, people are terrible bad at putting their pets clinical signs into an understandable, comprehensive, and medically based list of pertinent facts in words. Boy, people add a whole lot of useless fluff, silly insignificant details, and those patients of ours can't talk. Vets need to use our hands, our senses, and questions to help you and your pet, so that means we have to make our fears, concerns, and worries audible in a return dialog. I have to think worst case scenario in every appointment, and I have to verbalize the same in a reply to a question.
You can see what I am talking about when you see the question I was asked today:
"My 14 week old puppy has the sniffles. His poor nose sounds like rice crispies crackling and popping as he breathes out his nose. He eats good, full of energy and been getting reg shots and vitimins. Is there any thing I can give him or just let it run its course ?"
Here is my reply;
Congratulations on your new puppy..
A 14 week old puppy that is sick in any sense of the word should see a vet immediately.
Now I can't tell you if your puppy is sick because sneezing in many cases is not sick, but anything other than clear infrequent sneezing can be one of the first signs of illness.
IF your puppy has a congested nose (I am guessing that sniffles is congestion) then I would urge you to go immediately to your vets office. A puppy (14 weeks is very young) with a congested nose most likely has a respiratory infection and these can very quickly (like within a few hours) lead to pneumonia, dehydration, and other very serious and life threatening illnesses and diseases. If you can get your puppy to a vet right away and if it is just the beginnings of an upper respiratory infection then antibiotics may be all that is necessary.
There is no other over the counter cure available for infection and you need a vet to diagnose, prescribe, and treat a respiratory infection. Also many puppies will not eat if they can't breathe well or smell, so they will not get better if they are not eating. Their blood sugar can drop quickly and they sometimes require intra-venous glucose supplement therapy to maintain normal blood sugar levels.
Puppies that are sick need immediate aggressive diagnostics and treatment.
Please don't wait, and please don't hesitate to call your vet and make an appointment.
I hope that your puppy is just having an occasional benign sneeze, but if it "sounds like rice crispies crackling and popping as he breathes out his nose" then I am very worried about congestion and infection.
Always better safe than sorry.
I hope that this helps.
If you need us, we are open today until 6, and if you call tell them what we talked about and that you need to be seen ASAP today.
Best Of Luck,
kisses to your puppy,

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Maryland Rabies

I am trying to find any additional information on the person who died from rabies in Maryland as reported by the Baltimore Sun yesterday. No new information available yet. But I thought this article was helpful to understand the prevalence and scope of this disease.
From the online newspaper
A Maryland resident has died from rabies, according to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
It’s the first human death from the disease since 1976, when a Cecil County woman died. Until Odette Scrivanich died in June of that year, it had been 30 years since the last rabies death in the Mason Dixon State.
Kim Mitchell, chief of rabies and vector borne diseases, would not divulge any information on this latest victim.
“We are not even allowed to divulge the gender,” she said Tuesday.
Mitchell could say the victim died within the past month, but health officials have yet to determine how he or she contracted the deadly neurological disease.
“It’s still a mystery at this point,” she said, adding friends and family of the person are being questioned.
Mitchell said as many as 400 animals test positive for rabies in any given year so infection is possible all over Maryland.
“There are rabid animals everywhere,” she said.
In April 2012, a rabid feral kitten came in contact with eight people in Port Deposit. All had to go through a series of post-exposure vaccinations.
In 2012, there were 11 confirmed cases of rabies in animals, including seven raccoons, three cats and a skunk. Statewide, raccoons were the predominant species infected with 170 of the state’s 276 confirmed cases.
To read the entire article:

The Rabies Raccoon Seven

One of the "Raccoon Seven" on the day of his neuter.
There was an article in the Baltimore Sun yesterday about a Marylander who died from rabies. This is the first death in Maryland since 1976. I was saddened by the report, but unfortunately, I was not surprised by it.

OK, I will freely and openly admit to being completely paranoid about rabies. After all this rabies, it will kill's some serious life threatening stuff. I am afraid because I have seen rabies in my clinic, more than once. I have seen it in a 3 month old kitten and in a 3 year old cat. I have had the fear of exposure of my staff and this fear has haunted me for days as I waited for the lab to return a verdict. I have had to tell young adults with their whole life in front of them that their pet came back positive for rabies and that now they must go see their physician to discuss their exposure and how to protect themselves. I have also seen a family of eight children be exposed when their dog and the 7 puppies that she had just given birth to were all exposed to a rabid dead raccoon. Can you imagine that discussion? All of the kids had to have post-exposure rabies vaccinations, and the puppies had to go into a 6 month quarantine.

Guess what happened when the animal control officer came to their house and informed the family that the puppies and adult dogs and all of the cats (five in total) had to be kept in a double enclosure under state monitoring for 6 months because ALL of them were either waaay overdue on their rabies vaccinations, or never vaccinated at all?  Well when notified of this  they began to think about the expense of keeping these pets and not being able to sell the puppies, so we got a call.

The owners wanted to put the puppies down. Seven, seven week old who are happy healthy playful puppies to put to sleep, that's what they had decided to do about their problem. That call and that day will be forever indelibly etched in my head. Don't ask me how people do it, I don't know. How do you put a needle into a puppy and kill them because the owners have ever gotten their dogs vaccinated? I can't do it, every vet at the clinic refused to do it. That left dropping the puppies at the humane society for someone else to do. I even felt guilty about this. At least if I did it I could anesthetize them, they wouldn't be conscious, but crap, I would live with this guilt forever. It wasn't those puppies fault. And worse than ALL of that was that these puppies might be completely healthy and be put down based on a big MAYBE.

I told my crying angry receptionists to send me the owners information and I made some phone calls.

Tess. On the day for her spay.

Munch. Already adopted.


Teddy.  A happy puppy.
After being spayed. ready for a new home.
After a heated, emotional, and frustrating call to my rescue friends, and a long discussion with the owner that included bartering, begging, and biting of my tongue like never before, we figured out a mutually beneficial arrangement to help take financial and health care custody of the pups if the owners would keep the puppies for their quarantine period. With the assistance of the Harford County MD health department we were able to assemble a suitable enclosure and follow up veterinary care. I saw those puppies every two weeks to monitor their growth, neurological status, and get them vaccinated. At the end of their quarantine period I spayed and neutered 7 puppies (now adolescents lab-Newfoundland mixes) and the adults. It was a long tenuous 180 days, but this story has a happy ending, and how can you ask for more?

Many ENORMOUS THANKS to No Kill Harford for their help and vision.

For the rest of this story see;

Minnie. Looking for a home.

Teddy. Looking for a home.

To learn more about the two raccoon puppies still available for adoption see;

The most common (what a terrible way to put this), way that I see rabies influencing our day to day activities at the clinic is the cat that walks in the door with a wound. Want to know how often this happens? A whole lot, like weekly. Cats that are outside, especially those cats that are un-spayed, or un-neutered, fight over territory. Abcesses and wounds are a very common thing that we see and treat. In almost all cases treating the wounds is rather simple. But the very difficult aspect of all of these cases is trying to identify how these cats got these wounds, and from whom they came from. In the overwhelming majority of cases we cannot exclude that these wounds were not caused by a bite. Because rabies is transmitted by saliva of affected animals we don't know who, when, where, or why. So we play it safe and leave the possibility of rabies on the table. To make things stickier, many of these cats are un-vaccinated, or presumed to be un-vaccinated because they are labeled as a 'stray'. Even if the cat appears to be spayed or neutered we don't know how long it has been since they were vaccinated. All of these unknowns result in a cat that is going to be either euthanized or placed in quarantine for 6 months. Most people who haven't taken the time or put forth the effort to get their cats spayed, neutered, or vaccinated are not so keen on quarantining it for 6 months. Here we go again, another pet who may or may not ever get sick, who may or may not have even been vaccinated, or even exposed to rabies, and I feel guilty about giving up on these guys again.

Ask me how many cats we have kept?, or how many my very compassionate very generous technician has  taken home with her. Or how many our good friends at No Kill Harford have helped us with. I think its about a dozen..

Kept for 6 months by my dear technician.

Also kept by Ms. Kate for her quarantine sentence.

If there is anyway I can convince, beg, plead, every person out there to get and keep their pets vaccinated for rabies??

We at Jarrettsville Vet are going to try to make rabies vaccines easily accessible, affordable and convenient so that maybe we won't have to look into another pets eyes and ask ourselves all of the "what ifs." Keep watching.

Munch..a mug shot.

A BIG Thanks to everyone who joined forces to help save all of these wonderful wonders!

September 2013. I see a few of the pups every so often for routine stuff, and because their families know how much it means to me to see them grow.

This is Belle. A little shy, but the love of her mom's life.
January 10, 2014.
I saw a few of the seven for Pets With Santa, or received little notes and photos from their new families. Seems every single pup is doing very well.

I also spoke to a dear friend this morning. She was telling me about a friend of hers that "was feeding a feral cat for years, and recently noticed that she was acting 'a little off' so she decided to bring her to the vet. While putting her in the carrier she scratched her friend. The vet told her that they were worried about rabies. So consented to putting the cat down and submitting the brain tissue for rabies testing. Which came back positive." My friend went on to tell me that "they had no idea cats got rabies, or that it was so serious."

"Yes," I replied, "rabies will kill you."

Her friend has just finished all of her post exposure shots, and has to put all of her cats into a 6 month quarantine.

Please do not handle an unknown animal. It just might kill you.