Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Monday June 4, 2012

It was the Monday after my 25th high school reunion trip to Wolfeboro NH.

Diedra, Joe, and I left early last Thursday morning to catch a flight from BWI to Manchester, NH for the long weekend of festivities. We had a whole lot of things we were trying to do in 4 days, so we left bright and early to try to get them all packed in.

Thursday was a 5 am wake-up call to get packed, get the pets settled, (thank goodness for my pet sitter Karina, and my fabulous vet staff who watched my pups), to try to make a 9:45 am flight. Seemed like ample time at 5 am, but due to I-95 traffic we arrived 40 minutes before our departure flight time. So we got a big red "LATE" sticker stuck to our luggage and a scolding from the ticket agent telling us that "our luggage wasn't guaranteed to make our flight." (So much for packing my coordinated outfits).

We arrived on-time, and with luggage, (thanks Southwest). It was a great time and we saw many old friends. I will write more on that later. (I have to sift through the 500 photos before I can post it).

We got back home late yesterday. (You know what they say about needing a vacation from your vacation, well, its true, I am spent).

To make it even harder, today was our first official day without Dr. Courtney Breen. She is moving next month because her husband has been stationed at Ft Lejeune, NC. She is a beacon of light on my day, and I will miss her smile, her friendship, and her silliness. We could never replace her. She was a part of our family and we are all sad to see her go.

So today is yet another chapter in our JVC life that we turn.

We have a new vet starting in a month. Dr. Anna Snarki, who lives in White Hall, MD, just a town over from JVC. She is great addition to our team, and we all look forward to having her with us.

This Monday is a day of transition for both me and my clinic. We have to get used to Courtney not being here and get ready for a new addition. No one likes change.

On top of trying to prepare for change I am also fighting with things that seem to never change. I find it somewhat disconcerting that I am still grappling with my personal beliefs and opinions and how I serve the public who seem to care about their pets a whole lot less than I do. I am starting to understand why the suicide and attrition rate in this profession are so high. I suppose that if we, the public, see animals as ‘property” than we also see them as “disposable.” Now I know this isn’t everyone, and I know I have some amazing clients who love and care for their pets as I do my own. But Jesus, do I have to keep re-drawing the line, so that I can sleep at night?

I had a mother and daughter come in with a cat in a carrier and a box. They were “new clients” and they were listed as “a euthanasia.” The computer’s appointment read “euthanasia, old cat, not doing well.”

OK, I am here to help pets, and I have had my own very elderly pets fail to the point of needing to be put down. I am very understanding and compassionate and do not want any pet to suffer, so for me, euthanasia can be the kindest way to end a pets suffering.

But I hate, hate, hate, seeing a euthanasia come in the door as a “new” appointment. I hate to walk in a room, and have to ask the difficult, uncomfortable questions, especially to a crying client. Sometimes I need to ask questions because I have to insure this pet really belongs to this person, or that they understand what I am asking and they are asking of me, and make sure this pet isn’t involved in a rabies case, cruelty case, or bite case. I essentially need to cover everyone’s butt and make sure I am doing what is best for everyone involved, pet, parent, and veterinarian.

I have actually had to say to people before, “I am sorry but this is not a walk-in euthanasia clinic.”

And I have had husbands/boyfriends/children come in to dispose of a pet without the "real" owner knowing. Craziness! I have also had clients come for in euthanasia because they don’t realize their pets condition might be treatable, (that's a difficult subject to brooch at a very delicate, emotionally charged time).

I have also had clients become irate because I was questioning their decision, “that is final!” walking into a room with a euthanasia for someone you don’t know is a snake pit full of venomous rattling tails for me.

This euthanasia was by the clients claim, “a 15 year old cat who was licking herself bald, swiping at peoples feet, and losing weight.” They also claimed that “the cat had been to another clinic and been diagnosed with hyperthyroid disease over a year ago. But she had not responded to the treatment the previous vet had prescribed,,,and lastly, that she was swiping at peoples feet as they walked by because she was hungry.”

Crap, this is a case full of bad scenarios. The women seem upset, the cat seems fine except it is barbering its entire underside, and I know nothing of this pet except what her owners are divulging between sobs.

My gut is telling me that before me lies the following;
1.      A sweet, older cat that remains untreated for hyperthyroid disease for over one year, and is still hyperthyroid. (I consider hyperthyroid disease one of the cheapest, easiest, most successful diseases that we see. Usually it is 1 pill twice a day).
2.      This untreated disease is leaving her hungry all the time. So much so that she is “swiping” at any passing person. They are calling her “dangerous” and I am calling her “desperate”.
3.       To look into to the eyes of a pet and tell her that I cannot take her, because I have taken too many before her and no one wants a 15 year old cat, with any problems.
4.      I am giving up on her, and I am just as guilty as every other person she has been charged as responsible to her.
5.      I have Steve Barsanti, DVM ringing in my ear to “just smile and say ‘OK’”
6.      I have two women crying and telling me that this is “going to be so hard on their kids.”
7.      If I refuse to euthanize her she will go down the street to someone who does just smile and says ‘OK’”
8.      These women decided a year ago to stop treating her, and asking them to resume treating now 2 diseases is probably not going to happen.
9.      If you ask the MD State Medical Examiners Board what my job is I think they will say to "just  make the customer happy" and that "euthanasia is a form of treatment." 
10.  My desire to help pets is getting pummeled by my desire to tell people who don’t give enough of a damn to view their pet as anything more than “disposable property” to go to hell.

So, I euthanized the treatable cat and brought my shame, disappointment, sorrow, and despair home to take it out on Wren who got cuddled to the point of hating the site of me.

And so rings the words of Lou Applefeld, “Don’t go into veterinary medicine, it will brake you.”

When all else fails, I have Wren.

On a positive note;
We have successfully found a home for Lobo, and Tink. We wish them all of the love, happiness, and joy in the world. They deserve it!



We are still looking for homes for our resident cats. If you know anyone who can make a life-long commitment to a loving feline please send them our way

1 comment:

  1. Hi Y'all,

    This post brought tears to my eyes.

    I remember having to treat barn cats with penicillin. Our farm vet patiently showing me how to get a cat to open her mouth. Unlike my dogs, those needle like teeth managed to savage my fingers and claws came out to try to blind me. My husband started helping by wrapping the cat in a towel and holding tight while I forced the pill in the mouth that seemed to have lock jaw.

    Perhaps if we hadn't grown up on farms and we didn't do much of the inoculations of our own animals, we wouldn't have been up to the task of treating an angry cat. Every day, twice a day, I had to think of a new way to get the cat out of hiding and catch it so we could treat it.

    I couldn't face clients like you did. I am just too chicken. I'm sad for the cat and you but agree it would have been unfair to the cat to put it back in the hands of people who were unable to deal with treating it.

    BrownDog's Human