The doctors, staff, and volunteers at Albuquerque’s Animal Welfare Department do what it takes for the homeless pets they treat but post-operative recovery is sometimes harder than the procedure itself. It can be tough on everybody.
My work with the Placencia Humane Society in Belize put my skills to the test. We came well equipped for field medicine thanks in large part to my readers. Donations included electric clippers, an otoscope, and cash for vaccines, heartworm prevention, and antibiotics.
Most Belizeans are pretty stoic in their acceptance of the bugs, hurricanes and floods visited upon the one-room wooden houses on stilts many of them call home. One afternoon a frantic local resident came to us for help with his 85# dog named Tequila. She had jumped off the porch, landing chest-down on a small stump. As we lifted her off the bare metal bed of the pickup truck I heard the telltale sucking sound of air rushing into her perforated chest. My heart sunk into my shoes.
Having no proper chest tube or Heimlich valve we improvised with an IV line and syringe. Following surgery to bring her ribs back into position and repair the rent in her chest Tequila began her convalescence in the cabin my wife and I occupied. Antibiotics, IV fluids, pain management, and frequent chest suction set Tequila’s uncertain recovery into motion.
Our patient’s fever spiked and the makeshift chest tube leaked. Bandage changes were uncomfortable. Tequila needed to urinate often but she struggled to stand. We got up every 2 hours during the night and summoned extra help for our spays, neuters, and other daytime treatments to coax Tequila back from the brink. She made it.
Albuquerque’s Animal Welfare Department is blessed with a modern facility, a well-trained staff, and medical equipment that rivals any shelter’s. Still, the sick and injured pets they work so hard to save need all the help they can get. Volunteers are needed in the shelter’s veterinary clinic. Call 311 and explain that you want to make a difference. Medical training and experience would be a godsend. It feels right; you’ll wish you’d done it sooner.
Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in-person and in groups by Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week he shares a blog and a Facebook Live video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Post pet behavioral or physical questions on facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.