Friday, March 16, 2012

The Day Can't Get Much Worse

My clients love to tell me all about their pets and their personal lives. Most stories communicated are mundane daily happenings; my mind tends to wander while I smile at proffered tales but I listen to them all.

Several years ago, one client had me giggling at his horrible morning: he had been sitting on the toilet while a horrible storm was raging outside. Lightening struck his house outside of his bathroom and blew him off of the toilet. Then he found out his girlfriend was pregnant…pregnant with triplets. He said the fateful words: “the day can’t get much worse.”

Several hours later his girlfriend rushed in his dying pet. Half an hour later, another of their pets presented, also dying. Both pets passed away and in our efforts to discover the horrible cause, I happened to mention the possibility of anthrax. Both pets had symptoms of possible anthrax poisoning or other intoxication. The girlfriend told us that there was no possible toxin available to these pets. She had remembered that her ex husband threatened to kill their pets and she had seen some suspicious white powder in their driveway. She collected some of the powder and brought it in to us. I packed it up with the two pet corpses and took it all to our state veterinary school for a necropsy. The state school immediately contacted the FBI regarding the possibility of anthrax.

The next day, this poor man, his girlfriend and her ex husband were answering questions from the FBI and Homeland Security. Their homes were searched as was my clinic. My staff and I spent a day being interviewed about how this potential bioterrorism had occurred and what we had done with all of the evidence. We were all in fear of the men in black and the potential death awaiting us. The first to die would surely be my technician who had stuck her nose in the bag of white powder (suspected anthrax) and smelled it. She is blonde. But after her, we knew that we would quickly join her in the next life.

It turned out that there was no anthrax. The pets had eaten a human medication and the powder was just the bleach from someone’s swimming pool. We all resumed with our normal lives and on one specific day shortly after this, I was thumbing through outgoing mail and found a “Welcome to our practice” card to this poor man and his girlfriend. I tore it up and threw it in the trash can. Never did see these people again, I hope their lives are peacefully happy and that they are not scarred for life.

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