So, I’m doing a rotating internship (with mostly emergency responsibility) in a big city. This might lead you to believe that we see a pretty interesting cross section of the population. I’m here to tell you that you’re correct.
Me (seeing a pet for limping): So how long have you had him?
Client: About a month, I guess.
Me: Where did you get him?
Client: From a crackhead, I guess you could say.
Me (pause): So I guess he hasn't had his vaccines, then?
Aside from crazies, this internship has also made me wary of:
1. Allowing any animal ever to be on a balcony. Ever. Dogs and cats, sentient beings though they are, apparently lack the self-preservation instinct necessary to prevent them from launching themselves off a 3rd floor balcony ON THE DAILY. Regardless of what the general public feels about cats, their balance, and their ability to land on their feet trauma-free, I have euthanized way too many young, otherwise healthy cats to believe that it will prevent them from horrendous injuries. Many of these cats start their day curiously observing the world from above and end it with a tearful euthanasia after they have broken their back and are unable to use their hind limbs.
2. Dog parks: I see about 3-5 dogs bitten by other dogs each week. Most of the time, the owner of the bitten dog is FURIOUS that they have to quarantine their pet for 6 months…in spite of the fact that they would have had a shorter quarantine period to contend with if their dog was up to date on rabies vaccinations OR no quarantine at all if they had obtained the information of the animal (and its owner) that bit their pet. You get the information of somebody who rear-ended your car: please do the same when your pet is injured by another pet.
3. Outdoor cats in general: wounds of unknown origin, being hit by a car, or (my favorite) just not noticing that their cat is even mildly ill ill until it crawls half dead to their back porch as a DKA or a saddle thrombus or with a necrotic limb that was probably injured days ago.
Something that has always scared me (and I wish scared more pet owners) is rat poison. I think my most rodenticide case very poignantly illustrated that owners often feel that “rat poison” or “mouse poison” either isn’t appetizing to their pets or isn’t dangerous to their pets (it's called, moise poison for a reason, right? WRONG.):
Me: So how did your dog get to the poison? (IE: why was it even around her at all?)
Client: Well I had wrapped it in peanut butter…
Me: (Pause) Why…what…is there a reason that you did that?
Client: So the rats would like it better.
Me: (Prolonged pause) Just…so you know: rat poison is often pretty tasty to begin with, so you really shouldn’t ever have it anywhere she should get to. I just wouldn’t have it in the house at all, honestly.
In this particular situation, she felt very strongly that the amount in the estimate was too much to pay for her pet’s care (read: she couldn’t really afford any care at all). I, on the other hand, felt very strongly that she should not have WRAPPED AN ALREADY APPETIZING TOXIC SUBSTANCE IN SOMETHING THAT NEARLY EVERY DOG LOVES TO EAT. Fortunately, we were able to make her vomit what looked like the offending substance within about 20 minutes of ingestion, so I’m not sure the dog even absorbed any, but it was (unfortunately) the neurotoxic variety, which always makes me much more nervous than the often easily treated anticoagulant variety. I ultimately sent her home with a bottle of activated charcoal (after she asked me if there was a “home remedy” she could try instead), and I emphasized that she needed to come back in if she noteiced any strange behavior/seizures/tremoring. I never heard from her again, so hopefully that means that she did well. And hopefully her owner will get rid of the rat poison as I reiterated several times that she should do.