Thursday, January 28, 2010

Food for Thought

I realized the other day that I never write about my work. I'm not sure why. Because, let me be honest...


No, that is not sarcasm. I really, truly do love my job. I work in a Veterinarian's office. And not just any Vet. He is one of the most hard-working, caring, compassionate and intelligent men I have ever met. I have more respect for him than I do for most people. I trust him and his actions completely, never questioning his methods or motives.

Not only is he a Veterinarian who practices on dogs and cats, he specializes in exotics. This means that on a day to day basis I get to see these (and a variety of other) critters walk through that door:

(Sugar Gliders)

(Scarlet Macaw)


(Ball Python)

(African Spur Thighed Tortoise)

(Green Iguana)


Think about it. A doctor needs to learn all there is to know about the anatomy and functions of the human body. But Veterinarians need to know so much more in order to treat their patients. My Vet is a literal volume of knowledge. The number of different types of species and breeds that he treats is unimaginable. I am so amazed by his knowledge and expertise, it's just unfathomable to me.

He also knows so much about how to care for all of these different types of animals. It is worth it for a new client with an exotic to come in and just speak with him for half an hour about how to care for their new pet. Many times people will buy a rabbit, ferret, snake, what have you at the pet store on a whim for their child. Then they get it home and have no idea what to feed it, what type of lighting it needs, etc.

I feel like I have learned so much from him and now feel very comfortable answering these questions for clients. That is, up until Monday evening.

Monday evening this walked through our door:

This, my friends, is a cayman alligator.


A group of men who work at an auto body shop had bought it and it was living in their shop, in who knows what type of conditions. They couldn't understand why it wasn't thriving.
This cayman was still a juvenile, only about 2 feet in length. It had an awful septic infection and its body temperature was only 66 degrees.

Obviously it was on the brink of death and had never been cared for properly. These animals come from South America and are accustomed to tropical environments. It was most likely kept in a cage without adequate heat or lighting, which resulted in its serious infection.

The man who brought it in did not seem concerned in the least about this poor creature. My Vet tried to explain to him that this was not a pet, that it should not be kept as one, and needed lots of room in order to grow and mature properly. The owner still seemed unfazed and uncaring about the animal.

Today we found the cayman dead. The Doctor tried everything he could to save the poor little guy, but it was just too late. It saddens me to think of the life it must have had. Kept in cramped captivity for its entire life, just to die an early death.

It's okay to have an exotic animal as a pet (as long as it's not an alligator!), but people need to realize that they need veterinary care as much as any other pet does. That they are harder to treat and at the first signs of illness they should be taken in to see a doctor.

Yes, they may not have an expensive price tag when you buy them, but they can become very expensive to treat if they are not cared for properly.

So, next time you see that cute little guinea pig for sale and your daughter is begging, whining for you to buy it for her... Just think that that poor little guy might need a Vet's help one day.

Are you going to be willing to take care of it properly? Afterall, it's a living creature and you are the one who is responsible for it.



  1. Fantastic post! I hate stories that end badly. But I'm glad you work from someone willing to show so much time and care to animals. :-)

  2. I'm jealous of your job! I always wanted to work for a vet but I don't think I could handle the dying pets and the upset owners. I think that hedgehog is so darn cute!


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