Darker side to a vet's life
Wednesday, 20 February 2008
Those of you who read last month’s “A Vets’ Life” would have got a rough idea of all the care that is required for stock. Having a lifestyle block can be very rewarding and enjoyable. In small groups, animals usually become quite tame and easy to handle.
Veterinary medicine is usually a very rewarding and enjoyable job as well. We get a great deal of satisfaction from treating and curing animals that are sick or in pain.
| Sheep that have not been shorn can get severely overheated and stressed. |
We also like to help clients learn as much about preventative healthcare as possible – that is, the better looked after the animal on a day to day basis; the more unlikely it is that they will require medical treatment.
There is, however, a darker side to Veterinary medicine. There are parts of our job that fill us with dread. From time to time, we get called out by the SPCA or MAF to attend to malnourished and/or neglected animals. These are cases that could have been prevented had the owners just asked for help sooner.
The cases that involve MAF are usually larger herds of underfed cattle (production animal cases). The SPCA are usually also involved in these cases too, but also in smaller cases such as donkeys, horses, sheep, dogs, cats and other species.
We attend these cases purely for the purpose of treatment and humane euthanasia. In some of these cases, it is just a matter of helping the owners implement a feeding plan in order to help the animals gain weight.
In these circumstances, the owners have usually just got overwhelmed with the shortage of feed and the number of animals on their property. They can’t see the wood for the trees and don’t know how to start fixing the problem. We can set up plans for them to address these issues.
The cases that sadden us are the neglect cases. These are animals that are put through pain and suffering because their owners simply did not bother to tend to their animals’ needs, or don’t know what is involved in caring for these animals. There is no excuse for these cases.
We sometimes see horses or donkeys that can barely walk because their feet haven’t been trimmed for many months.
We sometimes see sheep that are severely overheated and stressed because their fleece has not been shorn for many months (sometimes, many years!).
We sometimes see animals with very old infected wounds. Horses with wire embedded in their legs. Dogs with chains embedded in their necks. Dogs with no hair due to a severe case of mange.
The list of horrors goes on. We never enjoy this side of our job. We would much rather see healthy, well fed animals and assist owners with preventative healthcare plans such as vaccinations, parasite control, feeding plans and general treatment issues.
If you own stock, then do plenty of research (tread carefully with advice from the internet). Talk to your Vet about how your stock will be affected by the local conditions. A little bit of time, effort and money spent on preventative healthcare will make life a lot easier for you down the track. Sue Cosson
• Sue is the retail and marketing manager and puppy preschool tutor for Northland Veterinary Group.
Northland Veterinary Group
Ph (09) 470 1060, Whangarei
24 Hour Emergency Service
• Maunu Rd, central Whangarei
• 2 South End Ave, Otaika
• George St, Hikurangi
• 165 Onerahi Rd, Onerahi
• Marsden Pt Rd, Ruakaka
A vet’s life is proudly sponsored by Northland Veterinary Group.
See their website: www.northvets.co.nz.