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Friday, August 31, 2007

Today's theme is peace...

Peace along La Seine.

In the Hamptons, absolute serenity.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

When things don't go smoothly...

Yesterday was a day that many would call a nightmare. I was scheduled on surgery from 8 AM to about 1 PM. I had three surgeries scheduled: one cystotomy (opening bladder to remove bladder stones) and two cats for dentistry.
I started with the cystotomy. The patient: a Yorkie that weighs less than my pinky finger. He was not the best anesthetic patient.... Thank goodness we have excellent monitoring equipment. While at no time was this little guy in danger, we kept having to adjust his anesthetic gas concentrations, fluid rates, etc, all to maintain a good plane of anesthesia while preventing a dangerous drop in blood pressure. Ok, so that took effort but certainly manageable. After removing one large stone and dozens of tiny ones from this guy's bladder, I stitched his bladder up, brought him to radiology to snap an X-ray, to ensure that no stones remain. Shoot. The processor just died. Tried three times. X-rays aren't being developed properly. Shoot, damn, and insert more swearing here. So I stitch up the rest (abdominal wall and skin), and call the owner to let him know that quality medicine has just been thrown out the window, but what could I do? It was certainly not anybody's fault that the processor had decided to die at that moment.
About a half hour after the dog wakes up from surgery, in come the service guys for the processor. Shoot. Great timing.
I get one of my dentistries under general anesthesia and start working on that big job. In comes my tech with two X-rays he had just taken, which would have been much more useful had they been taken just 30 minutes before. They showed a single beautiful stone remaining in the bladder. I was tempted to send the stool on which I was sitting straight into orbit! Ok, not the end of the world. It sucks big time but all I have to do is remove the stitches, no new incisions, and find that single stone.
I finished the first dentistry during which I had to make a flap over three lower teeth, extract all of them, and sew the flap up again (usually looks great when healed). Ok, that surgery went well.
I put the other cat under general. Started on that big job.... My techs meanwhile had to take the first cat out of his cage, as the cat started profusely bleeding from its mouth. Vets and doctors hate nothing less: hemorrhage. Funny, the cat bled minimally little DURING the surgery and likely banged its face on the cage wall while waking up (they do that sometimes when they wake up). So that cat had to be RE-anesthetized and the pressure had to be applied to the area for about 20 minutes. Bleeding stopped. My heart rate and pressure already sky-high.... Woke the kittie up.
So I finish THAT surgery. Went well, nothing interesting to report. This cat wakes up fine.
The first cat, dysphoric (stoned) from the pain drugs, smacks its face yet again against the cage wall (after adding more comforters and pillows than a bed at the Ritz) - a warm, bright-red liquid starts flowing... A third time, we put the cat out, I remove several stitches, pack the extraction sites with a packing material, and close up. Now we're good.

Back to the Yorkie. Unfortunately the dog had to be put under general again... Thank goodness the owner was a total sweetheart. I explained everything to him, was completely honest about what happened, and apologized to him most obsequiously.
Repeated the surgery, removed the single remaining stone easily (where was that little bugger the first time that it couldn't be flushed out like the others?) and woke the dog up. Time: 6:30 PM.

I sat down in my office at my computer to type out my notes for the day. It took much for me not to break down and cry.

Addendum (August 31, 2007): all patients discussed above are doing fabulously, as if nothing had happened.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Humane Society officer: right or wrong?

Tre Smith, a Toronto Humane Society Officer (and a really nice guy, I met him on the set of Animal House Calls) was suspended after rescuing a Rottweiler (named Cyrus) locked in a car that was baking in the sun. When Tre broke the window of the car to extricate him from the vehicle, the dog was foaming at the mouth and showing other signs of heat stroke. After being confronted by the dog's alleged belligerent owner, Tre handcuffed the man to his vehicle and rushed the dog for medical treatment. These actions unequivocally saved the dog's life.
The story would likely have ended there if the dog's owner did not have his face bashed in by a group of passers-by. acting as vigilantes. A group of activists rallied in front of the Humane Society a few days ago in protest of Tre's suspension from work.
The important questions are: 1) Did Tre Smith take the law into his own hands by handcuffing the owner to his car? 2) Could he have waited for the police to arrive before taking the dog for treatment? 3) Could he have brought the owner with him in his vehicle? 4) Does the safety of a human being trump that of a dog? 5) Is this vigilantism exhibited by the crowd acceptable? 6) Should Tre Smith be punished for these judgment calls?
Answers: 1) As an officer of the Humane Society, Tre Smith had the right to protect himself, the public, and the dog. A police officer is not permitted to handcuff someone to a vehicle as it poses a potential risk. Tre Smith, therefore, did not have the right to do so. You can justify it until the cows come home, but his duties do not trump those of a police officer. 2) No, the dog's condition precluded the possibility of waiting for the police to arrive - the dog would most certainly have died. 3) I don't know think so: if the pet owner was fully cooperative (there is evidence that he was not), then yes he could have. I don't think this was possible hence the officer's decision to lock the man to his car. 4) Yes, I think it does. The pet owner's safety is as important as that of the dog, even if we know that he committed a terrible act. What makes this more difficult is that the dog was near death. Whose health was in jeopardy in this case? The dog's. Tre had to act and act fast. While I don't agree with handcuffing anybody to their car, I cannot proffer a more reasonable decision based on what I know about the case. I cannot condemn his decision for doing what he did. 5) He cannot be held accountable for what an angry mob did to this guy, though he may be directly responsible - this is likely one of the reasons for which an officer may not be permitted to do this. The mob took the law into their own hands and boy, as much as this guy deserved it (I have spoken with a very trusting source that can attest to this guy's piece-of-crap character), it is up to the law to decide his fate - not you, not me, not the activists at the Humane Society. 6) I believe that Tre Smith is sincere in his reports that he has done "the best I could in that situation." His judgment in handcuffing the man may not have been ideal but again, I don't know what else he could have done. Please, let us ALL glean something from this case.
This brings us to the next crucial issue: we must amend our deplorable laws regarding animal cruelty so that we can start to believe in them.
Click here to read more about Tre Smith and to see photo of Rotty immediately following his rescue.

Two men who bashed the dog owner's face in have been charged with assault, and for good reason.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

I don't understand...

While waiting for the streetcar today, I caught a glimpse (actually, couldn't miss it) of one of those advertising trucks that can be seen on their circuitous routes through the city. One ad read: "Place your ad here!" while another read rather ironically: "Cut emissions by 15-20%" or something like that. This very large truck, likely consuming tons of gas in the city, and spewing equally large amounts of emissions, is advertising for some earthy or green organization. Could they not have thought of less polluting forms of advertisement?

A billboard truck. I think we should start putting ads for air purifiers on cigarette packs.