A week at the clinic (SUST Orphan Animal Hospital)
Updated: Oct 4, 2020
Another week flew by and after the cat and dog areas, I have been supporting the team at the clinic to the extent possible - keeping in mind I'm neither a vet nor a vet nurse :)
The clinic is one of the main buildings, and consists of 4 rooms:
the surgery room
the dog observation/recovery room
the cat observation/recovery room
the FIV / FeLV-positive cat room
The surgery room (ground floor) is where all the miracles happen! Daniel and the vet nurse team perform around 14 sterilization procedures per day (cats/dogs) but this is not only what they do. Often animals are brought in poor or critical conditions (after a car accident for instance or with a bulk tumor), and that's when they have to figure out what's best for the animal next. The clinic is equipped with an ultrasound, and also a mini-laboratory to run standard blood tests.
The clinic has handled successfully 6'000 cases since its opening in 2016 - so over 2'000 cases per year. This speaks volume to the need for having such a clinic looking after abandoned animals in this region!
The dog room (also on the ground floor) is fitted with various size cages, where dogs are kept around their surgery for recovery, and also if they need to be observed or quarantined for a few days.
There are around 3 dogs at the moment but it varies greatly from day to day. The room capacity is ~10 dogs.
The cat room is located upstairs, and has smaller cages. Similarly, the cats need their quiet space from before/after surgery and also in case of observation, should it be required. This room had around 13 patients while I was there, with a maximum capacity of 14 cats.
Adjacent to the cat room, is another special cat room: the FIV / FeLV-positive one.
FIV stands for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus and FeLV for Feline Leukemia Virus. Both diseases bear similarities and compromise the cat immune system. FIV is often called the AIDS of cats. Because FIV/FeLV can be passed onto other cats through saliva, those cats who are tested positive need to be segregated from healthy cats to prevent further spreading.
FIV can be latent for a while, and cats remain asymptomatic during that period. Hence cats can live with FIV for many years without problem. FeLV is slightly different in that some cats may fight off the disease and develop antibodies, then considered to be a healthy carrier who do not get sick, but still can pass the disease. In both cases, the disease has several stages - when it reaches its final stage, the cat is becoming extremely susceptible to infections, which usually become fatal.
There is no treatment available for FIV in Europe, while a treatment called Lymphocyte T-cell immunomodulator is approved in the USA, albeit with some controversies regarding its efficacy claims [Reference Res Vet Med. 6: 61-68].
There is a vaccine available for FeLV. Vaccination is recommended for high-risk cats: those that have access to the outdoors, feral cats, cats that do not have the virus but live with an infected cat, multi-cat households, and cats with an unknown status, such as cats in catteries and shelters.
As with humans living close to one another, the cats & dogs living in a shelter require prophylactic treatments and vaccinations to prevent any disease outbreak that could be a disaster.
During the week, I participated to the endo- and ecto-parasites treatment administration. For those of you who have a dog or a cat, I'm sure you are familiar with the process: it's when you apply the anti-ticks and anti-fleas liquid in a tube or pipette on the neck skin of your pet. Well, we did that... on 300 dogs! One hall per day, one dog at a time. There is definitely teamwork involved if you want to succeed! First prepare the number of treatment boxes required, then have someone block the flap door so the dogs cannot go outside (otherwise it's a never ending chasing story ;)) and finally, manage to get the dog to trust you that you're not here to harm. Somehow, many dogs dislike the process even though it's not invasive. And one dog's fear is triggering the next one... it can get quite a challenging situation as some dogs become agressive and won't let you touch them so easily. Luckily Lilu, Mihaela and Irina are expert at this, so I could learn various techniques to soothe the dogs. In rare cases, you also have to acknowledge that a specific dog may not be amenable to the liquid treatment on the neck without risking a bite. That's when you go to Plan B: use an anti-parasite pill which you smuggle inside wet food - success guaranteed!
We also did some "hairdressing" session for older dogs, whose long hair become very tangled over time and they can't groom themselves properly. It's quite an adventure too, and not that easy to shave some parts. It end up looking like a sheep coat being removed from their back, you wouldn't believe how thick their cover is! Below some pictures of us in full action while taking care of Baltata. We could not sedate her due to her advanced age. I let you judge about the final result, but she seemed to disagree with our satisfaction based on her look on the last photo.
So during that third week, I was happy to look after the cat recovery/observation room and FIV/FeLV cat room. I was ensuring they have a clean and healthy space, a full belly, as well as notice their behavior to report onto the vet nurses as appropriate. After finishing that part which usually took me the whole morning, I was spending my afternoon either with the vet team for the anti-parasites treatment application on the dogs as described above, or visiting my dear 'old' friends at the cat station where I worked during the first week with Gabi & Iulia. I can't deny that I'm falling for some of these adorable cats...
Last but not least, I also spent some time with the farm animals. You may remember that I mentioned a donkey. Well in fact, there are 8 donkeys, 6 sheep, 2 goats and 1 poney! I happen to have a prolific apple tree in my garden, and guess who love apples? The donkeys and poney do, as well as one of the elderly sheep, Suzica, who is 7 years old :) Enjoy some of the pictures!
I have now started week 4, which is my last week at SUST shelter/clinic in Galati already. I still focus on supporting the clinic activities.
Thanks for reading and as always, don't hesitate to ask questions or add comments below!