Author Archives: Bria Bolton Moore

Boren Veterinary Hospital

posted March 21st, 2016 by
What's in Your Dog Shampoo

Boren Veterinary Hospital – Preventative Care to Pacemaker Surgery

Boren Veterinary Hospital at Oklahoma State University Provides a Full Spectrum of Animal Healthcare

By Bria Bolton Moore

Photos by Gary Lawson, University Marketing

 

In the wake of a May 2013 tornado that whipped through the Sooner State, Evie was found wandering the streets of Shawnee, Okla. 

The 2-year-old black and tan Shepherd was one of 60 animals brought to Oklahoma State University’s Veterinary Medical Hospital in Stillwater following the tornado.

“We had several clients where, at the moment, they felt like they had lost their pet, but it was here, brought to OSU by a Good Samaritan,” said Dr. Mark Neer, DVM and director of the Boren Veterinary Medical Hospital at Oklahoma State University. “There’s no words you can say to describe that feeling where they thought everything was totally hopeless, and it turned out they had their pet back and also had it back healthy.”

Following the storms, the veterinary hospital treated 22 dogs, 15 cats, 11 horses, four woodpeckers, two guinea pigs, two birds, one donkey, one pot-bellied pig, one chicken and one turtle. Although many were reconnected to their owners, Evie was never claimed. After heartworm and tick treatment, Evie was adopted by University staff member

Lorinda Schrammel and went on to become a member of Pete’s Pet Posse, a group of trained therapy dogs at OSU. Evie is now schooled to provide comfort to people in nursing homes, schools or even those who have been through traumatic experiences like tornadoes.

Since its establishment in 1948, the hospital and College of Veterinary Medicine have worked toward outcomes like Evie’s: restored health and positive pet/owner relationships.

For more than 30 years, the teaching hospital and clinic were located in Oklahoma State’s McElroy Hall. Then, in 1981, the Boren Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital opened. Today, the hospital is just one of a collection of buildings and facilities that make up the Center for Veterinary Health Sciences. Dr. Neer said the hospital’s veterinarians   see about 15,000 cases a year in the 145,000-square-foot facility. About 12,000 are small- animal cases tending to dogs, cats, birds   and others.

“We see everything from birds to pocket pets to reptiles,” Dr. Neer said.

About 3,000 of the cases are focused on caring for large-animal patients like horses, cows, sheep, goats and swine.

Dr. Neer said the staff continues to see more and more animals each year. In fact, in the last three years, the caseload has grown almost 30 percent per year.

Dr. Neer said a common misconception is that veterinary students are the ones providing all the pet care. However, an entire team cares for each patient with the over-sight of a faculty member who is a veterinary specialist.

“An important thing for people to under-stand is that when they bring their pet here, especially when it’s in the hospital, we have a team of caregivers, which include a faculty member (a specialist), an intern, a resident, a registered veterinary technician and a veterinary student,” Dr. Neer said. “So, you have a team of four to five people that are involved daily in the care of the pet, so they get a tremendous amount of one-on-one TLC from that whole group. It’s not one person; it’s a whole team providing that pet care.”

Although the hospital has an active community clinic providing primary care for pets in and around Stillwater, most of the   animals seen at the hospital are there to be examined by a veterinary specialist such as a cardiologist, ophthalmologist, radiologist or oncologist. Most of these clients and their pets are referred to OSU by their home-  town veterinarian and travel from Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, northern Texas and across Oklahoma to seek the expertise of specialists like Dr. Ryan Baumwart, DVM, a veterinary cardiologist.

On a typical weekday, Dr. Baumwart begins his morning by checking to see if there were any emergency transfers to the cardiology department overnight. Then, he begins rounds, checking on the patients currently under his care. After that, around 8 a.m., there’s usually a training, lecture or presentation focused on equipping fourth-year veterinary students. About 9 a.m., Dr. Baumwart begins seeing cases with students. For the most part, he’s seeing scheduled clients “where their dog or cat might have a heart murmur or have passed out, and they thought it might be due to a heart condition,” Dr. Baumwart said. “We end up looking at their pet and doing some additional testing. The majority of testing that I do diagnostically is ultrasounding the heart or echocardiograms. That’s the bulk of my day—trying to figure out what’s wrong with the heart.”

Dr. Baumwart said the majority of the patients he sees are dogs and cats, and   while most of the cardiac treatments are medical, some are surgical, like pacemaker implantation surgery.

“We just put a pacemaker in a cat yesterday, which is pretty uncommon to put pacemakers in cats, and we’ve put two in [cats] in the past couple of months,” he said.

Dr. Baumwart said most veterinarians don’t have a board-certified specialty, but he wants pet owners to know that specialty care is available if they should ever need it.

“I have two responses when I tell people what I do,” Dr. Baumwart said. “One is, ‘Oh my god, that’s amazing. I can’t believe you get to do that. That’s awesome for the owners and clients.’ Then, the other response is, ‘Who would take their dog to a cardiologist?’ We’re here for that first group of people—if they ever get into a situation where they want to take it further to get some more information or get some treatment options or pursue a surgical option, that’s what we’re here for.”

Although Dr. Baumwart has worked at other clinics and hospitals, he said the caring nature of everyone, from the receptionist to the technical staff to the doctors, makes OSU a special place.

“I think there’s that true caring about people and their animals, and people want that,” he said. “A lot of the animals we see are people’s kids. For the most part, people really care about their animals, and they want to see that from us. And I think that’s probably a big thing that Oklahoma State has that I love and the reason I came back.”

Shawn Kinser fell in love with veterinary care in high school while working for a clinic cleaning cages in his hometown of Boswell, Okla. Fast forward about a decade, and Kinser is now a fourth-year veterinary student, learning about different disciplines through three-week rotations in the hospital.

Kinser has cared for numerous animals that remind him why he loves his work. However, a 4-week-old kitten holds a special place in his training memories. While away on a clinical rotation in Amarillo, Texas, Kinser was part of a team that cared for a stray kitten with a broken leg.

“I was able to participate in the surgery to remove a front leg from the kitten,” Kinser said. “The surgery went very well, and the kitten is currently with one of the staff members who adopted the kitten. We were able to give the animal a fighting chance for a good life.”

Kinser also recently helped care for a Doberman Pinscher with cardiac disease. He said the close relationship between the owner and dog was special to witness. 

“Seeing the human-animal bond displayed so well like that makes me humbled to know that we can nurture that and contribute to strengthening that bond and keeping that bond intact,” he said.

Whether providing care for strays like Evie, someone’s beloved best friend like the Doberman Pinscher, a wild animal brought in by a resident do-gooder, or Oklahoma State’s Spirit Rider horse Bullet, the Boren Veterinary Medical Hospital is committed to providing the best animal care possible.

Embracing Change in Broken Arrow

posted September 26th, 2015 by
20141115c

Broken Arrow Animal Shelter Evolves

By Bria Bolton Moore / Photos by Foshay Photography

 

Jacko, a male Labrador/Mastiff mix puppy, is crouched in a pouncing position, eyes fixated on the camera, or maybe on who is behind the camera? It’s Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, and Jacko is just one of the 33 animals currently available for adoption at the Broken Arrow Animal Shelter.

Throughout the past year, the Broken Arrow Animal Shelter, located at 4121 E. Omaha St., has made a change to ensure that animals like Jacko are not only provided with food, medical attention and shelter, but also a permanent home.

“I was raised in the country. I’m a cowboy at heart and grew up with animals. So, I’ve always cared about animals and their well-being,” says Animal Control Director Larry Dampf. He has been with the shelter since 2003 and served as the director for eight years, seeing the shelter through its recent changes.

Dampf says a lot of the developments came after the shelter moved from a 5,500 square-foot building to its current 13,500 square-foot shelter in August of 2011. With new space, came new opportunity.

New Policies and Procedures

Up until about a year and a half ago, those who adopted a pet from the Broken Arrow Animal Shelter signed a Sterilization Agreement, essentially promising that they would get their new pet spayed or neutered. New pet owners would pay a deposit, get their animals sterilized, and  then the City would refund the deposit back to them. Now, however, pets are spayed or neutered before they’re handed over to their new owners.

“There are a lot of factors that go into the spay and neuter program,” says Dampf, who had been envisioning a different process for more than a decade. “You have to have the vet; you have to have the funding; you have to have the facility. But it’s always been on the radar that we wanted to implement and have every animal spayed or neutered.”

According to the Humane Society of the United States, there are about six to  eight million homeless animals entering animal shelters every year in the United States. Unfortunately, barely half of them  are adopted.

“Spay/neuter is the only permanent, 100-percent effective method of birth  control for dogs and cats,” according to the Humane Society.

“The last thing we want to do is contribute back to shelter over-crowding,” Dampf says. “Through the spay and neuter program, we’re helping to decrease those numbers     in shelters.”

In an effort to better serve its patrons, the Broken Arrow Animal Shelter changed its business hours from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday, to 11:30 a.m. to 5:45 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., on Saturday.

“We found that the public really couldn’t get off work and be here at 4 o’clock,” Dampf says. ”Now, it’s easier for them to be able to get here and do business with the Broken Arrow Animal Shelter, which is a real plus.”

Dampf said the shelter has also hired an on-staff veterinarian consultant who comes in on a weekly basis to oversee the health of the animals. Additionally, the shelter  spent $12,000 on new software to track animals under its care, record adoptions   and much more.

The shelter also made a change to how it euthanizes animals. Nationwide, more than 2.7 million healthy, adoptable cats and dogs are euthanized annually in shelters, according to the Humane Society.

About a year ago, the Broken Arrow Animal Shelter got rid of its gas chamber, which was used for euthanasia. The shelter now only uses injection to put animals down.

Interested in Adopting?

Unfortunately, there’s never a shortage of furry friends waiting for their turn to go “home.” Here’s how pet adoption works at the Broken Arrow Animal Shelter:

  1. Visit the shelter, and fill out a questionnaire about the type of pet you’re seeking.
  2. Browse the dogs and cats available for adoption. Spend some time with your potential pet in a “get acquainted room.” While animals surrendered to the shelter are available for adoption immediately, stray animals are kept for five days before they are available for adoption.
  3. When you find the pet that’s right for you, fill out the paperwork and pay the $60 adoption fee, which includes spay or neuter, rabies shot and the five-in-one (includes Parvo, Distemper, Bordatella, etc.).
  4. Pick up your pet the following day after its spay or neuter procedure.

Photos of animals available for adoption can be viewed online at baanimalshelter.com and now also on www.tulsapetsmagazine.com.

All of the shelter’s recent changes point to one thing: the shelter’s desire to serve the people and animals of Broken Arrow.

“Every shelter worker is burdened with saving animals,” Dampf says. “It becomes  the responsibility of the shelter staff to take care of the animal, house him, feed him and then expend every opportunity and every avenue to find another home for that animal.”

Dampf says the shelter will continue to evolve to best serve the Broken Arrow community and find permanent homes for animals like Jacko.

“We must provide the kind of service and care for animals that is needed,” he says, “that is through continued education and making sure that all our processes and business model are up to date.”

Prickly Pets

posted April 5th, 2015 by
20140915c

Hedgehog 2

Prickly Pets

 

From hedges to households, hedgehogs reign as the latest pet trend.

 

By Bria Bolton Moore

 

When he was 9 years old, Mary Dickey’s son Ryan didn’t beg for a rowdy puppy or a purring kitten like most kids. He wanted a palm-sized prickly playmate, a hedgehog.

Mary granted Ryan’s wish, and they got their first hedgehog, Tiggy, in 1995. The Dickeys began breeding and caring for hedgehogs at their home in Stillwater, Okla.

 

“We went from having them in my son’s bedroom to the bedroom being overtaken by being the ‘animal room’,” Mary Dickey said.

Today, 20 years after Tiggy became part of their family, Dickey has eight hedgehogs, three females and five males, and operates Atlantis Hedgehogs.

It seems more and more people are interested in welcoming a quill-covered animal into their homes. Due to exotic animal ownership restrictions, keeping a hedgehog as a pet is banned or restricted in at least     six states. However, their popularity as American pets grows.

Dickey said she has seen sparked interest at Atlantis Hedgehogs with an influx of calls as more people question if a hedgehog is the right pet for them. Similarly, Kimber Knight, who owns Parkplase Heggies in Ramona, Okla., has also experienced more inquiries.

“I have gotten more emails and calls in the last six months than I ever have,” said Knight, who has owned hedgehogs since 1999 when her family got their first heggie, Sonic.

Dr. Rachael Davis, DVM, is a small and exotic animal veterinarian at VCA Woodland South Animal Hospital in Tulsa. She said she has cared for more hedgehogs recently, three in the last few months, and has about five in her client base.

People are fascinated by the small, cute creatures. Social media celebrity Biddy the Hedgehog has an Instagram account with more than 480,000 followers featuring snapshots of Biddy at the beach, on road trips and hanging out with a fellow pet, Charlie the Mini Mutt. The April 2014 cover of National Geographic highlighted Jade, a female hedgehog from South Carolina, who attracted attention to the magazine’s piece on owning exotic animals.

While there are 15 hedgehog species, most domestic hedgehogs in the United States are African Pygmy hedgehogs. They generally have white bellies, of course fur, with more than 5,000 spines covering their crown of the head and back. Male hedgehogs weigh about 1.5 to 2.5 pounds, while the females weigh half a pound to 1 pound. Hedgehogs live about four to six years.

The right pet for you?

Kristen Zorbini Bongard is a board member of the Hedgehog Welfare Society, a 501(c)(3) committed to the health and welfare of hedgehogs through rescue, education and research. The society has more than 1,600 members who reside in 31 countries.

“I originally became interested in hedge-hogs because I was allergic to many of the more traditional furry pets,” Bongard said. “I read a couple of books about them and then adopted an unwanted hedgehog from a friend of a friend.”

As a rescuer, Bongard said she sees “many, many instances of buyer’s remorse” because people don’t know a lot about hedgehogs before they bring them home. She encourages people to do their research, talk to someone who owns a hedgehog and meet a hedgehog before deciding to get one as a pet.

“They’re really interesting pets, but they’re not for everyone,” Bongard said.

She said she has spent thousands of dollars in vet bills through the years.

“They are exotic animals and require a knowledgeable vet and frequently require anesthesia just to be examined—the downside of a pet that can enclose its body in sharp quills,” Bongard said. “For all you put in, you will still not have an animal that will miss you when you’re gone or greet you at the door with a wagging tail. Make sure it’s worth it to you before you commit to owning a hedgehog.”

Hedgehogs can be interactive pets, but they’re naturally shy, rolling up into a ball when they feel threatened or uncomfortable.

“They require a little bit of effort, but they can be a lot of fun,” Dickey said. “They’re not social like a dog or a cat that seeks to be friends with you. You have to handle them a lot. So, if you’re not willing to handle your hedgehog, you may end up with a little pet that sits in the corner, and you never see it. And it’s prickly,” she said between laughs.

Dr. Davis echoed Dickey’s comments on hedgehog temperament.

“Some aren’t really interested in being handled,” Dr. Davis said. “They want to just roll up into a ball. But, most of the time, that can be overcome with gentle handling and getting them used to people. Then, I see some that are just out, walking around and aren’t even phased by coming in to see me (in the veterinarian’s office).”

Dr. Davis said some hedgehogs are stressed by new people, small children, or dogs and cats that may be perceived as predators.

Another unique characteristic is anointing. When hedgehogs encounter a new smell or object, they pick it up or chew at it until they begin drooling excessively. Then, they rub the saliva all over their quills and body in a process called self-anointing. No one knows why the animals anoint, but it’s a common behavior.

Hedgehogs can be purchased from a breeder or a pet store that offers exotics. A hedgehog from Atlantis Hedgehogs costs $125 while a hedgehog from Parkplase Heggies costs $150.

Caring for a hedgehog

“They’re easy to care for,” Dickey said. “They’re not rodents, so they don’t have     any odor.”

A hedgehog should be housed alone in a large cage with a solid base, at least 2 feet by 3 feet with shredded newspaper or Aspen shavings. A hiding place or shelter as well   as an exercise wheel are recommended. The cage should be cleaned weekly.

In the wild, a hedgehog diet consists mostly of insects. However, pet hedgehogs usually eat two to three teaspoons a day of commercial hedgehog food or low-calorie cat food. Their diet should be supplemented with one to two teaspoons of mixed vegetables or fruit as well as insects, such as crickets or mealworms.

“The most common issue I see with [hedgehogs] is obesity,” Dr. Davis said. “It’s hard, because there’s not a readily-available hedgehog diet.”

Dr. Davis said other common health problems are mites and dental disease.

Hedgehogs are also nocturnal, sleeping during most of the day, so Dr. Davis advises owners to house their pets in a non-sleeping room.

“A lot of people will get [hedgehogs] for their children, put the cage in the child’s bedroom, and then the hedgehog’s up, running around all night long.”

Dr. Davis also recommends that owners take their hedgehogs to see an exotic veterinarian at least once a year for a check-up.

Bongard has cared for more than a dozen hedgehogs since getting to know her first hedgehog in 2004.

“Hedgehogs are really fascinating creatures,” Bongard said. “They are independent and sometimes standoffish,  but that’s part of their charm. There’s something magical about earning their trust over many, many days and watching them splat out, unafraid, on your lap. They have adorable little faces, too.”