Pixie came to the San Jose Animal Care Center with a broken radius and ulna on her right front leg. The veterinarians gave her medications to relieve the pain from her injury and took x-rays of her injured leg.
Fortunately, the fractured bones weren’t displaced from each other, and we predicted that she would be able to make a full-recovery if the leg was kept in a splint for the eight weeks it would likely take to heal.
Unfortunately, in a municipal animal shelter with a high intake, we are unable to keep animals in our care for long periods of time, so we depend on our partnered agencies and animal rescues to take animals (like Pixie) from us to provide the time and care needed to bring them back to health. Oftentimes, we will provide financial support to these organizations for fixable problems so as to facilitate this process. If no rescues or partner agencies show interest by a deadline (which is easily extended), the animals may be euthanized.
With Pixie, the shelter reached out to rescue organizations, yet no one was interested in the adorable tan chihuahua. Sadly chihuahuas are all too common in shelter environments, and consequently, they may be overlooked.
While Pixie was in the shelter, she showed no interest in people. She seemed very timid despite my best efforts to win her over. When her rescue deadline date arrived, I went in to examine her as per usual and she was a completely different dog. She was at the front of her kennel, eagerly soliciting my attention.
I was so happy to see that Pixie had turned a corner, but when I looked at her records on the computer, I was surprised that no rescue showed interest in her.
Given the transformation she had made, I was determined to reach out and ensure she was rescued. I went back to her kennel and took the following video of her.
Since I made the decision back in 2007 to leave a promising career in psychology behind to become a veterinarian, I knew that the type of veterinarian I wanted to be was not the type that most of us think about — the family pet’s doctor, who is there with you from puppy or kitten-hood until your beloved companion takes his or her final breaths. That was not where I belonged.
I wanted to be the invisible person who takes care of your beloved companion when they are lost, the person who nurtures your pet until you can be reunited again. I also wanted to be the beginning of a beautiful relationship that you have with your newly adopted friend. I wanted to be the person that helped bring you together so that you can share and support one another through the ups and downs that come your way over the years of your lives together.
Most people don’t know that shelter veterinarians exist or what their role entails, but I wanted to become one as I saw it as a place that I could make a significant impact on the lives of thousands of animals (and people) every year.
When I graduated from veterinary school at UC Davis’ world renowned School of Veterinary Medicine, I set out to bring my dreams to fruition. And I have!
I invite you to jump on and take a ride with me on the roller coaster that is shelter medicine!