You may think that a dog or cat without any eyes would never be put up for adoption. In some shelters that may be the case. Not at the San Jose Animal Care Center (SJACC).
At SJACC, the veterinarians evaluate each animal that comes in for medical issues. Being blind is not necessarily an indicator of a medical condition that would prevent an animal from being adopted. As long as the animal is otherwise healthy, being able to see is not necessarily going to impact quality of life, especially for animals that slowly lose their vision over time as is the case for many animals with cataracts.
A recent dog who came into the shelter was surrendered by its owner for euthanasia because the dog had been blind for two years and the owner did not believe that was a good quality of life for the dog.
Perhaps one of the most unique aspects of my job as a shelter veterinarian at a large municipal shelter is that I get to be involved in veterinary forensics.
For those of you who have seen shows such as Animal Cops or CSI, you may have an idea of what this entails. Essentially, I work with animal service officers to investigate and prosecute cases such as animal abuse and neglect by performing examinations on the animals that are the focus of the investigation to determine whether my examination supports or fails to support the case.
Some of the interesting cases I’ve seen so far include:
- Dogs allegedly killed by other dogs
- Dogs that were allegedly abused.
- Dogs that were allegedly neglected, such as owners allegedly failed to provide the dogs with medical care after a substantial injury or attack.
- Dogs that were allegedly sodomized.
- Dogs that died from unknown causes and were found on a crime scene that was part of a police investigation.