When entering Ripon Veterinary Hospital in California’s Central Valley, one is immediately struck by the hustle and bustle of a well oiled, all female veterinary machine with Dr.Debra Daniel’s – the principle – with over 40 years of clinical experience, calm and confidently in the center of the storm…..
Today the focus is on neutering cats for one of the local animal shelters.
Several cat traps had been placed in local gardens over night and a decent number of stray cats had been caught. If there is evidence that they already had been neutered (eg a clipped off ear tip), they are only checked over and released again.
The others are with great efficiency been sedated by the team of technicians and after they have been treated against parasites, they are prepared for surgery. Here as well, the middle approach is favored over the flank technique. New to me – once castrated or spayed – a small incision is made just 1 cm or so next to the operation site and a small amount of green tattoo ink is applied to the wound, to identify the cat as being castrated in the future.
Unlike in the UK – and much to the envy of Dr.Debra – microchipping isn’t compulsory in this part of the world, neither for dogs nor for cats.
Comparing typical prices for veterinary procedures, I learn that a course of initial vaccination, neutering and parasite treatment can easily cost an American cat owner $500 – considerably more than in most clinics in the UK.
Despite these prices the number of insured pets remains fairly low though – something which unfortunately is making it not uncommon that treatment can not be given because of the cost involved.
A huge change for me – after working so long in Sweden – is to see once again a well stocked veterinary pharmacy, enabling the team to send patients home with all the medication they need at the end of the consultation or operation, rather than relying on the limited amount of veterinary drugs at the local pharmacy. It certainly is making life much easier…
However – this in turn means that antimicrobials remain far more readily available and are also used more frequently. So are there some raised eyebrows when I report that following my experiences in the North, I no longer use antibiotics for the treatments of cat bite abscesses. I wonder if Debbie and her team will follow my recommendation to give it a try as well……
A piece of equipment I am not familiar with is an automated testing device for the detection of parasite eggs in faecal samples. With the Mediterranean climate in the Central Valley, both endo and ectoparasites have a pretty comfortable life, but rather than relying on the environmentally probably questionable regular worming, pet owners are encouraged to have their pets’ droppings frequently checked. This still requires a standard flotation test, but the machine will then take care of the rest.
Here too the pandemic had impacted on the team with kerbside consultations and the emergence of the COVID puppy phenomenon, but slowly at least the consultations were getting back to normal.
In the waiting room I come across a number of Govinder Nazran prints.
I had some other works of this Yorkshire based artist in my own clinic in Virginia Water and considered myself in fact lucky that I got one signed when I met him in Birmingham not long before his accidental death in 2008.
Having traveled so far, I am not only struck how easy and straight forward it is to communicate with the whole team, but also how similar the daily work load is and memories come up to the happy times with my own team in Surrey….