For the Love of Animals

DALLAS — Friday morning started out with losses at Dallas Animal Clinic.   Five small Chihuahuas had come in late Thursday night. One was dead when it arrived. Another died by Friday morning. The remaining three were in quarantine. They tested positive for canine parvovirus.   They were all very sick, on IV drips, and might make it — but might not.   "This is what happens when vaccines are not done," said Tom Keck, DVM.   "These little rascals don't have a lot of fat to keep them going. The whole point in this situation is a whole lot of money (and lives) could be saved with vaccines. A lot of our diseases could be prevented with vaccines."   Not all the patients at the clinic were in such dire straits. One little border collie was full of nervous energy as her sutures were checked. Keck had recently spayed her and removed her dew claws. Photo by Emily Mentzer Tom Keck, DVM, holds Kiwi, a black Chihuahua, in his office at Dallas Animal Clinic on Friday. Keck has been a mixed practitioner veterinarian for 31 years, the entire time at the Dallas clinic.   Keck gave her some pain killers and anti-inflammatory medication, and checked her temperature before wrapping her paw in a green bandage, which means she can go home. If a dog has a red bandage, it means they have a catheter and are ready for surgery or other treatment.   "All of our surgeries (patients) go on pain medication," he explained. "It's better. It's more humane. When they're in pain, they don't heal as well and they do something stupid like taking their sutures out."   Many of the medications for pain and antibiotics used for humans also are used for animals. But those medications should be approved by a vet, because medicine that is mostly harmless to humans can poison animals. Photo by Emily Mentzer Keck inspects the sutures on a working border collie while technician Joanie Brown helps hold her still. The dog would be ready to go home soon.   A 9-month-old puppy came in with ibuprofen poisoning. The medicine can cause tremendous stomach ulcers, Keck said.   The dog's owner had tried to induce vomiting with hydrogen peroxide, which may have exacerbated the situation. The puppy was vomiting blood.   By lunchtime, doctors were still trying to help the puppy, wondering if perhaps it ate something more than just one 200 mg pill.   "She could have eaten something else," Keck said. "One time I got a call, 'My dog ate my daughter's birth control pills.' Puppies will get into everything."   The most common case of poisoning is when a pet eats rodenticides, which are anticoagulants, Keck said.   "If we can catch it early, we can treat it," he said. Photo by Emily Mentzer Keck examines Maize's teats, which have strange bumps on them. Keck determines they are warts on the Jersey cow's udders, and recommends a vaccination.   But some newer rat poisons are high in vitamin D, and cause complete kidney shutdown, Keck said.   "An animal who gets into antifreeze, usually by the time we figure that out, it's too late," he added.   A walk around the clinic showed a cat who was recovering from being neutered, and another 6-month-old female kitten laid out to be spayed.   "They're going to spay the poor, defenseless little kitty," Keck said sympathetically.   The clinic castrates and spays an array of animals, from cats and dogs to pot-bellied pigs. Technicians use a therapeutic laser to treat pain and encourage healing, Keck said.   The little kitten made it through like a champ.   A young pit bull was next up on the operating table. The rescued dog needed to be neutered.   His owner found him roaming loose as a stray. She had tried to find its owner, but was unsuccessful, so kept the dog, said Robin Davison-Fleury, licensed registered technician.   She said this is one situation where microchipping is valuable. Photo by Emily Mentzer Keck give a young tom cat a scratch on the face after making sure his sutures were OK after he was neutered. Brown holds the kitty steady.   "We've had a lot of times where the chip has helped reunite owners and pets," Davison-Fleury said.   When the dog came around after surgery, it didn't take long for his tail to be wagging again as he stumbled up for a back scratching. Keck escorted him back to his kennel, where he could recover in peace.   The doctors at Dallas Animal Clinic are mixed practitioners, meaning they will treat small and large animals, and even some unorthodox pets.   "I got paged by a lady on Sunday who couldn't find a vet who would look at her pet skunk," Keck said. "Nobody would look at it, so we've been treating this skunk."   Keck makes house calls for large animals, and sometimes for small ones, too, though he prefers to see small animals in his office where he has access to the technology found there, including X-rays, sonograph and a lab.   On Friday, Keck headed out to the Callen farm in Monmouth to check on a Jersey cow who had recently become a mother, and to give a heifer her Bang's vaccination.   As he made his way to the farm, he recalled the animals he has treated throughout his 31 years as a vet.   Keck determined the new mother Jersey, Maize, had warts on her teats and looked too thin.   Owner Rebekah Callen agreed.   The two agreed to get the cow's calf weaned that day. Also, Keck took a fecal sample to make sure the cow didn't have any unwanted parasites, and recommended a wart vaccination to speed up healing.   A 6-month-old Black Angus-Jersey heifer waited in the next stall somewhat impatiently, banging on the wooden slates.   She got her turn: a vaccination to prevent Brucellosis disease, and the ear tag and tattoo to prove it.   Heifers have to be vaccinated for Brucellosis, or Bang's disease, according to state and federal law, Keck said. It's one disease that can affect humans, he added.   Keck had wanted to be a veterinarian since he was 10.   "I've always been science oriented," he said. "I wanted to be involved in medicine, but didn't want to be involved in the human side."   Doctors at the clinic often have high school students job shadow them. Those students either think they want to be a veterinarian or get into another medical field.   But the field isn't for everyone, Keck said. Being a veterinarian requires strong math, biology, chemistry and people skills — and an eye for the little things.   "It's the little stuff that helps you diagnose," said Maggie Keck, Tom’s wife. "We treat every animal like it's our own."


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