Working as a veterinarian just like Dr. Linda is one of the most rewarding jobs a person can do. Helping injured animals heal their wounds and seeing the joy on owners’ faces when they get to take their cured pets home is priceless.
However, not all days are filled with rainbows and butterflies at the vet’s office. Sometimes veterinarians and vet nurses are faced with horrific events that can possibly scar them for life. We’re here to talk about such events so that people can learn from others’ mistakes and avoid them in their own practice.
Doctor Linda Simon from FiveBarks is here to talk to us about her experience with problematic animals and pet owners over the years and share some of her most horrific stories on the job. She is a renowned veterinary surgeon who graduated top of her class in small animal medicine from UCD, Dublin, and is currently a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.
If you’re a vet, a pet owner, or even just anyone who likes animals and interacts with them occasionally, read this interview and learn how to make your life and the animal’s life easier.
Q: Can you please tell us a bit about yourself and your experience?
My name is Dr. Linda Simon. I’m a veterinary surgeon and also a veterinary consultant for FiveBarks. I’ve worked in veterinary clinics for 10 years now.
Q: What was your most remembered story or horror story from your experience as a vet?
I have seen many horrific things. Some will be remembered for the rest of my life and are stories I tell veterinary students to help ensure these episodes don’t happen again.
One awful event occurred in May 2014. We had five feral cats in for neutering; a routine happening at the clinic. However, a new nurse opened one of the cages before the cat had been sedated. The cat flew out of the carrier and the nurse tried to catch it.
In her inexperience, she did not realize just how dangerous feral cats are and she had no protective equipment or gloves on. The cat attacked her viciously, clawing at her face and biting her repeatedly. She had to spend time in the hospital on IV antibiotics and found it hard to work with cats after that.
Another awful incident was when a client of ours had purchased a beautiful Springer Spaniel. This puppy was very much wanted and was a purchase made after the passing of the owner’s husband.
However, the owner did not realize that raisins are toxic to dogs. She used them as training treats and her dog became incredibly unwell. Sadly, despite our best efforts, the pup passed away from kidney failure at just 3 months old.
Q: What can we learn about this event? How can we teach pet parents to avoid this in the future?
Going forward, we made a rule in the clinic that new staff was always with more experienced staff when around feral cats. We also ensured that only the vet would inject the sedative and they would confirm the cat was asleep before any vet tech would handle them.
And as a result of the second case, we now have a big, colorful notice board in our waiting room that lists all of the foods that are toxic to pets. Thankfully, there is more owner awareness nowadays and most owners are aware of the common food toxins like chocolate, grapes, and raisins.
Although cats and dogs are among the most people-friendly animals, it doesn’t mean there are never any accidents when interacting with humans. On the contrary, accidents can happen quite often, especially if the animal is mistreated or feels threatened in any way.
Feral cats can be extremely dangerous in some cases. They are more prone to attack a person or another animal due to their exasperated nature. And because feral cats carry a number of infectious bacteria on their claws and through their saliva, an attack can cause various diseases such as rabies and toxoplasmosis.
If you ever find yourself in a situation where a feral cat has attacked you, seek medical help immediately. While you wait, disinfect any scratches and bites with alcohol or hydrogen peroxide solution.
It’s best to avoid these situations altogether, but accidents do happen, so you’ll need to proceed accordingly. Remember, it’s not the animal’s fault; they never attack out of spite. They do it because they are scared, hungry, or possibly ill.
Doctor Linda’s second story is quite a sad one, but it teaches a valuable lesson. Many people think that just because their pet will willingly eat something, it must mean that it’s okay for them to eat it. But, this is a common misconception. There are a lot of foods that your dog or your cat will eat that are harmful and potentially poisonous for them.
Dogs and cats are primarily carnivores, so double-check before you give them anything other than meat. Designated cat and dog treats are always the best options. They are specifically made for them, and they usually come with instructions on the proper dosage so that you can make sure you’re not overfeeding your pet.
Pets are a lot of work and a big responsibility, but they are probably the most loyal friends anyone can ever have.