COVID-19 Accelerates Need for a New Shelter Medicine Department at Cape Ann Animal Aid
Veterinary Care is a crucial component of a homeless animal’s journey to finding a forever home. Animals who arrive at our Cape Ann Animal Aid Christopher Cutler Rich Animal Shelter depend on the medical resources and care that we provide. Those resources, however, are sometimes extremely limited.
For many years we have relied on the generosity of area veterinary hospitals to work alongside our medical staff. Even with these generous partnerships, managing the medical needs of more than 70 dogs and cats in foster homes during the early days of COVID-19 was a formidable challenge. Closing to the public in March gave us the unexpected opportunity to start putting plans into place for a robust shelter medicine department. Not only did this include plans for constructing a procedure room with high quality medical and surgical equipment, it also included the addition of two full-time shelter medicine staff members.
These additional medical resources came just in time for a homeless momma dog, Sandy, and her seven pups. This family of eight were transferred into our care, in need of safe shelter and medical treatment. Thanks to the coordinated efforts of our foster care program and veterinary staff, we were able to provide them all with preventative vaccines and medications as well as spay and neutering procedures. Having all these resources available within our shelter allowed us to help an entire family along on their individual journeys into loving homes, despite the impact of COVID-19 on our community. Thanks to your support, Cape Ann Animal Aid's growing shelter medicine department had resources to save their lives.
"Being able to attend to our animals’ medical and surgical needs on-site without the additional step of having to visit an external veterinary clinic has been beneficial to the health and safety of our animals and staff. I am pleased and excited to be the full-time veterinarian at Cape Ann Animal Aid. This means that our dogs and cats get medical attention without needing an offsite appointment. Also, this means that our amazing foster care providers and staff now have an in-shelter resource for medical questions and concerns.”
– Dr. Alex Becket, Cape Ann Animal Aid’s Director of Shelter Medicine
Providing medical care in a timely manner is essential to the health and well-being of homeless animals. This was the case for Ella Fitz, a 9-week-old kitten found on a rescuer’s porch after she’d been hit by a car. Ella’s tail was severely damaged, and her wrist was dislocated. After initial therapy and a tail amputation provided by another veterinary group, she was transferred to Cape Ann Animal Aid for further advanced treatment. Once in our care, it was determined that Ella’s wrist injury was far more extensive than originally thought. In addition, there was deep nerve damage to her arm causing her severe pain, making it less likely to be a usable limb in the future. After careful consideration and testing, we determined that the best course of action would be to amputate the limb. Thanks to our expert staff and newly added surgical equipment, we were able to perform the operation in house without waiting for a scheduled appointment with an outside clinic. Fluid therapy, pain management and critical nursing care were all provided to her quickly and within our own clinical setup.
While we have made great strides and Cape Ann Animal Aid’s shelter medicine program now includes high-quality surgical equipment, we are still in need of more advanced medical equipment, supplies and procedure room space to help animals with more severe needs, animals like Victoria and Scooby.
During the early days of Covid-19 isolation when many doors were closed, we took into our care two older puppies from two different regions of the country where their lives were at risk. Victoria, pictured on the left, was transferred into our care from Puerto Rico and Scooby, pictured below, from Texas. After receiving routine medical care within our facility, both dogs were placed into caring foster families until they could be adopted. While in foster care, it was quickly realized that both dogs were experiencing varying levels of lameness and pain related to possible traumas or genetic hip dysplasia.
Scooby and Victoria need orthopedic surgeries to prevent reduced mobility and a lifetime of pain and discomfort. Scooby also has an additional knee problem in his left leg called a luxating patella, which is a condition where the kneecap will pop out of place. Without surgery, his knee will deteriorate rapidly.
In Scooby’s case, this is a debilitating condition, but one that can be easily treated with surgery. Currently, the shelter medicine department at Cape Ann Animal Aid lacks the needed procedure room space to perform surgeries of this type. We are relying on our partnerships with area veterinary hospitals to perform both surgeries in August. The future of our growing shelter medicine department is to provide this resource which would reduce costs and increase our ability to help more animals in a timely manner. With your support, Cape Ann Animal Aid can ensure that Scooby and Victoria and other dogs like them have the best quality of life, pain free.
We are pleased to report all these lucky animals are being loved by families of their own! Sandy and all 7 of her pups have been individually adopted and are enjoying the creature comforts that come from a loving home. And Ella Fitz has regained her mobility and gets around much faster and pain free without her damaged limb. This tiny being embraces life fully and is keeping her newly adopted family on their toes. Scooby and Victoria stole the hearts of their fosters who later decided to make them permanent members of their families.
These incredible animals are all thriving today and serve as a reminder of why we need to increase our ability to provide complete veterinary care to our shelter animals. Your gift will ensure that we are able to deliver lifesaving care to more vulnerable homeless animals.
Please give a generous gift today to the Cape Ann Animal Aid Veterinary Care Fund and, together, we can provide safe shelter, essential medical care and love to more pets who desperately need us.
Thank you for helping us save their lives.
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An opportunity for you to learn more about the mission and programs of Cape Ann Animal Aid. Sharing candid insights, guest columns, breaking news, and of course, adorable photos of shelter animals.