LOST PETS DESERVE VETERINARY CARE

Eye removal may be needed if it is badly injured and causing pain Photo credit: Taken by Cat’s photos, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Eye removal may be needed if it is badly injured and causing pain. Photo credit: Taken by Cat’s photos, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)

When missing dogs and cats end up at shelters, these unfortunate, lost pets deserve veterinary care. Some suffer from injuries ranging from minor to serious. Others become malnourished because they eat whatever they can find. And, numerous animals will not get the medications they normally would at home. They all need help. Some will receive it but for way too many their future is grim. Sadly, those are the ones without hope and, ultimately, they will be put down. 

When a lost pet has surgery and follow-up it has a better chance of going home or being adopted
When a lost pet has surgery and follow-up, it has a better chance of going home or being adopted

Medical Attention Saves Shelter Animals

About 10 or 12 years ago, I read about a case like that on social media. It’s something that haunts me to this very day. There was a young adult, blue, pitbull-type dog, with the sweetest but saddest face. It was standing in a concrete pen, on three legs, at the Miami-Dade Municipal Shelter. And, it was plain to see that the other leg was fractured. 

Despite, shelter volunteer efforts to find an organization to pull him and get the medical attention he needed, nobody responded. Two days later the staff put him to sleep (although there is a stronger term I think would be more appropriate!).

This example illustrates what can happen when nobody acts to give lost pets the veterinary care they deserve. It takes lives; it doesn’t protect them.

DR. EDWARD AND THERESA GARCIA

Veterinary Care Pioneers Form Partnership

The story begins in 1971, in Colorado, when Dr. Edward Garcia (father of Theresa) opened North Metro Emergency Animal Hospital. In fact, it became the first 24-hour animal hospital in the Rocky Mountain Region. And, it was quite an ambitious undertaking. The staff of 30 included the area’s first Board Certified veterinarians. They managed four surgery rooms, a full kennel, and their own in-house x-ray facilities—a rarity back then.

With good veterinary care a surgeon can examine an x-ray and treat an injured shelter animal immediately
With good veterinary care a surgeon can examine an x-ray and treat an injured shelter animal immediately

Pet Surrenders And Animal Drop-Offs

Located right off a major highway and close to the Denver Municipal Animal Shelter (DMAS), the hospital soon became well-known. “Every week people would drop off an astounding number of animals,” commented Theresa Garcia. “We became ‘famous’ for taking in animals as opposed to their surrender at the DMAS. They knew that the medical attention the pets received would far outweigh what the shelter could provide.”

The cut on this dog’s shoulder received attention as soon as it arrived at the animal hospital
The cut on this dog’s shoulder received attention as soon as it arrived at the animal hospital

She explained that a few of the animals lived on the premises until their adoption, or the DMAS found the rightful owner. Shockingly, though, fifty percent of the time the owner didn’t want to take the animal back!

Heartbreaking image of an abandoned senior dog showing signs of extreme neglect
Heartbreaking image of an abandoned senior dog showing signs of extreme neglect

Surrendered, Lost, Abandoned

For decades, the Garcias absorbed the temporary boarding and medical expenses for all these surrendered and lost canines and felines. And, to this day, they continue to donate their veterinary services to DMAS. Their commitment to providing medical attention is saving shelter animals’ lives. Encouragingly, many other smaller family-owned animal hospitals across the country are doing the same. They truly love their communities and strive every day to end needless suffering.

Shelter drop-off suffering from demodectic mange and hair loss will be treated and put up for adoption
Shelter drop-off suffering from demodectic mange and hair loss will be treated and put up for adoption

Vaccination Records Help Track Pet Ownership

Also, let’s remember that one of the ways to reunite a lost pet with its owner is through vaccination records. And, North Metro Emergency Animal Hospital was able to assist DMAS in another way. “At one time, our veterinary facility was the only one open and available to assist the municipal shelter,” Garcia remarked. “A large percentage of lost pets were vaccinated here so we had 24-hour access to owner addresses and phone numbers.”

Much needed eye drops can make a lost pet’s wait at the shelter more tolerable until it’s owner is found
Much needed eye drops can make a lost pet’s wait at the shelter more tolerable until it’s owner is found

Needless to say, this partnership was a very successful one. “Our veterinary hospital became the first one in Colorado to enroll in the now mandatory licensing program. And, we are also very proud of another achievement. We were the first to offer the DMAS vouchers to waive registration fees for seniors and minorities,” Garcia added. 

To Sum Up

There’s a lot more to learn from Theresa about her non-profit organization, Pets 4 People. Also, there’s exciting news about the animal hospital’s new facility and expanded services for a holistic approach to animal medicine. But we’ll keep all of this on hold for another day! In the meantime, however, you can visit http://pets4people.org for an overview.

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!  

More must-read articles in this category:

Recently updated blog, now the introductory article in a mini series on losing, finding and reuniting companion animals https://petpeevesunmasked.com/lost-pets-search-tips

Here are stories about what some resourceful pet parents did to get reunited with their missing dogs and cats https://petpeevesunmasked.com/helpful-strategies-find-pets/

Pet guardians forget that dogs have wild instincts and can easily run off https://petpeevesunmasked.com/dogs-run-away-because/

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