Are you an owner or guardian?

Something that always makes me sad is that in law animals are considered property. They are lessened to a state where instead of being recognised as sentient being they have as much value as a football.

Whenever I see a patient it is not just an animal, it is a member of a family. If that is wildlife then it is a member of a family outside in the wild somewhere. If it is a pet then it has the family of people that it lives with.

Yet when a dog is taken from a yard it is theft. The family may be devastated, may be broken, yet there is no hunt to get it back. A report is taken by the police. That is all.

When a cat is shot, it ends up on an operating table. There is no manhunt for the shooter. The police take a report. That is all.

Over the weekend a cat rescue was broken into. Some elderly cats were taken from their home. They were tortured and killed with their bodies dumped. What is the charge likely to be? Breaking and entering? Burglary? Criminal Damage?

I hate the word owner. Can you really own a living breathing sentient being that can feel and think? And yes when I say think I mean it – everything up from a snail has been proven to be able to feel and think (now ever plants have been shown to be able to feel as well). You may give an animal a home; however that animal gives you unlimited love. You are responsible for looking after that animal. Yet do you really have the right to own that animal? Or have you just been trusted with guardianship and responsibility to look after it.

What are you? An owner? Or an guardian?

EDIT: South Wales Police released this statement Monday:

“Overnight we charged two males, aged 15 and 18, following a burglary which occurred at Ty Nant Cat Sanctuary in Cymmer, Port Talbot on Saturday 30th July 2016.

The 18-year-old has been charged with burglary and criminal damage and is due to appear at Swansea Magistrates Court this morning.

The 15-year-old has been charged with the same offences and bailed to appear at Swansea Youth Court on 11th August.”

As I guessed – they are being charged with criminal damage and burglary…

Some prickly reflection with a hedgehog…

Around 6 or so years ago I was lucky enough to spend some time at Vale Wildlife Hospital to get a first-hand practical education when it came to UK Wildlife. This was a great opportunity for me as I have always had a great love for wildlife since a young age, and was fortunate to spend most of my childhood outside.

The care shown for injured wildlife at Vale Wildlife Hospital is of the highest level and I have the greatest respect for everyone there. Vale along with their vet Tim have developed new treatments for hedgehogs and are the UK’s leading hedgehog rescue centre. This in addition to every other species they deal with – when I was there this included foxes, swans, deer, squirrels and loads of other birds.

During my time there I was fortunate enough to spend some time with their vet Tim Partridge and see my first ever surgery which was on a hedgehog that had wounds needing repairing. Today in practice we ended up with a hedgehog in that had been picked up by a member of the public.

Now hedgehogs are pretty cool, and their skin with their spikes is designed like a draw string bag which pulls their body into the bag as a special muscle that goes around the edge closes which pulls the hedgehog into a spikey ball. This is a great defense mechanism, however when it comes to needing to examine them it is impossible as they just tuck themselves up into a ball. The only way to really examine them is to give them a little bit of gas anaesthesia to relax them so that they can be examined.

This hedgehog once anaesthetised was inspected, and whilst we found a crazy amount of ticks and fleas, we found no other wounds or damage. So removing as many ticks as we could, we then gave a spot on to deal with any fleas. Next we gave antibiotics and fluids to help deal with any other problems that were there. Then it was time to wake the hedgehog up, so turning off the gas and keeping the hedgehog only on oxygen until it woke up and could go back into its box. This was then kennelled until the RSPCA could arrive to collect it and take it into their care.

Whilst I was doing the anaesthesia for this hedgehog it took me back to my time at Vale. It’s been over 5 years however I realised how lucky I was to have spent time there to give me the basis of the knowledge that I used today. In under a year I will be graduating as a vet – with a good grounding in UK wildlife which I am very grateful for. However it was the surgery side that popped to the front of my mind, it still amazes me every single time I step up to the operating table and I am able to help an animal.

5 years ago the first time I saw surgery was on a hedgehog that had been injured as a result of humans. Since then I’ve stepped up to a surgery table over 100 times to help an animal needing to be fixed – sometimes because of humans, and sometimes not. Each time I’ve felt the responsibility that my education, skill, knowledge and judgement is going affect that life in either positive or negative ways. However today I realised that I was privileged to have started my education with a hedgehog, British wildlife is precious and something that people often don’t think about when they consider surgery or vets. I think it is a reminder of how different every single patient is.

Vale are a charity and their running costs are over £25,000 each month – there are currently 411 animals in their care and so far in 2016 they have treated 2746 animals. If you can help them either by volunteering or by making a financial donation to their cost please visit their website at: http://www.valewildlife.org.uk/

Dog meet co2 laser…

One of Halsted’s principles of surgery is meticulous control of bleeding. Within referral practice I’ve seen surgery with very little bleeding, however today I saw surgery with no bleeding at all.

This is something that I’ve never seen before; it was done with a co2 laser which is a machine that I’ve read about yet and seen yet never used before. Laser surgery machines tend to be expensive to buy, a little scary to use, and (currently) are uncommon in general practice. However today I was in a referral hospital with some amazing high tech equipment including a CO2 laser.

Now the principle of lasers is using a specific wavelength of light to disrupt the water in the cell causing the cell to shrink and die. The light is highly focused on a specific area and will cut the tissue whilst at the same preventing bleeding.

Something that I’ve read before is that electrocautery should not be used on mucous tissue such as in the nose or soft palate as it does result is a lot of swelling. So I’ve only ever seen surgery here done with a scalpel which was very bloody and difficult because you simply could not see because of the blood.

Today with the laser the tissue just separated without blood allowing complete visualisation of the area of the surgery. It was easy to suture as we cut so that we could see how the tissue went together and what the outcome would be. This allowed the removal of more tissue than may otherwise have been taken for the fear of being able to reconstruct it adequately.

In addition to the lack of bleeding, the speed of the surgery was increased simply because of the greater ability to see the surgical area. I personally think that the use of such lasers are going increase and will eventually become common tools in every surgical referral center.