Clinic Stories

Runaway

While at a veterinary office, many animals are scared and once in a while, one escapes. While I was a student at the University of Pennsylvania a dairy cow got loose and with a full head of steam was headed straight for a Volkswagon Beetle. As everyone watched helplessly and awaited the crash the cow jumped and cleared the roof of the car. She was safely caught soon afterward.

One July at the University of Georgia Veterinary School, a bull escaped, got onto the main campus with a dozen staff and students in pursuit. As the terrified bull ran along bystanders scrambled for cover in a scene reminiscent of the running of the bulls in Pampalona. Ultimately, he collapsed and, being July in Georgia, died of heat exhaustion.

Back at North Jersey Animal Hospital, a family boarded their cat for a week while they got ready for a move to Iowa. As the Riverdale office was much quieter and we have a separate cat facility, I moved the cat. They were to pick up their cat on a Sunday morning at the Wayne office and begin their drive to Iowa. Late Saturday night I put the cat in a carrier and drove her to Wayne. I parked behind the office, picked up the carrier, the door popped open and the cat escaped into the darkness. She ran toward the building which was surrounded by thick hedges. Having chased runaway cats before I knew they tend to huddle next to something solid, in this case a wall, and hold perfectly still. I grabbed a broom and a flash light and began poking at the wall at cat level. I soon heard a slight movement, squeezed through the hedges until I felt the cat. I scruffed her in as tightly as I could, dragged her out and brought her inside. The owners picked her up the next morning on their way out of town, none the wiser. I now always make sure cat carries are secure before using them.

A cat got away from her owners outside of the office. A search by the owner and our staff was fruitless. They said they would come back in the evening with their dog. The family routine is to walk the dog at night with the cat following and they were hopeful that the dog would draw out the cat. Sure enough, one lap around the building with the dog was all it took to draw the cat out and on the way home safely.

My closest friend in veterinary school lived in an apartment above an animal hospital and took after hours phone calls. One evening an irate client called to say that they dropped their dog off for a euthanasia and that he was now back at their house. He had to call the veterinarian to get the details which turned out to be a great escape. At the time there was a euthanasia product called T61. Most of the time T61 worked as it was intended, but at times patients would get very anxious or respond as if nothing had been given at all. In this case the dog lost consciousness, had an indiscernible heart beat and was placed in a bag outside. Not dead, he regained his senses, tore through the bag and went home. He managed to run from the reaper.

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