Surgical program for vet interns helps shelter pets

Shelter Animal Surgical Service helps shelter pets who need surgical procedures

When veterinary interns are given the opportunity, they can save dozens of pet lives.

That’s what happened when the Veterinary Speciality Center in Buffalo Grove,  Ill., created Shelter Animal Surgical Service (SASS), a surgical program for veterinary interns. Through the program, the interns helped save 42 cats and dogs from the Chicago Animal Care and Control.

The service was created to help veterinary interns and residents get more experience with cases often seen in private practices, explained Mitch Robbins, DVM, DACVS, DACCT, who owns VSC along with Rhonda Feinmehl, DVM. “SASS is a win-win situation. It provides adoptable shelter animals access to affordable and excellent surgical care and will make VSC a clinical teaching center of excellence while enhancing our referral and community relationships.”

VSC has been working since late January in conjunction with the 501(c) (3) organizations that pull from Chicago Animal Care and Control to help shelter animals receive the basic surgeries they may need to help them get adopted. The program is under the supervision of Dr. Robbins, who is also VSC’s Director of Surgery.

“The partnership with VSC has allowed us to take a chance on some injured animals that we may have otherwise had to pass over,” says Heather Owen, founder of One Tail at a Time, a dog rescue in Chicago. “It’s great to be able to say ‘yes’ to those animals and to have a great partner helping us.”

Some of the surgical procedures that are being performed by the interns and residents include:

  • Spay/neuter
  • Cystotomy
  • Amputation (traumatic)​
  • Splenectomy (elective)
  • Mass removal/mastectomy
  • Aural hematoma
  • Prophylactic gastropexy
  • Cherry eye
  • Enucleation
  • Retained deciduous canine teeth

“We’re grateful for this program and the dedication to the rescue community,” said Kristen Gottschalk from the Fetching Tails Foundation, a dog rescue in Itasca, Ill. “The new program has allowed us to consider dogs we may not have normally rescued at the shelter because we know in the back of our heads we have their support with the SASS program. They have already assisted with a handful of our dogs that we have rescued from Chicago Animal Care and Control that include cherry eyes, bladder stones, fractured jaw and a fractured neck along with spays!”

Since the program’s launch 27 dogs and 15 cats have had surgical procedures performed. Cases have included two dogs thrown from windows and a small dog with a large bladder stone. VSC also assisted with a surgical case for Luna, a dog that was shot in Chicago and sponsored by local rescues so that she could stay with her family after treatment.

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One thought on “Surgical program for vet interns helps shelter pets

  1. It’s interesting that vets can provide surgery. It makes sense that would be important for different issues that happen with animals! I’ll make sure that I see a vet if any of my pets develop any sort of tumor, or similar problems.