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Rehabilitation is the latest service to be added at the hospital, which opened on South Washington as the Veterinary Emergency Clinic in 1978
“We over-staff on the holidays. And usually, it doesn't end up being over-staffing, it's what we need to get by,” Lofgreen said.
The hospital will see anywhere from 40 to 50 patients today. On average, it sees about 15. They'll come in for all sorts of things, like bad allergies, dog bite wounds, even seizures.
"Ember" was in critical condition from smoke inhalation after a fire January 19th on N. Chautauqua.
There were no people home at the time of the fire but an adult dog and two puppies were found inside.
Efforts to revive two of the dogs were unsuccessful. However, Ember did respond to CPR with help from pet rescue masks that were donated to the fire department.
Ember's recovery has been slow. The six week-old Terrier mix was bottle fed for a few weeks and is now eating some solid food.
Firefighter Dan McElroy was at the fire and has been actively inquiring about Ember's recovery. The owners relinquished their rights to the animal leaving McElroy and his wife free to adopt her.
Wichita's 24-hour Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Hospital is often busiest at night. Behind the exam room door, a team of doctors deal with life and death decisions when minutes matter most. They allowed our cameras in to see what happens inside the Pet ER.
Doctors Jan Hinshaw and Brock Lofgreen lead a team of professionals who sacrifice sleep to help save the lives of man's best friends. The hours are long, the work is hard, and there is no room for mistakes. On a weeknight, they'll see upwards of twenty pet emergencies. That number doubles on a weekend.
"We have things that come in that are relatively minor, and we have the life threatening emergencies you'll see here tonight," says Lofgreen.
Cisco, a ten year old chow mix, arrives around 8:00. Her regular veterinarian's office has been closed for several hours. Fortunately, her injury is minor. Cisco was in a fight with another dog, and injured her leg. Doctors have to stitch up a few deep cuts, but say she'll be okay.
Just one room over, eight month old Cookie is bruised and battered. She was hit by a car and is lucky to still be alive. Her owner points out tire marks across the puppies ribs and back. Cookie has a gaping wound underneath her right eye.
"Your heart is still beating honey. That's always a good sign," says Dr. Hinshaw as she gently checks Cookie's pulse and feels for broken ribs.
Hinshaw takes Cookie back for X-rays while her owners wait in the front lobby. But before they can determine the extent of her injuries, a dog in more serious condition arrives.
Roxie is a small corgie, accidentally run over in her own driveway. She's carried into the ER in a blanket, cannot stand on her hind legs, and is struggling to breath. Veterinarians immediately give her an IV to help relieve pain and start her on oxygen.
Since Cookie is fairing well for the moment, her X-rays are put on hold while Roxie moves to the front of the line. Cookie is closely monitored as doctors gently move Roxie across the ER for her own X-rays.
Within minutes, though, Dr. Hinshaw has good news. X-rays seem to show Roxie did not break any bones. Her spine is in tact. She is struggling to stand because of a dislocated hip, and although one lung has collapsed, doctors decide she does not need surgery. They place her in an oxygen tank to help with her breathing, and sedate her so she can rest and begin to heal.
"We're going to watch her closely," says Hinshaw, as she goes to speak with Roxie's owners.
Minutes later, a call comes in to the front desk. A nine year old shepherd mix named Sadie is on her way in. Her owners say she is bloated. When Sadie arrives, doctors realize the seriousness of her condition.
"Basically, her stomach has flipped over on itself. So gas is building up and it can't escape at all," Hinshaw explains.
The condition is not uncommon in larger, deep-chested dogs. Unless treated immediately, Sadie's prognosis is grim. Doctors must first puncture the stomach pressure building inside, then go into surgery to rotate the stomach back into its normal position. The entire process can cost more than $2,000.
Unfortunately, there is no guarantee surgery will save Sadie. Her owners decide against the expensive procedure, opting instead to euthanize their pet.
"Probably the most heart wrenching part is when a family comes in that's very attached to an animal they've had for 12 to 14 years, and they're having to put it to sleep," says Lofgreen. "That's one of the hardest times to be a veterinarian."
Lofgreen says many times, owners decide against a life-saving procedure because they can't afford it. However, pet health insurance is availabe and quickly becoming more popular. Some organizations, like the ASPCA, offer plans starting as low as seven dollars a month. For a fraction of the cost of human health insurance, pet owners can rest assured their animal friends are taken care of in the event of an emergency.
While death is a part of life in the pet ER, doctors say for every loss, there's also a success story.
Cookie, who had to wait for X-rays because she didn't seem to have any outward signs of serious trauma, turns out to be just fine. She's bruised and cut, but had no internal injuries.
Roxie also faired well over the next 48 hours. Two days after her owners brought her in, worried she could die, she went home and is expected to make a full recovery.
The emergency pet clinic is open for specialty work during the day, and handles emergencies after hours beginning at 5:30 on weeknights and throughout the day on Saturdays and Sundays. They are also open on all major holidays. The office is located at 727 S. Washington in Wichita. Doctors say calling ahead can save valuable moments in an emergency -- the number to the clinic is (316) 262-5321.
More information on pet health insurance can be found online, or by checking with your local veterinarian.