The Dog Daily: Advances
Innovation Showcased at New Pet Hospital
By Elizabeth Wasserman for The Dog Daily
One of the first patients brought to the newly opened pet hospital of the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SF/SPCA) in January was a gray Tibetan terrier suffering from smoke inhalation. The pup had been rescued by the San Francisco Fire Department and was brought into the hospital’s state-of-the-art intensive care unit. He was treated in one of the facility's new oxygen cages -- a plastic cage that looks somewhat like an incubator.
"It's a more effective way for a pet to get oxygen really quickly," says Judy Goodman, the SF/SPCA hospital administrator.
A Gold Standard for Pet Care
The $29 million Leanne B. Roberts Animal Care Center is one of the most modern pet hospitals in the country, with cutting-edge features designed to better serve pets and their human companions in times of need. "It's amazing working here and seeing the positive effect that we have on animals -- whether they have an owner or not," Goodman says. "At our hospital, we do a lot of work caring for the sickest animals, whether they come in from our city shelter, shelters around California or with their owners."
Spay and Neuter Services on Demand
An estimated 20,000 animals come through the SF/SPCA's medical services department through the hospital and spay/neuter clinic each year. The new building, named after an SF/SPCA board member, replaces an old pet hospital around the corner. That older facility was originally built in the 1930s and was marked by dim lighting, narrow hallways, cramped surgical rooms, and waiting lists for services.
Thanks to the expanded facilities, the spay/neuter clinic expects to be able to double the 6,500 surgeries they performed last year. Jennifer Scarlett, DVM, associate director of veterinary services, says, "Our goal is to get rid of the wait list. We want to have on-demand spay/neuter services. When someone calls, we want to be able to say, 'Bring your pet in tomorrow.'"
Special Suites for Special Needs
The new hospital was designed to better serve ailing pets and their owners by allotting enough space so that pets can receive special services when needed. These facilities now include:
- Euthanasia room Given that emotions run high when a pet owner has to put a dog down, there is now a special room for euthanasia, called the Tranquility Room, Goodman says. Located off the main corridor in a quiet corner of the hospital, the room is furnished not only with an examination table but also a soft couch and seating area. "It's not an easy visit to make to the vet," she says. "We wanted to make sure we have a room that was a little more comfortable to the people and animals going through this."
- Dentistry suite Just like humans, dogs and cats need dental work. They can suffer from dental disease, require cleanings or need tooth extractions. A new dental suite off the main wing allows veterinarians to perform these services with "all the bells and whistles," Goodman says.
- Kibble Kitchen The new animal care center is equipped with a special kitchen stocked with the latest assortment of prescription and allergenic foods. The "Kibble Kitchen" is stocked with large plastic bins that resemble those found in the bulk food section of a supermarket or health food store. "One way animals are cared for is with special diets," Goodman says.
The SF/SPCA, with the help of supporters and the Roberts family, was able to equip the animal care center with some of the latest medical technology to bolster pet care. Computers are now standard in every exam room. In addition, the images from the new digital X-ray machines can be downloaded onto computer systems so that veterinarians can view or email those records to other facilities.
Here is a rundown on some of the other innovative new features:
- A device that cleans surgical equipment automatically
- New ultrasound machines, which help veterinarians perform procedures and diagnose problems with organs
- Monitoring equipment in the surgical suites allows all veterinarians and technicians to see the procedure performed by displaying it on a computer monitor
- An elevator to move dogs up to surgical suites (whereas in the former hospital, dogs had to be carried up a flight of stairs). "With a 100-pound Rottweiler, that could be a problem," Goodman recalls.
Although even the most innovative technology in the world cannot save every ailing pet, on the whole, there are more happy endings than sad at the new facility. With pride, says Goodman: "It's really amazing to see what we can do for these animals.”
Elizabeth Wasserman, a Washington, D.C., area-based freelancer, has been writing about pets, among other topics, for more than 15 years. Her love of dogs, in particular, was handed down through the generations from her great-grandfather, Eric Knight, who wrote the book Lassie Come Home in the 1930s.