The February opening of Seattle Animal Shelter’s new Veterinary Exam Room kicked off a new level of onsite and immediate care for shelter animals.  Since opening its doors, the clinic has cared for more than 369 animals who’ve arrived at SAS.  The veterinary exam room came to reality through donors at the 2015 Raining Cats & Dogs Auction. Guests raised their paddles to contribute more than $71,000, which funded everything needed for the exam room, medical supplies and equipment and one year of operations.  

The Veterinary Exam Room is run by a team of three veterinarians, including Dr. Darlene DeGhetto, who learned about the opportunity to open the new exam clinic when she was doing relief work at the SAS’s spay and neuter clinic.  With a goal of seven days a week of coverage, Dr. DeGhetto currently spends three days a week at the clinic with two other veterinarians splitting the other days.

She is a former PAWS Wildlife Center veterinarian who now also sees patients at Banfield Animal Hospital and volunteers at the Woodland Park Zoo one day a week. The SAS clinic provides an opportunity to care for animals in need, many of whom haven’t received proper health care or attention during their lives.

Clinic veterinarians provide care for both SAS’s homeless and fostered animals, including entry exams and diagnosis and treatment of certain medical conditions. ‘’It’s really exciting for me to be on the developing edge of a program and seeing how much need there is,’’ said Dr. DeGhetto.

In the shelter environment, Dr. DeGhetto shared how you see cases tied to everything and anything.  While every day is different, days can be filled with urgent care for injured animals, wildlife cases, fosters needing vaccines, cats needing bloodwork and basic exams for incoming dogs. Some of the more distinct treatments of late include a turtle with shell fracture, an iguana with constipation and bunnies with pneumonia. Happily this collection of creatures was healed with either epoxy repair, rehydration or the right medication and rest.

Set aside from the busy shelter environment with its chorus of barks and meows, the clinic provides a quiet space for the animal patients, many of whom are scared and stressed in their new and unexpected environment.  ‘’The SAS Animal Care Officers have a wonderful way to help dogs feel calmer and lose their fear,’’ she said. ‘’The also do double duty and often support veterinarians in the exam room.’’

The layout of the room is great for exams with a table that lowers and raises to accommodate animals and a nearby sink and wash table.  An exam light is coming soon.  For the future, there is hope for more staffing support.  ‘’I’m grateful we have the funds to spend on diagnostics for animals who need it most.  It’s a work in progress, but really pleased with how it’s going.  We appreciate the support from the Seattle Animal Shelter Foundation and donors who made this possible,’’ Dr. DeGhetto concluded.