My license allows me to legally practice medicine on just about anything- except humans, of course. If you really want to make a vet’s hair stand on end, ask them why they didn’t become a “real doctor”. Most people only ask that once, at least to me.
Granted, that’s a hell of a lot of species to know. Sheesh, MDs manage to eke out a living focusing on one organ system of one species- OBs, for instance, or dermatologists- and yet somehow I’m expected to be able to handle a cow dystocia as well as a rat with a mammary tumor.
Truth be told, it can’t be done. Not these days, with the wealth of knowledge out there. It’s hard enough focusing on one or two species, as most vets (at least those in relatively urban areas) tend to do. I see dogs and cats. That is my comfort zone. On occasion, if there is no other choice, I’ll examine a rodent or a rabbit although I’m not particularly knowledgable on them. Seeing a horse would probably be malpractice.
I had one horrific episode when I was working in emergency when someone brought a mostly-dead finch in. He was laying on the bottom of the cage, huffing away. There really wasn’t time to get to an exotics vet, and besides, it was 8 at night. The other vets on duty made themselves immediately scarce, and I found myself staring at the tech with a blank look on my face. “Just give it some SQ fluids,” said my boss, who then also disappeared.
My tech picked up the bird, extremely carefully, and I prepared a very carefully selected dose of appropriate fluids, and administered them very carefully into the proper location- which is nothing like the proper location on a dog. As I finished the injection, the bird took one big huff, and died. Boy, the techs had a field day with that one. “Dr. V is so good she doesn’t need pink juice to euthanize an animal! She can do it with subcutaneous fluids! Hahaha!”
Now I turn birds away at the door. I believe it is in their best interest.
I am actually more confident than ever in telling people to take their animals elsewhere. The more I learn, the less I know. I’m too old to learn about lizards, not when there is a perfectly wonderful exotics vet 10 minutes away.
And since it’s Monday, let’s do it in pictures!
Hi there, Mr. Williams. I’m Dr. Barbie. Nice to meet you. It says here you have a cat with diarrhea.
Ah, well, yes, about that…see, I was in Kenya on a dig, and, well….
This is Chuckie. Say hi to the doc, Chuckie.
Oh my …um, look, Mr. Williams, I’m really not a primatologist. You need to go to an exotics vet. I can’t help you. No. No way.
Are you scared? Don’t be scared. Look, I can dress him up and everything. Can’t you just take a quick look and tell me how much Pepto to use or something?
Frankly Mr. Williams, I am a little nervous here. Haven’t you been watching the news? Did you SEE Grey’s Anatomy last week? These guys are dangerous! How did you even get him here? Chimpanzees aren’t legal in this state.
Oh, you know, I just came back with my dad and he knows some people. Look, his parents got run over by a Land Rover and I just felt so bad for him. He’s so smart, too. You wouldn’t believe how smart he is. Aren’t ya, Chuckie?
Oh, I believe it. Um….hi there, little guy. Oh hey there, will you look at that. So Mr. Williams, I’m leaving the room right now. (backing away) My receptionist will get you the phone number for the exotics vet. And the zoo. Nice meeting you both.