Providing Veterinary Care for 140 Animals
By: Meg Schenk, Veterinary Technician and Animal Care Technician
Have you ever wondered what is involved in providing veterinary care for 140 different animals? It seems that would be easy, just take them to the vet! In actuality, many elements of care are considered that play into excellent veterinary health.
We are very proud of the long-standing relationships we have with the diverse group of veterinarians that work with our animals. The lines of communication are always open between ZoFo staff and the veterinarians, some of which we even have on speed dial! ZoFo has a licensed veterinary technician on staff that provides veterinary experience and training for added quality of care.
Another important element of our veterinary care is our licensing through the USDA. There are specific guidelines we must adhere to such as medical record keeping, medication management, annual veterinary visits for EACH animal, and preventative medicine. Each species must have a veterinary plan that is created by the veterinarian annually and kept on file at ZoFo.
One of the first steps in providing quality veterinary care for our animals is to know the habitat requirements for each species. Armed with this knowledge, we can provide and manage appropriate husbandry. Husbandry practices such as proper diet, housing, and sanitation, can go a long way to avoiding many health problems.
It’s essential to know what “normal” behavior is for each animal so we can recognize when something is just not quite right. Recognizing even the most subtle behavior changes and following through with those observations can help an animal at the beginning stages of a situation. Our staff is really quite amazing, honing those observation skills every day! Daily notes and constant communication helps ensure that our staff is always on the same page with any changes to an animal’s behavior that could mean a health issue.
Biosecurity practices are preventative measures that our staff and volunteers take to reduce the transfer of potentially harmful diseases from animal to animal. By having dedicated tools and equipment for each habitat or yard, we can feel confident that we are taking all the reasonable precautions possible. Beyond dedicated tools for each animal group, some habitats require booties on our shoes to enter and some instances require us to wear exam gloves as well. And just like in human medicine, we are very dedicated hand washers! Our staff members also have footwear that is only used while at ZoFo.
Even before certain animals can come to the sanctuary property, as appropriate, each animal is tested for transmissible diseases. The reason for this testing is to protect our current animal population from possible exposure to harmful diseases. After that testing is complete, the animal will be allowed onto the ZoFo property. Initially, they will be moved to a quarantine area where they will be observed for optimal health and be evaluated by a veterinarian before being assimilated into the ZoFo population.
Like the old adage goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. With this in mind, we know that at minimum, each animal will need to be seen by a veterinarian annually to help catch potential problems and confirm that ZoFo is providing the very best opportunity for each animal to have a healthy, long life.
Some of our residents have chronic health conditions that we work with veterinarians to manage. Each sanctuary resident has its own health chart and those that receive medications have additional daily records. Our staff is trained on medication administration, methods of veterinary evaluation, and basic medical terminology for ease of communication with veterinarians. As you can imagine, excellent communication between ZoFo staff and our veterinary teams never really stops!
All 140 residents at ZoFo are surrounded by a village that includes ZoFo staff, volunteers, and veterinary teams that are dedicated to their ongoing care!
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