Vet school adventures

Posted in Humor, Medical at 12:30 am by ACR&S

Both branches of ACR&S – the main adoption branch in NC, and the Sanctuary branch in WI – are each fortunate to be located very close to a major vet school. Ever since ACR&S’ inception, I have loved vet schools and loved working with them on rescue projects whenever possible. This past week, ACR&S and the Wisconsin Guinea Pig Rescue (WGPR) collaborated with the vet school at UW-Madison on a opthalmology clinic for exotics. This was a unique opportunity both for the two rescues, as well as for the vet students who participated.

We were approached by one of the coordinators, asking if our guinea pigs and rabbits could donate their time for eye exams. Normally, these clinics involve laboratory animals, all of whom are young, healthy, and identical. The laboratory animals are typically bought just for the clinic, and then euthanized for use in the cadaver labs. By working with rescues, the vet school was able to avoid unnecessary euthanasia, as well as to give the students the rare chance to examine animals across the spectrum; old and young, health and with medical conditions.

Between ACR&S and WGPR, we were able to present the students with 12 guinea pigs and 7 rabbits to examine, ranging from 2-12 years in age. The guinea pigs ranged from healthy animals to those with such various conditions as pea eye, cataracts, and entropian eyelids. The rabbits included healthy eyes, conditions such as chalazions and cataracts, and eyes of different colors (pink and blue in addition to the normal dark brown!).

After the exam, one of the vet professors told us this was the first time some of these students had done an exam on guinea pigs. They just don’t have any opportunity for exotics clinics in the typical “track” of classes. The variety of eyes and conditions allowed the students to practice with a wide range of instruments and challenged them to make diagnoses rather than just observe healthy eyes. We also benefited – it would have been impossible for us to pay for specialty clinic opthalmology exams for 19 animals!

ACR&S was very grateful for this opportunity. All of these animals in our Sanctuary owe their lives to vets who have donated time and experience, and a few hours of non-invasive examination is the least we can do to help pay it back to the younger generation of vets. I love the idea that just maybe, working with a rescue will motivate a vet student to become involved in rescue later in life, or that seeing the differences in guinea pigs and rabbits will engage a student to become an exotics vet rather than taking the usual cat/dog track. In addition, it’s good to know that we saved the lives of 20 lab animals who would have otherwise have to have been used for this lab.

Most vet schools are eager to work with rescues, and the benefits are tangible. I strongly recommend such a partnership to any rescue.

Now on to the pictures! We weren’t able to take photos of the exams themselves, since eye exams are performed in the dark (obviously!), but I got a couple of interesting shots I wanted to share with you.

I’m often accused of driving a Tardis, and several folks were skeptical when I reported I would be carrying myself, the president of WIGPR, and 13 carriers in a Toyota Corolla. Well, here’s the proof:

Six crates… Nine crates… Eleven crates!


Plenty of room left over for the two crates from WIGPR, plus, I can still see out the mirror!


Roo was a little concerned about why he was in this box…


But most of the guinea pigs were more concerned with eating breakfast.

Fred & Aragorn

Here’s all the crates unloaded. 19 animals in 13 crates!

In the lab

A shot of the lab room, showing some of the interesting decor.

Lab animals

The school lobby.

Giraffe in the lobby

Random painting in the hallway of doctor parrots.

Doctor birds

Several people have asked me to post more about being in Wisconsin. I’m hesitant to use this as a personal blog – we have plenty to say about the animals without getting off topic.


I will mention just a couple of things this time. First, we’ve had some bad weather up here recently: tornadoes, torrential rain, thunderstorms driving destructive winds and hail. The joke “nine months of winter, three months of bad weather” was not a joke this year. Fortunately, apart from one journey into the basement due to the local tornado alarm going off, I haven’t much been affected. I did get this shot of a mudslide about to come into my lane on the highway.

Other than that, the most other interesting thing I’ve seen up here is, apparently the local plumber is offering the deal of a lifetime: SEVEN houses on my street threw out toilets last week. I only captured five of them.

So yeah, that’s why I don’t post about Wisconsin, much.

1 Comment

  1. Jenn said,

    June 17, 2008 at 4:52 am

    7 toilets. Wow. Don’t eat what your neighbors are eating, apparently.

    I had a similar adventure with Dr. Munn and 6 carriers. Granted, we cheated at Car Tetris because we used Anthony’s station wagon (it was 95 out, I wanted to make sure everybody had good ventilation with the AC going). As we offloaded all these animals, a small crowd of dog and cat owners gaped at us.

    I entered and told Emily “I’m here with the horde”, and she directed me to pick a room and settle in. I heard an incredulous lady ask at the front desk “Did she just call that rabbit a whore?!”