We had it all wrong. In 2001, Leslie and I opened Advanced Animal Care of Mount Pleasant. The very name was chosen to emphasize that our practice was progressive, on the technological forefront of our field. We wanted to be the practice that was … Continue reading An Open Letter to Our Clients
As many of you may already know, there has been a bit of a storm brewing in the veterinary community of South Carolina and the rest of the country over the issue of low-cost practices and rescue organizations providing medical services i.e. spay/ neuter, vaccinations, parasite treatment and microchip implantation. The concern of some of our veterinarian colleagues is that their income may be compromised by these organizations which have an unfair advantage of providing these services at a sometimes significantly discounted price due to less stringent regulation and various subsidizing resources.
As veterinarians and practice owners, Leslie and I fully understand our colleague’s concern and agree on some of the issues; however we are very concerned about this proposed legislation. We have always worked hard to promote better health and care for the animals of our community, both the ones with a family and those without. We also are painfully aware of the many animals that go uncared for, that are neglected, that are homeless and are in homes in which the people do not have the means to fully and properly care for them.
Leslie and I are concerned that this animal welfare legislation S.687 has very little to do with promoting or improving the welfare of animals and more about protecting the veterinary communities own financial interest. Our greatest concern is the restriction of the ability of nonprofit organizations and other animal welfare groups to reach and care for those that are currently not being cared for. We know there are many pets in our community that are not under the care of a veterinarian due to a multitude of reasons (financial, transportation, education, etc.) which as a result of this legislation will now be “untouchable” by organizations that are designed specifically to provide care for those pets. These are pets that would not darken the door of a veterinary office to begin with, but if this legislation passes, would now not be able to get the care so very much needed. All because of the action of the community that took an oath to care for them!
Leslie and I are passionate about our calling. We are also disheartened by the organization and community that we love being a part of. We, however, are not politicians or understand what it is to be an activist, so we are reaching out to those that we know and respect who are of similar mind and are asking for your help. Please contact your senator (Lawrence Grooms or Paul Campbell, Jr of Berkeley & Charleston counties) that is on the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources and let them know about your concern. We would love to hear from you about your thoughts and opinions and of course any advice and help you may have on what we can do to make this a better piece of legislation.
David Steele, DVM Leslie Steele, DVM
Veterinarians/Owners of Advanced Animal Care of Mount Pleasant
It is difficult to see all the images thrown at us online of domesticated pets freezing to death outside. What is even more heartbreaking is seeing it with our own eyes. Although many people do comply with obvious pet care standards by bringing their pets inside during the coldest of nights, so many of our neighbors do not. It is important to help spread the word to others about the importance of making sure these animals have a warm place to sleep. It is understood that some people will NOT bring their “outside” dog or cat indoors, but there are ways you can make sure they have a warm shelter whether inside or not.
Here are a couple tips on how to keep those pets warm this winter:
Food & Water. Outdoor pets will require more calories during cold weather to generate more body heat to help keep them warm. Some pet owners think it is helpful to keep their pet’s weight on the heavy side to help protect them from the cold, but this is not true. It is more important that they keep and maintain a healthy body condition. It is imperative that your pet has unlimited access to clean, non-frozen drinking water.
Shelter. Provide a warm, solid, dry structure that protects against gusts of winds. The floor of the shelter should be off the ground to help minimize loss of body heat. The door of the shelter should be positioned away from prevailing winds. Space heaters and heat lamps should be avoided because of risk of burns or fire. Exercise extreme caution when using heated pet mats which can also be capable of causing burns.
Bedding. Bedding should be thick, dry, and changed regularly to provide a warm, dry environment.
ID Tags. It is very easy for cats and dogs to become lost during the winter. If they are not in a fenced in yard, they may start wondering in hopes of finding adequate shelter. Be sure your pets have a microchip, and/or collar with identification tags in case they are picked up and brought to a rescue or shelter.
Cars. Cats will often find temporary shelter underneath a car, on a tire, or even under the hood. Make sure to check your car before starting the engine and driving away. A couple knocks on the hood should be enough to wake up a sleeping kitty. It is also important not to leave your pets in the car during the winter, just as it is during the summer. Cars can serve as a type of refrigerator and keep the cold inside. Remember that puppies and kittens have an even harder time adapting to cold weather than adults.
Even if you do not own any outside dogs or cats, you can still provide temporarily shelter for the stray pets in your neighborhood. Styrofoam coolers with dry bedding and a small hole cut for an opening, can provide a makeshift shelter for stray felines, and is very cost effective. Please speak out if you see a pet left in the cold. If we all do what we can, then more and more pets will be able to survive the harsh winter.
For more information please call Advanced Animal Care of Mt. Pleasant @ 843-884-9838.
Dr. David Steele recently sat for an interview with ABC News 4 Lowcountry Live to discuss Low Stress Handling — a new technique that is breaking ground in the veterinary industry thanks to the widely respected animal behaviorist Dr. Sophia Yin. Both Drs. David & Leslie Steele are big advocates of this technique, and have trained their staff in low stress restraint and handling to help ensure their patients have a calm and peaceful veterinary experience.
Here, Dr. Steele explains this new method and why it is so important to both you and your pet:
What is low stress handling?
Essentially, low stress handling is an approach to working with animals with their perspective central to your method. When I was trained, as many of my colleagues continue to be trained today, we approached our interactions with our patients in a very human centric mind-set. What I mean is that we don’t consider the emotional state of the pet or the effect of our actions upon the pet’s emotional state. Don’t get me wrong, the veterinary community is made up of very compassionate people; focused on the welfare and well-being of animals, but veterinary care was and, in many cases, continues to be centered on accomplishing a task or therapy despite the patient’s resistance or fear, all ultimately for the pet’s better health. The problem is that the end result is medically healthier pet, but behaviorally and emotionally worse. Low stress handling is an approach in which we engage the patient, we get them to be active participants in their care, and we work to gain their trust.
I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard a client tell me what an ordeal it was to get their pet in to the clinic. Let’s face it – it is not going to be pleasant going to the doctor. In many cases you are there when you don’t feel well, you’re uncomfortable at the least, and then there are procedures such as needle sticks, awkward positioning or restraint, palpation and probing, and so on.
I don’t like going to the doctor any more than you, but at least I go willingly and of my own volition. My patients don’t drive themselves up to the office and get an annual wellness checkup and lab work because they know that it is best for them. It saddens us to know that many of our patients fear coming to see us. We certainly didn’t get into this link of work to hurt or scare pets any more than a pediatrician or dentist did. Imagine that as a result of all the positive interactions your pet experienced during the puppy/kitten hood visits, resulted in a pet that is happy and comfortable with riding in the car or carrier and is relaxed and comfortable while we help take care of them. That is our dream and should be yours as well.
What is an example of low stress handling?
Ok, let’s say we have a patient who we need to collect a blood sample from for testing. Traditionally, we would have one and sometimes two technicians restrain the patient so that they would not move while another technician or doctor collected the blood sample. Some patients sit nicely and are comfortable, others freeze with fear (we usually praise this behavior)while we do it, while others may “go down fighting”. Now let’s see what low stress handling does. We do it all the time. Think about teaching your pet to shake. Our goal is to perform the sample collection, but with only one technician. We can teach our pet to sit and then give us their leg for us to hold while drawing blood. We can work with them to show we are trustworthy, reliable, and positive force in their life. We’re the good guys!
I know it seems far-fetched, but it can work. Domesticated animals have been selected for over hundreds of years to be human centric and understand much of our communication. They understand us and can learn to do what we ask of them. It’s just a matter of communication. Zoos are doing low stress handling all over the world. Rather than tranquilizing a lion or dolphin, they use training techniques to get the lion to willingly give his tail through a fence in order for the medical staff to draw blood. Animal handlers have taught dolphins to swim up with their bellies exposed so they can perform ultrasound examinations. It can be done.
What are some tips pet owners can use to help make going to the veterinary office easier?
First of all, don’t wait until the appointment time to get them into a carrier or put them into the car for the first time. For cats, I recommend leaving the carrier out all the time as a hiding place at home. Put nice bedding and an occasional treat inside to encourage exploration. Also, it is helpful to use Feliway, a pheromone spray that helps lessen stress and anxiety for cats.
For dogs, I recommend taking them in the car regularly and even come to the office for “happy visits”. I encourage bringing dogs in whenever they can so they can get treats and love from our staff. We’re teaching them that sometimes when they come – nothing bad happens and they get to play and have treats. What an awesome visit!
Dr. Steele is available for behavior consultations. You can fill out a Behavior Questionnaire by clicking here.
Call Advanced Animal Care of Mt. Pleasant to schedule an appointment at 843-884-9838. Our veterinarians will create a behavior modification plan specific to your pets needs!
Darwin & Brantley were both brought in by a wonderful client who found them wandering around alone outside. Darwin (left) is only 9 weeks old, while Brantley (right) is about 6 months. They both have very sweet personalities, and would make a wonderful addition to any home! Their adoption fee of $85 (each) includes vaccinations and neuter. If you or someone you know is interested in providing a loving home to one or both of this kitties, please contact Advanced Animal Care of Mt. Pleasant @ 843-884-9838.
Please feel free to fill out an adoption questionnaire:
We have four kittens and their mother who will be looking for a home soon! They are still nursing right now, but will begin vaccines soon. The mother is doing a wonderful job of caring for them, and they are thriving here at the hospital. All four of them are males, and their adoption fee will include neuter, all vaccines, flea/heartworm treatment, dewormer, and a small bag of kitten food. Please call us if you have any questions about our adoption process @ 843-884-9838. Or you can fill out the contact form below.
May 18-24, 2014, Is National Dog Bite Prevention Week!
Dog Bite Facts:
- Each year, more than 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs.
- Almost 1 in 5 people bitten by dogs require medical attention.
- Every year, more than 800,000 Americans receive medical attention for dog bites; at least half of them are children.
- Children are, by far, the most common victims of dog bites and are far more likely to be severely injured.
- Most dog bites affecting young children occur during everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs.
- Senior citizens are the second most common dog bite victims.
There are many things you can do to avoid dog bites, ranging from properly training and socializing your pet to educating your children on how – or if – they should approach a dog. Information and education are the best solutions for this public health crisis.
Visit the National Dog Bite Prevention Week page for more information and resources to educate people about dog bite prevention.
For any questions regarding dog bite prevention, or if you would like a behavioral consultation for your pet, please call 843-884-9838 or fill out the contact form.