Wednesday, June 29, 2011

RedRover volunteer veterinarian provides much needed care

Orphaned kitten meets
orphaned fawn at
Dr. Trexler-Myren's office.
Submitted by RedRover Responders volunteer Debbie Ferguson of Kildeer, Illinois

You never know what you are going to be asked to do when deploying with RedRover Responders. Autumn Chrouser will gladly attest to that after her last deployment to Pierre, South Dakota this past week. She deployed along with two other RedRover Responders to help care for the animals that had been displaced by flooding from the rising Missouri River.

We met at 6:45 a.m. in the lobby of our hotel, just one short block from the river, to make our way to the airplane hangar where we were housing about 100 animals, primarily cats and dogs. Upon arriving we took each dog out for a very much needed morning walk, then proceeded to get all the animals fed, watered, and clean kennels. Autumn jumped in like everyone else. After we finished our morning chores, we sat down and began talking before the next round of dog walks were due. When asked what she did, she revealed that she had just become a licensed veterinarian and was waiting on word on a potential position she was very interested in. As we had no staff veterinarian at the shelter, we knew this was fate! As soon as word got out, her skills were in high demand. After being asked to examine a number of animals with minor issues, she quickly identified a life-threatening disease in one of our cats, who was then immediately transported to Dr.Virginia Trexler-Myren, the local veterinarian we had been using for emergency treatment.

Dr. Trexler-Myren anesthetizes
a kitten as RedRover volunteer
Dr. Autumn Chrouser looks on.
 Autumn, who lives in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, was thrilled to be using her education and skills, but continued assisting with the everyday duties of walking, feeding and cleaning in between her new vet duties, and even handled some of the strongest dogs, one of whom almost pulled her hip out of joint with his strength. It was about that time that we received six feral kittens trapped near the shelter by an airport employee. Approximately three to four months old and quite fearful, they entered our cat room and we began the socialization process. We saw very quickly that it wouldn’t take long to gain their trust, but were concerned about finding homes for them in an area reeling from loss. We felt we would have a better chance of getting a local shelter to take them on if they were all spayed/neutered, so it seemed a perfect opportunity for Autumn to use her surgical skills. We just needed to find someone to provide the tools and space for her to perform the surgery. In came Dr. Trexler-Myren. She readily agreed to provide the space and all of the necessary tools and medications for all six cats if we would be willing to pay a small fee to cover her overhead. RedRover immediately agreed to take care of the expense, and Autumn went to work, with Dr. Trexler-Myren overseeing the surgeries.

Dr. Chrouser examines the
incision on a kitten spayed
a day earlier.
 As a newly licensed veterinarian, I expected Autumn to show some nervousness, but she showed the confidence, precision and skills of an experienced veterinarian throughout the entire procedure. She and Dr. Trexler-Myren shared tips and techniques throughout the day, both coming away from the experience with increased knowledge and insights.

I am happy to report that all six kittens came out of surgery successfully. We brought them back to some very comfortable beds in a clean and sterile environment within our shelter and settled them in for the night. Autumn stayed until she was certain all six kittens were showing no signs of distress, and returned early the next morning to examine each of them. All were in fine shape, with clean and healthy incision sites and no signs of any negative impact. In fact, the additional handling seemed to have made them even more accustomed to humans and their fear had lessened considerably, giving us confidence that they would all be adopted into loving homes very soon.

Thanks to Autumn (or, I should say, Dr. Chrouser) and Dr. Trexler-Myren, six cats will not be able to reproduce more kittens to crowd the already over-filled animal shelters across the United States. Instead, they will have an excellent chance of living comfortable and healthy lives with loving families.

Dr. Chrouser socializes one of her patients.
Dr. Chrouser plans on deploying with RedRover again, and it doesn’t matter to her whether it is in the capacity of veterinarian or kennel worker. She just wants to help animals in need and that is what is going to make her a great veterinarian. Sioux Falls is very lucky to have her as part of their community.

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