Giving pet owners peace of mind

Published 9:54 pm Wednesday, May 2, 2012

One of the worst memories of my life happened after returning home from school one day.

My family’s two dogs usually met me halfway down our long driveway to welcome me home. On this day, only Kelly, our 4-year-old spaniel, waited for me at the end of the driveway. As soon as I approached her, she shot away toward the house. I ran after her, thinking she had just initiated a game of chase.

But when I caught up with her, I was shocked to find her standing by Misty, our other dog who was lying on the ground shaking, panting and unable to stand.

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A flurry of panicked phone calls followed, and we rushed to meet our veterinarian at his office. It was after hours, but he arrived anyway, concern showing as he carried Misty to the back for us.

A day later and after many tests and a night of observation, we learned she had Addison’s Disease, an illness that will shut down an animal’s kidneys if left untreated.

That’s what had happened to Misty. Sometime between 7 a.m. when I left for school and 4 p.m. when I returned, her kidneys shut down. She went into shock and, if we hadn’t gotten to her in time, she might have died. Instead, we drove 10 minutes to our vet’s office, and she ended up happily living another 10 years with a manageable disease.

Luckily my family had an understanding, small-town veterinarian who was willing to come in for treatment during off hours. If we had to rely on the closest emergency vet, we would have subjected Misty to at least an hour’s drive before getting her the help she needed. And she may not have gotten it in time.

For many Suffolkians, getting their furry family member care during an emergency has required a trip to Greenbrier. For some it’s a quick jaunt, for others it’s a long haul; but for a pet in distress, a drive to Greenbrier can often be too long.

But thanks to a few good veterinarians from around Hampton Roads, Suffolk is getting an emergency clinic of its own.

The COVE Center of Veterinary Expertise, a 24/7 emergency and specialty veterinary hospital on College Drive, has begun treating patients.

The center held an open house Saturday, where prospective clients checked out the facilities to see where their pets can get top-notch services for emergency care, critical care services and injuries ranging from minor lacerations to major trauma.

The center’s doctors hope it will also become a referral center, offering another place pets can go for the specialty care and surgery their primary care veterinarians aren’t always equipped to provide.

In short, COVE will be a valuable resource for Suffolk and its furry population. It will also offer the human population the peace of mind that comes from knowing that getting their pets emergency care if the worst should happen is only a short trip away.