By Marcia Mayeda, Director of Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control
Recently DACC animal control officer Matthew Davoodzadeh responded to a call to recover a deceased dog, but upon arrival discovered the one-year old Shih Tzu was not actually dead but terribly injured and in need of emergency treatment. He immediately rushed the dog, later named “Yumi,” back to the department’s Palmdale Animal Care Center where Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) Alexandria Jarlsberg led animal caretaking staff to begin immediate lifesaving actions to save her.
Yumi’s coat was severely matted and she had hundreds of foxtails working their way into her body. Foxtails are very dangerous to dogs; the barbed seed heads can work their way into any part of the body and lead to serious infection and even death if left untreated.
Yumi’s severely matted body was shaved and staff had to remove hundreds of foxtails throughout her tiny body. The foxtail infestation was so severe that Yumi had ulcerations in her eyes, as well as a severe infection in her ear. Many foxtails penetrated more than half their length into her body.
RVT Jarlsberg led her team of Animal Care Attendants Rodolfo Martinez and Emma Vargas to complete the hours-long painstaking process of foxtail removal and provided immediate medical care. By the next morning Yumi was eating, drinking, resting comfortably, and would perk up when staff brought her more food. She was a true fighter, and everyone felt a great sense of relief and satisfaction to see her pull through. Although Yumi did lose one eye from foxtail damage, she recovered well and was placed into a permanent, loving home.
This is but one of the thousands of examples of DACC RVTs’ work to save lives. RVTs are unsung heroes who provide critical services to support and advance the health and well-being for more than 70,000 animals admitted to DACC’s seven animal care centers each year. Many animals arrive injured, ill, neglected, or in need of other medical assistance. All animals are examined by one of our 27 RVTs upon arrival, ensuring that their medical statuses are evaluated, and they receive prophylactic care such as vaccinations and treatments such as de-worming and parasite control. RVTs also alert our staff veterinarians of the need for further examination and diagnosis, or in their absence identify animals that should be referred to private contract veterinarians for further care.
RVTs are licensed professionals who must complete a two-year course of study and pass State licensing examinations. They are authorized under law to perform procedures not permissible for unlicensed caregivers such as inducing anesthesia, applying casts and splints, performing dental extractions, suturing tissue, and administering controlled substances such as pain medication. DACC relies heavily on the skills and compassion of these dedicated professionals to ensure the care and comfort of our animals.
Yumi’s story is but one of the thousands of examples of DACC RVTs’ work to save lives. We honor and recognize their contribution and importance in our department, and to all RVTs in private practice who care for our own beloved pets.
Article published from the “Director’s Blog” of Los Angeles County Animal Care & Control Director Marcia Mayeda. Click here to “follow” the Director’s blog.