How to help an abandoned pet

Author: Canadian Living


How to help an abandoned pet

Joanne Austin spends her spare time taking care of some of Toronto's abandoned cats. "There aren't enough resources in this city designated to deal with the cat overpopulation situation, which is part of the reason that people are literally throwing them in the garbage," she says.

Sadly, when Austin says "literally", she means it.

Earlier this year, a seven-week old kitten was disposed of in a Toronto dumpster. Luckily, he was rescued by a sympathetic security guard who brought him to the Lawrence Veterinarian Clinic, where Austin first met the kitten.

Clinic staff vaccinated and examined the tiny kitten and determined he was blind.

"His eyes were malformed," says veterinarian Lindsay Patterson, "He could see some shadows but that was it." At the expense of the clinic owner, Patterson performed surgery to remove a third eyelid that was blocking his sight.

"The next day, he started playing with his toys," Patterson laughed. "He certainly opened up. Before, he would try to play but he would get confused."

"He's learning how to see," says clinic receptionist Leslie Knight. "It's a fascinating thing to watch. It's like he's a new kitten."

The abandoned kitten is now the resident cat at the Lawrence Veterinarian Clinic and staff have named him Clarence.

Austin was delighted to hear the happy news. "Of the thousands of terrible, unhappy stories that are out there, we got one with a happy ending so we celebrate and rejoice. There are way too many cats out there that aren't getting the care that they need," she said.

What to do if you find an abandoned pet
If you find an animal in distress, take it to your local SPCA or one of their branches or affiliates, or you can call your local vet or emergency veterinary clinic. Don't call 911. Paramedics are only trained to treat humans!

Handling an injured animal
If you find an injured animal, there are certain precautions to take to ensure your own safety and the safety of the animal. It is important to remember that even the gentlest pet can bite or scratch when he's hurt. Examine the animal gently to figure out where he's been hurt. Call your vet or emergency clinic before performing any first aid.

Always put your own safety first. If you aren't sure what happened to the animal, call a vet and then wait at a safe distance. The animal could be aggressive in its vulnerable state or it could have rabies. Some rabid animals do not show any signs or symptoms for months after infection. If you do not know the history of the animal, don't put it in your vehicle, just wait for help to come.

How to check for a pulse
If the animal is unconscious, you may need to check for a pulse. To do this, place your fingers on the inside of the hing leg and slide your hand upward until the back of your fingers toughes the abdomen. Gently move your fingers back and forth on the inside of the hind leg until you feel the pulsing blood.

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How to help an abandoned pet