for the dogs
Monterey Peninsula Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Clinic
by Cindie Farley
Ten years ago, a small, fluffy, white Poodle mix with a black patch on half his face was brought into an emergency clinic. He had a broken pelvis and was so badly injured that the general consensus in the clinic was that he should be put down. The veterinarian, however, couldn’t bring herself to do that, so after surgery to put a plate in the little dog’s pelvis, she took him home.
The veterinarian was Dr. Katja Herrmann, and the dog, now known as “Winston,” is 15 years old and still with her. He still accompanies her to work as well and is stationed at her feet when she’s in the central office area of her clinic.
Dr. Herrmann founded the clinic, Monterey Peninsula Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Center (MPVESC), and it has been serving the area since 2004. Because of its 24/7 emergency care, the clinic receives many injured animals. Often, the animals have been abandoned and are found and brought in by Good Samaritans who cannot afford to pay for the emergency treatment.
When MPVESC receives an injured dog or cat, a lot goes into just determining if the animal can handle surgery. And no matter what, the clinic will always try its best to save an animal and ONLY euthanizes it if the prognosis is grave.
Dr. Herrmann estimates the clinic has received hundreds of such rescues over the years. And all of those have been further rescued by the clinic itself in its efforts to find good homes for each and every animal. She simply sees it as an integral part of the overall rescue process.
The clinic gladly provides its emergency services for abandoned animals without the support of any outside funding. The difficult part, Dr. Herrmann says, has always been finding homes for the rescues.
However, things have improved in that area, thanks to MPVESC’s collaborative efforts with rescue groups such as Animal Friends Rescue Project (AFRP) and Peace of Mind Dog Rescue (POMDR). Dr. Herrmann cannot overemphasize the gratitude she feels for the teamwork provided by these organizations. It’s made a huge difference in her ability to see a “light at the end of shelter” for the animals she and her staff have cared for.
“And I couldn’t do what I do without my staff,” Dr. Herrmann acknowledges, again with a sense of gratitude. She then adds, “And we all probably end up with one dog too many at some point over the years.”
Chris O’Rear, a Registered Veterinary Technician at MPVESC, has a Jack Russell/Chihuahua mix that Animal Control brought in with a fractured pelvis. With two Basenjis at home, Chris originally took “the disposable little dog that no one wanted” home only as a foster. Well, the Basenjis fell in love with “Skittles” as she is now known, and would help her get around while she was recovering, even lifting her up by her harness! Chris, of course, ended up keeping Skittles, and now, two years later, the little dog that no one wanted is happy and healthy and can keep up with the other four-legged members in her forever family.
Dr. Herrmann says that every animal that comes into the clinic as a rescue is memorable. She, herself, currently has three other dogs besides Winston, all rescues. Little Lemon, a black Chihuahua, was running in the street and scooped up by Erica, another staff member at MPVESC. At first, Lemon was so fearful and agressive no one could touch her, but now she, herself, is on the staff there, assisting Winston at his station.
Then there’s Pelucci, a hairy “who knows?” as Dr. Herrmann says. Most likely a Chihuahua mix, she thinks. Pelucci was brought in with a diaphragmatic hernia and needed emergency surgery. After a home couldn’t be found, she took him.
“Skippy” is another older dog she ended up with when AFRP brought him to her for emergency surgery to remove a liver tumor. She affectionately describes him as her “big, fat brown dog,” who is most likely a Corgi mix. Skippy had been orphaned when his owner passed away.
Monterey County Animal Services frequently needs to bring injured animals it picks up into the clinic. Debbie Palmer, who is an animal control officer for MCAS, says, “It is a huge comfort to pick up the phone in the middle of the night to call the clinic and know that the staff will be outside waiting for me at 2:00 a.m.” Debbie, as it turns out, had been friends of Skippy’s old family, and she finds comfort in knowing he has a good home with Dr. Herrmann. Debbie considers Dr. Herrmann one of her “heroes” and part of her “extended family.”
In reflecting on the work that she does, Dr. Herrmann says that it’s a “very serious occupation,” one that can cause burnout. But she knows that she and her staff are doing the right thing for the patients and the public, including the good people who bring animals in and have formed attachments to them. And it’s the right thing for the staff at MPVESC, too, knowing that as “Rescue Anonymous” (as they think of themselves), they have found homes for their rescues.
“They just need a little attention,” Dr. Herrmann says of the rescues. And she and her staff give them all that and more.