As is now not such uncommon practice in the Darwin Animal Doctors clinic, two young girls walked in, one as young as three, cat in hand, asking to see a vet. As the girls presented the cat to the veterinarians, it was clear that he was in a bad state. Little Rodriguito had suffered a dog bite to the face, resulting in extensive damage to the eye. Still covered in dried blood, the attack was clearly not fresh.
Rodriguito was quickly put under anesthesia, for further examination. The right eye was badly damaged; punctured, swollen and infected, but the veterinarians wanted to give Rodriguito every chance possible to save his eye. The issue, however, was that the treatment to potentially save the eye was rigorous, and would involve consistent, around the clock attention. Considering the age of the two young girls who brought Rodriguito in, the team knew that it was virtually impossible to ask them to adhere to such a schedule. Due to little space and resources, normally animals can also not be kept in the clinic. The team were faced with a dilemma.
Then, like a child begging to get a cat for Christmas, one of the volunteers piped up “Please, please, can’t we just keep him here? I promise I will take care of him! You won’t even know he is here!”And like the not-so-reluctant parents, the rest of the team agreed.
And so it began. For 10 days, the team dedicated around the clock attention to little Rodriguito. This included 24 hour intravenous medication, and a demanding schedule of eye drops, followed by an eye lubricant every four hours. The volunteers’ hard work was repayed with nothing but the sweet appreciation of a cat who was otherwise helpless. But for them, this was enough. Over the days, Rodriguito’s affectionate personality grew on the team, and the veterinarians showed the lucky cat every bit of love and attention that he could possibly take in.
Despite showing signs of improvement along the way, unfortunately, after 11 more days, now a total of 21 days of working around the clock, the eye had not shown sufficient improvement to validate not removing it. The owner was consulted and the surgery was set for the next day. The next morning, the team set to and conducted what is called an “enucleation” surgery, or a surgery to remove the eyeball. The surgery was a great success, and Rodriguito made a rapid recovery.
Although the team had grown so fond of Rodriguito and had shown him such continuing commitment and care, the day then came for him to go home. The veterinarians handed the happy, healthy now one-eyed cat back to the arms of the little girl who was so very delighted to have him back.
A bitter-sweet day for the team, one of the volunteers expressed it perfectly; “This is what being a veterinarian is all about; though our time with our patients may be short, we can do such good!” Thank you to the team of volunteers at the Darwin Animal Doctors clinic who consistently demonstrate true compassion and dedication, no matter how much is asked of them.