Sydney vets saving lives

25 November 2020
Donor-funded initiative provides lifesaving treatments for vulnerable animals
The University's veterinary teaching hospitals are providing disadvantaged animals with urgent care.

He was more than just a pet cat for Ali’s family. Beloved Mittens brought so much joy to their household, especially for Ali’s husband, who was experiencing the emotional and physical impact of a brain tumour. For him, Mittens was an affectionate companion.

Then Mittens himself became critically ill and needed urgent surgery. It was heartbreaking news that came at a time when significant ongoing medical costs for treating her husband’s brain tumour had drained their savings.

“We were all devastated,” says Ali. “But we simply didn’t have enough money to pay for the operation.”

The only other option was to euthanise Mittens, a thought that horrified the family. Then a lifeline emerged.

Dr Muller and Mittens the cat

Dr Muller and Mittens the cat

Mittens was being treated at one of the University’s veterinary teaching hospitals by Dr Cicilia Muller. Dr Muller knew Mittens could be cured and she was determined to see it happen. She told the family about the Animals in Need Fund.

The Animals in Need Fund is a donor supported initiative that helps University veterinarians at the University’s teaching hospitals treat animals whose owners cannot afford for pay for their care. The fund also supports treatment for strays and injured wildlife.

The fund helped the family secure the money needed for Mittens’ life-changing operation. Ali and her family were incredibly grateful, “If Mittens had passed away, it would have been truly devastating,” says Ali.

The outcome was great news for Dr Muller as well.

“As a vet, I want to ensure all animals get the help they need when they are sick or injured,” she says. “That’s why the Animals in Need Fund is so important. It saved the life of a cat and cared for his owners at the same time.”

Meet some other grateful patients

Gaga the goose received lifesaving treating thanks to the Animals in Need fund

Gaga the goose

Known as the “snob” of the flock, Gaga is a natural at social distancing, but that changed when she returned home from her surgery at the University’s Avian Reptile and Exotic Pet Hospital (AREPH). That day Gaga brought herself into the house and straight onto the lap of her owner, Alison, for a cuddle.

It started when Gaga was showing signs that she was unwell, so Alison took her to see the University veterinarian team at AREPH. X-rays and extensive testing showed that Gaga had swallowed a metal fence clip which was giving her heavy metal intoxication. There was little hope for Gaga unless she received emergency surgery and intensive care treatment. 

Gaga was just a tiny gosling when Alison adopted her. It would have been heartbreaking to lose her, but the operation she needed was beyond what Alison could afford. But thanks to the University veterinarians and the Animals in Need Fund, Gaga received the surgery and recovery care she needed. 

Gaga continues to be a happy member of Alison’s very full house, including her foster children, miniature pony, two dogs, two geese, two ducks and 17 chickens. 

Buddy the horse received life saving treatment thanks to the Animals in Need fund

Buddy the horse

The dream of having a family farm where she could live with her six children and foster children finally became a reality for Crystal.

After a horse-riding fall Crystal had stopped riding, but she still wanted to find the perfect horse for the family. Buddy was that perfect horse. He was a 20-year-old quarter horse, and incredibly kind and gentle.

The terrible day that Buddy had an accident, injuring his hind leg, Crystal immediately took him to the University of Sydney’s Camden Equine Centre where he was treated and discharged. Three days later Crystal had the terrible sense that Buddy had lost his vision.

She made an after-hours call to the University veterinarian treating team at the Equine Centre who confirmed Crystal’s worst fears. Now Buddy was seriously injured and blind, and Crystal just couldn’t afford any further testing and treatment for Buddy’s eye condition. 

Thankfully, the team at the University’s Camden Equine Centre were able to offer treatment and financial assistance through the Animals in Need Fund. Crystal was overwhelmed with the offer and burst into tears knowing that Buddy would be okay thanks to the generosity of the donor community.   

Buddy was immediately brought into the University hospital where eye exams, eye ultrasound and eye pressure measuring, were done. He was diagnosed with bilateral uveitis, which is inflammation of the iris and a common cause of vision loss in horses.

Buddy responded well to topical eye medications. He will need close monitoring by Crystal, but his prognosis is promising.

The University relies on the generous support of donors to fund life-changing initiatives like the Animals in Need Fund. 

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