Improving Animal Care

Why We Continue to Making Strides Towards Quality Care

January 2, 2018

The TCWR animal care and veterinary program grants lifelong care to rescued survivors of the exotic animal trade, elevating their quality of life. We are always looking at ways to lower stress in our animals and improve how we care for their physical and mental well-being.

In 2016, your belief and commitment realized the first step in ending the stress and risk of anesthetizing and transporting our big cats and bears over 40 miles for veterinary care, with the construction of the Jackson Memorial Veterinary Hospital. In 2018, we took the second step, with the addition of staff Veterinarian, Dr. Kellyn Sweeley.  Having a vet on-site enables us to conduct weekly evaluations of each animal’s physical and mental health, to better plan for their long-term care and avoid emergency situations with early intervention.

In zoos people see perfect specimens; at sanctuaries, like TCWR, visitors learn about animals whose fangs have been filed, claws removed, injuries gone untreated, and who suffer from diseases and physical deformities caused by malnutrition and inbreeding. Health complications are always an issue in our rescued animals, and regular exams can make the difference between life and death for many.

Since joining the team, Dr. Sweeley has dedicated much of her time to making sure that pain management and dietary requirements of all our animals are up-to-date to ensure we properly address their changing needs as they age by using the muscle condition scoring system developed by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association Global Nutrition Committee (WSAVA). When she observes cats with new limps, she checks for ingrown claws; Roulon’s ingrown claws were diagnosed and treated when she noticed he was limping more prevalently on his front left limb.

Nala had started frequently vomiting in early October; Dr. Sweeley had been closely monitoring her as she was showing signs of moderate chronic kidney disease. Once the vomiting began, and she stopped eating, she started Nala on an intense treatment plan for suspected Stage 3 kidney disease. With her vomiting under control she is eating again and has been doing great — we’ve slowed the progression of the disease and had her feeling good again.

Blackfire’s lifesaving surgery came about because when Dr. Sweeley observed his discomfort she was able to try GI medications first, realize early on that they were not controlling his symptoms, and then made the timely decision to fully anesthetize for radiographs and blood profile. With an outside vet it would likely have taken a much longer time to get to the same conclusions; by then we could have lost this young tiger.  Instead, your generosity allowed us to take him for emergency surgery to repair the extreme hiatal hernia threatening his life, and today he is back enjoying his grassy habitat and roughhousing with his sisters.

While having Dr. Sweeley on-site is  elevating the quality of life for all our animal residents, the initial costs to stock our clinic puts an enormous strain on our resources:  Having the equipment, instruments and supplies necessary for common immunizations, prescriptions and medical procedures to treat the many conditions these animals suffer from such caused by inbreeding, malnutrition, declawing, defanging, and neglect are necessary to make the program a success.

Beyond veterinary and medical expenses our Animal Care Program also includes the maintenance and updating of their habitats, daily care, and enrichment to closely mimic the mental and physical stimulation they would experience living free.

Our 2018, Animal Care and Veterinary expenses, aside from the equipment so generously contributed by donations from Giving Tuesday 2018, stand at:

  • Habitat Expenses – $ 28,790
  • Payroll – $ 12,600
  • Rescue Expenses – $968
  • Animal Enrichment – $2,825
  • Animal Care – $15,487
  • Animal Food – $131,276
  • Medication – $16,492
  • Vet Procedures – $16,818

Total Expenses – $225,256

Together, we can continue to offer them the best quality of lifelong care here at the Refuge.  Remember, winter is our slowest time for visitors, so we need your support now more than ever! Donate today to help us keep helping them! 

Recent Posts