Last Update: 12/7/2016 5:02:00 PM
Ask The Horse Doctor: Dr. Vittoria reveals the inner secrets of her 'vet' truck, an animal clinic on wheels
Ask the Horse Doctor By Dr. Christina Vittoria
Dear Dr. Vittoria: I was at the barn the night my wife called you out to treat our gelding for colic. I have never seen a vet truck before and was impressed with everything you carried. What else do you pack on that truck?
- Curious husband
Dear Curious: It's funny you should ask since I am often stopped and asked what kind of work truck I am driving.
Sometimes people recognize the vet body on the back of my truck and ask what clinic I work for or what kinds of large animals I treat.
I once had a lady wave me down to ask if I treated geese. I said that unfortunately I do not, and I wondered why she didn't just pick up the phone instead of driving after me on a chance meeting on a Pennsylvania back road.
I think the most popular question is, do I keep snakes in my truck.
The reason is the caduceus symbol on the back of the vet unit. It is a snake wrapped around a staff with a "V" over top of it. I will often mess with people and say: "Yes. You really don't want to open these compartments. The snakes will get loose."
I have had friends call my vehicle the dog catcher truck. It always makes me laugh since they must be thinking of the Looney Tunes cartoon truck. I have been known to pick up a stray or two.
The truck doesn't usually contain animals. If they have been inside the vet unit, it's usually because they have passed. I have had a dead snow goose that I euthanized after finding her flailing on the side of the road. You can't leave a euthanized animal behind since if anything eats it, they may just sleep forever. Also, a hit-by-car turtle, rabbit, baby deer (it ran head first into the truck and broke its neck), and, once, a dead goat a client asked me to take back to the office for cremation. So, though it doesn't happen often, do not go opening my truck without asking first.
Normally the vet truck carries medicines for treating all sorts of large animal diseases and ailments.
I have colic treatment tubes, those infamous rectal sleeves, and bandage materials to wrap cut legs.
Surgery packs with sterile surgical equipment and proper sterile gloves allow me to suture up all sorts of wounds.
I have a radiograph machine, endoscope and an ultrasound machine; all portable enough to be brought to your horse.
We carry dental equipment and have a fully stocked refrigerator with vaccines and medications that need to be kept cold.
In the winter, a daytime heater runs while the truck is running, and a nighttime heater that works when the truck is plugged in.
The fridge often holds the blood and fecal samples, but when the poop samples go in, my lunch goes out.
Christina Vittoria, D.V.M., practices equine, small ruminant, and companion animal medicine at Willow Creek Veterinary Center. Comments offered here are for educational purposes only. Readers should consult their veterinarian before taking action. Have a question for Dr. Vittoria? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put ASK THE VET in the subject line.