Specialty surgery expertise ensures animals receive quality care at AHS

August 02, 2022
Peach the cat receives post-surgery cuddles

Peach enjoys head scratches while recovering from leg amputation surgery 

At Animal Humane Society, we’re ready to meet the individual needs of every dog, cat, or critter that comes through our doors. But with our open admission philosophy comes the need to often perform specialty surgeries for animals that require more intensive care to thrive.

While we continue to serve thousands of animals in our shelters each year, the severity of their health issues and the level of care required has increased in recent years. That’s why developing our veterinary team has been and continues to be a priority at AHS, as we’ve grown to be able to provide more specialty surgeries for animals in need.

An AHS veterinarian performs surgery on a young cat

An AHS veterinarian performs surgery on a young cat

A community effort

AHS regularly collaborates with local expert specialty veterinary partners. But in recent years, our veterinary team has built up more expertise to provide specialty care on site, like orthopedic and soft tissue surgeries, allowing AHS to rely on our veterinary partners for fewer surgeries.

Dr. Graham Brayshaw, Director of Veterinary Medicine at AHS, estimates that in previous years, AHS relied on some veterinary partners to perform two to three surgeries per week. Now, that number is closer to two to three surgeries each month.

By having more experience on our veterinary team, AHS is also able to offer support for many other rescue organizations in our community, often providing spay and neuter surgeries or more specialized surgeries when needed.

@animalhumanemn Intensive, specialty care is just one way that AHS is creating a more humane world for animals. 🐾🧡 The animals in this video all received specialty surgery of some kind, and it opened the path they needed to find their second chances here! #minnesota #shelterpetsoftiktok #animalsoftiktok #dogs #cats #mn #stpaul #minneapolis #midwest ♬ NOTHING - Westover

Advancing behavioral care

AHS continues to grow our capacity for supporting animals with more challenging behaviors as well. Over the last few years, the percentage of animals receiving behavioral support in our shelters has increased from 12% to 30%, and the behavioral needs of animals coming to us from partner shelters are greater and more frequent. To meet these needs, our Shelter Behavior Services team at AHS has developed a strategic process to identify, address, and track behavioral concerns throughout an animal’s time with us.

Looking to the future

Because AHS is doing more than ever to invest in specialty surgeries and behavioral care, the average cost of care is increasing. But AHS remains committed to providing the lowest-cost services possible for animals and the people who love them in our community. In addition to caring for the animals in our shelters, the AHS veterinary team provides surgery to pets in our community as well, and offering accessible specialty veterinary care is a top priority. As we grow our veterinary team’s expertise, AHS is investing in more veterinary training and technology to benefit specialty surgeries, like dental X-ray and ultrasound machines at all sites.

A new Vet Tech Training Program is also on the horizon, which will allow us to hire individuals without veterinary experience and provide them with all the necessary training they need to become an AHS vet tech. There is a nationwide shortage of veterinary technicians, so this program will position AHS for future growth and ensure we have the necessary expertise to support our mission.

AHS remains committed to creating a more humane world for animals and we’re ready to provide even more holistic support and healing for animals in our community.

Walter's second chance

A dog named Walter before undergoing a double enucleation

Walter before undergoing surgery

A dog named Walter after receiving a double enucleation at AHS

Walter after recovering from a double enucleation at AHS

When Walter arrived at AHS, his fur was filthy and matted, his ears were painfully infected, and he was blind because of untreated corneal disease. With robust experience in specialty surgeries, AHS’s team of veterinarians was able to provide the senior Miniature Poodle with the expert care he needed, including state-of-the-art surgery and innovative behavioral support. Our veterinarians removed Walter’s eyes – a procedure almost no other shelter in Minnesota can provide in-house – and treated his pain. After, our behaviorists worked with Walter to prepare him for his new life. Now, Walter has been adopted by an adoring family and will spend the rest of his years in a loving home, free from pain.

For caring, compassionate advice and resources to address all your animal concerns.

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