Putney RSPCA: Pet owners must use common sense with out-of-hours service

By Georgia Simcox
January 9 2020, 14.00

The RSPCA Putney Animal Hospital called for more mindfulness when using their busy out-of-hours service over the festive period.

Staff work around the clock over the festive period to treat emergencies and rely on fewer hands-on-deck despite seeing the same number of animals pass through its doors. 

Vet Michael Lazaris advises clients to be mindful of using their out-of-hours service as the vets working the day shifts also do the night shifts and it gets very busy.

He said: “Be mindful about whether you think something’s actually an emergency or not and whether it can wait until the morning.

“We do get a lot of emergencies and phone calls at three or four am for dogs with a bit of diarrhoea or who may have vomited once.

“That’s not something you would go to A&E for so if you think with that mindset it’s fine to wait until the next morning.”

He added: “If you’re concerned, you can always call up and ask for advice and we can guide you as to whether it needs to come in or not.”

A lot of the practices aren’t open during their usual hours during the festive period so they see clients for emergencies who don’t usually use their services, especially in the middle of the night. 

Warning: the video below contains graphic imagery

He also advised pet owners to keep an eye on what they have lying around the house and to be mindful of what they’re feeding their pets.

During the winter, they treat a lot of chocolate and raisin ingestion with dogs suffering from toxicities because of food which is left lying around. 

He added: “If you’re concerned, you can always call up and ask for advice and we can guide you as to whether it needs to come in or not.” 

The RSPCA Putney Animal Hospital is one of two animal hospitals in London. 

In December 2018, the hospital cared for 994 animals while the RSPCA as a whole cared for around 5,000. 

Rosie the 18-month-old Jack Russell terrier in her bed at RSPCA Putney Animal Hospital
COSY CANINE: Rosie the 18-month-old Jack Russell terrier in her bed

Mr Lazaris said last year’s Christmas was on par with 2018 and they don’t know what to expect around that time of year so anything can come in. 

Rosie is an 18-month-old Jack Russell terrier. She arrived at the hospital at the beginning of December with deeply infected wounds to her legs. 

She was bitten by another dog and her wounds were so severe that they weren’t sure whether she’d be able to pull through or whether it would be kinder to put her to sleep because she was really suffering. 

Vet Michael Lazaris on the computer
Photo (RSPCA): Vet Michael Lazaris

Mr Lazaris explained her story was kind of miraculous as she had been left with the infection which was resistant to most antibiotics for a few days. 

Rosie was strong enough and pulled through an operation to clean the wounds and a second operation to close the wound and put a drain in place. 

They had to clean out all the wounds as the fact was dissolving into this “grey, smelly muck because of the bacteria”.

It took about four weeks for her to heal. 

Mr Lazaris said: “You wouldn’t think anything happened to her actually. She’s such a sweet and lovely dog. You wouldn’t think that she was close to death.” 

One of three kittens fostered by nurse Jess
FURRY FRIENDS: One of three kittens fostered by nurse Jess

He explained that the strangest animal he has ever treated is a rhea, a flightless bird originating in South America which is like an ostrich but a bit smaller. It had escaped from a farm and ran into a fence where it lacerated its neck. 

Mr Lazaris said: “It came in in the evening and we were like what the heck do we do with this? 

“But luckily a lot of what we know is transferable to other species so you just do some reading up and then you just go for it.” 

The hardest part of his job is some of the cruelty cases they see, such as when their inspectors investigate reports of a dog barking and find the dog living in a house with locked doors and no owners. 

Teddy, Tommy and Tucker are three kittens abandoned in a bin just before Christmas
THREE AMIGOS: Teddy, Tommy and Tucker were abandoned in a bin

Just before Christmas, a member of the public found three kittens in a cardboard box in a bin after they heard meowing. 

The mother was nowhere to be seen and now the kittens – Teddy, Tommy and Tucker – are fostered by nurse Jess who takes them home and feeds them kitten milk every few hours.

When they came in, they were freezing but the hospital started feeding them some milk and now they are healthy and playful. 

Jess will look after them until they start eating normal food and then they’ll be neutered, microchipped and rehomed. 

Mr Lazaris explained it was lucky they had been found when they were, otherwise they could have died. 

Number of procedures carried out by the RSPCA in December 2018

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