Archive for the ‘Surgery’ Category

We met the adventurous Arnie when he needed surgery … after he’d jumped out his 4th floor window onto Geary on a Tuesday night! Arnie is quite the trooper, and we are happy to report that he is recovering nicely after this very scary experience.

arnie before his big night

arnie before his big night

Arnie’s human companion, Tiffany, shares a little more about Arnie and his high-flying adventure:

I adopted Arnie from the SPCA here in SF in May 2014. I knew he was the kitty for me when I walked into his cage and he came up to me and bit me.

Arnie loves to run pell-mell through the apartment, knocking things over as he does so. He’s a real hell-raiser. He also really enjoys eating houseplants. He protects me from the pigeons outside by keeping a very close eye on them. I suspect he thinks he will one day catch one. He has a LOT of kitten in him still, so he’s into everything. … He’s a very good boy though, very sweet when he wants to be. I call him my little Puddin’ Pie.



He doesn’t care for people food, at all, except for tuna of course. And sometimes spinach. He’s a weirdo. He LOVES playing in the bathtub after I take a shower. Takes toys in there and rolls around and has a general grand time of it.

He styles himself as quite the gangster, and is very tough and scary 🙂

More about that fateful night and the aftermath:

While I was in the kitchen, he pushed the screen out of the window (a custom screen I made, mind you) and jumped out the 4th floor window.

I ran onto Geary in my pjs, with no shoes on, screaming his name. Luckily some bystanders had seen him hide under a parked car and directed me to him.

I immediately took him to the emergency vet … The next day they had me transfer him to VCA, as he had badly broken both bones in his front leg, in several places. They said it was a complicated case.

Luckily, he only dislocated his jaw and they had been able to re-align it overnight. Dr. Watt was able to operate on him that day, thankfully. He now has “hardware” as they call it … pins/plates in his arm. Poor little guy is a real trooper.

the bear can wear the cone

the bear can wear the cone

The first night I brought him home was pretty rough — I really didn’t get to sleep, but he quickly got better and was able to get around on his own and eat and drink on his own.

sleeping it off

sleeping it off

He’s much better now and rarin’ to go! He wants OUT of the front room where I have been keeping him so he can’t jump up on things. He also wants to keep an eagle eye on those pigeons 🙂

i see you, pigeons

i see you, pigeons

Advice for other pet parents:

Screens do not keep motivated cats in. Lesson learned. My next step is to reinforce them with chicken wire and attach them to the wall with screws and hooks so that they cannot be moved by anyone but me. Also, I now have pet insurance.

Highly recommend VCA and Dr. Watt and Naomi. They have really provided excellent care and have been available for all my anxious questions.

Many thanks to Tiffany for sharing Arnie’s story and photos with us! We wish Arnie all the best and hope he is satisfied to just enjoy the view from now on.


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Learn a little more about the veterinarians and staff at VCA SFVS in our staff spotlight series!

Name: Naomi Mansfield

Your position and department: Service coordinator for the surgery department

When did you join VCA SFVS? January 2007

Favorite part of your job? My favorite part of my job is getting to cuddle with adorable dogs and cats all day, and getting to decorate their casts.

naomi with a guide dogs puppy who came in for an orthopedic exam

naomi with a guide dogs puppy who came in for an orthopedic exam

Tell us a little bit about yourself: I grew up in Arizona. We always had a lot of animals growing up. When I was very young we had a farm, and when we gave up our farm we still had 11 animals around the house — dogs, chinchillas, birds, a rabbit, a hamster and a ferret. I have always loved animals more than anything and knew from a very young age that I wanted to work with them.

Aside from my passion for animals, I love to draw. I spend most of my free time using the program MS Paint to create what I call Bitcats, in which I draw the beloved pets of my friends interacting in whimsical environments. They can be seen at http://www.bitcats.tumblr.com/

What does your work day entail? Most of my job revolves around preparing people for what to expect before, during and after a pet’s surgery. I create all of the instructions for at-home care and act as the go-to person for any questions that pet parents have during the process.

The patient you’ll never forget? Mojo, a very sweet boxer who comes in to see us

Favorite patient success story? There is a dog name Maya that was going to have to have an amputation due to a very large wound on her leg. Dr. Phil Watt was amazingly able to repair the wound with a skin graft, and after extensive bandaging to protect the wound, it completely healed and she did not have to have an amputation!

Your work-related super power? Bandage art. I love creating little cartoons on the casts of dogs and cats who have surgery.


naomi created this cast for a kitty named alice! (“oh my ears and whiskers …”)


more "naomi originals," shared by dr. hammer

more “naomi originals,” shared by dr. hammer

Any animal companions of your own? I have an 8-year-old grey cat named Banjo that I’ve had since he was a kitten. He is very sassy and always wears a little bandana around his neck.

What do you enjoy doing outside work? Drawing and spending time with my wonderful friends. I also volunteer with the penguins at the Academy of Sciences.

What are you currently reading? The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

What’s in your music rotation right now? I really love old Jamaican ska and rocksteady.

Favorite TV show? Once Upon A Time

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VCA SFVS veterinary surgeons Drs. Margo Mehl and Phil Watt recently had the opportunity to perform a vasectomy … on a lion!


surgery day

The patient, Bambek, was rescued from Bolivia and now lives at the Performing Animal Welfare Society’s (PAWS) ARK 2000 sanctuary. Many thanks to Kim G. from PAWS for putting the following story on Bambek together for us. It was our honor to work with PAWS, and we wish Bambek and Camba all the best!



On May 28, 2010, four circus lions, rescued from Bolivia when their government voted to ban the use of exotic animals in traveling shows, Camba, Daktari, Simba and Bambek, arrived at the Performing Animal Welfare Society’s (PAWS) ARK 2000 sanctuary after a very long journey by plane and truck.

Bambek peered quietly out of his crate as the PAWS team checked in on him. Soon, he was positioned next to the doors of his new home at ARK 2000 sanctuary.

He began to roar, calling to the other lions for reassurance. The PAWS team scattered straw about the enclosure and shifted the crates up to den doors so Bambek and the others, who clearly did not like being separated, could be together.

As the sun began to rise, Bambek was released into his separate den area while the crates were removed from the area, and finally, the gates were opened and the three males were reunited.

Camba, the female lioness who has been kept separated until all the animals can be neutered, hugged the common fence, pushing her body into Bambek.

Suddenly, all three males began rolling around in the fragrant alfalfa hay, and then raced around the big enclosure sniffing the pine trees, urinating profusely, and somersaulting over the branches to jump on an unsuspecting companion. Camba chased Bambek and the others up and down the fence line, wearing pine branches and hay on her head.

Sadly, we realized how spacious that den area was compared to the metal boxes that had been their home for most of their lives.

The three males fell asleep on top of each other against the fence next to Camba until PAWS keepers released the lions into the huge sunny hillside habitat with trees, logs and lots of vegetation.

The PAWS tigers, in the adjacent habitat, were stalking their new “neighbors” and roaring over the hillsides.

Bambek and the other lions roared back, and long conversations developed between the two species, almost a big cat welcome wagon.

Bambek and the lions from Bolivia were home and had become the Pride of PAWS.

Bambek chose to sleep out in the habitat that first night, gazing up at the stars, likely for the very first time in his life.

Why did Bambek need a vasectomy?

When the lions arrived from Bolivia, they were reproductively intact. Bambek was very close to his male companions, Daktari and Simba. During the day, they would lie close together in their grassy habitat and at night, they would sleep together in a big pile in a den. After both Daktari and Simba tragically died with cancer, Bambek was left alone in his habitat, which shared a common fence line with his neighbor, Camba the lioness. Bambek began to show an interest in Camba, and the two lions romp along the fence together, and even sleep next to each other, touching through the fence.

In hopes of introducing Bambek to Camba, and to prevent any possibility of pregnancy, vasectomy surgery was performed on Bambek with the assistance of veterinary surgeons Dr. Margo Mehl and Dr. Phil Watt, with their assistant Melissa. (If you neuter a male lion, he’ll lose his mane, which is why the vasectomy route was chosen.)

The surgery went well, and Bambek has fully recovered. We are looking forward to carefully introducing these two in hopes that they will provide companionship for each other.

About Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS)

PAWS was founded in 1984 and is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection of captive wildlife. PAWS operates three sanctuaries in Northern California and is home to elephants, tigers, lions, bears and others. Rescue. Protection. Sanctuary. Education. Advocacy. www.PAWSweb.org

Ways to support PAWS/donate > www.pawsweb.org/support_paws_home_page.html

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Today on the blog, we feature Coco. We met Coco when he came in to VCA SFVS for an appointment with Dr. Margo Mehl, one of our veterinary surgeons.

Here, Coco shares a little bit about himself, via human companion Kevin, along with some great photos!

Hello! My name is Coco.



I was born on May 16, 2005, in Washington State. I don’t remember much about my first weeks but, evidently, I was adopted by my first human, Alison, at an early age. I was very popular in the retirement home and I loved her very much. However, her mobility difficulties caused me to miss my regular walks. We thus decided it was in my best interest to adopt Alison’s son as my new human and move to San Francisco with him. It has been a good move and I even got to see her a lot afterward.

My interests? I love long walks on the beach, sidewalk cafés, and a certain Maltipoo named Celeste. She more or less ignores me. Did I mention that they allow dogs in Parisian restaurants and the cheese is delicious? Très civilisé!

café chic

café chic

oui! oui!

oui! oui!

At home, my favorites are down-filled pillows and the crook in my dad’s arm. I take my status as a lap dog very, very seriously. I may be small but I have the heart of a lion and have kept my human safe with 100% effectiveness. I also stood down my two Mastiff cousins who used to like to chase me around.

In any case, I recently visited Dr. Mehl for consultation about my liver shunt and bladder stones. Surgery was the only option and, while I hated to leave my dad for TWO WHOLE NIGHTS, Dr. Mehl did a great job and the whole staff were so kind to me. I have bounced back and am back where I belong!

coco and kevin

coco and kevin

On behalf of my dad and me, thank you Dr. Mehl and all my friends at SF Veterinary Specialists! I’m looking forward to many more walks on the beach and maybe Celeste will finally notice me.

Thank you, Coco – it is our honor to be a part of your veterinary care team. (Good luck with Celeste!)

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Today on the blog, meet Quint! A 7-year-old German shepherd, the handsome Quint came to our hospital to meet with veterinary surgeon Dr. Margo Mehl, to have a lump checked out.

After a successful surgery, there was good news: The mass turned out to be a lipoma (a benign fatty mass). We are pleased to report that Quint recovered within a few days and is living a happy, healthy life.


quint and his family

Here’s a little more about Quint, as shared with us by his human companion Luda:


Quint has been in our family since he was 8 weeks old and has truly become a beloved family member. His favorite activity as a puppy was to walk with his dad, Paul, to a hot dog stand and get a plain hot dog (no ketchup or mustard, please!).

As Quint grew up, he developed into quite a lazy dog and his favorite “activity” was to lie on the couch. Quint also really likes to dress up in costumes, hence the “Doggula” picture below.



He is an incredibly smart and loyal pet. He loves to go to Tahoe and enjoys playing fetch in the lake. Even though he is an 85-lb. shepherd, he is absolutely terrified of our cat and begs his sister, Kaila (another beautiful shepherd), to rescue him.


that’s the ticket!

To say that Quint is part of our family is an understatement. He brings so much laughter, joy and happiness to our family, and we are eternally grateful to the staff at VCA, and especially to Dr. Mehl, for saving our boy!

Thanks to Luda for sharing these photos and Quint’s story with us. We are honored to be on his veterinary care team and wish him many more Tahoe trips to come!


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Meet handsome Harry!


Harry came to us because he was having trouble urinating. Internal medicine specialist Dr. Craig Maretzki discovered that Harry’s trouble was due to a urethral obstruction. Dr. Margo Mehl, one of two board-certified veterinary surgeons at VCA SFVS, performed a surgical procedure to fix Harry right up.

With a nod to the recent award season, Harry’s mom, Judith, reports that:

“The Oscar for BEST PATIENT and BRAVEST SF DOG goes to: HARRY!”

And here is Harry’s acceptance speech:

“I wish to thank all my good friends who helped me make a remarkable recovery, and the doctors and care-givers at the SPCA and [VCA SF] Veterinary Specialists, especially  Dr. Love, Dr. Maretzki and my surgeon, Dr. Mehl.

“Thank you Teresa for visiting me in the hospital and at home and giving me treats.


“Thank you Everett for carrying me up the stairs when, after having the stitches removed, I was too groggy to negotiate them myself.


“And of course I want to thank my Mom, who has always been there for me.  She had great faith in me and knew I’d make it through.

“I’ll be seeing you in all the old, familiar places…  For a long time to come.”

We are happy we could be on your veterinary care team, Harry. Thanks to Judith for sharing your award speech and these photos with us. Your admirers at VCA SFVS wish you all the best, and congrats on your award!


Would you like your dog or cat to be featured in our Patient Stories series? Please email us for information. We look forward to hearing from you.

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Today on the blog, meet Solo.

solo! // photo provided by client

solo! // photo provided by client

Solo, a mini Australian Shepherd, came to VCA SFVS with a congenital defect in one of his paws, which was increasingly causing him pain. Solo and his human companion, Jeremiah, met with veterinary surgeon Dr. Philip Watt for a consultation, and it was quickly resolved that surgical correction was an option and likely a good idea. Read more about the adorable Solo below, written by Jeremiah:

Solo was born on July 14, 2013, with a congenital defect of his front left paw. He was 12 weeks old when he had the surgery to correct his syndactyly.

photo provided by client

photo provided by client

It was a difficult process, keeping the incision clean while also working on housebreaking and getting him some exercise, but we got through it. Three weeks later he was healed, the stitches were removed, and he is better than ever!

nice bandage, solo! // photo provided by client

nice bandage, solo! // photo provided by client

Solo loves everybody. Whenever anyone is willing to stop walking he melts on their feet and coos as they pet him. He loves greek yogurt (see the photo of him cross-eyed over the yogurt spoon!) and walks at the beach. And he seems to have a “thing” for fluffy doodles.

mmm, greek yogurt // photo provided by client

mmm, greek yogurt // photo provided by client

Thank you, Jeremiah, for sharing Solo’s story and these wonderful photos! We are proud to be a part of your veterinary care team.

Would you like your dog or cat to be featured in our Patient Stories series? Please email us for information. We look forward to hearing from you!

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