Posts Tagged ‘veterinary emergency’

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: Melissa Bucknoff, DVM

Your position: Criticalist

dr. bucknoff with a courageous feline friend

dr. bucknoff with a courageous feline friend

When did you join VCA SFVS? October 2014

Favorite part of your job? I love working with people who love animals.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: I was born and raised on the East Coast, and I’m enjoying exploring SF, my new home. I love to travel and read. An afternoon on the beach with my dogs and a book is my favorite place to be.

What does your work day entail? My days are spent working with critically ill patients that are hospitalized at SFVS, as well as those that come in through the ER. (Learn more about emergency/critical care at SFVS.)

I’m also here to support sicker patients that undergo anesthetic procedures; I assist with pre- and post-procedure monitoring and care. I work closely with the other specialists at SFVS in a collaborative manner to provide the optimal diagnostic and treatment plans for our patients. The days can be unpredictable, which means there is never a dull moment, and always more to learn!

The patient you’ll never forget? The patients I never forget are the ones that teach lessons you can’t find in books and have changed the way I approach the next patient that may have a similar problem. These patients teach me things I can’t hear with just my stethoscope. Often, these are the same patients that have beaten the odds and have a good outcome.

Favorite patient success story? One of the most memorable cases I’ve managed since I’ve been at SFVS was a young cat, who had a string stuck under her tongue. That string had torn through several segments of intestine, causing her to have a grim prognosis and require intensive management for almost two weeks in the hospital. Against the odds, she went on to make a complete recovery, which is a testament to what the right amount of dedication from owners and medical caregivers can accomplish. On paper, this cat shouldn’t have survived. This case also brought every one of her doctors, nurses and support staff together as a team.

Your work-related super power? I’m told I am able to maintain focus in a crisis, and I do enjoy multitasking in the midst of a busy work environment. But I don’t wear a cape or anything 😉

Any animal companions of your own? Tessa, the one-eyed Shih Tzu, and Tramp, my Carolina hound dog mix. Having pets makes us better caregivers because we have all been on the other side of the medicine at some point.

tessa and tramp!

tessa and tramp!

What do you enjoy doing outside work? I love going to the beach with my dogs and reading rock biographies. I also enjoy attending both veterinary and human medical conferences to network and keep up with emerging research and technology. There is so much we have in common with our human medical counterparts, and it is an exciting time for this type of collaboration. (Read more about the One Health initiative.)



What are you currently reading? Wild Tales, a biography on Graham Nash

What’s in your music rotation right now? I like a variety of music … classic rock, British rock, folk rock and Broadway show stoppers, whatever the mood calls for.

Favorite TV show? The Mindy Project (which I feel may be loosely based on my life); The West Wing, a classic favorite. I saw the Puppy Bowl this year, which is apparently a Super Bowl for dogs, but instead of footballs they take squeaky toys into the end zone!

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Learn a little more about the veterinarians and staff at VCA SFVS in our staff spotlight series! This week we feature emergency veterinarian Elyse Hammer, DVM

Name: Elyse Hammer, DVM

Position: Staff doctor on the emergency service as well as intern program director

dr. hammer with dave, one of the er tech's cats

dr. hammer with dave, one of the er tech’s cats

When did you join VCA SFVS? I joined VCA SFVS first as an intern in 2011 and developed such a love for emergency medicine that I stayed on as a staff doctor immediately following my internship here. 

Favorite part of your job? Coming in every day with absolutely no idea what will come my way. I love the spontaneity of emergency medicine, having to think quickly and adapt to anything the day may bring. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself: I am originally from Meadow Vista, a small Sierra foothills town in Northern California. I am one of those cliches – I knew I wanted to be a veterinarian from the earliest moment I can remember. I started working as a technician at a local GP practice at 16. From there I moved to Davis and spent eight years there for both my undergraduate and veterinary education. I originally planned to pursue a residency in internal medicine until I fell in love with all things ER and never looked back.

Favorite patient success story? One of my favorite patient success stories is Phyllo. Phyllo is a super-sweet domestic shorthair who was found by a friend after his owner suddenly passed away.

The Super-Sweet Phyllo

dr. hammer with the super-sweet phyllo

He was brought to us and treated for dehydration and mild kidney dysfunction after being without food and water for several days. During his stay with us, we incidentally found a bladder stone. As Phyllo didn’t currently have a family, we decided to cover his care, and one of our interns, with the help of staff doctors, performed a cystotomy surgery to remove his bladder stone. Phyllo made a full recovery and was adopted out to a new, loving forever home. 

What do you enjoy doing outside work? My favorite (and most therapeutic) thing to do is run run run as much as possible. I love traveling with my husband, Brett. We particularly love to explore California wine country and the Pacific Northwest in search of the best wines we can find. And of course I love spending time with my crazy rescue jungle cat Nube, who makes me laugh absolutely every day. 

The One and Only NUBE :)

the one and only NUBE 🙂

dr. hammer with one of her best friend's dogs

dr. hammer with one of her best friend’s dogs

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For #Caturday, we have a very special patient story featuring Oscar the Cat! Late last year, this fearless 17 year old escaped from his home and was gone for nearly two weeks. Thankfully, Oscar eventually returned, and his human companion, Billy, brought him to our hospital. Under the care of Drs. Emily Wong and Erika Beck, Oscar received fluids, a blood transfusion and antibiotics.

oscar and billy

oscar and billy

Here, Billy shares a little more about Oscar:

I adopted Oscar as a rescue kitty. Despite his size, he is a type A kitty. Any other kitty I had at the same time always was/is aware where Oscar is. In addition to being a tough old man, he is fearless. I have seen him challenge dogs. My brother had a 110-pound dog. Oscar was on the back steps looking down at Frosty, who was jumping up and down, growling, etc. Oscar started moving back and forth, getting ready to pounce and scratch the nose. I yanked him away, reminding him that he was 16 and if he missed, well …

At age 17, Oscar escaped back in November/December at the height of the rains. After 13 days, I opened the back door and there he was – a huddled black ball. Somehow he managed to make it back home. Probably to die.

I brought him to VCA SFVS and the doctors saved him. A beautiful thing because he did not have much more time. Thank you, VCA SFVS. Oscar has bounced back and is his old self. He is ready for another 17 years!!!

Many thanks to Billy and Oscar for sharing this story and photo. Drs. Wong and Beck and all of us here wish Oscar all the best. We are so happy he is home and back to his old self again!

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Today on the blog, we’re excited to feature … Charley! We met this sweet Chihuahua mix under some scary circumstances: He had just been hit by a car. Charley made fast friends with a few of our veterinarians. Dr. Allegra Roth was his receiving emergency services doctor, Dr. Laura West managed his case when he was transferred to internal medicine for further observation, and Dr. Margo Mehl removed a tooth that was damaged during the accident.

The wonderful news is that Charley was a very lucky little dog and was able to return home after three days. Below, his human companion Rachel shares a little more about Charley and his story. Many thanks to Charley and Rachel – we were so honored to be on this Miracle Mutt’s veterinary care team!

From Rachel:

I arrived at Peninsula Humane Society in early October 2011 very excited: I was finally about to adopt a dog of my own. My family loves dogs, always maintaining a pack of 2 or 3 while I was growing up. I had been living in San Francisco for a few years and was finally in the ideal situation for a small rescue dog. I strolled around the shelter looking at lots of wonderful dogs of all sizes, but there was one in particular that caught my eye: a small, tan Chihuahua mix puppy who looked to me like a little fox.

like a little fox!

like a little fox!

It took all of five seconds to decide he was “The One.” I loved his beautiful auburn coat, pretty doe eyes and one of the cutest little noses I’ve ever seen. I especially was struck by his little feet and tail that look as though they were tip dipped in white paint. It was love at first sight for Charley and me, like something out of a movie. He put his cute little nose on the glass up to my hand. I knew we were friends for life.

charley and rachel

charley and rachel

Charley the dog, affectionately known as “Cheese,” is a friend to all. His favorite activities include fetching socks, catching/eating flies, and running with his Sunny Day Dog Walks pack at McLaren Park. He is the ultimate snuggle buddy. When he hasn’t seen you in a while, he will greet you by dancing on his back two legs, high-fiving you with both paws. Most of all, he is a sweet little guy with a big heart and a curious spirit.

Last October, that curious spirit got the better of him. He chased a bird from the grass in Dolores Park on to 20th Street and got hit by a car. As a dog mom, that was my worst nightmare come true. Luckily the driver of the car was able to rush us to VCA. I cannot say enough about the excellent care we received from the team at VCA. Everyone was so kind, knowledgeable, and empathetic. They were extremely patient with all of my questions.

I feel so fortunate that they were there for Charley and me. It’s truly a miracle that he was home within three days and back running with the pack within a month, considering the severity of his injuries.

back in action!

back in action!

Over the years my family and I have given Charley several nicknames: Charlie Tuna, Carlitos, Cheesey, El Queso … but the one that’s going to stick for years to come is Miracle Mutt. And thanks to the stellar veterinarians and staff at VCA, he is just that.

curious charley stays updated on current events

curious charley stays updated on current events

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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1. Contact your primary care veterinarian’s office. They may be more closely located and available to assist you.

2. If it is after hours or VCA SFVS is more conveniently located, call us at (415) 401-9200 and provide the client service representative with:

  • Your name and your pet’s name
  • Your location and estimated time of arrival
  • Your pet’s emergency

3. Get support to safely transport your pet to VCA SFVS. If you have medical records related to your pet’s emergency, please bring those with you.


Pet Parent Resource: What is considered a veterinary emergency? (Scroll down to third question.)


24/7 Urgent Care and Emergency Services at VCA SFVS

  • Complete intensive care unit (ICU) laboratory
  • Endoscopic foreign body removal
  • Full range of blood products
  • Oxygen therapy
  • 24-hour ICU monitoring by veterinary nurses trained in critical care, surgery and internal medicine
  • Emergency surgical service
  • Around-the-clock access to SFVS specialists
  • Post-operative care for referring veterinarians’ surgical cases

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Gracie, a beautiful Boston Terrier, visited VCA San Francisco Veterinary Specialists on New Year’s Eve (!) because she had broken out in hives and was feeling pretty miserable. After being treated by Dr. Alice Bugman, Gracie was soon doing much better and feeling like her old self.

Here, Gracie’s guardian, Ann, shares some fabulous photos with us. We’re so happy Gracie was able to celebrate 2014 without worrying about those hives. 

VCA SFVS is here for you and your animal companions 24/7, including holidays. 

From Ann: Gracie’s hobbies are:







Taking an inventory of her toys


Sharing confidences with her pals


Celebrating diversity


Sharing a joke


Boston racing, an annual event at her birthday party, every April


Playing like her life depends on it


And then sleeping some more


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