As Christmas music played Sunday in the lobby of the Northeast Indiana Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Hospital, a bandaged, whining dog lay caged within the facility, recovering from having about half its ear bitten off that morning.
It arrived about 7 a.m., making it one of the first surgeries veterinarian Jason Matthew performed on Christmas Day. But, he said, pets with more serious conditions had to be treated first, so he couldn’t immediately tend to the lacerated ear.
“Christmas is often like this,” he said of the busyness, a byproduct of offering around-the-clock care, even on holidays.
The hospital, which is in northeast Fort Wayne, near Maplecrest and St. Joe Center roads, is the only facility that offers such hours in about a two-hour radius, staff said.
Although the facility was decorated for Christmas, Matthew – who arrived shortly after 5 a.m. and expected to work at least until 6 p.m. – said he no longer wears a Santa hat when working the holiday. Incidents of euthanasia tend to increase at Christmas, he said, explaining he doesn’t want to remind pet owners of the holiday during a painful time.
“A lot of folks have to make tough decisions,” he said.
He and veterinarian Ronnie Richardson said the animals’ ailments weren’t necessarily holiday-related, but the holidays can lead to more instances of chocolate ingestion and problems caused by pets eating decorations.
Neither tinsel nor garland was the feared problem for one dog Sunday – antifreeze was. Two people held the pet as veterinary assistant Logan Eicher took a blood sample to determine whether the animal drank the fluid.
Eicher, an Iowa State veterinary student that’s home for break, said he was called in about 10 a.m. Sunday after working a 10-hour shift Saturday. He didn’t mind working the holiday, he said, noting it’s usually busy.
“I like the fast pace,” he said.
Staff on Sunday bustled about, caring for an 11-week-old Yorkshire terrier suffering from low blood glucose, a dog that had been hit by a car and, among other patients, a dog unable to urinate because of obstructions in its urethra.
After working Sunday morning at Walgreens, Desiree Gomez began her shift at the animal hospital mid-afternoon. She didn’t mind working the holiday, she said.
“At least I get to do something I like on Christmas,” she said, adding her job at the animal hospital lets her help others. “It’s all about giving, right?”