At 8 p.m. on a Saturday night, I waded through the crowded lobby at he Emergency Animal
Hospital of Collin County, in Plano,
Texas. The lobby was occupied by
people holding leashes, mindlessly
tapping empty pet carriers, and
speaking in hushed tones.
In the corner sat a young woman
cradling an orange tabby named
Sunshine wrapped in a blanket and
lacking the energy common for a
typical 5-week-old kitten. Sunshine
was quiet and still. “I don’t know
what’s wrong with him,” said Ashley
Grando, of McKinney. “He is very
sick and even fell asleep in his
water bowl at home. My regular
veterinarian gave me medicine to
give him, but he isn’t getting better.
They ran tests on him tonight, and
I’m waiting for the results.”
We nodded in that way pet par-
ents do when we are fighting fear
and helplessness. I wished her well,
gently touched the top of Sunshine’s
head, and headed for the door
marked STAFF ONLY that opens into
the treatment area.
Inside the large treatment area,
I quickly noticed how noisy it was
and how fast staff members scurried.
They spoke quickly and loudly to
one another in a special, abbreviated
medical code. Some tapped data into
computers while others took vitals of
the sick pets every five to 10 minutes.
The best way to describe the scene
was controlled chaos. “Basically, we
can handle most of the things handled in a human ER — we have the
equipment to do that,” said Dean
Severidt, D.V.M., chief medical officer.
I spotted a veterinarian and two
technicians huddled around a sweet
Shepherd mix on the floor. He came in
with blood all over his front legs after
somehow yanking out a front nail, and
they were keeping his paw elevated
above his heart and using sodium
nitrate to stop the oozing blood.
Then I glanced at the back wall
and noticed a black-and-white kitten
inside an oxygen tank. His breathing
was labored. His name was April. His
owner, Randolph Wheatley, of Allen,
Texas, adopted what he thought was
a female kitten a month earlier from
a shelter. But the initial examination
inside the ER treatment room by Sunshine waits for her turn in the exam room.
A black cat who arrived late in the night
waits to be assessed by a veterinarian.
takes you behind the
scenes at an animal
hospital. STORY AND