A Weekend to Remember!

This past weekend I checked off an item from my bucket list. I flew to Indianapolis, meet friends and colleagues and drove an hour to the small town of Brazil, IN. As I met Dr. Barron Hall and his wife, Michelle in the airport, I told them this was on my bucket list and it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. They both laughed and said, it gets in your blood and this won’t be your only mission. I smiled and thought to myself, “What have I gotten into?” Early Saturday morning, I met old friends and some new friends and colleagues in the hotel lobby for breakfast before heading out to the Exotic Feline Rescue Center in Cedar Point, IN to begin two full days of dentistry on exotic cats.

This mission was part of the worldwide mission of the Peter Emily International Veterinary Dentistry Foundation (PEIVDF). The PEIVDF is a non-profit organization whose main goal is to improve the dental health of animals from elephants to shrews in zoos and rescue sanctuaries around the world. The PEIVDF was started by the “Godfather” of veterinary dentistry, Dr. Peter Emily. The members of this mission give of their time and talents to help these animals. Each member on the team paid their own way to Indiana as well as room and board to participate in this mission. Several member of the team actually pay tuition to participate. This tuition is used to help fund additional missions but the Foundation depends upon the generosity of other to help continue to help these animals. The anesthesia department of the University of Illinois volunteered their time to help monitor the cats during the procedures and used it as a training opportunity for several veterinary students.

The team divided into two groups lead by Dr. Barron Hall and Dr. Clarence Sitzman, both Diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Dentistry. They guided their teams through the diagnosis and treatment plan for each animal. Our team, lead by Dr. Hall, began the day with a 500 pound Tiger named Vaughn. Vaughn was about 16 years old and multiple fractured canine teeth. The doctor determined he needed endodontic therapy on three of those canines. Our second patient was Majai, a black leopard with fractured canines and incisors also needing endodontic therapy on four teeth.

Dr. Sitzman’s team began with a slightly smaller tiger that needed a root canal and some extractions and finished the day with a black leopard needing some restorations to save his teeth.

On Sunday, we returned to the rescue to meet Tank, a 750 pound bruiser of the tiger in need of 6 root canals. Dr. Sitzman’s team worked on Tank while we began treatment on Nippers, a smaller female tiger with a fractured canine. However, the x-rays on Nippers revealed that she had a fractured palatal root on her 108. Following the advice of Dr. Emily, the team performed the root canal on the canine then extracted the mesial and palatal root of 108 and performed a root canal on the distal root in an attempt to allow her to keep such a structurally important tooth. The last patient of the day was Chloe, a 25 pound Serval cat in need an endodontic therapy on her 204.

This was a successful mission and an experience of a lifetime! I know that the next time an opportunity arises for me to attend a mission, I’m in!!!

If you would like to contribute to the PEIVDF to help with additional missions around the world you can do so at: www.peteremilyfoundation.org.