I called our local large animal veterinary hospital, Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital, to inquire about doing a parasite load count on my sheep. No can do. Pilchuck no longer offers services for small ruminants. They will still work on sheep and goats brought to their clinic, but for emergencies only. Their website lists four vets who specialize in goats, sheep and llamas- I guess this must be out of date?
The person on the phone said nobody there would even know how to interpret fecal floats for sheep. Really? That cant’ be right. Isn’t that basic stuff all vets learn in college? Laymen can easily learn to do fecal floats at home, if they want to invest in the several-hundred-dollar microscope and equipment. Not to mention, I think fecal floats submitted to vet offices are usually just sent to a lab. When I had the pneumonia sheep there, I paid for a fecal float and was given parasite counts and medication recommendations, and discussed doing further parasite tests with the vet who was working with me there. He didn’t mention the no-sheep policy. It seems peculiar that a multi-million-dollar-looking large animal facility could (would?) not help me de-worm my sheep. Puzzling.
Another local vet, Evergreen Holistic Vet Care, has recently hired a new college grad who is experienced with treating small ruminants. They considered working with me, but in the end, declined the job. They have decided to have a policy of only administering health care to companion animals, not meat animals, due to their vegetarian- and animal rights agenda- leanings. This is also a bit puzzling, because it’s not the sheep’s fault that *I* choose a carnivore diet; and the clinic has no trouble taking my money to treat my stock dogs. I guess that’s their prerogative to define their business ethical boundaries, but I don’t entirely follow the line of reasoning.
Maybe they’ve just all come to realize that in our area, horse and dog/cat owners are willing to spend more, so profit is highest when treating only those animals and passing over the ruminants. But, the Veterinarian’s Oath does say …I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health, the relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources… It doesn’t mention picking and choosing only the most profitable animal species to work on. 😉 Are there no James Herriots left in Snohomish County? <sigh>
In the end, my only lead was that Pilchuck recommended giving Dr. Laura Glover a call. She used to work there, but now works for the state, and does a little on-call large animal work out of her truck. I talked to her, she sounds nice, and indeed is willing to work with me. She acknowledged that there is dire need for small ruminant services in our area, and she’s doing her best to fill in. Thank goodness, for a while there, I was envisioning having to perform home-done caesarean sections and other major jobs myself, for lack of an available vet; right in the middle of Focus-On-Farming-Snohomish-County. It’s a little disconcerting, knowing that resources are few and far between if I need help in an emergency. I guess I’d better beef-up my inventory of scalpels, sutures and injections, in case it comes down to me when a crisis develops!