A veterinarian with an innate desire to help found a community-owned veterinary hospital and it’s a perfect match! Dr. Regan Schwartz was raised in Toronto, and she has travelled the world helping animals – but when she discovered the RAPS Animal Hospital, she knew she had found her place.
Before, during and after getting her veterinary degree, Dr. Schwartz was volunteering in underserved places where veterinary care was either inaccessible or unaffordable.
She did an international veterinary medicine training program with World Vets, a Washington State-based group that helps animals in 45 underserved countries. That was a one-week program in Nicaragua – even before she was in veterinary college.
While she was in school, she went to Nepal just days after the devastating 2015 earthquakes there and worked for three months aiding the local animals.
“The human world was highly impacted and the animals obviously as well, so there was a lot of work to be done,” she says.
“In Nepal, I supported surgeries, general practice, vaccination efforts, and helped to medicate patients at a hospital run by Dr. Pranav in Bhaktapur,” she recalls. His facility was a hospital as well as an animal sanctuary. He collected the dogs in the community that just weren’t good adoption candidates. A lot of them had missing limbs, congenital abnormalities and/or were pretty sick and need a lot of care. He had a whole collection of these fantastic animals in his back courtyard.”
One of those animals, a dog named Zunee, travelled all the way from Nepal to Toronto, where he was adopted by Dr. Schwartz’s mother.
“He was magnificent, just incredibly wise,” she says of Zunee. “He was one of those dogs that peered into your soul, highly intelligent, you could just tell that he’d been through a lot in his time.”
Zunee was found on the side of a road by a staffer from the American consulate who took him to the vet to be humanely euthanized. But the vet saw hope for recovery – and the before-and-after pictures are a shocking tale of resilience!
“He really came around, he healed, he was saved,” says Dr. Schwartz. “He was one of those dogs who would just walk down the street by your side. I remember that when I went grocery shopping, he would sit outside and wait for me to come back and then we would walk back to the hospital together.”
While Zunee lived two glorious years in Toronto, he developed adenocarcinoma, which is cancer that can develop in the nasal passage, and had to be euthanized.
“He had a fantastic life,” she says of Zunee’s later years in Canada.
Another three-month stint Dr. Schwartz did overseas was with Veterinarians without Borders in Hanoi, Vietnam. This project was less hands-on vet care and more public health-based with research around food safety, specifically the prevention of zoonotic diseases being transmitted from pork to humans, which is an ongoing problem there.
Dr. Schwartz’s devotion to the well-being of animals did not take a back seat even while she was immersed in vet school at St. George’s University on the Caribbean island of Grenada, where she completed both her veterinary training and a Master’s degree in public health. In addition to the veterinary school, the university also has a medical school, so teams from both would travel to underserved areas and host One Health One Medicine clinics which welcomed extended families – mothers, fathers, kids, pets and farm animals – to come for exams and treatments.
“I have an innate desire to help,” she explains. “It’s something I’ve always had and something I derive deep satisfaction from doing. Going into communities that don’t have access to veterinary care or don’t have the financial means to pursue the veterinary care that’s there. Those people need help and those animals need help. It feels really good to be able to take what I’ve learned and to give back to communities that need it.”
A pop-up vet clinic RAPS did recently in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is an example of the sort of community outreach Dr. Schwartz wants to see more of.
She sees her role at RAPS Animal Hospital as perhaps preordained.
“I was meant to find RAPS,” she says. “It’s an absolute perfect fit for what I like to do and find satisfaction in. It’s a combination of general practice, which is what I’ve trained to do, and emergency medicine, which I pursued right out of post-graduation.”
She is also deeply involved at the RAPS Cat Sanctuary – “shelter medicine” is something she has a strong interest in – and getting to know the feline residents and giving them routine care and necessary treatments is gratifying, she says.
“RAPS kind of incorporates everything that I’m passionate about,” says Dr. Schwartz. “It’s a community full of people that are just like me. They love animals. They love doing what they do and they love giving back. The pro bono work that we do, it’s so satisfying to have the means, when needed, to offer pro bono diagnostics or pro bono care to people that can’t afford it otherwise. Normal hospitals don’t have the means to do that — and we do. It’s quite a privilege to work at RAPS. I definitely see it as a perfect fit for me."
Injured cat is rehabilitated and finds forever home.Some Good Samaritans found an injured stray cat hanging around their property. He was limping and evidently injured. Because the cat (who they named Mooncake!) was nervous and shy, it took them a week to gain his trust.
When they eventually got Mooncake into their reach, he was brought to the RAPS Animal Hospital, on Dec. 2, 2021.
Mooncake received treatment right away from the veterinarians at the RAPS Animal Hospital. It turned out that Mooncake had experienced some trauma to his right hind leg, which left him with open wounds and inflammation. Staff estimate that he is about a year-and-a-half old and found that he was not neutered and had no ID. As is our policy, we held him for seven days to allow his people to claim him, but no one contacted us.
During that week, Mooncake received top-notch care at the RAPS Animal Hospital. He went in once a day to have his wounds cleaned, checked over and rebandaged – and he quickly became a favourite with all the hospital staff because, even though he remained shy, he is also incredibly sweet and very well behaved.
Mooncake’s wounds healed quickly and, thankfully, there was no permanent damage to his leg. The hospital team neutered and microchipped him and just a couple of weeks after he first came to us, Mooncake was ready to find his new furever home.
We were so excited to hear that Mooncake’s finders were very interested in adopting him. Once he became available, we called them to set up a meet-and-greet. They had not stopped thinking about him since they dropped him off on Dec. 2 and were so happy to see him healed and doing well. They filled out an application, which was reviewed and approved.
Exactly one month after Mooncake first came to RAPS, he was adopted by his loving and caring finders. Mooncake’s new “pawrents” sent us an email of Mooncake purring and accepting belly rubs only a couple hours after being brought home. It was a perfect match and we are so happy for Mooncake and his new family.
These are the sorts of happy endings that are possible because of the huge community of animal allies who support us so that we can save and improve the lives of as many animals as possible.
During a time when there is a severe shortage of veterinarians in British Columbia and across Canada, the RAPS Animal Hospital is extremely fortunate to attract superb talent, because our not-for-profit model allows veterinarians to focus on the wellness of animals (and their people!) rather than being preoccupied with the bottom line.
We are thrilled to introduce our two newest team members. They will be ready to help you when your companion animal needs attention!
Dr. Victoria Cruz-Mendez
Dr. Cruz-Mendez received her veterinary accreditation from Royal (Dick) Veterinary School of the University of Edinburgh, in the United Kingdom, where she also did post-graduate studies. She has worked extensively with small and enjoys working with exotic animals, as well as in pathology and dermatology. Before completing her studies, she was a wildlife care assistant with the Wildlife Rescue Association of B.C. and she was involved in animal organizations on and off campus. She lives in Vancouver and has three cats (including two rescues) and two ferrets (one who is a rescue). In her free time, Dr. Cruz-Mendez plays soccer and takes the ferrets out for walks. (Follow their adventures on Instagram @chorizotheferret).
Dr. Satveer Dadrwal
Dr. Dadrwal holds a Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry from Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries Sciences University, in India, and has practiced in India, Australia and Canada. He has extensive experience in animal welfare and public education, including in rural development settings. Dr. Dadrwal performs surgeries, dental procedures, emergency care and a full range of veterinary procedures on cats, dogs and exotics such as rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs and hedgehogs. When not working, you can find him hiking and exploring the new country and spending time with his world explorer cat, Tintin, and mischievous puppy, Maple.
Within minutes, heatstroke can be fatal. Now the signs. Be prepared to respond.
In hot weather, people must take significant precautions to ensure the health of their pets.
Heatstroke (hyperthermia) in a human or animal is extremely serious.
Heatstroke can happen within minutes in a car. In hot weather, LEAVE YOUR DOG AT HOME.
It can also occur if an animal is outdoors in heat without adequate shade or when exercising – even gently walking – in high temperatures.
As heatstroke progresses, dogs may:
Merely lowering a pet’s body temperature is not enough. Severe heatstroke can affect almost every system in the body. Potentially fatal conditions can persist or emerge even after the pet’s temperature has returned to near normal. You MUST take the animal to a veterinarian AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
Surrendered cat undergoes surgery … will soon be looking for a very special forever home
Tang Tang is a three-year-old male British Shorthair cat who is an incredible cuddle bug!
Unfortunately, he suffers from repeated urinary tract blockages. These are costly to treat and his human contacted RAPS to inquire about surrendering him. The RAPS Animal Hospital offers no-interest payment plans for families that need to stretch out payments for unanticipated treatments. But after discussing all options with the person, they still decided to surrender Tang Tang.
In many jurisdictions, an animal like Tang Tang would be euthanized because animal agencies would not expend the resources to provide the medical procedure to correct the ailment. But RAPS is a no-kill animal-serving agency.
Our animal care staff at the RAPS Adoption Centre immediately saw that Tang Tang was only able to dribble tiny amounts of urine and was in discomfort. Veterinarians at the RAPS Animal Hospital inserted a catheter to ease his pain.
Tang Tang was placed in his own, special suite at the Hospital where the staff immediately were smitten with this cuddly boy. A sign in the isolation room declares: “Tang Tang’s Suite – Members Only.”
Because of his chronic urinary tract blockage history and the pain and suffering they caused, the medical team decided a Perineal Urethrostomy was the best option to try to help prevent continued blockages.
Tang Tang will remain in RAPS’ care and monitored closely while he heals from his procedure. He is not only getting all the medical attention he needs for his physical health, he is reveling in the adulation of the staff with whom he has developed a very much reciprocated affection.
Once he has healed fully and is feeling 100% his dashing self, Tang Tang will be placed for adoption as we begin the process to find him a forever home. He is a young cat with many healthy years ahead of him and he is going to take his place at the centre of a very special loving home.
Stay tuned for updates as the magnificent Tang Tang gets ready for the next phase of his life.
Animals like Tang Tang, who have treatable but sometimes complicated or expensive medical conditions, are at risk of being euthanized in far too many jurisdictions. RAPS is able to ensure animals like him are able to live their best lives – and we can make this promise because we have the support of animal-loving people in our community!
Despite extremely rare condition, Toby is back to normal and expected to have many more year
One family is relieved and thrilled after their 11-year-old cat experienced an incredibly rare health crisis – and is now home and happy!
Toby lives with Mandy Lichtmann, RAPS’ Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator, and Eyal Lichtmann, RAPS’ CEO, and their family. The trouble started in April, when the normally extroverted and cuddly Toby became withdrawn from the family. Soon, he was vomiting continuously and not eating.
Dr. Assaf Goldberg at the RAPS Animal Hospital examined Toby and ordered blood work, X-rays and an ultrasound.
“It showed a mass in his bowel so surgery was recommended,” Mandy says.
Due to the location and the size of the mass, the surgery was very challenging. The mass caused severe damage to the intestinal segment involved, leading to a blockage of the gastrointestinal tract. Toby could not pass food and therefore he was vomiting and had decreased appetite says Dr. Goldberg. The mass was inside a 15-centimetre section if Toby’s gastrointestinal tract.
That meant that section had to be removed and the tract on either side joined together during the surgery. Despite the complicated procedure, all went well.
The doctor and the family awaited the biopsy results. Blockages like this are frequently cancerous at Toby’s age and everyone prepared for the worst.
“I thought we were going to lose him,” Mandy says.
Toby was hospitalized at the RAPS Animal Hospital for a few days with IV fluids, antibiotics and pain medication and supportive care. After a few days, he returned home with a feeding tube in his neck.
“I had to tube-feed him up to five times a day,” she says. “He was a really good patient, thank goodness, because not all cats are when they are being tube-fed. The hospital was great whenever I had any concerns. After about a week, we took him off all pain meds and he was a total trooper. He really started to come back to life, his personality came back, he started to eat on his own and since then he's been great.”
Then came the great news: The growth was not cancerous. It was a benign and extremely rare condition called gastrointestinal eosinophilic sclerosing fibroplasia. It could have been fatal but, since it was removed, Toby is expected to suffer no side-effects.
“He's back to normal,” says Mandy. He'll be on a special digestive care diet probably for the rest of his life, but that’s a small price to pay for the Lichtmann family to have their old Toby back to normal.
Dr. Goldberg says this condition is so rare that most veterinarians will never encounter it in their careers.
Veterinary medicine has advanced dramatically in recent decades and conditions that might have led to an animal’s death are often ameliorated or cured with innovative care.
“We love stories like this,” says Dr. Goldberg. “It is such a joy to tell a family that their pet is going to recover and that they will likely have many more years together.”
Changes in Human Behaviour Lead to Changes in Coyote Routines
Springtime is breeding season for coyotes, as it is for many other animals. By and large, coyotes coexist mostly uneventfully with people and domestic animals. However, emerging evidence suggests that the coronavirus crisis is having consequences on coyote behaviours.
The decrease in human activity may be driving coyotes into areas they would usually avoid, such as now-deserted town centres. Additionally, the decrease in restaurant, café and takeout meals is reducing the availability of discarded human food, which attracts coyotes and/or their rodent prey.
As a result, several concerning incidents have occurred. A person on a local COVID-19-related social media platform said he and his dog were pursued two blocks by a coyote in the Oakridge area Sunday, until they got safely home.
News reports say that a dog was killed and a cyclist was pursued by coyotes in the Fraser Valley in recent days.
As a result, the B.C. Conservation Officer Service has issued a warning and advice for people to protect themselves and their pets.
Preventative measures include:
If you experience a worrying encounter with a coyote (or a wolf), the service advises:
Call the Conservation Officer Service Call Centre at 1-877-952-7277 if a wolf or coyote poses an immediate threat or danger to public safety.
If your pet has been injured or has come in contact with a wild animal, call the RAPS Animal Hospital, which is open during this crisis with special protocols in place, at 604-242-1666.
We hope that you and those you love – humans and other animals – are staying healthy at home and maintaining social distancing. We want you to know that RAPS is doing our best to continue services to the animals.
Here is a summary of our actions and activities.
At all RAPS facilities, best practices in proscribed sanitization and social distancing have been implemented.
RAPS Animal Hospital
The RAPS Animal Hospital is open as an essential service to care for animals. Staff are still working hard, with scrupulous attentiveness to sanitizing and limiting interaction with the public.
For families financially affected by coronavirus or facing challenges for any other reason, we offer No-interest Wellness Payment Plans.
For the protection of staff and the public, we are practicing social distancing. We are requesting you to please call us to determine whether your pet needs to be seen now or later. We are accepting all emergency and urgent cases. If you book an appointment, call us when you arrive and stay in your car. A staff member will come to receive your pet. A veterinarian will call you to discuss treatment plans and, again, a staff member will meet you at your car to sign necessary permissions. Call the hospital at 604-242-1666 or book online.
Stay home and order in for your pup or kitty! Order your animals’ foods, litter, treats and toys and have them delivered right to your door.
RAPS City of Richmond Animal Shelter
We are fostering as many animals as possible into homes to reduce burden on limited staff at the Shelter.
The Shelter is closed to the public, except by appointment for emergencies such as surrenders and strays.
RAPS Cat Sanctuary
The RAPS Cat Sanctuary is closed to the public.
Limited staff and volunteers, working in shifts and maintaining social distancing, are delivering the individualized care the residents need and expect.
RAPS Thrift Stores
The Thrift Stores are closed, but stay tuned for our online store!
Advice for animal guardians
Companion animals cannot contract or transmit COVID-19. However, just as we are not shaking hands, petting should be limited only to members of the household. When out walking, don’t let others pet your dog and blow kisses at other pets from a distance.
Follow RAPS social media channels for fun and amusing ideas for keeping your pets happy and entertained.
Can you help?
Everything we do is possible only because of your support.
More than ever … your support is needed and deeply appreciated. With the thrift stores closed and the hospital largely limited to urgent cases, our revenues are down – just as demand for services like our Pet Food Bank and No-interest Wellness Payment Plans are about to spike.
If you are in a position to help, we would be enormously grateful.
We encourage online donations through CanadaHelps to minimize administrative processing demands and eliminate cash transmissions.
If you’re staying at home more – as we know you are! –consider contributing some of money you are saving on social activities!
We are in perpetual need of pet food and other supplies. Consider making an online purchase from our wish lists for the Shelter and Sanctuary!
On behalf of the people of RAPS, but especially on behalf of the animals … Thank you for your continued support.
RAPS Animal Hospital is very fortunate that we have been gifted new and very modern in-house diagnostic equipment for all of your pet's need. This allows us to keep down the cost to you of diagnostic treatments so that we may service you better.
What is a Geriatric Panel? And why should I have my pet’s blood & urine screened?
This is for senior pets, eight years and older, or for pets with underlying conditions that could benefit from an overall screening. A geriatric panel is a diagnostic tool that our veterinarians use to look inside your pet and assess their overall health. This panel can be used when a pet is ill to help our veterinarians determine the cause of the illness.
A panel can be performed when a pet is otherwise healthy to help detect early illness/disease before noticeable symptoms become apparent. Normal results give our veterinarians a baseline for your pet.
To begin with 2mls of blood and urine is collected from your pet. This small amount of blood and urine provides a lot of useful information about your pet’s health. The samples are prepared in our very own laboratory.
The samples are collected and placed into special tubes that preserve and help separate the cells from the serum. The samples are spun, slides are prepared.
The blood itself is closely analyzed. A comprehensive blood cell count is performed; meaning the amount of red and white cells is counted as well as each type of red and white cell. The white cell count and type helps to rule out infection and inflammation.
The red cell count and type helps to assess hydration and rule out anemia. It also counts platelets that are important to circulation and clotting.
Next is your pet’s chemistry! The chemistry looks at many different factors in the serum part of the blood. Electrolytes like potassium and sodium are analyzed. Results may point to problems with electrolyte imbalance, organ disease or hormonal imbalance. The geriatric panel can produce results related to liver, kidney, pancreas, and thyroid.
Your pet’s urine is collected and a urinalysis is performed. What your veterinarian team is looking for in your pet’s urine is:
There is a high-level overview of a geriatric blood panel and urinalysis. Our veterinarian is here to guide you through the numbers and values. Routine testing is important, catching illness in its early stages can make treatment easier, more effective and less costly.