Late Night with a 24-Hour Emergency Vet
A 14-year-old Italian Greyhound waits for tests in the emergency room after being admitted with pain.
Over the course of a pet’s 15-year life span, an average owner will spend from $9,000 to $14,000 on veterinary care, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. In 2011, that added up to Americans spending $28 billion.
Dr. Katie Gryzb fills out paperwork at Veterinary Emergency Referral Group, known as VERG, at the South Brooklyn office. The clinic represents two of the five 24-hour veterinary clinics in New York City.
Gryzb’s shift usually begins at 6 p.m. and won’t end until around nine the next morning. “You come in, and you kind of case the hospital. So we write all the cases down, and we just take a quick look through all the files to get ourselves acquainted. And then you start seeing emergencies immediately,” she said.
Two veterinary technicians discuss the details of a patient as one readies to go home for the night.
Each doctor and technician must go on rounds before leaving, getting together with specialists, interns, and other doctors to go through cases so that they know what happened from beginning to end.
An assistant and a technician draw blood from a 12-year-old cat while Dr. Gryzb, who really does prefer to be called just “Gryzb,” writes up a chart.
Gryzb sends a personal note to the family of every animal she ends up having to euthanize. Earlier this evening, she had two euthanize a cat and a dog.
Assistant Amanda Sorbello (left) restrains a dog while technician Dana Ingrassia (right) draws blood. Gryzb prepares slides for the microscope.
The New York City Economic Development Corporation estimates that there are 600,000 dogs and 500,000 cats living in the city.
A patient receives oxygen in an isolation chamber after being admitted with pneumonia.
The average dog owner reported spending about $655 a year on veterinary care, according to the American Pet Products Association.
A dog’s owner visits her sick pet. She picked the dog up from a shelter for the first time three days before and immediately had to bring her to the emergency room, where she learned the dog had pneumonia.
VERG South allows visiting hours, including late nights, with animals that end up staying for prolonged periods.
Sorbello and Ingrassia run tests on a Pomeranian mix. The dog was admitted with head trauma after its owners found it on the road outside their home. They believe it was hit by a car.
Ingrassia administers pain medication.
Gryzb performs an ultrasound on a cat to look for any abnormalities in its stomach.
To help cover rising costs, many Americans are choosing to buy pet insurance. In 2011, nearly six percent of dog owners and three percent of cat owners paid for pet insurance. Spending on pet insurance premiums grew by 10 percent last year to $400 million.
Gryzb checks up on a dog that is under observation after suffering from seizures.
Even when no emergencies come in, the doctors and technicians stay busy through the night taking care of in-patients.
Gryzb does rounds.
When things are slow, Gryzb studies the cases that present as mysteries. Most nights, she said, there won’t be too much more action after 4 a.m. But she’ll still be at work for another five hours.