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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Why I Am Not a Vet

As a 4H leader, I get to do a lot of fun things with some really cool kids. Our group is mainly a dairy goat club, but we have kids with chickens, rabbits, and even a slamander project! Some days though aren't so much fun.

Yesterday morning in the midst of dealing with the ice and school delay, I received a phone call from one of my 4H-ers. Her goat was lying down and not moving. The day before she had called me because this same goat was limping/stumbling slightly on its front leg. I had chalked it up to a typical six month old goat that had landed wrong when jumping off of something. I had told her to keep an eye on it and if it got worse to call me.

Now, the goat was lying unresponsive in the barn. I grabbed my "vet bag", shouted orders to the girls, and as quickly as I could safely go on icy backroads, made my way to their home.

When I got there they had moved the goat inside the house, thinking that being warmer would help. According to the 4H-er he had actually gotten better in the afternoon after she had called me. He had been walking, eating, and pooping/peeeing just fine. I did a quick exam and the goat was cold to the touch, completely unresponsive, and was barely breathing. He wasn't bloated and had no froth at the mouth but every now and then he would have a twitching spasm.

I had to explain that there was nothing I could do. Nothing a vet would be able to do. He was just too far gone and would probably be dead in a little while. It is so hard to tell kids that their beloved pet has no hope of recovery. One of the reasons I am not a real vet. (Five more years of school, an inability to pass organic chemistry, and $150,000 in student loans would be some of the others.)

I have no idea what went wrong with this goat. I am guessing something neurological. I inspected the barn and pens and found nothing that could have poisoned him and the three other goats in the herd were all perfectly normal.

So if anyone has any thoughts, I'd love to hear them. The family is going to have a necropsy done just because the circumstances are so unusual. I'll post an update when we have an answer.
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