As a veterinary technician for the past 15 years, Amanda Fernandez has had her fair share of caring for furry patients with toxic exposures.
But she had never been on the other side of the exam table until her 10-month-old Sphynx, Rosita (Rosi), accidentally ingested Rimadyl (carprofen), a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication commonly used to treat pain and inflammation from arthritis and other joint diseases in dogs.
“Rosi is fearless and always willing to try anything at least once,” explains Amanda, who works as a veterinary surgical assistant at Blue Pearl Veterinary Specialists in Spring, Texas.
That fearless habit is precisely what led Rosi to a weekend hospital stay, and resulted in Amanda being the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center’s (APCC) 3 millionth caller on the night of April 6, 2018.
That night, Rosi accidentally ingested approximately 75mg of a flavored, chewable tablet of Rimadyl, a medication that Amanda had on hand for one of her dogs.
“Most cats don’t find stuff like that appealing, but unfortunately, Rosi thinks the flavored chews are delicious too,” says Amanda. At the time of the incident, Amanda was setting up food and medication for her other pets. She briefly left the Rimadyl tablet on the counter while she prepared the rest of her animals’ meals. Then, the ever-curious Rosi then began sniffing around. Amanda and her boyfriend saw Rosi eating what they first thought was dog food, but they soon realized that she’d actually ingested part of the Rimadyl tablet. Acting quickly, they took away what was left of the pill, but Rosi had already consumed three-quarters of it, an amount that they, as vet techs, knew was over the toxic limit for cats.
Thankfully, prompt medical attention and the guidance of APCC’s knowledgeable staff allowed Rosi to make a full recovery with “nary a hitch in her giddy-up,” Amanda says.
“We’re so happy that Rosi has made a full recovery, and grateful to Amanda for sharing her experience and encouraging pet owners to remain vigilant,” said Mindy Perez, Vice President of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. “Whatever comes our way in the next 3 million cases, APCC stands ready to help pet owners protect their animals.”
“Rosi certainly keeps me on my toes,” says Amanda, who has two other Sphynx cats, three domestic shorthairs, three Rottweilers and a Chihuahua-mix. “Out of all of my pets, she gets into the most mischief.”
While this is the first time that Amanda had needed to use the APCC hotline herself, she’s familiar with it from her work. “With the exception of six days working in a law office, I have spent my entire professional life in veterinary medicine,” she explains. “I’ve always loved animals, often more than I do people!” She credits a former dog named Silver for teaching her what it means to be a responsible pet parent and how to advocate for your animal.
Amanda and Rosi learned that they were APCC’s 3 millionth case when their call was answered, and they want to say, “thank you to the entire staff at APCC for doing what you do—all day, all night; every day, every night, without fail.”
Amanda is grateful the APCC was just a phone call away.
“I know not all cases end happily, but the number of sad endings would far outweigh the happy without the hard work and dedication of the people manning one of our nation’s only poison control centers for animals,” she says.
“This incredible milestone reflects the deep expertise and dedication of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, which saves lives every day of the year,” said Matt Bershadker, President and CEO of the ASPCA. “The work they do responding to emergencies, preventing tragedies, and educating the public provides a critical service to millions of pet owners across the country.”
Amanda looks forward to her next adventure with Rosi—one that’s much less dangerous: certifying her as a therapy animal. She’s also switched her dog’s medication to something “safer and less appealing.”
“I’d rather Rosi’s antics and friendly nature be used for good, instead of mischief,” Amanda says.
Meanwhile, for all the pets across the nation who are prone to poisonous misadventures, APCC will always be on hand, ready to take three million more cases—whatever it takes to keep your pets safe, happy and healthy.
While we know that accidents are bound to happen, best practice for keeping your pets safe is to keep harmful household items, poisonous plants and dangerous human foods up and out of paws’ reach. If you believe your pet has ingested a potentially toxic substance, contact your veterinarian or APCC at (888)-426-4435 immediately. You can also download the APCC mobile app to easily access important pet safety information!