Hi Dr. Beckman!
Thank you again for such a great dental extraction weekend. I really learned a lot and am so excited to take my new skills back and use it to improve our dental program for our shelter animals and low income clinic patients. I'm also so excited to be able to share all the online dental courses with my staff, so thank you so much for your generous gift!!! I received the login information from Gero and have passed it along to my doctors and technicians. They are all very excited to learn and work on ways to improve our techniques!
You had asked me to send you some information about our organization. I'm the medical director for the Virginia Beach SPCA. We adopt out approximately 4,000 animals a year. We also have a low income clinic. Clients must provide proof of income in order to qualify for our clinic. We also require that all animals be spayed or neutered prior to utilizing our services, or if they aren't, clients have the option to prepay for a spay or neuter so we can see their pets and then perform the spay or neuter when they are healthy enough. We see an average of 12,000 clinic patients a year between our in house services and our mobile surgery unit.
I have a staff of 5 full time veterinarians (including myself), three licensed veterinary technicians, 7 assistants, and several receptionists. We are hopefully adding two more LVT's in the near future. Every single animal that is adopted from our shelter receives a veterinary exam and then gets whatever medical care they need. This includes spays, neuters, mass removals, dentals, etc. We do not euthanize for time, space, or resources. In regards to dentals, when our veterinarians do their exams, they grade every patient's dental disease. If the veterinarian determines the pet needs or would benefit from a dental, it gets done. We don't make it an option for an animal that needs dental care to not get it. We try to perform these dentals prior to adoption, however, if there isn't room in the schedule to get it done prior to adoption, the adopter pays for the dental and can then take the pet home and come back for the dental. In order to make these pets more adoptable, we only ask adopters to pay $125 towards the cost of the dental. The rest is covered by donations and fundraising.
We don't cut corners when it comes to dental care for our patients, whether they are shelter animals or public clients. Every dental patient receives pre anesthetic bloodwork, an IV catheter placed, a technician doing anesthetic monitoring, etc. We do full mouth pre and post op radiographs for every dental. We also utilize nerve blocks. We chart every single patient's mouth and our adopters receive that information as part of their adoption packet. Our dental team consists of the veterinarian, an LVT, and an assistant to make sure these animals are getting the proper care they deserve. Dentals are the area where we make the least amount of income, but we try to do it the right way as a service to the community and of course to make sure our shelter animals receive the best care possible. In FY2018, we performed 286 dentals. 225 of those were public patients or animals that had been recently adopted, and 61 were animals still in our shelter. We usually have a very long waitlist for dentals, because up until this point we have only been able to get a couple done a day and because of the low cost of our procedure. We usually have two days a week dedicated to performing dentals, and then on days when our shelter surgery team finishes early they will do dentals on shelter patients. At the moment, we have 70 public patients on our dental waitlist and 11 shelter animals that are currently in the shelter and have a mandatory dental requirement. Many of our local area hospitals will send patients to us if their owners cannot afford dentistry at their practice. Our goal is not to undercut any local veterinarians, but instead to truly be a resource for clients that could not afford dental care for their pets otherwise. We do keep an "urgent" waitlist and "non-urgent", so that animals that have very painful disease get the care they need sooner.
I truly believe that dental care is one area where we can make a HUGE difference in the quality of life in our patients. I am very excited to be able to put the techniques you taught us into practice (especially once we can save up to get some magnifying loupes!) and for my staff to be able to take the courses you so generously shared with us. I know that it will help us care for these animals more efficiently and get more animals adopted and out the door quickly! It's always really heartwarming for the staff when we have a longtime shelter resident that receives a dental and is already feeling better the next day!
If you'd like to see more about our shelter, our website is: https://vbspca.com/
Thank you again!
Ann Marie Woyma, DVM
Veterinary Medical Director
Virginia Beach SPCA