“Teen” Magazine, May 2000, pp. 61-64 submitted by MyrnaLynne
Tune your tube to the Animal Planet Network’s Emergency Vet to catch SHIRI in action on April 18 at 10 p.m. Eastern/Pacific time.
ROSWELL RESCUER by Shiri Appleby
(edited by Ellen Lieberman)
When TEEN heard actress Shiri Appleby was a pet lover, we asked her to spend the day in an animal ER, then report back to us about her experience.
As Liz Parker on the out-of-this-world TV show Roswell, Shiri Appleby spends her spare moments helping cute creatures from other planets. So she jumped at the chance when we asked her to spend the day as a veterinarian’s assistant while being filmed by the show Emergency Vets. Read on as her adventure unfolds.
10:22 a.m.: In the Car
Hi, this is Shiri Appleby for Teen magazine. It’s 10:22 a.m. and we’ve finally made it to Denver from Los Angeles after bad weather caused major delays. We’re driving to the Alameda East Veterinary Hospital right now where I’ll be a vet’s assistant for the day. From what I can see, Denver is beautiful, rustic and real-feeling – totally unpretentious.
I’m excited about this opportunity because I’m desperately trying to get over my fear of animals. It all started when I was 6 years old and my neighbor’s puppy bit me above my left eye. Since then I’ve been completely terrified. Now all of my castmates on Roswell bring their dogs to work every day. When I realized how much love they get from their pets, I decided it was time to overcome my fear. This past September, I went to the pound and brought home a tabby kitten (picture of Shiri holding teeny striped kitten). Her name is Abby. That was the first step. With this experience, I hope to feel completely comfortable around animals.
11:11 a.m.: Alameda East
The staff at Alameda East just gave me an orientation on the hospital that serves as the setting for Emergency Vets. Alameda East has treated 250,000 patients since they opened their doors 28 years ago. It really is an amazing place.
To be honest with you though, I don’t know what to expect of the whole situation – whether an animal is going to die on me or if we’re just going to be fixing birds’ wings. It sort of feels like MTV’s Road Rules where the people on the show have no idea what is going to happen and their responses are all captured on television. But I think it should be fun.
11:20 a.m.: Meeting Dr. Fitzgerald:
I just met Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald, the vet who I’ll be helping all day. He seems like a gentle guy – a good person. Not only has he been a vet for the pat 17 years, he’s a standup comic and used to do security work for the Rolling Stones! Dr. Fitzgerald gave me a white coat and blue doctor’s scrubs to wear. It sounds like I’m going to be right in there with the patients while the camera rolls the whole time. I’m starting to get a little nervous.
11:43 a.m.: Patient 1: Kelly the Greyhound
I just finished meeting with my first patient – a 4-year-old greyhound named Kelly who used to run around the tracks. He had run about 160 races so his owner, Tedd Perry, wanted the doctor to make sure he was OK. Kelly was really beautiful and in good shape. That one was just a check up – pretty easy.
12:07 p.m.: Patient 2: Gordon the Wallaby
I just saw my second patient, a 10-month-old Wallaby named Gordon. Wallabies come from Australia and they look like baby kangaroos. Dr. Fitzgerald explained that they actually are a kangaroo cousin but wallabies never grow very large. Gordon was dressed in a little T-shirt. He had been to the hospital twice already for treatment after being bitten on the head by the Thompson family’s dog. I distracted Gordon by playing with him while Dr. Fitzgerald made sure his scar was not infected and was healing properly.
The Thompsons have 15 wallabies at their house. They take really good care of them, and they know all about how they should be raised. At the same time, I’m not exactly sure if it’s right to have an exotic animal as a pet. Animals should have the opportunity to run free like they’re meant to. They really don’t have any chance of survival if they ever get out in the world because they don’t know how to fend for themselves in our environment.
12:42 p.m.: Patient 3: Gex the Gecko
I’m about to go inside a room where a little boy named Kyle is crying because his baby gecko – the small lizard that he calls Gex – is dying. He and his mother took the gecko to another vet for treatment, but it got really sick and now it might pass away. It’s sort of an upsetting situation because we’re dealing with people’s emotions and the possibility of death.
12:42 p.m.: In the Waiting Room
So far I’ve seen a few different kind of animals, but I think Kyle’s story got to me the most. Kyle has been asking for a lizard for the past few months and he finally got it from his mom for his eighth birthday. He had the gecko for exactly 22 days (he probably could tell you how long he had it to the hour) when his mom noticed it had stopped moving. They brought it to the hospital in this little Tupperware case and it looked like the gecko wasn’t moving at all. Dr. Fitzgerald picked it up and it was completely stiff. The worst part though, was seeing the pain on the mother’s face knowing that her son’s little pet, that he’s been wanting for so long, will probably die.
Dr. Fitzgerald assured me that Gex was not dead yet so we gave him an injection of fluids because he was completely dehydrated. Now he’s in an incubator warming up. As we took care of Gex, Dr. Fitzgerald explained why he was trying so hard to save a little lizard. “Did you see that boy’s face? Life is precious – even if it is a gecko. We can’t always help them but we can be kind.” I really hope the gecko will be OK.
1:35 p.m.: Patient 4: Rusty the German Shepherd
We just saw Rusty, an 8-year-old German shepherd with an ear infection. I looked inside the ear and all you could see was this gross green stuff. Dr. Fitzgerald cleaned him up and gave his owner some anti-fungal medication to put in Rusty’s ears.
I guess I never realized how similar humans and animals actually are – that they get the same kinds of sickness and the same kinds of injuries. The only difference is that animals can’t vocalize their pain.
Lunchtime: 2:20 p.m.: The Sunset Lounge
It’s lunchtime now and we’re all eating at the restaurant next door. A really funny thing just happened. I was sitting here eating my plate of chicken salad and suddenly I looked down and saw all the meat on my plate and just wasn’t hungry for it anymore. So, I’ve decided: I’m not going to eat it. It’s kind of weird because this is the first time in my life that I’ve actually second-guessed eating a piece of meat.
3:07 p.m.: Patient 5: Pup the Dachshund
While we were getting ready to see the next patient an older man walked in with a dachshund named Pup in a carrier. He went over to the lady at the front desk and told her that Pup bit one of his grandchildren and he wanted the 5-year-old dog to be put to sleep. The hospital said they don’t put completely healthy dogs to sleep just because they bite humans. For $78 they could take the dog to a hospital which could find her a place to live. The man didn’t want to pay for it so he said, ‘That’s fine. I’ll just go back and shoot her.’ Just as that happened, Dr. Fitzgerald came in and took the man to another room. About two minutes later, the man walked out and you could see tears in his eyes. He left the dog with Alameda East and now they’re going to try to find her a home. But everyone in the waiting room was pretty shocked to hear a man say that he was just going to shoot a poor dog because she had bit a person. It’s just something that you never expect to see and it’s hard to know how to respond.
3:51 p.m.: Patient 6: Champagne the Golden Retriever
A lady just came in with her 11-year-old dog, Champagne, who we think had a stroke. After looking at X-rays, Dr. Fitzgerald has determined that it’s not a stroke, but a ruptured tumor. Champagne is internally bleeding to death so Dr. Fitzgerald is telling Kim, the owner, that he can operate on her, but because Champagne is so old, the surgery might not work at all. So Kim has to decide right now, within the next few minutes, if she’s willing to put her to sleep.
Now Kim is sitting in a waiting room crying her heart out to a friend. She doesn’t want to put the dog to sleep but she knows it’s the right thing to do. It’s really traumatic and everyone in the room is touched by the situation. The more time you spend with these people, the more you realize that their animals are like children to them. It’s a lot more painful for them to see their pets suffer than I ever imagined.
4:30 p.m.: The Waiting Room
It’s been quiet since the doctor put Champagne to sleep. It was really weird. The minute we saw Kim start crying again, all the dogs started barking like crazy. In some ways, without sounding ridiculous, it seems like they knew another dog was dying.
Seeing this, I don’t know if I necessarily could be a vet, but the amount of respect I have for this profession has just increased by 1,000 percent. Not only are these vets saving lives, they’re trying to keep the owners happy. Dr. Fitzgerald saved one dog today from being shot, he’s trying to save a reptile and he just had to make another decision. He’s dealing with life and death on a daily basis, hourly, and I think that takes a pretty heroic human being.
5:03 p.m.: Patient 7: Rainier the Snake
A schoolteacher named Pat Schmidt just came in with a striped Pacific gopher snake named Rainier. He is one of 30 snakes she has in her classroom. The 10-year-old snake has been tired and refuses to eat. He’s so skinny that Dr. Fitzgerald called him a Kate Moss snake. He thinks Rainier might have roundworms and flatworms from a mouse he ate so Dr. Fitzgerald is going to give Rainier an anti-wormer injection while I hold him!
5:12 p.m.: Holding Rainier
I can’t believe I am holding a snake right now! I don’t know if snakes have personalities, but this one seems like a calm, sweet snake. It’s kind of weird because you can see bumps in the skin that the fluids create as they are injected into the body. And you can tell Rainier is better because he’s much more active immediately after the shots. Still, Dr. Fitzgerald asked Pam to bring the snake back again in a week for more treatment.
5:30 p.m.: Dr. Fitzgerald’s Office
I just found out that Gex died. I sat beside Dr. Fitzgerald as he called Kyle to tell him. This was an incredibly sad moment. The good news is that an intern at Alameda East has adopted Pup. It’s been an emotional day.
7:00 p.m.: In the Car
We’re heading back to the airport and I can’t believe everything I’ve experienced in just one day. I’m still blown away. We put a dog to sleep, we saved another dog from being shot by its owner, I held a snake – that was something I never thought I’d do, but I was really pushing myself.
There’s a lot of death, but the main thing I observed was a lot of love for the animals. Watching the compassion of the staff or a mother cry because her son’s little lizard wasn’t going to make it was sad but somewhat beautiful. It’s a nice thing, because often people are afraid to show how much they care.
Seeing a living creature die makes you reflect on your own life. Sometimes, growing up, we tend to think that life’s a lot more difficult than it is. Experiences like these make you realize that it’s important to appreciate what you’ve got. The love that any living thing brings you, an animal, a human being – it really changes who you are.
Log on to www.teenmag.com to find out when you can chat with Shiri live about her animal-saving adventure
In the series Roswell, Shiri’s character Liz Parker falls for a guy who isn’t exactly the boy next door… In fact, he’s not even from this planet. Max (Jason Behr) is one of three alien teens including Isabel (Katherine Heigl) and Michael (Brendan Fehr) who, judging from their looks, come from the Planet Hottie! While the space-teens try to uncover the truth behind how they got here, they must hide their extraterrestrial roots from government agents and a local sheriff with a chip on his shoulder. Meanwhile, Liz and her best bud Maria (Majandra Delfino) learn that their favorite Martians aren’t that different from the rest of us.
As Shiri mentioned, the Roswell cast is crazy for cuddly creatures. Here’s the scoop on their precious pets:
* Shiri Appleby – tabby – Abby
* Jason Behr – Akita – Ronin
*Brendan Fehr – Rottweiler – Opa
* Majandra Delfino – Pekinese – Tattoo
* Katherine Heigl – Schnauzer – Romeo
* Colin Hanks – still pet shopping
* * *
Animal-saving stats and fascinating Pet Facts:
Alameda East treats 37 thousand animals a year
* 10% of its patients are exotic (everything from reptiles to rodents to wallabies)
* 90% are dogs and cats
American households are home to:
* 59 million cats
* 52 million dogs
* 3.5 million reptiles
* 12.6 million birds
Americans spend an average of $128 a year on medical care for each dog, $81 for each cat
(Source: American Veterinary Medical Association)
* Find a shelter or rescue in your area by visiting www.rescuers.org/links1.html
* Donate money toward the care and boarding of animals left injured and homeless by natural disasters by calling the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (800) 248-2862 x600 for info.
*Adopt an animal! Log on to www.petshelter.org