Animal dentistry

Veterinarian technician Ariel McFate cleans Prada’s teeth on Thursday at the Venango County Humane Society in Seneca. Prada is one of about 70 cats available to adopt at the shelter.

The Venango County Humane Society’s cats and dogs can now get their teeth cared for thanks to a recent charitable donation.

The Seneca shelter received an X-ray machine and dental supplies that were donated by Mike and Joyce Hughes of Franklin, according to Dan Prichard, manager of the Humane Society.

Along with scrubbing teeth, the shelter can scale, polish and probe, as well as perform extractions to provide relief to tooth-ached animals.

Veterinarian Michelle Balas said the Humane Society previously had no way to do dental care at the facility.

“We know good hygiene is connected to good overall health,” Balas said.

Equipment and radiation licenses were set up last week, leading to the first dentist visit at the shelter. Balas and Prichard estimated that at least one animal every month requires dental work at the shelter.

The X-ray machine is an important tool for identifying underlying issues, Prichard said, which lets the vet determine which teeth are diseased and need to be extracted.

“And remember our patients can’t tell us where it hurts,” Balas said.

Prichard said these extractions can take a pet from lethargic to better than ever after a short recovery time.

“It’s amazing how much of a turnaround there is,” he said.

Cleanings cost about $300 and extractions can cost around $600 to $1,000, Balas said.

This cost may appear surprisingly high, Balas said, but the fee is factored in due to every animal requiring general anesthesia. X-rays using sensitive equipment are also standard practice.

“We can’t tell animals to not bite down on that (X-ray) sensor,” Balas said.

The dental equipment is a big deal for the Venango County Humane Society to have, Prichard said.

“We would have to send animals out to other local clinics for dental care, which led to greater expenses for the shelter,” Balas said.

Prichard said the entire dental care system costs around $20,000.

“That’s why it’s no small thing for us to have this,” he said.

The Hugheses dedicated the equipment in memory of their friend, Joyce “Peach” Bowie, and her pets.

Prichard said the shelter is always thankful for its donations, supporters and volunteers.

As of Thursday, the shelter had about 70 cats and 20 dogs that are available for adoption.

Prichard said cats have always been in abundance at the shelter, but recently dog adoptions have slowed.

“It’s not unusual to have some swings here and there,” Prichard said.

He said two of the shelter’s cats have been there for about two years.

“The fact that we are a no-kill shelter, we are going to keep them for a while,” Prichard said.

Recently, a third long-term resident cat was adopted, prompting joy for the shelter’s employees and volunteers.

“Around here it was a small party,” Prichard said.

A free spaying and neutering clinic at the Humane Society is expected to start up again in October to help curb stray cat problems, Prichard said.

He said the program is on hold to give shelter staff members time to catch up on duties before they get back to volunteering their time on the free program.

Last year, the shelter provided about 100 free spay/neuter procedures, according to Prichard.

DILLON PROVENZA, reporter for The Derrick and The News-Herald, can be reached at dillonprovenza.thederrick@gmail.com or (814) 677-8374.

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