Project Chimps

On the 12th day of Christmas, I saw… chimps!

Emma (above)

After visiting the Georgia Aquarium, I had the unique opportunity to visit “Project Chimps” in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Georgia. It’s a 240 acre sanctuary that is currently home to about 30 chimpanzees, all rescued from a biomedical research facility.

Arthur (above)


It will eventually be able to provide sanctuary to 300 chimps!

If you remember the compound where the cute dinos are kept in Jurassic Park, it gives you a pretty good idea of what the chimps’ amazing permanent retirement home looks like.

Because they were used for research, these chimps make their caregivers and veterinary team’s lives somewhat easy. They can show you their hand, stick their arm out or open their mouth, all on command. The sanctuary has a fully equipped veterinary clinic with X-rays and a surgery room; a prep kitchen (made possible by Rachael Ray !!!); and a room full of toys used for enrichment!

The team is now working on completing the outdoor habitat. This will allow the chimps, who have lived their entire lives in research facilities, to play outside for the first time in their lives.

Chimpanzees are great apes who can live over 50 years. Project Chimps was founded to provide a permanent, long-term home where they can thrive.

Do you love the idea?

How can you support this amazing project? The sanctuary is not currently open to the public, but private educational tours will be available soon. Meanwhile, you can help out financially (

You can literally sponsor a chimp for $23 per month!

You can also buy toys, supplies and… nuts through an Amazon wish list.

Or you can purchase some pretty cool gear, for yourself or as a gift for someone you love (


Taz (above)

I hope you’ll join me in supporting Project Chimps.

Thank you.

Thank you also for following our 12 Days of Christmas, I hope you enjoyed the amazing wonders Mother Nature has to offer. I wish you, your family and your pets a wonderful New Year.

A little Holiday surprise for my readers!

Please keep an eye on my Facebook page for a special “12 days of Christmas event,” starting tomorrow Monday December 25, 2017.


Please tell your friends to Like my page – being an animal lover is a requirement!

Thanks and Happy Holidays to you, your family and your pets.



Have you heard about the 5 freedoms for animals?

This may not be surgery-related, but I thought it was relevant to pet lovers.

Have you ever heard about the 5 freedoms for animals?

1. Freedom from hunger & thirst. Pets should have easy access to food and fresh water to maintain health and vigor.

2. Freedom from discomfort. This includes a safe environment to rest and feel sheltered.

3. Freedom from pain, injury and disease. This can be done through prevention, or when there is a medical condition, through prompt diagnosis and treatment.

4. Freedom to express normal behavior. This is accomplished by providing enough space, appropriate facilities, and in some cases, company of the animal’s own kind.

5. Freedom from  fear & distress. Mental suffering is avoided by providing appropriate  living conditions and proper treatment.

Interestingly, this applies to all animals: pets, zoo animals, and wild animals.

Even though this was not the original intention, I believe that the 5 freedoms are also helpful to determine the quality of life of a pet who may be at the end of his life…

When should you take your pet to the ER?

I just heard yet another horror story about a pet owner who waited too long to take her pet to the emergency clinic.

There are countless reasons to visit the ER with a cat or a dog, so what follows is certainly not a complete list. I organized the most common signs in 4 categories.

You should seek emergency help in the following situations.


General signs:

. Collapse or severe weakness

. Bleeding, external or internal

. Severe lethargy

. Trauma of any type, if it is violent enough to cause an injury or a pain reaction

. Any kind of gunshot

. Severe pain

. Jaundice (yellow gums and eyes)

. Discharge from the vulva

. Pus coming from just about anywhere

. Many things related to eyeballs: pain, bulging, squinting, scratches.

. Seizures or tremors/shaking

. Difficulty giving birth


GI & urinary signs:

. Severe or ongoing vomiting or diarrhea, with or without blood

. Retching, ie an unsuccessful attempt at vomiting

. Significant decrease in appetite for more than 24 hours, or complete loss

. Straining to urinate or defecate

. Eating a poison of any type

. Bloating or a distended belly


Respiratory signs:

. Difficulty breathing of any sort

. Severe or ongoing coughing


Orthopedic signs:

. Limping

. Broken bone

. Painful joint

. Dragging of or weakness in one leg or more


Ultimately, just about anything that worries you is a reason to go to your local emergency clinic. Think about it. What’s better, a false alarm, or arriving too late? If you’re not sure what to do, at least call please the staff at the emergency clinic to ask what they recommend.


Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ, Fear Free Certified

Why you shouldn’t be afraid of a leg amputation

Lucy, a sweet 6 year old Golden, started limping in her left back leg. Her family vet’s X-rays showed that something, most likely bone cancer, was eating her thigh bone (femur) away (see red arrows).









There weren’t a whole lot of options: the best course of action was to sacrifice the leg. Before that, we ensured that her blood work was normal and that chest X-rays did not show any spreading of the (presumed) cancer to the lungs.

A few days later, I traveled to the practice to perform the amputation. Everything went well in surgery.

The very next day, Lucy started to walk around on 3 legs. She was comfortable and started to eat nicely.

A week later, the biopsy confirmed the suspicion of bone cancer (osteosarcoma). The next step was to discuss chemotherapy, which is recommended in the case of bone cancer.

With amputation alone for confirmed osteosarcoma, the average survival is 3 to 6 months. With amputation and chemotherapy, we hope for an average survival of at least one year. When we recommend treatment, our goal is more about quality of life than quantity of life (aka survival time).

Amputation is typically needed because of severe trauma or cancer – most often bone cancer. No pet owner ever opens a bottle of champagne when their pet needs a leg amputation. Yet it’s very important to understand and believe that virtually 100% of dogs and all cats do great on 3 legs. My most surprising patient, Gator, was able to swim in the pool with 3 legs (and a life jacket).

To this day, I have never met a client who has told me that they regretted their decision to amputate their pet.  As long as we are on the same page, and we all decide as the pet’s advocate, we typically get good results, regardless of the amount of time left.

In other words, we would rather have 3, 6 or 12 months of quality life, than 3 years of misery.