GLENVILLE — Whenever veterinarian Robin Tobin goes to the dentist, she’s always looking out for new tools.
Not for her, but for the local cats and dogs that come into the Animal Protective Foundation on Maple Avenue.
“When I go to the dentist, I examine their tools,” Tobin said.
Every Wednesday, she heads to the APF’s clinic to perform dental cleanings and procedures on the cats and dogs that have been taken in by the foundation. Since she started working with the APF in 2015, she’s treated 160 pets (115 cats and 45 dogs).
It’s just part of what the humane society does; they also provide spay/neuter surgery, vaccinations and examinations for the animals that they take in.
They also provide dental care to the pets, which can be integral to keeping the animals healthy or nursing them back to health if they've been mistreated. Severe dental issues can lead to bone loss, kidney disease, malnutrition and a host of other problems.
“I think it’s amazing that they do this here,” Tobin said.
APF is the only animal shelter in the area to provide dental care on a regular basis. Executive Director Deb Balliet said that APF recognized the importance of having the dental care component a few years ago. They invested in dental equipment (which looks very similar to what dentists and orthodontists use) and began to contract veterinarians like Tobin to come in each week. Prior to that, APF often had to send the animals to various veterinarians who would perform dental work in their own offices.
Performing the procedures in-house cuts down on cost and on stress for the animal.
Outside of APF, the cost of a typical procedure could be anywhere from $300 to $1,300. Because the APF has the tools to do everything in-house, it costs about a third of that. And none of the cost is carried into the cost of adoption.
Which in turn helps to get the animals adopted quicker.
“It takes that burden off the adopter,” Balliet said.
APF has recently taken in a lot of older pets, many of which need dental care.
When the animals arrive, their dental health needs are assessed and placed on a scale of one to four. A dog or cat with a level of three or four would probably need to have a tooth taken out, a root canal or they have significant bone loss. For dogs and cats set at a one or two level, they might need a bit of tartar removed or another less-invasive procedure.
“We treat the threes and fours,” Balliet said.
That can mean anything from intensive teeth cleaning to extractions to repairing the gums.
Tobin admits that the work can be difficult. Cat teeth are delicate and take patience to work with. One procedure can take over an hour while others may last much longer. It’s part of the reason APF schedules only two per day.
But it’s work that can help get the dogs and cats at the shelter to find a forever home.
For more information on the APF and the work they’re doing, visit animalprotective.org.