There's a ferret with the flu, a dog who's eyes ask why he needs to be fixed if he's not broken, and a bird that survived a fight with a raccoon. On the table, under the harsh spotlight is an unconscious boxer named Emma, blissfully unaware the vet is removing a tumor from underneath her leg. It's a typical Thursday afternoon at the Quail Ridge Animal Hospital.
The vet is Dr. Lesli Hewitt, a bubbly 37-year-old who calls the animals "patients" and looks at her job as a daily puzzle.
The hospital is holding an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today. The idea is to allow both pets and their owners to come meet Hewitt, tour the hospital and have a little fun at the doctor's office. The Easter Bunny will be on hand for photos and there will be a raffle to benefit local wildlife rescue organizations.
Hewitt said her approach is to help make visiting the vet a less traumatic experience for both patients and owners.
"People can come back and be with their pets during surgery. It helps people and makes it easier on their pets," Hewitt said.
While studying to become a vet, she spent time working at the San Francisco Zoo and Monterey Bay Aquarium. She has worked on rhinos and elephants, hand fed lemurs and worked with birds of all varieties.
Hewitt said opening her doors is just another way to spend time with animals, the best part of her job.
"My parents kind of instilled that in me," she said. "I was the youngest of eight children and I was always bringing home strays."
A practice that has continued into adulthood, as Hewitt currently has seven animals of her own, including an African gray parrot named Gandolf, who survived a battle with a raccoon.
During the short time the hospital has been open, Hewitt has already had some memorable moments.
"One of the nice things about this hospital is we can accommodate bigger dogs," Hewitt said. "We had to take X-rays of the mastiff, all 209 pounds of him."
With the tumor removed, Hewitt stops to check on the dog, commenting that while she enjoys working on more conventional pets, like dogs and cats, she also looks forward to the challenge of more exotic animals.
"Exotics are a huge challenge because not a lot is known about them," Hewitt said. "It's an awesome feeling when you figure out what's wrong with them and then fixing it."
Take one of her current patients, the ferret. The staff tried several different combinations of antibiotics before finding one that helped the little guy.
One of her assistants weighs the ferret while Hewitt sews up the wound on the boxer.
"We'll use pink thread, because she's a girl," she said with a smile.
If you go
What: Open House and tours of Quail Ridge Animal Hospital
When: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. today
Where: 937 Mica Drive Unit 18, on the corner of Highway 395 in the Indian Hills Shopping Plaza.
INFO: Call 267-4888 or visit www.quailridgevet.com
• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at email@example.com or 881-1217.