Leah Donahue is a veterinarian at Animal Medical Center in Anniston. A lifelong animal lover, Donahue attended Auburn for her undergraduate degree in microbiology and vet school. Her dog, Harper, comes to work with her each day.
Was your plan always to attend veterinary school?
Yes, I have wanted to be a vet since before I can remember. I worked in a lab in undergraduate to see if I would enjoy research as a career, but I did not like it very much.
Where does your passion for animal medicine come from?
For me, this is the best of both worlds: I love the science and animals, too. I really like working with people and their animals.
Take us through a regular workday for you.
My day varies a lot. I may be seeing appointments all day. It may be a day of vaccinations and wellness visits, or it might be a day of mostly problem visits. Today, for example, I am on critical care, so I spent from 7 a.m.-noon working on all the patients staying in-hospital, including a parvo puppy, a couple of dogs with hemolytic anemias and a dog that might have leptospirosis. They are all on IV fluids and getting medications. I make sure they are getting all of their treatments and examine them. Then, I write all the paperwork up and spend a lot of time on the phone calling the owners.
What animals do you typically work with?
I mostly treat just dogs and cats, but I will see other animals on an emergency basis.
How many pets do you have?
Harper is my only pet that lives with me; she is about 2 ½ years old. I also have a horse that I have had since I was a child, but he is at home with my parents because I live in the city.
What do you appreciate about Animal Medical Center?
I think the fact that we are here 24/7 is really important. We have a doctor and at least one technician here around the clock, so anytime you need us, we are there. We are also available by phone; a lot of people just call and ask us questions. We also try really hard to stay up with the latest and practice really good quality medicine.
Do you have any advice for pet owners as we move into the holiday season?
Having your family over can be stressful to your pets. Pets can either be given or sneak pieces of holiday meals, and there really are not a lot of people foods that are good for your pets. Cats can sometimes get injured by playing with Christmas tree ornaments, especially tinsel.
Do you have anything else you’d like pet owners to know?
A phone call to us is free. If you ever wonder, “Should I give this medicine to my pet?” or “Should I do this or that?” or “Should I bring my pet in to see a vet?” — call us. We are always really happy to help you over the phone. Do not give your pet any over-the-counter medicine without calling us first.
Tell us about one of your most interesting cases so far.
It has been a long time, and the details are a little rusty, but a dog came in and it was anemic — low red blood cells. It looked like the red blood cells were being destroyed by something. Something about the lab work did not make any sense. I knew I had to figure out something beyond it just being an autoimmune reaction, which we would treat with steroids. We thought of taking an X-ray, and we saw that the dog had swallowed a penny. The core of a penny is zinc; when zinc is dissolved in stomach acid, it destroys red blood cells. We had to go in and get the penny out, because if you wait for the penny to pass, it will take too long, and the red blood cells will continue to plummet. We did the surgery, and the dog was fine.
Faith Dorn is a freelance writer in Anniston. Contact her at email@example.com.