A heart as big as the sky

A pug whines piteously from his kennel at the Spokane Humane Society (SHS) in Spokane. Volunteer veterinarian Dr. William “Will” Rowe of Chewelah smiles and opens the crate, taking the small dog in his arms. “You’re okay, Pogi,” he says good-naturedly. “Want to go outside?” Pogi most certainly does. Referred to as “owner surrender,” Pogi was brought to the Humane Society after he was hit by a car in an accident that broke his left rear leg; his owner’s could not afford the medical bills to repair the appendage. Thanks to Dr. Rowe and the organization’s medical staff, Pogi un¬derwent a successful surgery. On a cold, crisp December day, Pogi follows Dr. Rowe outside the shelter, making surpris¬ingly good speed for a dog with a pin in his leg and sporting a cast. Some of the staff at SHS chide Dr. Rowe good-naturedly about Pogi becoming the doctor’s dog, since the little pug attends him with such devotion and affection. A Chewelah resident of the Cozy Nook neighborhood who owned and operated Creekside Veterinary Service from 1981 to 2008, Dr. Rowe began volunteering at SHS that same year after hearing the non-profit needed a veterinarian for spay, neuter and emergency surgeries. On Dr. Rowe’s first day at the shelter, he performed an amputation and an eye removal. Then there are the routine check-ups that go along with making sure each and every animal in the shelter is healthy and fit for adoption. Then, to top off a memorable day, he was involved in a car accident on the way home (no one was hurt, thankfully). “It was just a hit-the-ground-running type of day,” recalls Dr. Rowe, smiling. “For some reason, I liked it.”Live release rate is 98.6 percent Another vet, known as Dr. Mary, walks by in bright colored scrubs as she takes a quick bite of lunch between spay and neuter surgeries on cats and dogs. Since Dec. 5, both vets have done a combined total of 44 dog surgeries and 140 cat surgeries (averaging 38 surgeries per day). “I had to do an amputation and enucleation my first day too,” Dr. Mary says. Dr. Rowe grabs a handful of Trail Mix (lunch on-the-go is a common occurrence for shelter vets) and laughs. “It seems to be rite of passage,” he jokes before going back into the operating room. Established in 1897, the SHS originally took care of old and injured draft horses that were used to pull heavy loads up Spokane’s South Hill. Over 100 years later, the organization has expanded its operations to include “Engaging and educating the community by reducing the intake of animals through spay/neuter programs and creating an environment where the animals and the organization thrive.” (www.spokanehumanesociety.org) *Read the complete story in the 12-21-2011 edition of the S-E.