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By Roz Rogoff

Changing Vets

Uploaded: May 17, 2013

I originally planned to write this blog about transitioning from Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center to Bollinger Canyon Animal Hospital, but events this week changed some of those plans. Instead I'll write about my past and present experiences with Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center and Urgent Care and my current experiences with Bollinger Canyon Animal Hospital and the pros and cons of each.

I moved to San Ramon in 1997. I had two cats or maybe three at that time. I boarded them at the Norris Canyon Animal Hospital, which was near my new job at Two Annabel Lane. I remember seeing an illustration in the lobby of the new animal hospital planned for Bishop Drive. That of course became Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center. I don't remember if Urgent Care was part of the original name.

I continued to bring my cats to Bishop Ranch, which I shall refer to now as BR, but the vet hospital has grown very big and hospital-like. In fact they boast that they are like a real hospital with all of the services and facilities, and they are.

Being like a real hospital also has some negative aspects. BR has lots of Doctors. In fact they seem to be hiring new ones every time I go in. They list 15 Doctors on their website. That's good for getting a same-day appointment, but now it is too much like visiting a people Doctor.

First you check in at the front desk. Then you wait with your cat for about 10 minutes in a crowded waiting room, usually filled with dogs. Then a Vet Tech takes you back into one of the little examining rooms where you wait another 20 minutes. One time I waited almost an hour. I finally came out to see what was taking so long and the receptionist said, "We forgot about you." Nooooo.

I was bringing my big cat, Molly, to Bishop Ranch for weight loss. Dr. Baine said she needed a low carbohydrate diet and put her on Hills M/D. Hills makes three different kinds of diet food, M/D which is for diabetes but can be used for weight loss, R/D which has fiber added to bulk up the food without adding calories, and W/D which is their standard weight loss product.

Molly lost about two pounds in three or four months, but for almost two months she plateaued at 17 lbs. Dr. Baine just told me to "feed her less," even though she had been throwing up half her food. Dr. Baine phoned me later and suggested switching from Hills M/D to Purina D/M, which I did, but it didn't work any better. So that's when I decided to switch to Bollinger Canyon Animal Hospital.

I made an appointment with Dr. Sandy Block, who is the owner of Bollinger Canyon Animal Hospital. The receptionist told me Dr. Block likes to spend an hour with new patients, and she set up an appointment for Wednesday afternoon, March 13th.

Dr. Block worked at BR about 10 years ago. According to one of my friends in Safe-Cat, she left because she wasn't up to their medical standards. I asked Dr. Block about that and she said she wanted to spend more time with patients, which didn't fit with BR's appointment schedules. I understood that very well, and that's exactly why I wanted to switch from BR to a smaller, more personalized animal hospital. It also didn't hurt that Bollinger Canyon Animal Hospital is only 5 minutes from my house.

Dr. Block did a very thorough exam of Molly and put her on Hill's new Metabolic cat food. She told me to feed her 1.66 cans a day. Molly liked the new food and didn't throw up as much as she did with the M/D or the D/M. Over the last two months she's lost 1.5 lbs. Dr. Block wants her down to 13.5 lbs., which is about 1.5 lbs. less than Dr. Baine's target weight.

Not only has Molly been losing weight on the Metabolic food, I won a free case after bringing her in for a weigh in. I didn't even know there was a contest, but every time I bring her into Bollinger Canyon Animal Hospital for a weigh in, my name is entered into the monthly drawing for a free case of food. I was so pleased with the way Dr. Block is taking care of Molly, I planned to switch my other three cats there too.

About a year ago I rushed my cat Smudgy to BR. I wrote about this in my blog Goodbye Smudgy. I was stuck at a light on Bollinger Canyon Road for 2 minutes, and by the time I got him to BR he was gone. I thought that if I could have gotten him to a vet 5 minutes sooner, he could have been saved.

Well this past week I had a replay of rushing a sick cat to Bishop Ranch, but this time with a happier ending. My cat Cinnamon was hiding under the bed. She usually does that when she isn't feeling well, but I am not able to get her out from under the bed by myself. So I called Elise Stewart, President of Safe Cat. It was Mother's day, and I wasn't sure she would even answer. She did answer, and said BR closes at 8 pm on Sunday, and it was almost 8 pm. She said she'd come over in the morning.

I didn't think it was too serious; so I thought Monday morning would be fine. The last time Cinnamon hid under the bed she had a broken tooth. Elise Stewart pulled her out and I took her to BR for an extraction and cleaning. That wasn't an emergency, so I didn't think it was this time either.

I called Elise around 10 am on Monday morning. Cinnamon was looking weaker and I wanted to get her into the vet that afternoon. Elise said she couldn't come over and I should call Nanette, one of the other Safe Cat volunteers who lives in San Ramon. I called Nanette and she was going out and would be back about 1 pm. She said she'd call me when she got home.

I made an appointment at Bishop Ranch for 4:10 pm to be sure Nanette would be able to get Cinnamon out from under the bed with enough time for me to take her over there. I thought she should go to BR in case it was something serious and she needed surgery. Besides Cinnamon's medical records were at BR and not at Bollinger Canyon yet.

By 1:30 pm I hadn't heard from Nanette and started to worry about Cinnamon. She was whimpering under the bed but wouldn't come out. She was near the side where I could see her but couldn't grab her. She looked very weak.

So I called my neighbor Sally, who also has cats. I wasn't sure Sally would be able to get Cinnamon out from under the bed but I was getting very worried about her.

Sally came over and was able to get Cinnamon out fairly quickly. She put Cinnamon in a carrier and said I should take her right away. I thought I had time to phone Nanette and leave her a message that she didn't need to come. I also phoned BR to say I was coming in with an emergency by 2 pm.

Sally was getting very worried and reminded me of Smudgy, and I should go right away. Cinnamon was fading fast. As I was driving on Alcosta past Bollinger Canyon Animal Hospital I thought about taking Cinnamon there, but I knew they would not be prepared for an emergency, so I continued another 10 minutes and got to BR at 2:10 pm.

A Vet Tech rushed Cinnamon back where Dr. Shann Ikezawa examined her. Cinnamon's blood count was very low, only 5 out of 30. She needed an immediate blood transfusion. She was having difficulty breathing and put into an oxygen cage.

Dr. Ikezawa told me Cinnamon has blood type B, which is much rarer than type A. They reached a type B donor on their Donor List. I asked if Cinnamon could hold on until the donor cat got there. Dr. Ikezawa smiled and nodded yes.

Cinnamon was at BR for three days until her blood count stabilized at 24 or 80 percent. Dr. Ikezawa took bone marrow samples to test for leukemia and cancer, but both turned up negative. I was able to take Cinnamon home Wednesday afternoon. She'll be going back this Wednesday for a follow up. I hope her blood count will be back up to normal by then.

Dr. Ikezawa is treating Cinnamon for an autoimmune condition until we know what caused her blood count to drop so low. I will continue to take Cinnamon to BR for at least a year until she recovers completely or requires continuing care for the rest of her life.

I brought Molly to Bollinger Canyon Animal Hospital on Tuesday to be weighed. I told the Vet Tech about Cinnamon needing a blood transfusion. The tech said they are not set up for blood transfusions; so it was a good thing I continued on to BR. Cinnamon is doing well so far on her medications. I'll write a follow up after her checkup on May 23rd.

I still plan to switch my other cats to Bollinger Canyon Animal Hospital, but Pet lovers in San Ramon are so fortunate to have a facility like Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center and Urgent Care here when we need it.