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Jack, South Whidbey's only pet coatimundi, undergoes dental surgery

Malina Vandewerfhorst, veterinarian assistant, prepares Jack to have his teeth worked on by Dr. Dave Parent at the Useless Bay Animal Clinic. Community donations are being sought by friends of the coatimundi to help cover the cost.  - Photo courtesy of Useless Bay Animal Clinic
Malina Vandewerfhorst, veterinarian assistant, prepares Jack to have his teeth worked on by Dr. Dave Parent at the Useless Bay Animal Clinic. Community donations are being sought by friends of the coatimundi to help cover the cost.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Useless Bay Animal Clinic

Jack, South Whidbey’s news making coatimundi, has a clean set of choppers thanks to a local veterinarian and a sympathetic woman who started a fundraiser to pay for the dental makeover.

Last month Jack made the news when he ran away from home for a short time, resulting in several people chasing him down Lone Lake Road. The incident had a happy ending when Jack was returned to his owner, Rhonda Galbraith.

But all wasn’t well. The 10-year-old Central American raccoon-type animal was snippy and not eating well. It was obvious to Galbraith that her pet needed dental work. As a motel worker who shares an RV with Jack, she couldn’t afford it. In stepped Samantha George.

“She’s been a great help,” Galbraith said. “I thought I was going to have to take him to Tacoma.”

“I knew he had been in pain for well over a month already,” George said, explaining her decision to get Jack’s teeth fixed, no matter what.

George knew of Freeland’s Dr. Dave Parent, who not only works on domestic animals but is certified to help wildlife of all types, from raccoons to deer, bunnies, raptors, baby seals and other critters.

Jack’s teeth needed a lot of work, however, so George raised $350 between herself and another person to get the job started.

Galbraith said Jack had a tooth abscess as well as bad teeth in general. “He’s never had his teeth cleaned,” she said.

Dr. Parent, with help from veterinarian assistant Malina Vanderwerfhorst, went to work Tuesday on Jack, giving him the full operating room treatment.

This was Parent’s first coatimundi patient, “but I’ve worked on quite a few raccoons,” he said. “Jack has some badly infested teeth and an abscess draining to the other side under his eye.”

After an x-ray of his skull, Jack was placed under full anesthesia and connected to a heart monitor and oxygen.

Parent had to remove the abscessed tooth and several others that had broken off and were imbedded in his gums, clean the wounds and clean the good teeth that remained. The procedure took 45 minutes.

After shaking off the effects of the anesthesia during a short walk on the clinic grounds, Jack was ready to go home. Galbraith picked him up, happy to have a healthy pet once again. She was given antibiotics for Jack to stop any further infection.

“I’m so thankful he helped me out,” Galbraith said of Dr. Parent.

George is asking others to help pay the remaining $335.72 owed for Jack’s dental work. Checks can be sent to the Useless Bay Veterinary Clinic, P.O. Box 545, Freeland WA 98249. Just note that the money is for Jack.

Parent said any extra money sent in will be placed in his wildlife fund to purchase supplies to help the island’s other wild animals in need of help.

He hopes he won’t see another coatimundi, however. “They are not very good pets,” he said.

 

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