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MARS Moment: New examination room with X-ray machine will speed up diagnosis process

By Jane Sproull Thomson
Kiersten Shyan prepares an eagle for x-ray. Gyl Anderson photo

By Jane Sproull Thomson

Special to Black Press

Have you ever broken a wing? You might be surprised to know that the X-ray of your arm with its broken ulna or radius would look very much the same as the pictures MARS (Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society) observes of our avian patients. And the treatment for the break is almost the same too: after giving the patient pain meds, we wrap the wing and immobilize it against the body. The biggest difference is in the healing: a broken bird wing usually heals in a matter of days.

A lot of wings are broken when birds hit windows, as the reflections mimic the open sky. (MARS gift shop carries bird-safe window solutions, and shop profits support the hospital.) Until recently, our patients had to be taken off-site to a veterinary surgery for X-rays, and although we remain enormously grateful for the generosity of our local vets, this carting-about caused added stress for our injured animals. Thus, this week we are joyously celebrating the newest addition to the MARS hospital: a proper examination room with its own X-ray machine!

Stress from medical procedures is familiar to many of us, but as you can imagine, it can kill a wild thing already in pain.

This new equipment will mean that our patients can have quicker, round-the-clock diagnoses seven days a week without waiting and traveling for imaging appointments. Instead of relying on restraint alone at vet clinics, we can sedate the animals for X-rays, allowing for better positioning and better diagnostic images. We can do before-and-after X-rays for lead poisoning cases and fractures.

So many of you generous donors supported this much-needed acquisition, and we are enormously grateful. What a wonderful community we have.

Reminder: Spring is wake-up time for hungry bears on the Island, and your garbage cans and barbecues are wafting out alluring messages. Help the bears and prevent pet and human injuries by cleaning the barbie and keeping cans inside until pickup time.

MARS needs more volunteers. If you have a few spare hours, please have a look at our website and the list of really fun things you can get up to with our welcoming team of animal carers, tour guides, gift shop clerks, landscape gardeners, builders, trail maintainers, nest knitters, and jacks-of-all-trades!

Jane Sproull Thomson is a volunteer for the Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society (MARS)

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