‘Dr House’ gives hope to animals with hard-to-treat conditions
A Turkish veterinarian and his 15-member team are renowned for rescuing animals who find themselves near death, afflicted with illnesses that are hard to diagnose.
The Istanbul clinic of Kürşat Özer has turned into a haven for owners desperate to find a cure for their pets' mysterious ailments, making him like a veterinary version of Dr. House, the famed TV disease sleuth.
Özer, 57, and his team in the working-class Zeytinburnu district on the city’s European side work hard to treat cats, dogs, birds, and even the occasional iguana.
His two-story clinic, boasting cutting-edge technology from blood tests to innovative visualization techniques, opened its doors over two decades ago, in 1999.
“Animals needing surgery come to us from more than 90 clinics” from both Turkey and abroad, he said.
He said viral diseases in cats, especially respiratory ones, seem to be very common.
But he mentioned a unique feature often seen in cats who fall from balconies.
“There are cats that fall from 200-300 meters (about 650-1,000 feet) and aren’t even injured,” he said.
“Because cats make perfect use of the laws of physics while falling, as they turn their bodies at the last moment and so change their acceleration from gravity.”
In such falls, most cats are injured not due to the fall itself, but from hitting balconies or awnings, according to the Turkish veterinarian, adding that cat owners living on high floors should protect their cats from open windows.
Özer loves to tell stories about his patients, as in a happy-ending story of a dog who initially started off in very bad shape.
The dog had a very large bulk from her vulva that was constantly bleeding.
“She was almost dead,” he remembered.
His team needed to get her to surgery, but it was a tricky situation, as the dog was losing a lot of blood.
As luck had it, an owner at the clinic with a golden retriever who Özer had previously helped – in that day for a routine checkup – heard the other’s dog’s plight and volunteered to donate blood from his own dog.
With the help of the donated blood, said Özer: “That day, in a major operation, we took out a tumor weighing 3.8 kilos (8.3 pounds).”
After a month of treatment, the ailing dog is now back to normal.
Özer said as much as possible he follows the innovations and experience shared at professional congresses, both in Turkey and abroad, saying: “People need to constantly improve themselves.”
He highlighted the importance of experience and the need for high-level technical equipment as, unfortunately, “animals can’t tell you their problems.”
Özer said he formed a five-member team to help animals in the areas of Turkey where forest fires are currently raging, especially in the Aegean province of Mugla.
During the blazes, he said, “farm animals are being cared for in a way, as they’re a source of livelihood for people there, but they're not many people who understand wild animals.”
Özer also criticized a long-awaited bill on animal rights which was passed by parliament last month as a missed opportunity.
“It’s just a revision of earlier legislation,” he said. “Yes, the number of fines was increased, but 90% of the problems weren’t solved.”