Washington State Magazine

Fall 2003


Fall 2003

[+]
In This Issue...

Features

A Place at the Table :: American farmers claim less than 10 percent of what we spend on food. A growing number are going after their fair share—and we consumers stand to benefit.

From Dirt to Dinner Table :: Chuck Eggert '71 likes to do the right thing. He also likes good food. He has combined those likes into a natural foods empire.

Happy Cows, Contented Ranchers :: Joel Huesby sees himself as conducting a harmonious symphony of life that includes soil, plants, animals, and people. His steaks taste great, too.

Tuscan Tastes & Politics :: What better way could there be to study Italian politics than by eating?

Street Vet :: Every other weekend, Stan Coe '55 turns the dayroom of Seattle's Union Gospel Mission into a veterinary clinic.

Field Notes

Classical Turkey :: Much of what we think of as ancient Greece lay in fact within the modern borders of Turkey. by Paul Brians

Panoramas

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Gallery: Wings to fly A WSU dancer takes flight. Photography by Robert Hubner. }

Departments

:: PERSPECTIVE:The first casualty

:: SEASON|SPORTS:Dick Bennett's mantra

Tracking

Cover: Pat Cosner, son of Cheryl '85 and Robert Cosner x'74, readies the family table. Read the story. Photograph by Laurence Chen.

Features

Street vet

by | © Washington State University

Veterinarian Stan Coe descends 15 stairs to the basement of Seattle's Union Gospel Mission. He's carrying syringes, vaccines, pills, bandages, and animal clippers in a plastic tub. Following close behind are a man leading a Rottweiler on a chrome chain, a woman carrying a white cockatoo in a blue blanket, and a little girl about four years old clutching a cloth sack in one fist. Inside is a two-foot-long python. They are the first of 54 clients, including an opossum, Coe will see today, May 10.

Every second and fourth Saturday Coe transforms the mission's dayroom into a veterinary clinic. Just left of the stairway he positions a couple of small tables. He will work at one, Dr. Marta Nobrega at the other. Across the room, receptionist Louise Garbe, 80, registers clients, passes out numbers, and keeps records. Her veterinarian daughter, Dr. Jode Garbe, is also on duty.

Business is brisk from 3 to 5 p.m. Visitors take a seat in one of 55 plastic chairs. A few animals are restless at first, then settle down on the gray tile floor, or fall asleep in wire carriers, cardboard boxes, or their owners' laps. Their ailments vary–skin problems, dandruff, allergies, diarrhea, cuts, wounds. Rarely are they undernourished.

"It always surprises me the general good condition the animals are in," Coe says. "Owners insist that their pets get taken care of before they do."

His clients are Seattle's street people. Or residents of low-income dwellings downtown, who can't afford health care for their pets.

Coe, 70, makes arrangements for broken legs and emergencies at the Elliott Bay Animal Hospital, a 15-minute drive away. He maintained a practice there until semi-retiring in November 2001 following a near-fatal heart attack.

Louise Garbe cups her hands to her mouth and calls, "Number 16." She's a former teacher. Don Rolf, Coe's assistant, has also volunteered almost since the beginning. He trained marine animals at San Diego's Sea World.

Dr. Charles W. Doney founded the street people's pet clinic in 1985, but died two years later. Coe invited his widow, Helen, to lunch, and assured her that area veterinarians, most of them, like Coe, alumni  of Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, would rally to the cause. They did. More than a dozen agreed to work on a rotating basis, as did technicians and other volunteers.

After giving Sammy, a miniature dachshund, a booster shot and a worm tablet, Coe tells the owner, "Come back in four weeks. It takes time for him to build up antibodies to the vaccines."

Benzie's kidneys haven't been functioning properly, reports her owner while waiting. Coe discovered a small tumor on the cat's thyroid gland in an earlier visit.

"I'm forever indebted to him for restoring Benzie back to health," the Cat Lady says.

"It's good to have a cooperative patient," Coe says with a smile.

"Junior," a fluffy black-haired cat, has diarrhea.

"See if you can get him on a high-fiber diet," the veterinarian says.

"I hear pumpkin is good?"

"It is if you can get him to eat it."

Coe leans close to another cat, examining one eye with an opthalmoscope, then the other. "It's probably allergies." He washes out the cat's eyes, and then draws a blood sample. The animals seem to sense Coe's tenderness. So do the owners.

Coe cites the therapeutic value of companion animals, particularly for the people he sees. Their pets love them unconditionally, and follow them everywhere.

For some street people, the clinic is their social life.

"You get used to seeing them. You are concerned about them, not just their pets."

After giving Sammy, a miniature dachshund, a booster shot and a worm tablet, Coe tells the owner, "Come back in four weeks. It takes time for him to build up antibodies to the vaccines."

Benzie's kidneys haven't been functioning properly, reports her owner while waiting. Coe discovered a small tumor on the cat's thyroid gland in an earlier visit.

"I'm forever indebted to him for restoring Benzie back to health," the Cat Lady says.

"It's good to have a cooperative patient," Coe says with a smile.

"Junior," a fluffy black-haired cat, has diarrhea.

"See if you can get him on a high-fiber diet," the veterinarian says.

"I hear pumpkin is good?"

"It is if you can get him to eat it."

Coe leans close to another cat, examining one eye with an opthalmoscope, then the other. "It's probably allergies." He washes out the cat's eyes, and then draws a blood sample. The animals seem to sense Coe's tenderness. So do the owners.

Coe cites the therapeutic value of companion animals, particularly for the people he sees. Their pets love them unconditionally, and follow them everywhere.

For some street people, the clinic is their social life.

"You get used to seeing them. You are concerned about them, not just their pets."

Categories: Veterinary medicine | Tags: Public service

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