Planned PEThood Blog

Surgery in the Dark


What would you do if the power was out and 40 animals were relying on your help? Some of the animals need urgent medical care, and they all had traveled from rural county shelters for surgery through our Go Fix Georgia program.   

Earlier this month our team had to answer that question FAST. They arrived to our clinic at 7 a.m. to find no power in our entire building. A utility pole was knocked down by a car accident, and we were told that power to our entire block would likely not be restored before end of day!

First all of all, our perishable vaccinations had to be rushed to a fridge or thousands of dollars in supplies would perish. One of our team members carried them down the bock to her car (the streets were all shut down, so our parking lot was inaccessible) and drove them to her house for storage. CRISIS #1 AVERTED!

Second, the cats we keep at our clinic, including barn cats and house cats, needed attention. They were all in the dark and without air conditioning. Our receptionists helped clean and care for cats by flashlight since the phones and computers were not working. The cooler weather worked in our favor that day, but we had an evacuation plan in place within the hour. CRISIS #2 AVERTED! 

Third, we had to decide what to do about our planned surgeries. 13 cats and dogs had arrived the night before from Newton County Animal Shelter, and there were an additional 27 on board the Habersham County Animal Shelter bus that was waiting in our parking lot! They had arrived before the road was closed.

With 40 animals counting on us, some with medical emergencies, we had to make a choice. Cancel surgeries for the day, or figure out how to do surgery in the dark? It wasn’t a difficult decision to make. We had to figure out a way to help the 40 animals relying on us for the day. 

Our staff rallied! They contacted volunteers who could loan us a generator, battery operated lanterns and fans. It was all hands on deck. Several reliable fosters and volunteers came immediately (by foot), items in hand, and we were able to start surgery only an hour later than expected. Fortunately, our anesthesia and monitoring equipment do not require electricity to operate.

We worked with what we had, and had people standing by ready to help us evacuate if it came to it. A van was kept running in the parking lot to provide a safe and cool holding space for surgery patients and the cooler weather worked in our favor. Even though it was less than ideal, things went smoothly! We were able to do almost all the animals, including two emergency eye removals! CRISIS #3 AVERTED! 

Our team shines the brightest under pressure. We are lucky to have such a wonderful group of volunteers, staff, and supporters standing beside us to light our way. Thank you to everyone who stepped up to help.