TV veterinarian to speak at cats group fundraiser

Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald

A fan of both western Colorado and animals, Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald, perhaps most famous for his stint on Animal Planet’s “Emergency Vets,” is the guest speaker for the Cat Tails and Cocktails Gala on Saturday, Oct. 2, at the DoubleTree Hotel.

The reservation deadline for the event has passed. However, Fitzgerald took time out from his full-time job as veterinarian at Alameda East Veterinary Hospital in Denver to talk in advance of the gala, which is a fundraiser for Cats League and Assistance of the Western Slope (CLAWS) Rescue and Adoption Center.

The CLAWS center, 2214 Sanford Drive, Suite A5, is committed to spaying/neutering, vaccinating and caring for abandoned cats, which is why Fitzgerald is excited to come to Grand Junction.

As a veterinarian, Fitzgerald visits with responsible pet owners, but he also sees animals irresponsibly treated.

Here are Fitzgerald’s thoughts about those pet peeves, his own pet and Colorado wildlife.

Melinda Mawdsley: First, let’s get the important news out of the way. Happy belated 59th birthday. Did you celebrate on Sept. 23?

Kevin Fitzgerald: I worked at the hospital. We had a C-section late. We had a Chihuahua, and they sometimes have big litters for such tiny dogs. It’s sometimes a difficult birth.

Mawdsley: Wow. I’m sure as a veterinarian, you see some crazy things. What’s the most interesting — legal or illegal — animal you’ve seen at the hospital?

Fitzgerald: Maybe some of the big lizards. Maybe some of the big snakes. One guy brought in a 20-foot anaconda. It had an eye infection. It was illegal to own.

Mawdsley: Yeah. It’s probably not smart to own a 20-foot snake anywhere, let alone in a city.

Fitzgerald: How do you house that thing? The requirements it needs in food, alone, are exceptional.

Mawdsley: Do you see a lot of irresponsible pet owners?

Fitzgerald: That’s the reason I’m so happy to come to Grand Junction to help out with this benefit. Three thousand kittens and puppies are born in the U.S. every hour. (Statistic from the American Veterinary Medical Association).

The shelters are just jammed full. In the tri-county area in Denver each year, so many unwanted puppies and kittens are put to sleep. Cats become sexually active at 6 months old. They can have a litter every 90 days. Then, those babies can start having litters after six months. The number of animals out there who need homes is staggering.

Mawdsley: CLAWS, the benefactor of this gala and your visit, works exclusively with cats. Your specialty is exotic animals, correct?

Fitzgerald: I see anything with a heartbeat, but 5 percent of American homes have nontraditional pets. Sadly, some of these exotics are fads. Right now it’s giant spiders. Last year it was sugar gliders. Ten years ago it was potbelly pigs. Animals should never be bought on an impulse.

Mawdsley: Do you have a pet?

Fitzgerald: Oh sure. I have a little dog named Yoda. Man, he’s a great guy.

Mawdsley: What kind of dog is he?

Fitzgerald: He’s mainly Chihuahua. He weighs 6 pounds. He was given up. Most vets have some throwaway dog.

Mawdsley: What is it with people’s fascination with animals?

Fitzgerald: As we become more urban and less in touch with nature, the cat on our couch and the dog we have are the closest to wild we get to. It’s refreshing that people are still drawn to animals.

Mawdsley: Well, not only are you a fulltime vet, but you also do stand-up comedy. How do the worlds of veterinary medicine and comedy blend together?

Fitzgerald: There’s humor all around us. A woman came in the other day and said, “My puppy has been poisoned, please give me an anecdote.” She meant antidote. An anecdote is something like “Two guys were at a bar ...”

Most Americans can’t spell or use grammar. They don’t read or write. I like to read animal classified ads. For example, I saw these in The Denver Post, “Free to good home: Pit bull. Will eat anything loves children.”

Mawdsley: There was a period between “anything” and “loves,” right?

Fitzgerald: No. That’s what I mean. Or this one, “Free to good home: Dopherman. Neutered just like one of the family.”

Mawdsley: Wow.

Fitzgerald: None of us laugh enough. Our lives are hard. Humor is a great way to deflect some of the hardship of our lives. A lot of (my stuff) is animal related. I’ve seen a lot of things in 30 years of practice.

Mawdsley: You grew up in Colorado. Seen any good wildlife on the drive over to Grand Junction?

Fitzgerald: We are lucky to live in Colorado. The wildlife here is spectacular. On the drive over, I try to count how many species I see.

Mawdsley: Here’s the million dollar question. Have you ever seen a mountain lion?

Fitzgerald: I have seen mountain lions twice in Colorado. Once outside Boulder and once in the Black Canyon (of the Gunnison National Park). They are here.

Mawdsley: Man. I’ve always wanted to see one. Thanks for your time. Drive safely.


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