The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

Dr Bob Moore

Bob Moore shares some notable recollections from his early veterinary career.

Cats in a box

I was asked by a dear lady living in a small bungalow what could be done about the 20 or so stray cats that she had befriended by feeding them daily in her garden. She had asked around and no one else claimed ownership of any of them.

I suggested a range of options and the one she chose was to collect them and I would PTS those she collected. How to collect them? I suggested feeding them progressively closer to, and then inside some sort of lockable container, and then to trap them. "Let me know when they’re trapped."

The devastation they wrought in about 3 minutes flat still haunts me to this day.

A few weeks later the call came and I arrived to find a large wooden (egg) box in her very petite and superbly fitted kitchen, with around a dozen cats inside the box. I sent the lady out of the kitchen and prepared my euthanasia solution. I opened the lid of the box carefully and a dozen wild and desperate cats flew out of box and proceeded to seek a way out of the kitchen.

The devastation they wrought in about 3 minutes flat still haunts me to this day. One cat I remember in particular tried to hide behind a row of spice jars neatly arranged along a shelf. As each jar crashed to the floor and smashed the cat tried to hide behind the next jar. The crashing jars merely served to scare the other cats to achieve greater feats of climbing, scratching and devastation.

Shooting a pot belly pig

A tale of woe (which I don’t mind you repeating) concerns a client who kept Vietnamese pot belly pigs when they were new as pets. Eventually one grew old and decrepit and I promised her that I would see to the process of ending its days for her. "Not when me and the boys are around please," was the request, so I arrived early one Saturday morning when they had gone bike scrambling.

I have always prided myself on my skill at killing things efficiently, numbering a large variety of species dispatched with good effect. (As an aside, read the complaints RCVS gets to see how clients get upset when euthanasia goes less than well!)

The pig shook its head and squealed a bit and remained standing.

Taking my Smith & Wesson 38 Special six shooter (loaded with two bullets - you never know when you might need the second one), I lined up the points as per the text book, ears, eyes, cross over lines, hand kept low, muzzle a few centimetres from the skin and BANG.

The pig shook its head and squealed a bit and remained standing. Somewhat stunned (me, not the pig!) I took aim a little lower this time and BANG again. Same result, plus a shower of blood all over me from the first bullet hole.

Nonplussed, I returned to the car to get more ammunition. This time I thought I would shoot vertically behind the nuchal crest to get at the spinal chord. Feet well apart as I didn't want to shoot myself in the foot - literally. BANG!

This time the pig squealed the same as before then knelt down and shook its head. One more shot rang out and the pig finally lay down on its side quietly breathing and at last unconscious, but certainly not dead. Back to the car and collect all the euthatal I had and a long paravertable needle and the pig was finally dispatched.

Back at the surgery, I was sat somewhat disconcerted at the morning's events, when our practice pig "expert" came in and said "What's the matter Bob, you look a bit down?"

I explained that I needed training in shooting pigs and he told me the best way to shoot pigs is with a 12 bore through the eye, the brain is only a few millimetres away and it works every time.

"Except," he said, "never try to shoot a pot belly pig - their brains are so small and the sinuses are so large, you can never kill them by shooting."