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Veterinarian who specializes in exotic animals also educates

June 14, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

FUNKSTOWN - When Dr. Carol Gamble was looking around for a position in a veterinarian's office, she heard about the Animal Health Clinic of Funkstown and Dr. Virginia Scrivener.

"I was drawn to her clinic - there is a lot of education going on there," Gamble said.

A specialist in exotic animals, Gamble infuses a lot of education into her practice now that she has come on board at the clinic.

A board certified avian specialist, Gamble also treats guinea pigs, rabbits, ferrets, rodents and reptiles as well as dogs and cats. "I don't work with primates or fish," she said.

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Gamble said the owners of birds and other exotic animals often don't have as good an understanding of the care and treatment of their pets as dog and cat owners do. Depending on where the animal was obtained, the owner may get some instruction and a manual.

"With birds, the owners need to make sure the bird is healthy and that requires checkups," she said. "A lot of people don't think to take exotics to the veterinarian."

Many people believe that one need only to give a bird a couple of seeds and the bird will be happy and healthy. But that isn't the case, Gamble said.

"I see a lot of obese birds and birds with liver problems," she said.

Depending on the type of bird, the bird that lives in the wild will eat all kinds of things - vegetables, fruits and in some cases, even meat. The diet in captivity needs to be in line with that, she said.

Recently Gamble saw a parrot that the owner said was 89 years old. "That age isn't unheard of in parrots - it's unusual but not unheard of," she said.

Another recent patient was "vacationing" with the Gamble family for a while as she tried to clear up a skin infection that had been recurring in the bird.

She said the owner brought the bird in for tests when its skin kept breaking out. Those tests turned up an infection and once treatment began, the bird had to be fitted with a collar to keep it from pecking at the sores while they healed.

On a recent afternoon, that bird was perched in a small cage on Gamble's dining room table while she watched it carefully as she removed the collar so the bird could preen its feathers - a vital routine for all birds.

A native of Denver, Gamble went into the study of veterinary medicine with a goal of becoming a zoo veterinarian.

"I did some work in zoos but I found this was better," Gamble said.

Gamble and her husband, Scott, met at the University of Tennessee, where both were studying veterinary science.

Currently in his residency at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md., Dr. Scott Gamble does mostly laboratory work with monkeys and rabbits through the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.

The couple moved to this area in 2002 when Scott Gamble began his work at Fort Detrick. "We had our son, Connor, that summer. Carson, our second son, is now 1," Carol Gamble said.

While Carol Gamble has noticed there aren't a lot of retail outlets for exotics in this area, she is seeing a lot more interest in them as pets. She is also working at another clinic outside of Frederick.

Currently she is in the Funkstown office on Tuesdays and Thursdays for appointments. She is also training another veterinarian in the office to help out with exotics.

For more information call 301-733-7579.

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