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For our furry friends

Bucks County Foundation helps fund purchase of ultrasound for Women’s Animal Center

State-of-the-art: Therese Langan, VMD, staff veterinarian at Women’s Animal Center, conducts an ultrasound on her furry friend Shania. WAC is one of just a handful of veterinary providers in the region to offer this technology onsite thanks to a grant from the Bucks County Foundation. Samantha Bambino / Times Photo

Shania was the definition of “serene” as she received belly rubs and affection from her owner Therese Langan, VMD, a staff veterinarian at Women’s Animal Center. Despite being in the center’s veterinary hospital, a foreign atmosphere that can cause anxiety for some pets, the 10-year-old golden retriever was relaxed.

In fact, she almost dozed off.

Langan brought her furry companion in to conduct an ultrasound, which allows her to check everything from a pregnancy to kidney and liver issues. Women’s Animal Center is one of just a handful of veterinary providers in the region to offer onsite pet ultrasound procedures for its patients.

The purchase of the state-of-the-art equipment was made possible thanks to a recent $10,000 grant from the Bucks County Foundation, a charitable community organization that distributes funding to local nonprofits twice a year.

“There are several speciality hospitals with radiologists on staff, but for us as general practitioners, it’s really amazing that we have this here because it affords us additional diagnoses for our patients,” said Langan. “We can get some information from the blood work, some from the physical exam. But the ultrasound just gives us another look into what’s going on in their body because they can’t tell us. It just helps us complete our diagnostic circle and get as much information as possible.”

Langan praised the ultrasound for not being invasive, allowing her to determine health issues while keeping her patients comfortable and stress-free. The animals lay on their backs in a padded trough as she studies their abdomen on a screen.

“They just kind of lay here, get lots of pets. It’s a pretty comfortable procedure,” she said. “All they have to do is lay here and get belly rubs while we get a lot of information out of it.”

In order to fully understand the newly arrived technology, Langan recently joined veterinarians from around the country in Arlington, Texas, for an ultrasound intensive at the Academy of Veterinary Imaging. Led by board-certified radiologist Dr. Kenneth Waller, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, the course was modeled to provide general practitioner veterinarians the knowledge and skills to complete abdominal ultrasounds on patients.

While Langan is confident in her abilities to provide diagnoses, the Ultrasound allows her to call on experts when needed.

“If I ever get to a point where I’m not quite sure where to go next, we also have the ability to send these images to a certified radiologist,” she said. “I can get a lot of information myself, but since I’m not a radiologist, I don’t have all the experience of somebody who does it all day, every day.”

According to Linda Goodwin, executive director of the Bucks County Foundation, Women’s Animal Center is a longtime recipient of grant funding. In past years, the Foundation gave WAC money to build an outdoor play yard and expansion of its surgical suite. Goodwin said she was surprised to learn the facility didn’t already have an ultrasound.

“If you’ve got a sick pet that’s possibly got something going on and needs the ultrasound, you don’t want to send them somewhere else,” Goodwin said. “The Foundation is pleased to provide such valuable tools to help the many animals receiving care at Women’s Animal Center. As one of the oldest nonprofit veterinary hospitals in the country, their services are vital to our community of pet owners.”

The Foundation administers 58 different funds, including grants to nonprofits serving the community and scholarships to students at all but one high school in Bucks County.

“The money that we give away is generally from estates. People leave it in their wills. They aren’t positive the money should just go to one place,” Goodwin said. “They’d like it to be used for all animal causes, or wherever it’s needed most in any given year.”

Steve Price, hospital operations director, stressed that monetary aid from partners like the Bucks County Foundation allows Women’s Animal Center to keep fees low as well as prevent the financially related surrender or euthanasia of family pets.

“Ultrasound is an expensive piece of equipment and represents a big investment for most practices,” Price said. “Because Women’s Animal Center is a nonprofit hospital, our ability to provide this advanced diagnostic tool to families in need is especially meaningful.”

The ultrasound is also able to help the shelter animals who are looking for a forever home, but may be sick.

“A lot of times, we don’t have a history on them,” Langan said. “They come in from being born on the street, and if they’re vomiting, we can look for signs of something blocking their intestines, look for any signs of disease in there.”

In 2019, Women’s Animal Center served nearly 9,000 family pets in its veterinary hospital. All proceeds raised through service and exam fees, including ultrasound, are reinvested back into the operation of its animal shelter to provide for more than 3,000 homeless pets annually under the organization’s care.

Women’s Animal Center is located at 3839 Richlieu Road, Bensalem. The hospital is currently accepting new patients. For more information, call 215-750-5252 or visit womensanimalcenter.org. Applications for the Bucks County Foundation’s fall grant cycle are due July 15, with funds distributed in September. Forms can be found at buckscountyfoundation.org.

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com

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