Just under a month ago, on one of my Google escapades, that began with a well-intentioned search for colleges, careers, and majors, I stumbled across an article about an exotic pets veterinarian in Australia who performed surgery on a goldfish named George (Check out the article here). Now, I’ve done a few things people who don’t own pets might deem “crazy”, like take a Russian dwarf hamster to the vet (twice) to have her examined and receive antibiotics, syringe feed a leopard gecko a liquid calcium and vitamin D supplement, spend close to $40 on fish medications to save the lives of two “feeder” goldfish I got for a quarter, and carefully create a balanced diet for the same hamster who turned out to be diabetic and also needed her ketones and glucose levels tested regularly. Oh and don’t even get me started on Kiwi, my green anole. But I’ve never considered, well, seriously considered, taking any of my many fish to the vet, usually I end up turning to Dr. Google and a variety of fish forums/experts for help.
Anyhow, to summarize the article, Dr. Tristan Rich successfully performed surgery on a 10 year old goldfish in order remove a large tumor that had to be scraped off of his skull. The surgery took in total about 45 minutes and George completely recovered after the operation. The procedure was performed at Lort Smith Animal Hospital and Shelter in Melbourne, Australia, the largest not-for-profit animal hospital in the country.
After reading about George, I, like many others, felt amazed and grateful, that a veterinarian and George’s owners, or rather his family, were willing to give their time and money to save an animal that so many others would have just let suffer and eventually die simply because he’s a fish. It is especially amazing that Dr. Rich was able to figure out a way to anesthetize and oxygenate such a small fish, not to mention the skill needed to perform such a delicate procedure. On the Lort Smith Facebook page, staff have talked about how there has even been an increase in the demand for fish surgeries since George’s story went global.
Thanks to George and his family and doctors, people have become more aware of treating animals and pets with the respect and care they deserve. While surgery might not be right or in the best interest of all fish or pets, this one has definitely been a step forward in veterinary medicine and has inspired people around the world (including myself) that it is possible to do incredible things for animals and people alike if you really set your mind to it.
Check out this news report about George’s surgery, recovery, and family: