The Max Memorial Clinic

About the Max Memorial Clinic

The Max Memorial Clinic was built in 2022 primarily as a clinic to service the animals in our sanctuary. Having our own full-time on-staff veterinarian insures that our animals get immediate care ranging from emergency care to preventative care and palliative/hospice care.

The clinic consists of an office for Dr. Christine as well as a treatment room equipped with a small laboratory, including blood work machines to run a lot of our bloodwork right in house. There is also a dedicated surgery room and a dental room. All of this was made possible by donations. We hope to expand our diagnostic capabilities in the future with an x-ray machine and other things on our growing wish list. The more we can do right here on the farm, the better it is for the animals. But it also allows us to help others in an emergency as well.

Are there services available to the public?

Dr. Christine does offer services to the general public. She offers Acupuncture/Laser Therapy, and Hospice/Palliative care. You can learn more about these services on our Available Veterinary Services Page.

Who is Max?

Max was the inspiration and catalyst for the entire clinic. We named the clinic in honor of him because without him this may never have come to fruition.

Here is his story as told by Dr. Christine.

I first met Max about a year before I started working for Spring Farm; he was on the schedule at my clinic for an evaluation of urinary issues.  I was met with one of the most gorgeous cats I’ve ever seen – a large tiger cat with gigantic green eyes, enormous polydactyl feet and no tail.  Max had a turbulent history; he had been hit by a car and required a tail amputation.  Due to the extent of his injuries, he sustained neurologic damage and was unable to urinate and defecate on his own.  His owners surrendered him to Spring Farm due to the intense nature required with his care.  He had been maintained with medications and staff had been able to manually express his bladder multiple times a day.  Until they couldn’t.  Something had changed, he was extremely resistant to the previously easy process, and no matter how hard they tried, there was nothing they could do to express him.

I approached the case as I would with any other cat experiencing a urinary blockage – we sedated him and passed a urinary catheter to relieve the pressure to give us time to figure out what needed to happen for his long-term care.  Except, Max’s situation turned out to be extremely complicated.  Normal blood work, urine samples, radiographs, ultrasounds.  Different trials of medications had no effect.  Repeated urinary catheterizations led to repeat urinary tract infections.  Consultations with other veterinarians and specialists usually had the same result – a discussion about quality of life, the recommendation of euthanasia, and the suggestions that the sanctuary’s resources could be better spent elsewhere.

But, there was something different about this case, something nagging in the back of my mind that it wasn’t time to give up.  You see, the thing with Max was…he wasn’t always easy.  He tended to express his displeasure with anything he didn’t like.  I would often hear that Max was acting aggressive and would go on hunger strikes.  But, I didn’t see that with Max.  Every time I saw him, whether it was opening his carrier at the clinic to those bright eyes or when I did on-site visits to the farm, Max was bright and happy and thrilled to see me, any food I put in front of him was devoured.  I would later realize this was Max’s way of expressing his affinity to me because he knew I’d find a way to fix him.  And so, I did.

After researching endlessly, I found reports of dogs and cats having permanent cystostomy ports placed.  In the simplest terms, this means a port that would allow repeated drainage of his urine would be placed through the wall of his abdomen and into his bladder.  There were risks associated with it, of course, but when I presented Dawn with the idea, she agreed and so the process began.  With the help of some brilliant surgeons (Dr. Marcus Hetzner and Dr. Paul Bookbinder), the port was placed and Max’s life changed forever.  Max thrived after this procedure.  Of course, there were some hiccups, we still had to treat him occasionally for urinary tract infections and he had this knack for eating things he shouldn’t have, but Max never looked back.

Max suddenly and unexpectedly left this Earth nearly a year later.  We suspect it was an underlying cardiac issue none of us ever knew about.  There were no symptoms of illness, we just suddenly found him gone.  And through the sadness of losing my beloved office cat, I’ve come to realize what a gift Max was to my professional life as a veterinarian.  Max was my first introduction to the magic that is Spring Farm CARES.  The tenacity he had, his ability to take everything in stride, and the uniqueness of his condition and his ultimate cure.  But overall, the importance of realizing that veterinary medicine doesn’t always follow the rules and the innovation required to help some of your patients.  The lesson that there are some terminal cases that require humane euthanasia, but that you must be willing to explore other avenues for those pets who aren’t ready to quit.  And, despite the way my brain scientifically and logically wants to approach sick patients, realizing that miracles can happen.  Because Max was a miracle cat and his effect on myself, Spring Farm, and the staff will last a long time.