What does an animal surgery really look like? Today multiple guests at Liberty Science Center found out as they watched a live on-screen animal surgery, led by veterinarian Dr. Allison Sommerkorn from the Animal Clinic of Morris Plains.
LSC’s Live From Surgery program has existed since 1998. In this program, students watch live as doctors perform actual surgeries on patients (examples include orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, and robotic surgery) and even ask questions throughout the procedure.
But today, April 2 – the kickoff of our Conservation Week celebration – a veterinarian led a Live From Surgery session for the very first time.
Guests filled our Interactive Theater and communicated virtually with Dr. Sommerkorn as she went through the entire process of spaying a dog (removing its ovaries and uterus). Before starting the routine procedure, Dr. Sommerkorn explained the importance of spaying and neutering pets, such as reducing the issue of pet overpopulation in America and reducing the animals’ risk of ovarian cancer.
Throughout the surgery, Dr. Sommerkorn took questions from guests, such as “Why doesn’t the dog bleed more after an incision is made?”, with the doctor answering that she cut in an area where there are less vessels, and therefore less bleeding. Another great question was “What age can you spay a dog?”, to which Dr. Sommerkorn responded that six months is the ideal time since the pup will respond best to the anesthesia.
Many young guests in the audience said they were interested in becoming veterinarians someday, and so a portion of the presentation was spent on learning how to become a vet. A few of the essential subjects to study in school include biology, chemistry, and anatomy, but also communication, since veterinarians must be able to communicate effectively with the pet owners.
A few of the challenges of being a veterinarian were also discussed, such as needing to know the bodies of all animals – while regular doctors only need to know the bodies of men and women – and the fact that veterinarians can’t actually talk to their patients and find out where their pain is.
After the surgery was finished, we brought out a special surprise for our guests: a golden retriever named Lawrence, who is the pet of one of our LSC team members! Before coming up to pet Lawrence, guests learned the necessities of meeting a dog. First, you ask the owner if the dog is friendly. Second, you ask if it’s okay to pet the dog. Then, you stick your hand out and let the dog smell you before finally petting it.
Thanks to everyone who came out to experience this unique opportunity! Click here to learn more about the special activities taking place this week during Conservation Week.