WYLIE -- Lions, and tigers, and...dentists? Oh my, indeed! Several big cats at the In-Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue and Educational Center are having their bites beautified this weekend thanks to help from another charitable endeavor.
Dr. Peter Emily is one of the founding fathers of veterinary dentistry--his clients have included Siegfried and Roy's animals--and in 2005 he used his own retirement money to create what would become the Peter Emily International Veterinary Dental Foundation. The organization provides free care to animals in need, particularly at sanctuaries and shelters like In-Sync which are non-profits and could otherwise not afford it.
"There's probably, maybe 20,000 wild animals in the United States alone, in close to 1,000 shelters, and they're barely able to feed them," says Dr. Emily. "We probably spend about $3,000 every trip we go to by the time we pay for air fare and instruments, materials. Most of these people donate their time, they're not on salary."
The foundation is also an educational opportunity for veterinary students. Dr. Emily invites interns from across the country to help on his "missions," giving them hands-on experience that he hopes will benefit his foundation in the future.
"Right now there's probably only a handful of people in the foundation I can send to another shelter without being there with them, and that's not enough. We need dozens more."
Around nine of In-Sync's lions and tigers will be seen this weekend based on priority needs like toothaches--which are indicated by a lack of desire to eat--and broken teeth. Volunteers say there's a noticeable difference after the animals are taken care of.
"Their entire disposition is a lot happier," says media director Angela Culver. "They are less grumpy; they're more willing to play and engage with other [animals] or people.
"It definitely makes a huge difference."
"Its hard to get any donations for this," laments Dr. Emily. "People have a hard time thinking about putting money to tigers' teeth."