Stella Survives Seattle Earthquake

Battle Ground, Ind. | April 8, 2001

All indications pointed to just another normal day at the Green Lake Animal Hospital for Licensed Veterinary Technician, Linda Merrill of Seattle, Washington. Linda’s morning routine consisted of physical examinations for the dogs and cats who were in the hospital for dental procedures. As she was administering the pet’s pre-anesthetic medications, Linda could not have predicted that Wednesday, the 28th of February would turn out to be anything but routine.

Shortly after 10AM, PST, the Seattle area was hit by a major earthquake, which was centered approximately 30 miles to the south of the city. Soon after the ground and buildings stopped shaking, everyone’s attention turned to accessing the damage. Linda, recounts, “”checking on the well being of the hospitalized animals was a matter of urgency for myself and the other staff.”” Luckily, none were found to be injured or truly in danger.

However, “”Stella”” the cat, was not so lucky. As cats do, Stella was lounging up on a shelf in her favorite place taking a mid-day nap when the earthquake hit. Unfortunately for Stella, the tremors were strong enough to knock her off of her perch. Because the earthquake caught her by surprise, she was not able to right herself as she fell, and she suffered a broken leg when she hit the floor.

As many pet owners did that fateful day in Seattle, Stella’s owners came home to check on her and noticed she was visibly limping. She was quickly brought into the hospital where Linda and the other hospital staff were ready to assist owners with injured pets. Stella’s physical examination indicated x-rays were needed. Linda proceeded to take the x-rays of Stella’s leg and presented them to the veterinarian for review and diagnosis. Indeed she had broken her leg.

Linda says, “”the veterinarian splinted Stella’s leg to provide support for the fractured bones – allowing them time to heal.”” Her owners were instructed to restrict her jumping at home and also to give her plenty of TLC to calm her harried nerves – which they indicated would be no problem!

Stella has since returned to the animal hospital twice for splint changes and follow-up examinations. Her owners report that she is wearing the splint with a certain smugness, she isn’t going to let a little earthquake keep her from getting around! Stella is expected to have no long-term complications from her fractured leg.

As Linda reflects on this happy ending she is grateful, “”the earthquake was a major one, but most of the injuries received by the animals treated at our hospital were minor and they will all make complete recoveries. Being able to provide nursing care to pets, especially in an emergency situation, gives me great pride as a veterinary technician educated to assist the veterinarian in the needs and well being of our pets.””

NAVTA is a nonprofit organization that represents and promotes the profession of Veterinary Technology. NAVTA provides direction, education, support, and coordination for its members, and works with other allied professional organizations for the competent care and humane treatment of animals.

For additional information contact NAVTA at (765) 742-2216.


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