Exotic Mammal Veterinarian Spotlight
Dr. Arnold and a baby bunny patient.
Beth Arnold initially graduated from The Ohio State University in 1993 with a degree in journalism and specialization in advertising. She worked for several years at a large advertising agency in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1995 she decided to take another path and follow her dream of being a veterinarian. She quit her job and started back in college to meet the prerequisites to apply for veterinary school. She began as an assistant at a veterinary hospital in North Ridgeville where she would work until she achieved her doctorate. She also became a member of OWRA (Ohio Wildlife Rehabilitators Association) and became a wildlife rehabilitator where her love of more exotic animals became evident.
Beth Arnold graduated from The Ohio State University College of Medicine in 2002 and started practicing at Crossroads Animal Hospital in Strongsville, Ohio until 2004. She took a position at Barberton Veterinary Clinic with avian specialist Dr. Gary Riggs and practiced there and at the Akron Zoo for a year. In 2005 she returned to Crossroads Animal Hospital where she continues to care for mammalian exotics as well as other family pets. Beth also has a deep interest in feline medicine.
She and her husband Lou are both natives of Strongsville and live in a nearby suburb. Beth plans to remain at Crossroads and raise her family. She has 2 sons, 1 dog, 3 cats, 4 birds and 2 fish tanks. :)
Where did you attend veterinary school?
The Ohio State University
How long have you been a veterinarian?
Going on 11 years now
What are your accreditations and affiliations?
ASGV - Association of Sugar Glider Veterinarians
AEMV - Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians
AAFP - American Association of Feline Practitioners
AVDS - American Veterinary Dental Society
What made you decide to pursue a career in veterinary medicine?
I have always had a love for animals and nature. From a very young age I was taught to respect all life - from the tiniest bug on up. We would capture bugs in the house and let them go rather than instantly smashing them. I would spend my time on rainy days trying to save every worm on the driveway. I have memories of trying to fish frogs out of the sewer with my dad even though he tried to tell me that is where they wanted to be. Animals were always there for me, never passing judgment and I came to look at them as my friends, my equals. I always wanted to help repay them for all the joy they brought to me. I felt if I became a vet - I would always be able to help an injured animal on the side of the road. Being a vet helped empower me to help my animal friends.
What is something a potential pet owner should know before deciding to purchase an exotic mammal?
Yes!!! Although exotic animals are very cool, they are extremely hard work. Sometimes it is hard to find a vet to help care for exotic animals. Even if you find a vet - we don't have all of the answers as we are often just learning about new exotics as well. Most exotics have very specific nutritional or environmental needs. Some exotics are very inexpensive to purchase but that doesn't mean they are easy to take care of or are inexpensive to treat. Some exotics have very short or very long lifespans and that should be taken into account when purchasing them - are you going to have to say goodbye soon or include them in your will? Please research the exotic you are interested in BEFORE you consider purchasing him/her. Make sure your lifestyle is able to adapt to having an exotic. Make sure you can find a vet in your area to see the exotic within a few days of purchase to be sure it is healthy. Remember an exotic is so difficult to care for. Most need cages cleaned daily, special food, heat, lights and require a lot of time. I remember when I got my first cat. I couldn't believe how easy she was to care for. I just had to scoop her litter box twice a day and give fresh food and water twice a day. It was a breeze compared to the rabbits, birds, chinchillas, squirrel and other exotics I have had. Some people can't even commit to cleaning a litter box twice a day. If you are that person - an exotic animal is not for you.
Are there any tips you'd like to give owners of exotic mammals?
Absolutely!!! Make sure you can find a vet in your area to see the exotic animal - even if he/she is healthy now - at some point you will need a vet and want to be prepared within a few days of purchase to be sure it is healthy. Many exotics are prey species and by default hide illnesses until they cannot to avoid drawing attention to themselves and being shunned from the other animals in the group. I always recommend if an animal is abnormal for 24 hours get in to see the veterinarian immediately.
Would you mind sharing with us one of your favorite experiences treating an exotic pet?
I have had several great experiences with my exotic patients - it's hard to choose just one. I really love the bonds that I form with many of the owners of the exotics as many are so vested in the well-being of their animals. Many of them travel over an hour to see me which is an honor in and of itself. I will share just a few quick things that come to mind.
I had a 1 year old rabbit named Tinkerbell with an oral abscess. Surgery was extremely difficult and we didn't even think she would make it. She had a very protracted course of injectable antibiotics and her mouth was always a source of struggle but she lived 8 more years!
I had a female rat patient named Lilly and every time I would see her she would run into my hair and play in there. One time I was doing an exam and she ended up crawling into my coat sleeve and came out at the neck opening - a very funny scene.
I had a mouse that weighed approximately 30 grams and we ended up removing a mass on his abdomen that weighed 10 grams.
My husband and I always sum up working with exotics with a story of when I worked at the Akron Zoo. In the morning I got to see a fancy goldfish named Happy who ended up with x-rays and an ultrasound. That afternoon - I had to help dart the lion at the zoo for an exam. All creatures great and small - I love them all!