2022 Year in Review: Rachel Wolffe, Licensed Veterinary Technician

It’s time to look back on 2022! Check our blog between Christmas and New Year’s for a variety of stories and memories of 2022 from the staff and volunteers of the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

2022 has been a memorable year for me! After volunteering, externing, and interning at the Wildlife Center of Virginia for several years, I joined the staff as a full-time Licensed Vet Technician in the spring. I am so grateful for this opportunity to work with a fabulous group of people at an organization with such an important mission! During the past year, I have had so many memorable and rewarding experiences, including releasing two owls in Rockbridge County near my home. It is so gratifying to see the results of all our work when we are able to release a healthy animal back to the wild.

Of all my experiences this year, the most memorable to me was working with Dr. Jenn to save a Gray Treefrog. My friends and family and colleagues at the WCV all know how fond I am of amphibians, so it should come as no surprise my most memorable experience involves a treefrog patient. Gray Treefrogs are a personal favorite, so I was quite interested when #22-0610 presented in April. Radiographs taken on admission showed that this frog had a fractured femur in her left hind leg. Unfortunately, many amphibians with broken bones do not have happy endings. However, as this was a simple fracture of a long bone, Dr. Jenn decided to try a rather unique procedure to stabilize the bone. She wanted to try to suture the frog’s upper thigh to her body wall to provide stability for the bone. To do this, the frog would have to be sedated, and I was both excited and nervous to participate in my first amphibian anesthetic event. Amphibians can be quite challenging to sedate and anesthetize. Their physiology is very different and there are other special considerations. For example, they have super-powered skin that they can drink and even breathe through. This means that many medications, including anesthetic drugs, can be administered topically.

Thankfully, the procedure was successful, despite our patient not wanting to stay asleep during the surgery! After a few weeks in care, this treefrog was released! Amazing! This was a great learning experience for me and a success story for Dr. Jenn and the Wildlife Center team. Dr. Jenn wrote up a case report to submit to the NWRA (National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association) bulletin so that other wildlife medical teams can learn from our experience. I am quite proud to have been a part of the team providing this frog’s care and to have contributed something to amphibian medicine and conservation.

— Rachel Wolffe, Licensed Veterinary Technician

Check out all of our year-in-review posts!