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Zoo accepts donation for animal dental health

From left, Dr. Michael Overend of the Lake County Veterinary Clinics and Amy Gallagher and Dr. Louise Beyea of the Lake Superior Zoo examine the mouth and gums of Jenner, a 5-year-old genet at the zoo. Jenner was sedated as the two veterinarians and Gallagher, a veterinary technician, for the first time used cleaning and digital X-ray equipment that was part of a $9,500 donation from the Foundation for Veterinary Dentistry's Make Me Smile Program.

A grant of $9,500 from the Foundation for Veterinary Dentistry's Make Me Smile Program is helping the Lake Superior Zoo obtain equipment and supplies to improve the dental health of zoo animals.

Since 2013, the Make Me Smile Program has offered animal shelters funds for equipment to provide basic oral care for adoptable animals. Dentalaire Products International also provides equipment free or at reduced costs. In three years, three animal shelters nationwide have received donations. This year, the program received an additional grant from Petco Inc., allowing the gift to the zoo to replace equipment destroyed in the 2012 flash flood. The zoo also received a digital X-ray system that it did not have before.

"These donations will allow us to provide care for the entire group of animals at the zoo,” said Dr. Louise Beyea, the zoo’s veterinarian. “Previously when it came to dental care, we just didn't have the equipment to do a complete job."

Dr. Michael Overend of the Lake County Veterinary Clinics in Two Harbors and Grand Marais is on the Foundation for Veterinary Dentistry’s national board of directors and helped obtain the donation for the zoo. Overend also has donated his time and expertise to help the zoo with veterinary dentistry.

During Thursday’s news conference announcing the donation, Overend and Beyea demonstrated the equipment and the importance of veterinary dental health by performing a dental exam and cleaning on Jenner, a large-spotted genet, a cat-like African carnivore that is part of the zoo’s nocturnal exhibit.

In accepting the donation, the zoo thanked the foundation and the national committee of the Make Me Smile Program: Chairman Dr. Barry Rathfon, Carol Weldin, Dr. Jamie Anderson, Dr. Cindy Charlier, Dr. Clarence Sitzman, Mary Berg and Ron Anderson.