LOUISVILLE, Ky. — His patients can't read even the top line on the chart and they sometimes respond to his examinations by biting, kicking or stomping, but Dr. Kerry Ketring understands.
"It happens now and then because they may not understand that you're trying to help them," said Ketring, an ophthalmologist and veterinarian who works out of Cincinnati.
He is called when other veterinarians from Dayton, Ohio, to Lexington, Ky., have a difficult case to diagnose or need a second opinion about an eye disease.
The waiting rooms are usually full and he isn't surprised.
"Pets are important to people, as close as relatives many times," said Ketring, who also serves as a consultant for zoos and research facilities.
The Louisville zoo recently brought him a young wallaby, a relative of the kangaroo.
The wallaby, imported from New Zealand, was still in 90-day quarantine when the staff noticed that she was having trouble moving around her quarters and was bumping into things.
Retina Was Gone
Ketring spent at least 20 minutes examining the animal before announcing: "She's totally blind. The retina is gone."
Ketring wouldn't speculate on what caused the condition.
"Hopefully, the wallaby can be kept in a controlled environment and used for breeding purposes. You always try to think of what's best for the patient," he said.
His fee for that visit was a box of crickets.
"They will go to the lizard that the zoo recently gave me," he explained.
Ketring, 41, received his degree in veterinary medicine from Ohio State University in 1972. He completed a 3-year residency in ophthalmology and was a clinical instructor at Ohio State before entering private practice in 1977.
He has found that dogs, because of inbreeding, are more prone to eye diseases than other animals. "Cataracts are common, and so is glaucoma. The treatment is about the same as that for humans. If necessary, we can do cornea transplants, but they are rare."