The Peter Emily International Veterinary Dental Foundation doesn't take on your average house cat or family dog. When it comes to teeth they are in for the big game. Dr. Peter Emily works on the likes of lions and tigers and bears -- oh, my!
The mission of the foundation is to "provide life-improving advanced dental care to exotic animals living in the US." The foundation has plans to expand overseas in the near future.
The foundation was founded in 2005 by Dr. Emily as a private charitable institution to work with exotic animals in captive animal facilities and animal sanctuaries. In 2009 PEIVDF became a public charity to be able to better continue its mission of oral and dental health.
Exotic animal dentistry goes well beyond a quick clean and polish. Like the rest of us, good dental care is ket to good health. So Dr. Emily performs extractions, deals with gum disease, and even does root canals. Animals must be under general anesthesia for any dental procedures, so it is an operation that takes an entire team. Most certainly you don't want one of these animals waking up while you have your hands in their mouths. That would give new meaning to the term "finger food."
Dr. Emily began his career as a regular dentist, with a hobby of breeding and raising Doberman Pinschers. This led him into working some as a doggy dentist, and pioneered new xray techniques for checking the teeth of puppies. As word got around the veterinary world, he found himself being called to zoos and sanctuaries around the country. He has even been called in to work with champion racehorses like Seattle Slew and Secretariat, and also been called upon by Siegfried and Roy to deal with the teeth of their famous felines back in the day.
He has had to improvise many techniques and many challenges have arisen. Many of the verterinary dental tools in use today are his design.
Students in dentistry programs such as that at the University of Louiville in Kentucky are afforded the opportunity to take a course in exotic animal dentistry. The program has become so popular that only 40 students are accepted at a time. Even if they don't go into veterinary dentistry, it is something they can look back on as a memorable stop on the way to acheiving their D.D.S.
So if your favorite animal at the zoo is looking good, you may have Dr. Emily or one of his team to thank for that toothy grin.