WBIR TV Features Dr. Baine
An East Tennessee veterinarian, Dr. Katherine Baine, specializes in birds but cares for all kinds of exotic animals. She received a recent visit from Gorby and his owner. Gorby is a 28 year old parrot. He has arthritis and a problem with plucking his own feathers but that’s improving.
“He was just completely just fuzzy with the little grey feathers but he’s starting to get some green feathers in now,” Dr. Katherine Baine explained.
Another patient is Murphy, a three year old guinea pig. Murphy originally came in for a mass in his neck but this appointment is simply a wellness exam and a chance to check his teeth.
“Guinea pigs are unique in that their teeth grow continuously,” she said.
All in a day’s work for Dr. Katherine Baine at the Animal Emergency Specialty Center in West Knoxville.
“During the day we see anything from a ferret, rabbit, bird all the way to a bearded dragon, a fish, so the diversity. It’s always something different and exciting. And it’s a little bit of a challenge too which I like,” she said.
Generally, the smaller the animal, the trickier it is to treat.
“Baby bearded dragons when they come in they’re three grams which is absolutely itty bitty. We see canaries and finches a lot and we offer the same medicine as any other species,” she said.
One of her first patients here was a koi, a type of fish.
“It was an older fish. It had been around for ten or fifteen years. It was weird for everybody else but I’ve done stuff with the aquarium in Gatlinburg before so it was another day,” she said.
Not exactly cats and dogs.
“The watering and feeding are very similar but a lot of our exotic pets have very specific needs,” she said.
For example, a guinea pig needs vitamin C and hay but doesn’t need a special cage. A bearded dragon needs UV light and calcium supplements.
The vet who treats exotic pets also has pets of her own.
“Penelope is my Amazon parrot. Then I have four small birds now, two parakeets and two cockateels, and I’ve also got a dog and a cat.”
The cats and birds happily coexist.
If you’re thinking about getting an exotic pet…
“Do your homework. And if you have questions then we are always available to talk about what each pet requires,” says Dr. Baine. “Some live a lot longer than others. So rat species only usually live about a year or a year and a half. Whereas your bigger parrot species can live 40 to 60 years depending on how well you take care of them. It’s important to know that before you invest.”
While Dr. Baine treats exotic pets, she does not treat wild animals. Calls about foxes and tigers are referred to T-W-R-A – the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.