Working on wildlife is a humbling experience. I have to be mindful of all of my failures in order to get the one successful outcome, which is measured by how quickly my patient flees away from me.
It was a spring day in 1985. I was working at, what was then, a rural mixed animal practice. Being a young veterinarian, I felt overwhelmed most of the time. My days were filled with examining patients and going back to my books and old vet school notes to provide a treatment plan. There was an appointment on the books to examine a wild bunny. Generally, the only time I was called upon to examine bunnies was at fair time. This was to certify the bunnies did not have the usual illnesses. Abscesses, mites or nasal discharge, these were the three things that I could competently diagnose and treat. Eliminating those maladies, my expertise with rabbits was rather limited. Fortunately or unfortunately this bunny was not one of those that were going to be appearing at the fair.
I would have liked to read up about rabbit medicine. There were not any text books available to me regarding rabbit veterinary care. There were no classes, when I went to vet school, addressing rabbit care or, for that matter, any other wildlife care. So, I warily waited for this appointment. A young couple showed up for the appointment. They had found an injured wild rabbit. Instead of doing what traditionally would have been the standard of care and humanely end the life of this unfortunate creature, they wanted to save its life and return it to nature. I determined immediately that this was not going to be a short appointment.
This was the start of a rewarding relationship that has now spanned 25 years. Over the years, Steve and Yvonne Blane and the competent staff at Fellow Mortals have been testing me with all sorts of wildlife. From great horned owls and red tail hawks with broken wings, a white pelican left behind, rabbits with fractured legs, a beaver that has trouble getting out of its pond, to a cormorant with a limp, all of these fellow mortals have allowed me the satisfaction of knowing that I can help. Without this association, practicing veterinary medicine would not be nearly so rewarding. Thank you Fellow Mortals for doing what you do best—caring.
Published in the Northwest Herald on December 11, 2013:
“Dr. Patrick M. Hourigan, age 57, of Williams Bay, Wisconsin, formerly of Arlington Heights, Illinois, passed away December 7, 2013. Visitation will be 3:00 p.m. Friday, December 13, 2013, at St. Francis de Sales Church, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, followed by Mass at 5:00 p.m. All are welcome to attend.
“Pat was born on January 9, 1956 in Chicago, son of Robert and June Hourigan. He married Donna Kirstein, on June 15, 1984.
“Pat attended Arlington High School in Arlington Heights, Illinois, and received his Bachelors and Doctorate degrees from University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana. He started the Richmond Veterinary Clinic in Richmond, Illinois in 1991, and practiced veterinary medicine for 30 years.
“Pat had a passion for life, his family and friends, wildlife, and companion animals. He also enjoyed outdoor recreation and racketball. He was a member of the Williams Bay Lions Club, coached youth soccer, and donated his time and expertise to Fellow Mortals Wildlife Hospital.
“His sense of humor, kind, compassionate, generous, and caring spirit won many over as friends. Surviving are his wife, Donna; three children, Allison, Matt, and Danny; father, Robert Hourigan; six siblings, Nancy Hourigan Saurmann, Daniel Hourigan (Trudy), James Hourigan (Joann), Robert Hourigan, Brian Hourigan (Sally), David Hourigan (Mary); and fourteen nieces and nephews, Tim Saurmann, Maggie Saurmann, Nick Cvietkovich, Kelley, Katie, Ryan, Robert, Jason (Heather), Brittney, Travis, Shannon, Connor, and Colin Hourigan. He was preceded in death by his mother. Memorials may be given to Fellow Mortals Wildlife Hospital, W4632 Palmer Rd., Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, 53147, in memory of Patrick.”