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Robert Wagner, Speaker At The 2011 International Ferret Congress

A profile of International Ferret Congress 2011 symposium speaker Robert Wagner.

By Renee Downs
Posted: May 20, 2011, 8:45 p.m. EDT

He's baaaack! This year Dr. Robert Wagner will talk about adrenal disease and his vaccine research. The International Ferret Congress is collecting contributions to help support this research. There is a matching grant out by Cathy Ryan and a check will be presented to him at the symposium. Without further ado, meet Dr. Wagner.

“I like to remain anonymous,” said University of Pittsburgh veterinarian Dr. Wagner. But, if you must remember him, he would like to be remembered as “a very good vet who helped as many animals as I can.” And, if that doesn’t tell you the heart of the man, think about this. “That’s why I went into exotic animal care,” he said. “I think that vets can give very good care to animals at a reasonable cost; [we] need to get owners to be trained and interactive.” Which is why having a vet of Dr. Wagner’s caliber is important to ferret owners today!

The owner of a small private practice in Pennsylvania, Dr. Wagner finds he is often called upon for the unconventional in ferret care. We have all lost a ferret a time or two and know it must be somewhere in the house. When that happens it helps to have a friend with a stethoscope and heat sensor. Dr. Wagner used his to help a friend locate his ferret, and then cut a hole in the wall to get him out!

As a volunteer for a wildlife rehab center, he performs disease surveillance and translocation. He has also volunteered at the Pittsburgh Zoo and with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), which provided him an opportunity to work with Howler monkeys in Belize, a “fun and memorable experience.” When he has time, Dr. Wagner likes to play hockey. He also enjoys biking and skiing, but loves trout fishing, a passion shared by many of our speakers! And, ever supportive of the locals, he will watch the Steelers and Penguins.

Like many other vets, he was presented his first ferret by owners who left it at the vet instead of paying for its care. Realizing that “these animals needed care and very few people were giving it,” Dr. Wagner decided to work with exotic animals. He also started doing clinical research, particularly in the area of adrenal disease. Several years ago he did some work on thyroid levels. “The problem is that thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) assays are not available because they were taken off the market.”

Dr. Wagner admits, “I get a lot of pleasure out of my family and friends.” He is married and the father of an 11-year-old daughter who has daddy wrapped around her little finger. The entire family joined us in Portland for the 2007 IFC symposium and they were a lot of fun. If you missed him in Portland and Pittsburgh, be sure to catch him in Tempe!

Dr. Wagner practices at  Fox Chapel Animal Hospital in Pittsburgh.

For more information regarding the June 3 to 5, 2011, IFC Ferret Symposium in Phoenix, visit the IFC website.

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