cats and dogs of Hatteras Island also have had difficulties getting to
an off-island medical facility after Hurricane Irene severed Highway 12
in four places on Aug. 27.
Frisco resident Terry Cribbs was at the end of his rope trying to find
help for his beloved 8-year-old kitty. Norma Jean is a small
good natured cat that sustained a terrible puncture wound in her left
shoulder that quickly abscessed.
For days, Terry knew that something was wrong with Norma Jean and tried
to nurse her the best he could, but her condition only
He is a man with limited means and felt awkward about calling friends
to help, since the island was reeling from the punch Hurricane Irene
had just thrown.
All the vets listed in the phone book were not here on Hatteras, which
was locked down for many days following the hurricane.
Someone suggested he call the Frisco Volunteer Fire Department looking
for a lifeline for Norma Jean and he got one. Coastal Animal
Hospital, which is located in Kitty Hawk, has a mobile vet unit parked
in Hatteras village.
Terry made the call and got an appointment rather
Norman Jean was put into her carrier, and she meowed all the way down
The modest mobile clinic is a mid-sized white RV parked at the Ballance
Oil Company across from Rocco’s Pizza. Veterinarian
Ballance Hicks met Terry in the parking lot and led the patient and
owner inside the efficiently laid-out interior.
The sick kitty was gently removed from her carrier and
Vitals were checked and everything was fine. The vet found a
spot in the kitty’s shoulder and shaved the area for a closer
examination. The area was swollen and infected and
drained. Norman Norma Jean was a model patient during the
Hicks determined that a drain had to be put for three days, and the cat
would need to be sedated for the procedure, which she couldn’t do at
Knowing that Terry didn’t have a car, the warm and friendly vet offered
to drive Norma Jean home later that afternoon.
Norma Jean came home on schedule and was immediately on the
She is taking her medicine everyday but impatiently waiting for
Saturday when the smiling vet will be making a house call to remove the
tube that drained the infection.
“If there is no way for people to get to me, I will go to them,” Hicks
says. The day after Hurricane Irene, she went on an emergency
call to Rodanthe to help an animal injured by the vicious weather.
Christinia Hicks is a born and raised Hatteras village girl who endured
Hurricane Isabel in 2003.
“I didn’t want residents to be stranded here without vet care,” says
She graduated from North Carolina State’s Veterinary School in 2010 and
has been working here ever since.
Before the big storm, she traveled Mondays and Fridays to work at
Coastal Animal Hospital in Kitty Hawk but worked out of the mobile unit
locally Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Obviously, her
schedule off the island has been curtailed due to the broken road.
Hicks provides 24-hour emergency care for domestic critters, as long as
she is around. Regular appointments are scheduled from Kitty
It is common for outside or porch pets to be injured during a dangerous
hurricane such as Irene. Puncture wounds, like little Norma
had, cuts, broken bones, and even spinal injuries can happen to our
furry friends that won’t come inside during a major weather event.
There is no X-ray equipment or diagnostic equipment for analyzing blood
work in the mobile van. But a vet can provide vital care,
it is just stabilizing the animal so it can be transported north.
“We will not turn away any animal care,” offers Hicks. “If
transportation is an issue, call us and we will work it out.”
Terry Cribbs was thrilled with Hicks’ winning beside bedside
manner for both pet and owner.
“She was wonderful. She picked up that I had limited
transportation and offered to bring Norma Jean home on her own accord.”
He was comfortable and confident with the care his little furry friend
received when the day before he was starting to give up hope.
You can reach Hicks through Coastal Animal Clinic at
On Saturday, Sept, 10, at the Chicamacomico Life Saving Station in
Rodanthe, the Coastal Animal Clinic is hosting a clinic for the dogs
and cats in the Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo area. For $5,
can get a rabies shot and an exam. Through donations by
Animal Clinic and others up the beach, dog and cat food, kitty litter
and other various pet supplies will be available to those who need
them. The clinic starts at 10 a.m. and will last until the
supplies run out.