Up until a year earlier Dr. Buck had been working across the Midwest gaining a reputation as a knowledgeable and well-respected toxicologist, and his willingness to help those in need followed him to the University of Illinois, where he continued to receive calls from veterinarians and livestock producers.
From Chicken Coop to Call Center
He decided to put his three graduate students to work, starting what would become ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center in a humble chicken coop. In its first year, the APCC took 352 calls, and the number quickly expanded: By the APCC's third year it fielded 2,321 calls, and by the 10th year the number skyrocketed to 28,512.
In those first few years, most of the calls involved large animals, but that quickly shifted, and by the third year 49 percent of the calls involved dogs while only 22 percent involved large animals. Besides helping people over the phone, the APCC team went out on field investigations, flying all over the United States and to Canada.
Over the next 28 years, more people from more areas called for help, and today the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center's state-of-the-art emergency call center is routinely asked for help from callers in South America, Europe, Asia, and the Pacific Islands!
Paper records have become computerized records with the introduction of Antox, and what was a staff of three graduate students working in a single room with a pager to ensure 24/7 coverage is now a full staff of veterinarians. The staff includes board-certified toxicologists, certified veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants ready to assist animals in need 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
Funding & Firsts
With all that growth have come challenges. The center was a free service with funding from several locations including the University of Illinois, grants and donations, but by 1990 that was just not enough and the center was at risk of closing. A fee for the service was instituted that year, but the ultimate help finally came in 1995 when ASPCA decided to take the center under its wing.
The Animal Poison Control Center was the first to discover Lillium and Hemerocallis Spp toxicity in cats, Vitis sp (grapes and raisins) toxicity in dogs, and Macadamia nut toxicities. We wrote the first articles on bromethalin toxicity and helped shape the treatment for many toxins including cholecalciferol, permethrin, and 5- fluorouracil. We've published over 250 articles and book chapters in the last 25 years and given countless hours of continuing education to veterinarians, veterinary staff and pet owners.
We remain committed to saving animals' lives and preventing accidental poisonings by providing the best expertise in veterinary toxicology available anywhere, and delivering it to pet parents and veterinary professionals in a caring, compassionate and professional manner.
Staff, Structure & Partnerships
As of 2015, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center now includes a full staff of veterinarians, including board-certified toxicologists, certified veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants.
APCC is an Allied Agency of the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. Several staff members currently hold university appointments, and APCC provides clinical toxicology training to veterinary toxicology residents.
APCC is also a member of the American Association of Poison Control Centers, and works closely with human-focused centers to provide information on animal poisonings.