By Kelsi Matylewicz/Benco Dental Social Media Intern

Peter Emily, a graduate from human dental school at Creighton University, in Nebraska, served as an Air Force mechanic during the Korean War, got started with animal tooth extractions and canals when he bred Doberman Pinschers, taking x-rays of their teeth to determine if they would have a tooth formation that would prevent them from participating in competition.

In 2005, he founded the Peter Emily International Veterinary Dental Foundation, a nonprofit that arranges missions for veterinarians and dentists to perform procedures on exotic animals in the U.S. and abroad. He runs the organization, with the help of one part-time employee, largely out of his home.

On a recent day the energetic 82-year-old, though semi-retired, consulted with the other dentists on a several veterinary dental procedures.

According to The New Yorker, the scene took place in an operating theater at the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado, where a mountain lion named Montana, lay on his side, unconscious.

Photo courtesy: Peter Emily International Veterinary Dental Foundation (PEIVDF) Facebook page.

Photo courtesy: Peter Emily International Veterinary Dental Foundation (PEIVDF) Facebook page.

Two veterinary dentists stood at his head, scraping infected pulp out of his four canine teeth, all of which needed root canals. Occasionally, one of the dentists raised an X-ray machine to the lion’s head to check his progress.

In the next room, a caged black leopard, named Backara, who needed a molar extraction, waited to endure the same set of procedures.

A technician put the 140-pound animal to sleep with an injection, then four people maneuvered him onto a cloth stretcher and carried him into the operating room. When the sanctuary works on their grizzly bears, which can weigh more than 1,500 pounds, they are anesthetized in their habitat and brought to the operating room by forklift and truck.

Montana and Backara had arrived at the sanctuary several months earlier, from a facility in Ohio.

Keep up with Dr. Emily’s newest adventures and view his intriguing photos:

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