Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Three More Days

D-Day is Saturday. Kenny is planning to be here in the late afternoon/early evening with Maggie and Cisco's 9 kids. Right now, things are very peaceful and quiet around here... well, comparatively speaking. I'm ready, I think.

Animal Rescue
Lately, I've had time to watch some animal tv. I've really enjoyed "Pitbulls and Parolees" and the program has given me an entirely different take on the dogs. (The parolee part... not so much.) Some of the Pits captured/taken in by Villalobos are so extremely neglected and abused, I'm amazed at how readily... eagerly... they accept help from their rescuers. The woman who runs the program is VERY upfront about the aggression inherent in Pits toward other animals and I really appreciate that.

BUT I'm a little unhappy with the show about the humane society that investigates and rescues abused animals in the Houston area. In the last week or two, their investigators... and even their veterinarians... have made some statements and diagnoses that are WAY off.

One investigator came down hard on a family because one of their dogs had cherry eye. She threatened to confiscate the dog if it was not attended to (ie: surgically "fixed") immediately. Cherry eye is the inversion of the tear gland in one or both eyes. Ugly as it is... bright red and swollen... it is not painful for the dog and basically does no damage. A dog can live its entire life with and unaffected by cherry eye.

Another investigator, responding to a neighbor's complaint, found the 5 dogs in the home in good shape as far as weight, parasites, etc but two of them had coughs. She insisted they be cared for by a vet, again, immediately. The next week when she followed up, the dogs were still coughing. She threatened to seize them... as well as the other 3... if they were not treated in 5 days time. When she returned, the dogs were no longer coughing and she backed off the family. Here's the thing... the dogs had kennel cough. It sounds absolutely awful and is contagious to other dogs. However, it is caused by MANY different viruses and the available vaccine protects against maybe a third of those. (Think about why the human flu vaccine is changed every year.) SINCE kennel cough is viral, antibiotics can't cure it. It's like a cold in humans... you basically live through it and "treat" symptoms to make them less annoying. (If a vet gives an otherwise healthy dog antibiotics when it has kennel cough it is more to pacify its humans than to do anything for the animal.) KC disappears on its own in 10-21 days. Any humane society or rescue organization employee should know that. (Many toy breed dogs have "collapsed trachea" which causes them to cough, especially when stressed and perhaps, this particular investigator was thinking of that... even those these dogs were medium size, not toys.)

And then there's the weight issue. Now don't get me wrong, a lot of the dogs (and other animals) on the program are almost starved to death. BUT there is a huge area between that and a healthy dog that is thin or even underweight for its breed. Some dogs... again, like some people... just naturally carry less body fat than others, regardless of how much and what they are fed. And some breeds are ribby by design. Some of you have found that your thin puppies put on weight... sometimes too much weight... when they reach maturity. This is mainly because thin puppies are often overfed in an effort to fatten them up and when certain hormones kick in at physical maturity, they usually become less active but are now getting too much food even if the amount has not increased. The investigators on this particular program seem to think ANYTHING that isn't FAT is too thin. But they don't like FAT animals either. (In my opinion, free feeding is the best way to deal with... avoid... weight issues.)

Which brings us to mange. There are basically two kinds: sarcoptic (scabies or red mange) and demodectic. Sarcoptic mange is picked up from the environment and, of course, is contagious to other animals AND people. Demodex is an immune problem, sometimes thought to be hereditary. Scabies is easily cured with ivomectin, supported by medicated baths to help kill the mites and/or ease the itching. (It is often harder to get rid of it with humans and usually involves washing everything in the house and spraying what can't be washed.) The heartworm medication that is ivomectin based usually keeps sacoptic infection at bay. Demodex is NOT contagious to other animals or to humans. Mild demodex will often disappear on its own but just as often (and usually unnecessarily) is "treated" with baths (mostly to ease the itching although some vets will still use the chemical baths to kill surface mites) and support for the immune system and time. Generally, demodex occurs in pups and younger dogs and will not reoccur once the immune system has matured. HOWEVER, severe demodex often means the dog has to be put down. The mites look different for the two manges so the skin has to be scraped and looked at under a microscope to tell which is causing the problem. What bothers me is that the shelter personnel on this program, including the vets, are always so negative about a mange prognosis and so surprised when an affected dog shows improvement in a couple weeks. Why don't they KNOW these things?

Finally, for today anyway, nobody on this show wants to give anything time. Perhaps it is because it is on tv and the producers need an immediate diagnosis and prognosis. And they seldom do things the easy way... chemical shampoos are used on very young animals to kill fleas when a Capstar will do the same thing immediately. It is cheap and can be given several days in a row, giving time for a topical like Advantage to work. Malnourished pups are intubated or started on ivs instead of being given Nutrical (to elevate blood sugar and aid against hypoglycemia) and then given something like Hill's A/D (canned.) Yes, sometimes time is of the essence, but that is not always the case. Recently, there was a program where the vet was concerned that a mare who had foaled just an hour or so before didn't have enough milk for the baby. Duh! It's the same thing with dogs. Offspring sucking on Mom leads to milk coming in. The more it suckles, the more milk there is. Time.

To be fair, I think this team does a good job overall and I am appalled at the number of animals NEEDING help in that area. If people do not want to take care of their pets and livestock, they should stick to repairing cars or collecting stamps as a hobbies.

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