Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Unconscionable

As I expected, the weakest of the puppies died yesterday. It was sort of a blessing; she was so sick and was just crying non-stop. Even her mother couldn't soothe her. I got her meds in and even got her to eat breakfast, but things went downhill quickly from there. [Stop reading here if you have a sensitive stomach.]

The puppy who died had worms so badly that she was throwing up live worms when she was pulled from the shelter. I know animal shelters have a constant influx of unwanted animals, and often have to make difficult decisions with limited resources, but the way these dogs were treated is absolutely unconscionable. The mother came in ill and pregnant. Instead of euthanizing her immediately (which would have been the most humane thing to do if they weren't going to try to save her or the puppies), the shelter staff put her in a cage and left her alone, unfed, to whelp her puppies. After the puppies were born, they still did not feed her or the puppies. For two weeks! I suppose they didn't want to "waste" food on dogs they were planning to kill anyway. But what sort of person starves a nursing mother day after day? How can this place be called a "shelter"? She'd have been better off on the streets, able to look for food for herself.

This poor dog is a fairly large shepherd mix. She should probably weigh about 55 pounds. Instead, she weighs maybe 30 pounds. Her spine sticks straight out and every rib is visible. Her hips are just bones. She has severe diarhhea. And she's still doing her best to feed her eight surviving puppies. By all rights, she should be hostile and uncooperative, but she's so good-natured that she wags her tail at me and doesn't even protest when I pry her mouth open to give her nasty-tasting meds. I'm feeding her generous meals every few hours and dosing her with Kaopectate and de-wormer. She's drinking tons of water. She seems to have milk, and I'm hopeful that she will start producing more as she gains some weight. In the meantime, I'm remembering what it was like to nurse a baby every two hours--times eight!

(For those who may be concerned, my dogs and kids are isolated from the mama and pups and are not allowed in the yard where they are kept. The puppies cannot be vaccinated until they are older and I don't know whether mama has ever been vaccinated. I will clean and sanitize everything--including the grass, if I can figure out how--before I let any of the healthy creatures out there. I wear latex gloves and cover my lap with a large towel when caring for the pups, and leave my shoes at the door. The last thing we need is worms. Bleah.)

23 comments:

Kimberly said...

I too understand the predicament that shelters find themselves in... esp in this economy, but his was indeed unconscionable.

Remember to honor the small victories -- every ounce Mama gains, every day the puppies continue to get fat & happy is worth celebrating. It's the only way to beat back the rage at the larger injustices.

As for the worms, I go ahead and deworm my whole pack every time a foster comes to stay with us, quarantined or not. Panacur is pretty mild, cheap and easily available at most horse supply places. It's worth the piece of mind.

DataGoddess said...

I am astounded at the shelter's behavior. I agree, they should have either cared for her or put her down immediately, not left her in a cage without any care.

Bless you for taking her and the puppies in.

Steph B said...

I would seriously consider turning that shelter in for animal neglect/abuse. There is absolutely no excuse for doing that to any animal, especially a pregnant/nursing female and her pups. If that's how they run their operation, they shouldn't be running anything. I'm sitting here trying to figure out how I can afford a plane ticket to come pick up one of those puppies in six weeks (my husband just got a sharp pain in his wallet) because I am SO ANGRY that anyone would do that. She looks like a beautiful dog and the pups are adorable.

Okay, need to go love on my (three rescue) dogs some and be glad I was able to help them. Sigh. You're doing an awesome thing.

marit said...

I wanted to comment yesterday, but just couldn't find the words. It's not easier today. You're doing an awesome job, and that socalled shelter should be closed immediately! That's no way to treat an animal.
I hope the rest of the pups pull through, and I hope you will share more photos. Take care.

Leeann said...

This story is just heart-breaking. Is it possible to report the shelter for neglect? Not that you don't have enough on your hands as it is, of course! Maybe if you got some other concerned citizens on your side you could make a difference in the way the place is run, though. Either way, you are doing a wonderful thing.

Wanderingcatstudio said...

I am so glad there are people out there like you who are willing to take on such an arduous task!
As much as I'm glad they are still alive the "shelter" (and I use that term very loosely after their behaviour) should have put the mother down if they weren't going to bother to care for her properly.

punkin said...

The thought that came to my mind yesterday was that the shelter was guilty of abuse. This is the very situation where the law comes in to rescue the animals. This is a shelter?! That they planned to euthanize the animals is no excuse to abuse them. Bless you for providing them love and care.

melissaknits said...

This is really sick. Really sick. Not sure they should be allowed to be a shelter at all.

Gail said...

How sad... I'll be thinking about the mama and puppies. Thanks for taking on this daunting task.

shortoldlady said...

You are a GOOD human being.

Amy S. said...

Dumbfounded. You are wonderful to step up to the task of saving these dogs. Guess you won't be doing much knitting anytime soon!

Emily said...

That mama dog is very, very lucky to have landed in your care, and so are her babies. You'll have to post frequently to keep us updated! Surely mama has milk, if she's drinking a lot?

I have no words for that so-called shelter. Speechless over here.

Knitman said...

I am so glad you are taking care of her and her puppies. Those Shelter people ought to be prosecuted. they would be here. Bastards.

sophanne said...

I am so glad to know that mama and her babies are in your hands. A life is a life- dog or human. It makes me sad that that ws so easily overlooked at that shelter.

Khalila said...

I'll be sending my positive thoughts over to you and the ones in your care. Good luck!

Sharon said...

Thankful for kind people like you who are helping to alleviate suffering and misery. You're absolutely right, it is unconscionable and there should be a special corner of hell for those who would treat an animal like that.

I'm also glad you are keeping us posted.

SwissKnits! said...

I am sitting here just shaking my head... I cannot believe the behavior of that .... place .... that that poor dog and pups came from...
Bless you for your huge heart!!!!

Karen said...

Thank you, thank you for all you're doing. You're a very good, kind person.

Life's a Stitch said...

Tragic story. Wishing you some canine happiness.

trek said...

Have you considered feeding her something like ice cream? Easy to get down and loaded with fats and calcium, etc. Not something I'd suggest for a regular dog's diet but this poor mama seems like she needs to put some weight on fast - the puppies will suck all of her resources and she could die even if the rest of them survive.

SusanJane said...

Bless you for doing this. Lots of folks would have turned a blind eye. It's a great example to your kids.
One of the many dogs we've rescued over the years was a puppy mill mama who was so depleted she had lost all her hair and a number of teeth. She came back sleek and sassy, if a bit mentally challenged, and had a good many healthy years. Hopefully your dogmama will do equally well-- and no matter what happens she's in loving hands, which is worth so much.

Kim said...

I am practically sobbing here in my cubicle. I am not a religious person, but I am heaping blessings on you. Also, that the momma dog is so good natured after such abuse and horrible treatment is a testament to the nature of dogs.

kmkat said...

I know that shelters are being overwhelmed with animals that the owners cannot afford to keep, but still. There is no excuse for that treatment. You are a hero. My Bear and Lucy send their love and snuggles and tail wags to those pups and their mama.