Thursday, June 26, 2008

Field trip to Arecibo; Lulu has Parvo

Yesterday, Liz, Jackie Fahey (Director of St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center) and myself hopped in my car and drove to the new municipal animal shelter in Arecibo. The shelter is technically not yet open, but that hasn't stopped the masses from doing what they do here: abandoning animals. Please, let me preface this post by saying that I am still distraught from our experience yesterday, though I will, to the best of my ability, be as objective as possible.

Alma Febus, another local rescuer, was kind enough to give us a brief introduction of the situation there and introduce us to others involved in the development of this new shelter. The land the shelter is on would make any rescuer "oooo" and "ahhhhh": The vast green space and fenced-in dog runs create an ideal site for adoptions, spay/neuter and educational events as well as a low-cost vaccination facility. Forced to face reality and come out of "dream world," the simple truth is that this shelter could too easily become an "animal control" facility, especially given that it is going to be a Muncipal Shelter. Our purpose of going there yesterday was to extend a helping hand, show our willingness to aid in setting up a general shelter, health, and adoption protocol.

Even though they are not yet open, there were 87 dogs and one cat there. Because the word is out about the soon-to-open shelter, people have already ditched their unwanted animals on the grounds. While there is a vet tech, Jose, on staff, who we met and feel will be instrumental in our efforts, the government has not given the shelter any money for medicine or vaccinations, not even for food. If it weren't for a determined volunteer who donates loads of food for the 90 or so animals currently caged and waiting in the shelter, these animals would have starved to death.

We took a look around and met the animals. I held back tears on at least 3 occasions that I can recall. I was horrified. The stench, the faces, the pain and agony that some of these animals were obviously going through was overwhelming, to say the least. While Jose and others are doing the best they can to keep these animals comfortable, they have no resources...nada. At one point, a sweet black puppy came charging at us, having just freed herself from her cage. Jackie picked her up immediately, and it was evident that she didn't intend to let go until we got her to the vet. We also decided to take the one cat there, who I named Sebastian. After a 30 minute tour, we went into the administrative building to meet the director of the shelter. We discussed with her our hope that this shelter will not become another killing factory, and instead that animals may be able to have a chance to be adopted, as opposed to being euthanized before entering the door.

Towards the end of the discussion, I began feeling dizzy and numb in my extremities. I sat down, asked Liz to get me some water, and the rest is a blur. I remember a bit of hyperventilating and those around me offering me sugary substances, assuming that my blood sugar was low. Then, to make sure no one at the Arecibo shelter forgot us, I threw up (three times) on the floor of their administration building. Why or what's wrong with me? I have no idea. I'm assuming that it was a mixture of the fumes, my emotions and the heat. Shortly thereafter, thanks to me and my dramatic performance, we left with the black puppy and Sebastian.

We are desperately seeking donations for supplies such as locks for kennels, bowls, food, dewormer, DHPLL shots, Frontline, and all the other good stuff. I do feel that those we spoke with at the shelter were receptive to our comments, as we were theirs. We need to help the Arecibo shelter. Be as generous as you can be, and as you always are, and we promise to back up your donations with action. I fear, as soon as the Arecibo Municipal Shelter actually opens, those dogs will be put to sleep without a flinch. We don't need another place on this island to have its doors open to mass euthanasia.

On top of it all, when we finally reached Dr. Ramos' with our two rescues, we found out that Lulu, one of the two black puppies most recently rescued from Los Machos Beach, has Parvo. Again came the tears. Her brother, Bongo, is showing no symptoms and Lulu is holding strong. I just received an updated on her, and she so far hasn't vomited today nor has she had bloody diarrhea (her initial symptom of Parvo). Parvo, for those of you who may remember, is what killed Bella, another Los Machos Sato. In young puppies, an estimate of 80% do not make it. Hopefully, considering she was in very good shape otherwise, Lulu will fight through and Bongo will dodge the bullet as well.

Blondie seems to be responding well to the new chemotherapy, but it is too soon to tell. We are in the beginning stages of finding her a home, one that does not have other dogs (considering if she does have TVT, other dogs can get it) and is full of love.

Photos: 1) a dog room at the Arecibo shelter, 2) the little freedom fighter that Jackie scooped up, 3) Sebastian, 4) Lulu, quarantined in a kennel


Betsy O'Neill said...

How could you not cry! 87 dogs...what the heck is going on! I am crying as I read your blog! Do you really feel that these dogs will be put down!? How else can we spread the word? What kind of locks? Key or combo?? Bowls? Any size? I will certainly do what I can...I can see another package coming! Send the stuff to you, Shanti??

K.D. said...

This was heartbreaking to read let alone experience first hand I'm sure...Can we write to someone in the government/municipality to ask for funding for the shelter?
Will they plan to have a website set-up?

Liz said...

For the last month I've been checking your blog regularly. Your compassion, determination and efforts in rescueing these animals has been an inspiration for me. I live in Hainesport, New Jersey and in the last two weeks I have trapped, spayed/neutered (including rabies and distemper shots)and returned 6 adult feral cats, rescued 5 kittens, had neutered with first round of shots 2 of the kittens and found homes for 4 out of the 5 kittens. You sparked the passion inside of me to help the animals locally where I live. I donated a few weeks back to your cause and once I get this colony of ferals under control and save up more money, I plan on giving you more financial help. It's amazing what one person can do to make a difference.
Elizabeth Challender