Sunday 15 September, 2019

Heartbreak as 3 of the rescued George Town dogs die

Three of the 53 small dogs rescued from squalid conditions at a house in the Prospect Area of George Town have died from Parvovirus.

The sad news came as the Department of Agriculture gave an update on its ongoing efforts to care for and address the medical conditions of the dogs rescued last week.

A team of vets from the three longest established practices in Cayman, the Cayman Animal Hospital, Island Veterinary services and The Vet Clinic, were invited by the DoA on May 14 to consult with its own veterinary staff on the care of these animals.

Their initial assessment diagnosed the presence of Parvovirus among the animals that were taken. The first case of Parvovirus was confirmed last Thursday evening and immediate measures were put in place to address the disease, including separating animals based on their at-risk factors and introducing rigorous sanitation protocols.

But sadly, the intervention wasn't enough to save three of the dogs. The veterinary team reviewed and concurred with the protocols implemented, and agreed that given the contagious nature of Parvovirus, it's in the best interest of the general canine population of the Cayman Islands that the DOA shelter should continue to be quarantined with no dogs going in or out until the threat from the Parvovirus is resolved. 

“The DOA is grateful to the local private veterinarians, Drs. Benjamin, Dr. Bush and Dr. Watler, for meeting with us to determine the best course of action for the dogs,” said DoA Assistant Director, Brian Crichlow. “These veterinarians brought a wealth of knowledge and years of experience in small animal veterinary care in the Cayman Islands to our discussion, helping to ensure that the dogs in the Department’s care are receiving the best possible veterinary care under challenging circumstances.” 

Additionally, the vets discussed and agreed on the appropriate course of action for addressing the general health and medical needs of the dogs as well as the specific needs of those dogs with more serious and chronic medical challenges.

Care of these animals will have to follow a gradual approach to address the various medical issues the dogs have, as the poor state of their general health rules out more aggressive medical treatment. On a positive note, the vets who have been attending to these animals from the beginning report significant improvement in the overall health and condition of the dogs since arriving to the shelter.

The DOA has been receiving numerous requests and offers to adopt these dogs. Although the ultimate goal remains to find forever homes for them, adoptions can't be initiated until the Parvovirus outbreak has been successfully resolved and the quarantine is lifted.

This could take several weeks.

Eventual decisions about adoption will depend on the overall health of the dogs and when they can undergo spaying and neutering, which is required prior to any final adoptions. The DOA will continue to work closely with the private veterinary clinics as it moves through this process. 

“The DOA is very appreciative of the assistance and support received from the private veterinary clinics, not only in terms of the time and advice given by the veterinarians, but also for the very kind donations of certain needed services, veterinary drugs and medical supplies,” said Mr Crichlow.

"The DOA’s veterinary services are targeted exclusively to large animal/livestock veterinary services, and as such we do not stock some of the particular drugs or supplies used primarily in small animal care. Their donations have been a big help.

“The improvement of these dogs to date is testimony to the hard work and dedication of the team at the DOA and the private vets who have been assisting us from the beginning. In particular I would like to acknowledge the efforts of DOA’s Veterinary Officer Dr Dorman, and Drs Alfred and Olivia Benjamin, the Senior Animal Welfare Officer and the Department’s two Animal Control Officers, who have all gone above and beyond to manage this situation."

Managing the health needs of this number of animals has demanded the full resources and time of the DoA’s team, especially during this initial quarantine phase. Accordingly, the DOA has had to close the Animal Rescue shelter and suspend normal operations, including the collection of strays and trapping of feral chickens.

The collection of strays can not resume until the quarantine on the shelter has been lifted and space is again available. The DOA is exploring alternatives for assisting the public with the control of feral chickens and will provide an update shortly. 

The Department appreciates the offers of assistance received by the various Animal Charities and the general public, and is actively looking at ways that these charities and the public may be able to assist with the care of these dogs. On the veterinarian’s advice and once the logistics have been worked out, the DOA will provide additional information on what and how help can be provided and accepted.

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