February 27, 2009

The vet has been most pleasant

to update me on Pommy every so often. This evening, she concluded that on the bright side of things, Pommy is lively and a healthy puppy. Like a baby, he only eats when fed with the hand (in fact, he fancies dry food!). Around a part of his urethra, the tissue has built up well overnight and it's a clear sign of recovery, probably because he's young to begin with.

Yet, no urine was observed to have come out of his penis and only through the back. Dr V deduced Pommy could be born with a non-functional penis, as an abnormality and she brought up the idea of constructing a vagina-like opening near his anus for him to urinate and defecate more conveniently in future. This idea currently stands as a possibility, so she'll observe longer and with the expertise of the chief vet, come up with a final solution for him.

Because of his non-functional penis, she's not able to insert a catheter to aid his urinating yet, but at the rate he's recuperating, she's optimistic it's not all doom-and-gloom for Pommy. I understand some might opt to PTS him for the cost and efforts in caring involved, but I'm geared towards giving him a chance.

As the caregiver reminded me, it's not as if he's completely listless. In fact, he's the complete opposite of that.

Another remark from Dr V is that even with his defecating, his buttocks remained relatively clean (hence, required less cleaning and disinfecting as expected), and so it points us again to the actual standard of care Uncle has provided, or failed to provide.

A glimmer of hope for Pommy, an extremely helpful and communicative vet we have engaged.

More updates to come.

February 26, 2009

Help to look out and spread the word.

On behalf of the owner: Please look out for a missing male Schnauzer. Lost today around Yishun Street 81. Please call 93378575 if you have any leads. Thanks.

February 25, 2009

I named him, Pommy,

(although it didn't occur to me) as the vet staff said he looks like a pomeranian and thought he was one. Uncle, his owner, thought he was female as he urinated like a girl but after today's investigation, we verified he is a full-blooded boy with 'distorted' genitals.

And today's investigation was -- a shocking one.

Uncle rang two days ago to inform Pommy had a nasty wound on his behind, so we arranged for transport to the vet's to clean out, what I learnt later, was a maggots-swarmed wound on his rear. He's no doubt, biologically a male, but strange enough he lacks testicles. A list of medical instructions ensued and T, after dropping off Pommy, left Uncle with antiobiotics to be refrigerated and orally taken, antispetic cream and powder.

He left Pommy with his e-collar on lest our boy licks his wound. I called Uncle to explain to him the use of the e-collar and to enclose him in his wooden cage to minimize movement and bacterial exposure, and to fast him on Wednesday night for his stitching on Thursday.

Little did we know that today when I dropped by to clean out his wound with antiseptic, Pommy wasn't in his cage but Uncle had let him out in the morning for his 'run'. To our chagrin, Pommy was found under a van wallowing in mud, drenched leaves and his own faeces. When we lifted him to have a look at his bottom, it was nothing far from a messed-up rear, soaked in diarrhoea, dirt and what have you. His e-collar was on, but stained by mud. It was nothing close to a minimally clean and decently sanitized condition we had expected Uncle to provide for Pommy.

The 70+ year old farmer handed me all the medicine, including the antiobiotics he had absent-mindedly placed in the freezer and a syringe that laid on an undusted shelf.

Far, far from ideal.

Pommy's wound was deplorable, Uncle's floor was just too mossy and damp for me to clean his wound, the general hygiene is piteously poor for any dog with a gaping wound to recover.

We left and rushed Pommy to the vet (our second trip for the day after Chocho's booster shot). The vet had to halt her lunch and together with her assistants and me holding down to a writhing Pommy, we flushed out two more dead maggots from his wound with antiseptic and did a thorough cleaning of his behind and legs.

Pommy screeched in pain during the clean-out as his raw flesh was treated with the medicine. Along the process, Dr V explained:

  • Lack of testicles: the maggots could have eaten them, hence we found no scrotum on Pommy
  • Source of problem: maggots -- not only had the maggots consumed his testicles, but they had also eaten into his urethra such that urine flowed both out of his penis and from the rectum area
  • Each time Pommy urinates and poos, the urine and faeces contribute to the wound's infection. Continual cleaning is required to minimize the infection.
  • Prognosis not too good: we are unsure if the maggots have eaten beyond his urethra and into his insides. If so, it will be a lot of work done.
  • Plan: to hospitalize him for 3 to 4 weeks and do the best to treat his infection. Thereafter, the vet will stitch the wound
  • Penis: there is a tear on his pelvis which also needs to be mended to hold his penis in place

Pommy is 3-4 months old. What we had intended to be a simple trip to the vet's to vaccinate him turned out to be an extensive in-progress medical treatment of a gaping wound after his owner raised the red flag.

We had questioned Uncle on his intention to keep Pommy and dropped hints on his deficient care to keep any dog, but he wouldn't have it and reasoned that he plans to rear him to guard the front part of his farm and also "my grandkids want to play with him."

As of now, we don't think we can return Pommy to him and we don't expect him to fork out generously for his half-pet. We'll get more updates from the vet tomorrow.

Another serious case caused by poorly informed pet owners. An unintentional lack of care due to deeply rooted values in animal treatment? Or a deliberate lack of care attributed to 'senior lethargy' and a known inability to provide for his pet? Or just plain ignorance? Burying ethics into a remote corner of his mind?

Absolute filth on a wound that needs recovery on Pommy's rear

Some 30 maggots were found and flushed out the first time T sent him for medical attention

Pommy let out loose on grounds of the farm

Close-up of his penis that hangs on the ruptured skin of his pelvis

Close-up: Amidst the fur on his buttocks which are now shaven off, you can see the pink flesh of his wound which is larger than I expected

Email projectjkteam@yahoo.com.sg if you'd like to help Pommy. We will keep you apprised of more developments on Pommy's progress and plans to handle Uncle's case, either to help him and/or intervene drastically in his attitude and approach in maintaining his pets.

February 24, 2009

This post is dedicated

to letting the world know Chocho, our chocolate-brown, medium-sized female dog who, a few months ago, was caught by use of wire cables and 'redeemed' to life. After an episode of what must have been traumatic to this already-ostracized dog.

Last weekend, J took the effort to walk her on a leash, out to get some fresh air, her paws on grass, the warmth of tarmac and the sunlight beaming on her soft chocolate coat.

Still skittish in demeanour and near-terrified in the way her eyes scanned her surroundings, Chocho was tugging against the leash quite a bit and possibly during her walk in the compound, her mind was nothing but disoriented and escape was the only idea that occurred to her.

For our girl sought the darkness of the shade under stationary cars and seemed for many moments to go for places that are cavernous, tunnel-like and dark. Maybe it's always been what she finds comfort in. A dark quietness; alone but nevermind that.

Two months down the road, she still shivers inwardly and flinches when we go so far as to touch her. It seems, everything is so alien to her, so coarse to her feel. Even with familiar smell of chicken meat, she would only go so far as to sniff it in apprehension and continue, as always, to treat us with terrified, starkly popped out eyes.

There's no way we can return her to the community and it's become rather tricky to even integrate her into existing packs at other shelters. Naturally 'lower' in the pack hierarchy, she's piteously short of confidence, as well as even the strength to fend off more dominating dogs in any pack.

If anything, Saturday's walk complements the boarders' efforts to (re)socializing her to the outdoors, to humans and other dogs. We will continue to do what we can to make sure that we didn't bail her out for negligible worth but extend this new lease of life. Our resources, our experience with the strays and in dog behaviour, our support, and our heart to boost things up for her.

Undeniably, Chocho needs help.

And in this move, we would like to ask for an extremely experienced, and at the same time, patient, foster to take Chocho in. The role of the foster is more often than not an emotionally-ridden one, but in this guardianship of Chocho, it will be doubly rewarding if he/she can totally rehabilitate a skittish, wary girl and transform her with a new lease of life.

In this foster home, we foresee a safe home environment devoid of any escape gap or route. A home to keep her within securely, a care to resocialize her and integrate her to urban life.

It's been possible with many dogs of miraculous stories, those who live to tell their tales. I believe it is possible for Chocho, a redeemed girl to experience the exuberance of life. If you are or know of anyone we're looking for, please email projectjkteam@yahoo.com.sg

Thank you.

J walking Chocho on leash. Chocho's first time being leisurely walked on leash, apart from the time we first moved her into the kennels

J patiently leading her on the leash

Chocho in the kennel -- look how beautiful she actually is!

In this picture, she adopts more of a cowering stance, etched into the corner of the kennel

Chocho's Profile
* Background: Brought up on a farm and constantly marginalized by dominant dogs. Mixed with selective individual dogs and was heavily reliant on caregiver for food and comfort. Caught by authorities and discharged a few days later.

* Sex: Female

* Age: One year old

* Colour: Soft chocolate brown fur

* Size: Medium and manageable in an apartment

* Sterilised: Yes, and experienced her first heat

* Microchipped: Yes

* Vaccinated: Yes. 2nd booster to be given this week
* Health: Generally healthy. Infected with mange when young but completely recovered now. Like most mongrels, she's hardy.

* Personality: Skittish, wary, low-confidence, fearful, not fussy about food

* Requirements: In need of foster to resocialise/rehab her with walks, patient conditioning and consistent training; comfort and trust she needs to gain of her leader. Can be ok with existing dogs in residence.

* Current location: Shelter

February 17, 2009

Finally the fencing is done!

Tommy behind the fencing

After months of waiting, we finally have our mini enclosure, separated by a steel fence, ready to welcome possibly Mama Rock and her son. It's the caregiver's wish that when Rock and son move out of their present location, she can start to make plans to retire from a three-decade long of animal welfare dedication and for once, go for her knees' operation.

At the age of 70, her movements are slower but her passion burns for her animals. She has a soft spot for Mama Rock, our accommodating female dog armed with such strong motherly instincts that she's seen her carrying kittens and puppies (not hers) in her mouth! The joy shared between V and her dogs.
Thank you C for dishing out useful advice on the construction, for actually coming down to the site to assist in measurement of the width, foreseeing the issue of corrosion, acquiring sturdy BRC fencing and bringing his contractor to pitch up the fences -- construction completed in a matter of a few days! Also thanks for securing a very good price of this sturdy fencing, after a collective effort of haggling and negotiating.

Thanks to the management for aligning their perspective with ours -- that it's for the benefit of the shelter as a whole, for the future dogs seeking refuge there. Thanks to Junior & Ginnie for chaperoning the construction guys. Thanks to our boys for staying still while they watched the welding and construction go on with eager eyes.

Thanks to SB for arranging for her crew to transport and reassemble the doghouse. And the patient crew for taking time to put the doghouse into a perfect structure. It all takes so much time and effort.

Don't think I have ever done so much coordination in one month. More updates to come!

February 16, 2009

Davee has gone home

to the Lord and joyfully she sits at His right hand. No more pain, plague or affliction. But in His peace and joy.

My heart goes out to N and SB for their focused dedication for Davee, for taking the initiative to take Davee out and walk with her in this journey. For letting the world know Davee, know the work that animal activists all over are doing and for letting Davee be part of our lives. Each of us.

With tears still flowing, we know in surety that Davee is alright now. Her story lives in our hearts. Thank you all for your generosity, your prayers and for being part of this.

Please read:

February 13, 2009

A picture that touches

my heart.

"You may have seen this famous photo showing a firefighter giving water to "Sam" the koala as she holds his hand. The firefighter found Sam walking painfully on scorched paws along the smoldering forest floor. Sam was rushed to the Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter, a group IFAW is supporting with an emergency grant."

Read more here and here

Many things will not touch us nor bother us too much, if we have not been physically involved - when we have not been up close, right in the midst of things. For this Australian bushfire emergency, we will never sense nor fully comprehend the need cos we are not right there, walking on the scorched plains, smelling the charred bodies and trees, hearing the pain of the burnt animals...it is so easy to flick a piece of news aside cos of geographical dilution of empathy.

It's understandable.

Many stray feeders and caregivers on the streets would identify with being labelled 'fanatics' at one point in time or another. Maybe being labelled as 'playing god'. Why not let nature takes its course, maybe?

I guess you have to be there, physically, involving your time, your hands, your energy, your emotions - to understand the psyche of each person now involved in animal welfare in one area or another.

For Sam the koala above, and for many strays on the Singapore streets or injured wildlife somewhere out there, you would have to there with them, even if only to see them in their actual habitats for just one time -- to fully understand and accept the realities of such situations. Cos in the comfort and urban distractions of an everyday life, it is just too easy to offer our opinions or flick an issue aside. And Sam would just be relegated to yet another colour pictorial on the great wide web.

Only in this case - Sam is so very much a living, breathing, sentient being - with many more of her kind out there now, right in minute, suffering the consequences of the bushfires.

If you have a heart for animal welfare, don't just talk about it. Get involved. Start somewhere. Cos the distance is great when you simply read of issues on print or web. And thus the heart can be detached. And hands inactive. But make some time to really get close, get into it, to see, hear, smell, touch. Then you would begin to know the answers to the many 'whys' in your mind. And your heart may bring you to places you may never have imagined.

February 9, 2009

Feeding with responsible management

If you want to feed, sterilise. If not, don't feed at all.

A mental argument that plays over and again in the minds of animal controllers.

In our times on the streets with the caregivers, we have witnessed the hordes of dogs that emerge from the bushes, under the cars, from the drains when the caregiver's car inches in. The familiar sound of the engine or the mere sight of the car changes the landscape: from a quiet street of tranquil and rustling dead leaves to a dramatic stage of eager, excited dogs hopping in delight.

Yet, truth be told, there are many we cannot touch nor even get close to in an arm's reach. Most shy from us when we encroach in a radius of, say, a few metres. Or gingerly stand behind a guarded space of imaginary barrier. I can safely say, most tackle the food, only after we'd left.

We'd wondered to each other if the caregivers are doing the right thing by even feeding these dogs that they or we can almost never get hold of. One camp posits that feeding, without actively sterilising 80% of the population, only causes the dogs to become healthier and make them breed faster. The numbers proliferate so rapidly.

Another camp claims feeding in one area strategically, even without actively sterilising the dogs, lures the dogs away from more densely populated places and reduces humans-strays conflict and minimizes potential disturbances, such as messing up trash cans, street dogs can cause.

To other animal advocates, it is through feeding that one is able to get close to the wary stray dogs. Once trust is gained of the caregiver, it's much easier to get hold of the target dogs and send them for sterilisation.

The 'responsible management' package in Singapore includes sterilisation + vaccination + licensing + microchipping, but reality has it that we often fall short of a few items, even when we can get hold of the dogs, simply because we lack the funds to carry them out or that the supposed owners or farms are unable or unwilling to license the dogs. Licensing is a tag of legitimacy, a liability they do not wish to have.

Recently, I encountered a lady who wanted to save a dog she's been tending to from a unit (lest he's surrendered to SPCA) and literally demanded for a heavensent landed home to take him in. None that I know of at the moment, I told her.

When asked if the dog's sterilised, she said no. Which means for the one-and-half years she's entrusted the dog to the supposed owner, neither she nor the owners had bothered to sterilise a dog they could get their hands on.

That said, with the limited resources these caregivers are armed with, I wouldn't suggest being harsh to them, as some might condone, by removing the dogs they feed without helping them in some way to better manage their charges (for instance, sterilising and microchipping their dogs).

For the work we're doing, it defeats the purpose to extinguish their passion and discount, altogether, their kindness in caring for the strays, by declining to help them or leaving them in the lurch of their struggles. With owners, with authorities.

For now, STERILISATION tops the list in responsible management that complements an individual's feeding and caring for his or her strays.

February 3, 2009

Davee, not operated yet

Image taken from maovellous.wordpress.com

Davee was slated for surgical removal of her tumour today, but because she had a relapse of tick fever (Blood PVC as low as 15 per cent), the vet couldn't operate on her.

A donor dog is in place for blood transfusion. Thereafter, I surmise, the vet can put her on anaesthesia and surgically remove the lumps. Detailed updates can be read on http://maovellous.wordpress.com/

Meanwhile, Davee recuperates at the clinic. Estimated medical cost is a conservative $2-3K. We'll see how this pans out eventually. THANK YOU generous supporters who have contacted either J, N or myself to contribute to Davee's medical expenses. No amount is small for every bit builds up to a substantial amount.

Arguably, one school of thought has it that the amount spent can be better channelled to sterilising the hordes of stray dogs out there. Rather than concentrate so much resources on a single dog, why not use this money for the larger picture of welfare?

What happens to Davee? Euthanasia? A slow withering to the end?

Or... should we all have HOPE that no amount should come in the way of saving a dog's life? A dog's life, as most might debate, is still a life.

Times like these, we admit that as humans, we have dominion over the earth, beings great and small, but who can really say for sure he's making the right decision?

I find myself at odds with this dilemma that plays over and over again in our work on the streets with the animals. But one thing's for sure, I have hope for Davee.