Friday, March 19, 2010

Heartworm Hits HARD

What a year...and it's only mid-March! So far in 2010, Mid-Atlantic GSP Rescue has taken in five GSPs that tested heartworm positive. All are undergoing or preparing to undergo treatment. Of course, their treatment costs are in addition to their general vetting needs (vaccinations,spay/neuter, etc.) and a few of them have presented with additional issues.

An example is poor Margo from KY (photo above). She arrived not just with heartworm, but mammary tumors AND sarcoptic mange! The vet decided to remove the tumors first and perform spay surgery, then wait for a period of time before starting heartworm treatment. She began the regimen this week. The vet says it appears she was born with heartworm, likely passed from her mother to her at birth. Margo is the sweetest, gentlest girl you'll ever meet. She's in great hands with her foster parents, and they are lovingly seeing her through her treatment and recovery.

Then there is Ruger (photo below). He's an older gentleman (est. 7-10). His mom passed away and his dad was placed in a nursing home. The extended family didn't want him, so they took him to a shelter. The shelter is incredibly overcrowded, and most dogs only have a few days to live. The staff thought he was amazing, so they just HAD to find rescue for him. He is heartworm positive and has an crooked leg.The vet says it is an old break that wasn't set. But, it doesn't cause him any pain whatsoever. He is a wonderful boy with a gentle spirit. He deserves a chance!

Margo and Ruger are just two of the five 2010 heartworm cases. They all have special stories, and all five are wonderful GSPs, just waiting for the"all clear" so they can begin a new life with a family to call their own.

We know this may continue to be a tough year, and realize there are likely many more heartworm positive dogs yet to come. Many rescues have to turn such dogs away due to the financial burden of caring for heartworm and all of the routine expenses combined. We don't want to have to turn our backs on these deserving dogs. They NEED us to help them heal and see them through to their happily ever after.

Your donation is tax-deductible. You will receive a receipt from Mid-Atlantic GSP Rescue for your donation amount. Every little bit helps. We are fighting the heartworm battle, and with your help, we can WIN!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Duke's VERY Happy Ending...

Last year, I posted information about Duke, a senior GSP in Iowa. ( His "mom" was opening a daycare business, and she no longer had time for him. Not that she had spent much time with him anyway. :-( He entered foster care through Great Plains Pointer Rescue ( and many months later, was adopted by a loving family in Georgia. His foster mother made a beautiful video for his new family, in advance of their flying from Georgia to Iowa to pick Duke up. Here's a wonderful write-up from his foster mom, followed by a link to the BEAUTIFUL video she made for Duke...

Duke was going to be surrendered to the local shelter where he surely would have been PTS. A volunteer from the shelter contacted us in regards to a senior 3 legged boy that needed help. Fortunately, my foster was going on a home visit the next day and if all went well, Duke would come to me. Duke's family could no longer keep him because the state threatened to shut down her daycare if they didn't get rid of the outside dogs.

I drove almost 3 hours one way to pick him up. I walked up to the kennel and he barked at me but his nubb wouldn't stop moving! :) The woman signed the surrender documents, handed me the food, and watched me put him in my car. She turned around said good-bye to me and not even a word to Duke...she didn't even pet him.

The ride home was pretty stinky. :) We hit up the walk-in vet clinic to get all of his shots, HW test, and a good once over. Duke kept wanting to go look at the cats! :) The vet treated a nasty gash on his hind foot. It was from him struggling to get into the small opening of his outdoor kennel.

The minute we got home, I got him in the shower. The water ran brown for what seemed like forever. I washed him 3 times...and each time more dirt would come off. His collar peeled off of his did clumps of his embedded hair! :(

Duke slept for hours upon hours those first few days. THEN once he figured out we had squirrels in the backyard that was the only place he wanted to be! :)

His wounds healed. His heart was full again. His legs were strong enough to take long walks again. The video that I made was for his new family in Georgia! :) They flew up to Des Moines on a Friday night, came to my house the following morning and spent over 3 hours with all of us. :) Duke's 10th birthday was on the day they picked him up!! (Dec. 12th, 2009). VIEW THE VIDEO!!!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Sensless Suffering or Innocent Oversight?

Chevy (photos) and Tommy are both young adult GSPs. They were surrendered to a shelter by their families. Chevy for financial reasons, Tommy's family just didn't have time for him. When Chevy entered the shelter, he was a healthy 76 pounds. Tommy weighed 61 pounds. Local and regional rescues were busting at the seams with no open foster homes. So, we found willing fosters in the Mid-Atlantic region, and began making transport arrangements. We had seen photos of the dogs, taken after shelter intake, and had medical records on them. Tommy was able to fly to MD out of the local airport. Chevy was too tall (by one inch), so he did not meet the height regulation.

We were also working on ground transport arrangements for a female named MandyJo, from a different shelter approx 2 hours away. So, we arranged for Chevy to be transported to MandyJo's location, while ironing out transport details for the pair. Chevy arrived at his temporary foster last weekend. We received an SOS e-mail with photos. The temp foster was shocked by his skeletal frame. When we saw the photos, we were all speechless. Shocking just doesn't seem to be strong enough a word to describe the difference in this poor dog.

We immediately arranged for him to be taken to a vet hospital on Monday morning. We were even more dismayed to learn of his actual weight....47 lbs. He went from 76 pounds to 47 pounds in four weeks, while at the shelter. At this point, Tommy was already en route by air to his foster home in MD. We alerted the foster to the fact that Chevy was extremely thin, and we asked for a report from the foster as soon as he arrived. She stated that had she not been warned, and had not seen the photos of Chevy, she would have driven Tommy straight to the ER upon arrival. He was so thin, she was shaken. He has a vet appointment this weekend, so we don't have an actual weight on him, but his foster estimates he's somewhere in the 40's, down from 61 at intake at the shelter.

Monday morning, after learning of Chevy's weight, I immediately contacted the shelter rescue coordinator to report this news. (We hadn't seen Tommy yet, so couldn't report on his condition). She stated that she works from home, and doesn't "meet" the dogs in person, so she was unaware of their condition. She contacted the shelter director, and that day, they began weighing all of the other dogs in residence. Their protocol states that if a dog refuses food, they make attempts to mix in wet food or other things to encourage them to eat. There are no notes indicating that Chevy or Tommy refused food at any time during their stay. However, the shelter's "feeding chart" indicates a 4.5 cup/day feeding for dogs of that weight range. Anyone who knows GSPs (and other muscular, sporting breeds) will tell you that it is NOT ENOUGH food! This is especially true when a dog is stressed and/or pacing in a kennel, burning off calories galore. And, it is likely not the highest quality food to begin with.

So, if these boys were burning twice what they were being given, no wonder they have wasted away to virtually NOTHING during their time at the shelter. We would be remiss in not asking the shelter to consider a different feeding regimen for various breeds of dogs. They have put into place a weighing regimen, so the dogs will be weighed at various intervals during their stay at the shelter, not just at intake. But, that still leaves this GLARING question, "WHY DIDN'T ANYONE NOTICE THESE DOGS WERE WASTING AWAY?" Surely someone noticed while cleaning the kennel, feeding/watering, walking them, etc.? How could so many people interact with these dogs on a DAILY basis, and not report some concern about their declining weight?????

I am perplexed over this entire incident. I am not naming the shelter here, as this is not an attempt to tarnish their reputation. It is simply my hope that this shelter (and perhaps others) will put more stringent guidelines in place to prevent this from happening in the future. So far, they have been proactive in their response to our concerns. But the fact remains that these dogs were in THEIR care, and SOMEONE should have noticed SOMETHING had gone terribly wrong.

The good news is that Chevy (and MandyJo) will be transported this weekend to MD. It will be a long journey, but they will be in capable and caring hands. By Sunday morning, Chevy should be "home" to his foster parents, where he can begin to gain weight, receive tons of love and attention, and be well on his way to his happily ever after. Lord knows he's earned it.