Nonetheless, one of our new year resolutions this year is to update this website at least once a month. Here's our January update.
Pyometra is infection of the uterus. It happens in unspayed female dogs. Last year, 13-year-old Tracy came down with pyometra. It took a monumental effort involving 24-hour intensive care for several weeks, but she made it, and is now a healthy, happy dog again.
The new year surprised us with another case of pyometra. Tawny, who was supposed to get spayed a long time ago but whose operation got postponed due to various issues at the shelter and at the clinic, stopped eating. We immediately had her tested and the vet confirmed pyometra.
Tawny's operation was scheduled for the next day. It was going to be the first operation involving anesthesia since we unexpectedly lost Taquitos when he was getting neutered. Although many of the shelter's animals were operated on successfully in the past, we were worried.
The operation went well, apparently, but her tribulations were only beginning. Although Tawny is much younger and far more energetic - she is in fact one of the most energetic dogs in the shelter - she had just a hard time recovering from the operation as Tracy. She was on an IV twice. For an excruciatingly long time - it felt like an eternity - her red blood cell count was at rock bottom, while her infection level remained high. This was extremely worrisome. It was a tremendous relief when after a very long week she finally started to show some color. But the saga wasn't over yet.
And there were complications. After her staples were taken out, her incision split open.
Her wound was restitched in a second operation, but the wound didn't heal cleanly and as of January 31, she still has sutures in her tummy and a cone on her neck.
Since the shelter is already home to more residents than we originally intended, we only rescue the most severe cases. The criteria for being rescued are that the animal is unlikely to survive on its own, and that it is willing to be rescued.
Dustin fit the criteria. He was, at that point in time, the thinnest animal we had ever handled. Thanks to an outpouring of generosity from our supporters we were able to invest heavily in Recovery cans, and after a few tense days, it luckily paid off.
On an early Sunday morning, the first sunny day after many days of continuous rain, we found two female kittens in an exposed garbage dump by the roadside, near a large church.
Clearly these had been dumped by someone who had been waiting for the right opportunity to do so. It is hard to be critical, though, because the cost of spaying a female cat is around 3,000 pesos or more, which works out to around US$60. This is far beyond what regular folks can afford.
Thankfully, these kittens were old enough to eat wet food. They hadn't yet been weaned, so we had to teach them how to eat. Kittens are expensive to rescue whether they are weaned or not, because they go through enormous amounts of kitten food and kitty litter. It is also labor intensive because their food needs to be replenished all the time, and their kitty litter needs to be cleaned all the time.
But we did derive one extra benefit from these kittens. Recently spayed shelter cat Nachos, deprived of motherhood by the cruel world she was born into, adopted the kittens, by leaping into their cage. The three of them now live together as one very happy family. This is definitely one of the most heartwarming things to have happened at the shelter.
January 15 will go down as of the toughest days in the annals of Happy Animals Club. It was a Sunday, with only a skeleton staff consisting of Ken, his crew chief, as well as the kitchen helper and cowherd who both went home before noon.
Not far from the shelter, the vehicle in front of us started honking wildly at an errant dog. Normally, street dogs scurry out of the way of oncoming vehicles, but this one wavered unsteadily across the lane. We stopped, got out, and took a closer look. He was very skinny and barely able to move. We fed him and called Ken who came over right away, leaving the shelter unmanned for a brief period of time.
Ken recognized the dog as one of two almost identical brothers who were being kept in a cage owned by a prominent local property developer. The actual owner of the dogs was one of the property developer's workers, a really useless guy called Ray. Ken speculated that Ray got fired or quit, leaving the dogs behind, thus resulting in the dog ending up wandering the street in a near-dead state.
We immediately went to check the cages where the dog and his brother were kept. We didn't find the brother. But what we found would haunt us for a long time.
In another cage, there were two of the skinniest dogs we'd ever seen. It was like liberating Auschwitz. They were just skin and bones and it was hard to fathom how they were still alive, let alone able to stand. We immediately rescued them. One of the people working for the property developer confronted us, and while doing so confirmed that these two dogs were owned by the developer. He melted away in the face of our anger.
The dogs were also clearly brothers, and we named them Rupert and Robert.
Rupert and Robert quickly put on weight. Speedy remained wobbly for a few days, but also started putting on weight, increasing by 50% within one week.
There are a lot of feral cats on the streets and most of them are fine. We found a stray kitten that was very thin. He was very scared even when fed.
Ken managed to grab him while someone else distracted him with silly noises. He is eating well, gained a lot of weight, and no longer scared of humans.
After feeding the dogs one night there was a commotion in the dog yard. We found a rat in poor shape.
Rats often come to steal the dog food we prepare for the dogs, and used to be quite brazen about it. Sometimes, one of the dogs would kill a rat. We stopped leaving food with the dogs - if the dogs didn't finish the food, we'd take it away. This reduced the incidence of rat sightings considerably. But after many days of rain, the rats were hungry and desperate. Some of them showed up, and this rat got unlucky.
We put the rat in a cage and supplied him with food and water. Ken had given instructions for our next rescue to be named Alex, so the rat became Alex.
Alex survived, but did not recover the use of his hind legs. He regained some strength, but continues to face challenges. We find a lot of poop in his box, indicating that he eats a lot, but he is currently still losing weight. We tried force-feeding him, but he didn't work. The first time, he got a nosebleed. The second time, he wouldn't swallow at all; after force-feeding, his weight was unchanged.
We found a kitten under Tacomama's living unit. Nobody saw it come in. It was as if it popped up from nowhere.
The crew reported that earlier in the evening, a kitten was heard wandering on the lane outside the shelter. We are guessing that Tacomama heard the kitten meowing and responded with calls of her own, and the kitten zeroed in on Tacomama's beacon. Ken was camping at the time, so we held an online poll amongst our supporters about what to do with the kitten. It was decided that we should keep the kitten and give her to Tacomama.