"We must be the change we wish to see in the world." -Mahatma Gandhi

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Re-release, the distemper bob, and the woman from Ahmedabad

I arrived to the hospital at the regular time, 8:30 am.  I met up with the vet assistant in A ward and I helped him assess each dog.  He marked down the ones that were healthy enough for re-release today. These dogs were going to be brought back to the area where they were picked up, the person who made the initial call about each dog would be contacted, and follow-up calls would be made a week later to check on how the animal was doing. When I saw the dogs being put into cages in the ambulance, I wondered: how would they manage to survive on the street when they had  known the comfort of the shelter, in some cases, for several months? Would they know how to find food on their own? Would they be too trusting of people? I reminded myself that animal aid has been operating  like this for years, and the system works. These animals had been given a second chance at life; they were strong and healthy now, and releasing them freed up space to take in new ill and injured dogs. As the ambulance drove away I realized how important it is for me to try to not get too attached to these animals.  Easier said than done I think.

All around the hospital there are young dogs who constantly bob their head up and down or twitch their legs back and forth. I asked the vet assistant what this meant and he said it is because they had distemper as puppies - a viral disease we regularly vaccinate for in the west and therefore rarely see. While these dogs have recovered from the disease, the neurological symptoms remain and slowly diminish over time. There is no treatment for this and the poor things have to live like this for months or maybe years.  I suppose for most, however, this twitching is the least of their problems.

Yesterday we had four new dogs come in, but not from the ambulance as they usually do. A woman from Ahmedabad (a city several hours away) had brought them in.  I figured she had found them on the street and was surrendering them to animal aid.  I came to understand that she has over 20 dogs living in her small house as she is taking them in off the street. Her neighbors are angry at the situation, angry enough that they actually took her from her home and beat her. (Another statement on pain as a cultural concept, perhaps?) She is very attached to each of the dogs and it was a struggle for her to even surrender the four that she did. I went and had a look at the new members of the shelter.  Two of them, Octopus and Tarzan, are incredibly deformed (see photo of octopus, black. Look closely.) Their forelimbs stick out at bizarre angles and the tops of their feet have developed huge pads of skin as they are what come in contact with the ground. Tarzan is able to use his deformed limbs but Octopus cannot - she moves around by throwing herself forward, using her rear legs as propellers.   One would think this would slow her down, but she moves around with agility and her tail never stops wagging.  She must have been born with these severe deformities and had an animal like this been born back in the states, it would have surely been euthanized. It all really makes me stop and think...

No comments:

Post a Comment