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Update on the Alabama Animals
May 24, 2011
Thank you to all who were so very generous with donations in support of the Alabama parvovirus dogs. We now have all the fluid pumps we need, though as of today, our parvo ward contains ten puppies (one more puppy just broke with the disease and was moved in there this morning). The pumps are dispensing life-saving fluids and pain medications—because parvo is such a painful disease, we are going through much more pain medicine than we ordinarily do—but the majority of the puppies seem to be reasonably comfortable and responding well to their treatment. They will have to be in strict isolation for another 14 days. This is not fun for a puppy, but it will keep them and our other shelter dogs safe.
Nine of the older Alabama dogs had positive titers for parvovirus, meaning that their immune systems should be able to keep them safe even if they were exposed to the disease. We still have them under observation, but this is good news.
The rest of the “Tuscaloosa 37” have not shown signs of parvo, though our fear is that they may have been exposed to the disease prior to their arrival at the League and could still come down with it. These dogs are, of necessity, being kept under quarantine, away from the public and our other dogs. They are in our small dog and puppy room, which will be closed to the public for the next few weeks.
Our new veterinarian, Dr. Daniel Shillito, has been assigned to the care of the dogs with parvo and the control of this highly contagious disease. He has tackled this extremely challenging assignment aggressively and ably and even found some time to treat the dogs for mange and bordatella, two of the other diseases they arrived with.
When we agreed to transport the 37 dogs and 5 cats from the Alabama tornado zone to our facility in Washington, we were very aware that this would be one of the most challenging and demanding rescues that the League has ever undertaken. We were also very aware that we were these dogs’ last chance. Their very survival depended on getting them out of the Tuscaloosa shelter, which was overwhelmed with the inflow of disaster victims and subsequent disease outbreak, and getting them into an emergency animal hospital with the staff and equipment to care for them adequately.
Animal shelters with this capability are few. For these pups, our Medical Center was remarkably within reach, in spite of being nearly 1,000 miles away. And as always, if we can help, we will help. There simply wasn’t an alternative for these animals.
As a postscript, we just received word that our friends from the Humane Society of Missouri—the League disaster team recently worked side-by-side with them to help animals left homeless by the Mississippi floods—are en route to Joplin to see what the need is there. We may be dispatching another disaster response team soon—the third this year.