August 29, 2012
The Haiti Animal Welfare Clinic Treats Animals After Isaac
by Diane Belanger
Early this morning, two of our veterinarians were already at work, preparing Kotenou for surgery. Kotenou is the dog we encountered while assessing Fonational area (in Port-au-Prince) this past Sunday. This brave dog protected the life of his owner, but unfortunately got stabbed in the process.
Weeks later, the wound had still not healed and was deeply infected. Yesterday, our team returned to the informal settlement where the dog was lying down, unable to get up, and brought him back to our clinic. There, we immediately gave him painkillers and antibiotics.
The surgery required the removal of the necrotic tissue from around the wound. Kotenou woke up rapidly from general anesthesia and within a few hours was eating dog food, a change of pace from his usual diet. We will keep him at the clinic long enough for his injury to heal nicely and for him to receive all necessary treatments.
Meanwhile, our other veterinarians were in the communities surrounding the clinic, giving people information on animal health and how it is linked to human health. In fact, we say that there is only "one health," since animals are so central to our lives that we cannot separate their health conditions from ours. For example, many diseases can be transmitted back and forth, especially where animals live so closely with people. This is especially important to explain in a country where medical care is lacking for humans, since our mission is to provide it for animals.
Evaluation and education
While they were out, Dr. Émile and Dr. Ricardin encountered a woman who had already brought her six dogs to our clinic. She was so happy to see "her" veterinarians! She invited all of her neighbors to come to her house and to bring their dogs for examination.
Our vets were quickly surrounded by dogs of all ages and sizes. They evaluated each and every one of them and gave rabies vaccination and deworming medicine. They then brought some of the dogs back to the clinic for further treatment. This is how we received a nice load of puppies. They seemed to be exhausted by their visit, as they felt asleep on top of one another, making for the cutest picture!
Rescued from the streets
Unfortunately, the day was saddened by the admission of our last patient. Our veterinarians noticed a puppy lying in the grass, looking like he had been thrown away and might already be dead. When they picked him up, the skinny little thing curled in their hands, so they brought this tiny, weak patient back to the clinic. His young owner has other dogs and unfortunately likes them better, so he left this one outside… even during Tropical Storm Isaac!
The puppy is just skin and bones, suffering from dehydration and skin lesions. But now he is with us and has been given fluids, nourishment and antibiotics, and we will find him a loving new home. This incident illustrates why not just veterinary care, but public education is critical to the success of our animal welfare programs.
Give to help us respond to this and other disasters.
We are grateful for the generous support of our partner, Best Friends Animal Society, without which we could not accomplish this vital work.
Diane Bélanger, B.Sc., DVM, M.Sc. is Veterinary, Public Health and Development Advisor for HSI.