Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Bowel Movements

I decided to slightly change the name of the blog to allow for other anecdotes and stories from other times in my life. Like in working at the SPCA in Bulawayo, or Tenerife with the animal rescue or Tenerife Zoo and other jobs that l have thrown myself into.
My initial thought for a title was something like, "The Barefoot Veterinary Nurse", as l am, whenever chance presents it's self, barefoot. The trouble is that type of title has been taken. So l contented myself with a rather bland title l have up now until something more original springs to mind.

I have just pushed my birds eye chicken curry dinner into the microwave. In theory very mild in reality l need half a bottle of mayonnaise on to cool it down.

This made me think of the mass "bowel" problem when l ran the kennels in Tenerife.
We were having a lot of problems from the local council over the kennels. Originally they had asked us to run them but now about a year later they were getting pushy as they wanted the area for other unspecified things.

Almost all of the strays were rehomed in Germany. They did a lot of fundraising for us and were happy to take strays as they have very strict laws on animal breeding in Germany and a lack of especially smaller dogs.
It could be difficult to arrange transport. Originally we could book dogs on with no owner and send them, then a law somewhere changed and they had to have an owner.
This meant our German speakers would have to try and arrange people who were on holiday to accept a dog as theirs for the trip home. The airlines were aware of this and accepted it so what was the use of the rule?.

We had meetings with the council who were uncompromising. They go or they die, they were only dogs. We got hints that the kennels would be suddenly and forefully shut. Thankfully it never came off. Anyway by a supreme effort our German speaker managed to get 18 special places on a plane because of our circumstances.

So l began sorting rabies vaccinations and getting paperwork for the parvo, distemper etc ones l had already given. Making sure that l had all the confirmation for no heartworm signed up. Local vets were happy enough to provide this for us, they were nice enough, it was skill they lacked through bad training.

Arranging helpers and transport for 18 dogs and 18 travelling crates, from bull mastif size to cat size. At our end to the airport, at German end onward to foster homes.
All crates had to be delivered well before the day to set up, match dog to kennel space wise and then get them marked up for each traveller.

Freezing enough water bowls so that water did not slop out on take off/flight. A slow thaw meant the dogs did not go thirsty.
Plenty of torn paper for bedding. This soaked up any spill and made a warm bed for the dogs to snuggle into.
And NO sedation this is the biggest killer. Flying lowers the blood pressure, sedation lowers it more and the heart stops, or in such an alien environment the unsupervised animal can go hyperaesthetic (nuts)and injure its self.

Making sure that all paper work was attached to each crate so it could be viewed but not removed and lost. This was the last job done but it all had to be pre sorted so that it flowed on the day.

I was up for 5am on "The Day" and went into the kennels. As l arrived a smell assaulted my nose. Diarrhoea flowed in each kennel. I was stunned, my mind was blank in horror. If they did not go today then every animal on that list went into a bin bang. That was how important this mass flight was. There was no rescheduling, no second chance. With the circumstances as they were it was go or die.

An emergency call to Tony to confirm Buscopan (control of diarrhoea especially when pain or abdominal discomfort is present) and Kaolin and Morphine (to stop the flow) both medications in max. doses.

Then Buscopan, syringes, needles in hand l got busy injecting every dog. Buscopan goes into the muscle, and stings like heck. You often need help or a muzzle to go this route. There was one person me, and l had no time to muzzle anything.
By the time they had screamed or snarled in outrage the next dog was being pulled out and the stunned patient was flying back into the kennel. I had no time to be nice and l felt awful hurting them.

The dogs were just getting over this assault when l was hauling their heads back and pouring Kaolin and Morphine down their throats. I did 2 rounds of this to allow for "paint effect" spitting it out and painting everything with the mix.

By now it was about 8am and volunteers were yawning in. They were met with the sight of a barefoot madwoman covered with diarrhoea, Kaolin and Morphine, and trying to check temperatures and give instructions to helpers.
Some wanted to wait with the flight but they were vetoed, and everyone was in agreement that we had no choice.

Finally we had the dogs cleaned and we set off. The dogs stomaches had settled. Some crates were to be assembled at the airport for ease of carrige others were solid wood and non dismantalable. All paperwork was in order and by the time the flight left several hours later we were all emotionally shattered. I refused to leave till it was wheeles off "just in case" and everyone else felt the same.

The dogs arrived almost clear of diarrhoea and set off to new lives. A day later later l discovered the problem. It was bad bag of food, l had given the remains to one of the helpers as she had run out for her dog. A phone call the next day and she was giggling. Of all days for me to open that bag of food, the day before a major logistics attempt you couldn't script it.

The remaining 4 or so dogs were scheduled to fly out over the following few weeks but if worse came to worse we could foster them in houses short term. Then a couple of weeks later the council decided that they had been to abrupt and backed off. Slowly the kennels returned to full.
Several months later l left the island. About 8 months after that the kennels were moved to a different council area.

Special thanks for help goes to Judith for humour, mental grounding and travelling crate contacts, Elsie for her fluent spanish, German Sue for arranging the flight transport and everyone else who ever reads this and was involved on the "Big Day".

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