Some rescues concentrate solely on dogs and puppies and in particular dogs from puppy farms and pounds, which in itself should not really raise alarm bells in my thoughts. After all to rescue a dog from an atrocious situation in a puppy farm or to take dogs on death row must be so rewarding and I have much admiration for those in rescue that tackle the task of neglected and unwanted dogs and puppies. But this must be responsibly undertaken with care and integrity by those who rescue the dogs and are responsible for their aftercare.
The details I am referring to are on public view on their own rescue web site, therefore one must presume they are comfortable with public awareness of their decisions and actions taken in response to the dogs and puppies that arrive in the centre. Transparency, unfortunately, may also at times bring with it criticism if the public does not feel comfortable with what they are reading.
My concern relates to an 9 year old female dog, a breeding bitch who was offered for fostering on the 30th November 2011 and this is what followed, taken from their web site.
Poor sweet Jelly!!!! She came to us an older lady and rather thin. We got a little weight on her and sent her to our vet to spay. She was opened up only to find she has at least 3 pups in her tummy. They are already large and well formed so she has been closed and will get a high quality food and a whole lot of love to help her. Jelly does however need a wonderful foster home - one who is savvy and able to cope with mum dogs in this condition and whelping them.
The rescue after 5 days of getting a little weight on this dog she was sent to be spayed, only for the vet to find that after opening her up, she had at least 3 large well formed puppies inside her. Now whether the rescue or vet were unable to determine if the dog was in pup prior to being opened because the puppies could not be felt or ultra sound equipment was not available it does not say. But should the rescue, in view of this dogs age (nine years) not have ensured she was not in pup before being prepared for spaying? Due to this poor dogs age and numerous previous litters, would it have been advisable for the vet after removing the puppies for them to be humanely euthanized and the vet to continue with spaying the bitch? Would this have been a better decision than opening up this dog, stitching her back again and leaving the puppies to go full term? Which has left this dog with a fresh wound, stitches which maybe still in when having to give birth in the very near future and suckle puppies or stitches out but a tender wound by the time of the birth, followed yet once more by an operation and spaying?
Another incident caught my attention written on the owners blog, which was as follows.
I have had highs and very lows. Yesterday a very low. A dog that had only just been given to me died on our vet's table. She was full of infection. The vet needed to operate to save her. Even as she put the towel clamps on her pus broke out of her skin. The whole of her insides were full of this and she was poisoned by it. She had Pyometra that is what's called a Closed Pyometra. This is an infection in the womb that never showed itself instead manifested inside and made her body septic. We could not save her. She had barely any time in her many years of love and she did not even recognize that. She was cheated and me also of knowing and helping her. If she had been spayed it would have never have happened. Maybe a lesson for those of you who tell me you love your dogs far too much to spay them. Maybe the question is do you love them far too much to kill them? I must say a huge THANK YOU to Jo our vet and the vet nurses this week, for they too have lived my sadness's as we all shed tears together. Never have I met a vet with such love compassion and kindness. I pray she will stay working for our dogs and our sakes. End
I am aware that a closed pyometra is very difficult to detect but they can be diagnosed on the basis of clinical signs, which include time of season (often within a month) increased drinking, off colour, and raised white blood cell count. Furthermore as the uterus is generally distended with pus, this distension can often be detected by x ray or ultra sound.
The rescue said in the blog 'the dog had just been given to me'. Therefore has the rescue contacted the RSPCA? Because if this is a case of neglect by the owner of the dog they should be made responsible under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 for failure to get veterinary treatment for their dog, instead of handing it into a rescue and the resulting consequences.
This rescue undertakes a massive task of rescuing dogs and puppies but I do wonder if it does go a step too far in its eagerness to rescue all at all costs. Does the rescue take in too many dogs and distribute them too quickly into a foster homes which are situated, I understand, all over the country, without giving themselves adequate time to assess the dogs properly in the rescue beforehand? Most dogs have very little time in the actual rescue before spaying takes place and then moved from the centre into a foster home which could be hundreds of miles from the rescue in Wales this is sometimes within hours of being operated on and having travelled hundreds of miles to reach the centre from Ireland in the first place. I have to ask is this acceptable from an animal welfare point of view? Everything happening at this rescue appears to be too hurried, too fast in the eagerness to rescue as may dogs at all cost, regardless.
At one time the breeding bitches from the puppy farms in Wales were the priority for this rescue (sometimes they ae still taken) but it appears of late they have ventured into fresh pastures and Ireland is favoured more. But where ever they take dogs from I sincerely hope the rescue will report what they find and see in the premises they visit and not close their eyes to what is happening around them for fear of not being allowed to continue to take the dogs, leaving the unwanted ones to languish in misery until next time...when really these premises should be closed down. But they will not be unless the authorities have the evidence, the evidence that rescues have if they are involved in taking dogs in from breeders but while people keep quite and say nothing, the vicious circle of over breeding and the rescue of the neglected and unwanted will continue. We must all do more to stop this happening it is not the answer to continue to rescue and say nothing it is perpetuating the problem of the over breeding of dogs and the production of too many puppies.