"Living in the "Family Islands" with a rescue state of mind can prove to be quite frustrating most times. Here, there is no rescue support facility available nor ready access to Veterinary services. In recent weeks, I've seen as I transit North on Queen's Highway this girl that I'll call "Airport Dog" for now, wandering up and down Queen's Highway near the Fresh Creek Airport. I've wondered where her pups were and how she was caring for them. Today's transit was no different, except I realized that she had not had her pups yet. I stopped. She's cautious and really not so feral. Hungry and could probably easily be caught ... I think. But then what? Without being able to transfer her to a proper carrier, she couldn't be sent to Nassau by plane. Trap her right before the Fast Ferry leaves the dock in Fresh Creek is a possibility. Wondering out loud because I want to do something for her, need to do something.....but what?"
Having committed to volunteer on a remote Spay/Neuter Campaign that I would soon have to depart for and that I have a hard time with near term Spays that result in aborting almost fully developed puppies, I called my dear friend Laura Kimble, Chairman, Bahamas Alliance for Animal Rights and Kindness (Baark!) to discuss what to do. I embraced her thoughts, knowing that during a spay procedure that involves a pregnant female, that the pups will actually feel no pain are and in fact peacefully relieved of an uncertain life of roaming, hunger, disease and despair.
She had her pups while I was away and later I learned that her pups had been found and that four of them had been taken from her while they were just under four weeks of age. I convinced one young man that they would not survive without her and paid him to go get them and turn them over to me. As I write, I am well aware of my arrogance and feel the brunt of shame as this story unfolds.
I worried that the remainder would be found and experience a life of being chained or roped to a tree as is common place here in the Islands. Imagine my joy when on a stop to feed Airport Dog, I heard her remaining pups whimpering in the distant bush. For those who don't know, the bush of Andros can be very unforgiving. I found them, I thought there were three, but four remaining pups were found in and around a deep muddy pit in the bush. I betrayed her fragile trust and took the remaining four, emerging bloodied by the bush experience but with pups embraced.
The next weeks were about asking grateful, happy and seemingly healthy puppies to please let me walk as they danced around my feet so full of life...but then....shy lil bruder (there were three "lil bruders", one "lil sista", Bruder and Sista)...didn't seem to be feeling well...ok...he was shy so no reason to fret. The next morning, he was dead. I don't know why....puppy #1 buried.....I called my Vet Friend and told him what I was experiencing and he asked me if they had been wormed....no...so that was the next step. lil Bruder #2 passed next without warning over night...lil sista and Bruda took ill quickly there after....I woke that next morning to see lil sista had perished and Bruder laying over her seemingly comforting her although he was clearly in distress. I decided that he would have to be put on a the next plane (which didn't leave Andros until 4 pm) to Nassau to save his life, but by noon it was clear that he would not make that plane. I sat with him and attempted to comfort him as he struggled to take his last respiratory distress filled breath, I will never forget that image...
Having taken the puppies, I assumed personal responsibility for their livelihood which included the basics of proper shelter, food and water. The responsibility does not end there however and having organized and participated in numerous high volume spay/neuter campaigns, I am aware that the basics also include treatment for both external and internal parasites and vaccinations. I cannot explain why I didn't give more serious consideration to the latter...possibly because they appeared to be quite healthy to begin with? Possibly because there is no readily available professional Veterinary care here on Andros? I don't know. Neither do I know if vaccination and de-worming would have saved them the agony of the deaths they experienced. I had to bury four precious lives in my care. That I know and it saddens me deeply to think of it.
For those doing the math, I have accounted for the four when there were six. lil Bruder #3 had been adopted before the others had taken ill and now is living with his new pal and loving family in the U.S. Sista who was unaffected by what ever had taken her siblings, took Bruder's place on the plane that afternoon and is well and in foster care in New Providence.