Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Airport Dog


I called her "Airport Dog", having first seen her near the airport, Fresh Creek, Andros Island, Bahamas. Having decided to chronicle her pictorial story I wrote:

"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 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.
I decided to allow Airport Dog to have her pups knowing that when I returned, I could attend to her. My plan was to find the puppies and take them from her when they were old enough to wean and work towards finding good homes for them. Then, I could then catch her, have her spayed then if she could not be homed, release her. Trap, neuter and return (TNR) is a extremely humane approach to reducing the stray and feral populations, an approach that Baark! fully advocates and supports.

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.

I have learned since that Airport Dog was an owned Dog from here in Cargill Creek and that she was dumped between Bowen Sound and the Fresh Creek Airport (a ten mile stretch of uninhabited highway) because she was having too many puppies! There is a relatively inexpensive solution to that problem, Spay/Neuter. Had I decided to capture "Airport Dog" in the first place, none of the ensuing suffering would have occurred, not for the puppies, not for me or those who tried to help me.
The story of the 'Airport dog' emphasizes how paramount the Baark! spay and neuter initiatives are not only in Nassau, but the Family Islands as well.  Most of the remote family islands do not have a regular vet service let alone a full time vet, so this story is sadly far too common.  

The spay and neuter initiatives that have been done so far in Andros, Eleuthera, Abaco, San Salvador are also expanding the reach of animal welfare.  Networks are built when our Nassau experts travel and work with local animal lovers and correspondence continues .  Rick Goodlander got involved in animal welfare when Baark! first went to Andros and is now a very active member of Baark! and does a lot for the animals in Andros.  The voice for animals is getting louder and we are proud to say that we are closer to achieving our mission.  Local Nassau vets are starting to 'adopt' islands and visiting them on a more frequent basis.  We hope that in the coming 5 years, with more young Bahamian Vets returning vet care on the family islands will continue to expand, and in turn the reduction of unnecessary suffering of dogs and cats on these remote islands.  It is very clear that spay and neuter is the answer to reducing the unnecessary suffering that so many little souls are born into.  

1 comment:

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