Last week, I linked to a story about a dog at BARC in Houston who was scheduled to have her eyes removed despite pleas from rescuers to get her to an expert for immediate evaluation and care. I’ve been following the story all week and indeed, BARC responded to the public outcry over the treatment of the dog and posted what sounded like a pretty rosy update:
We appreciate the amount of concern expressed by the community for one of our most recent future pets, who has been dubbed Keiko by the employees of BARC.
On Tuesday morning, March 16, 2010, BARC Chief Veterinarian Dr. M’Risa Mendelsohn, DVM examined the dog and determined that surgery would allow the dog to be successfully fostered and ultimately live a healthy life. All four veterinarians at BARC concur that the damage to the eyes and optical nerve is irreversible. The animal is in stable condition and exhibiting normal behavior and has been playful with our staff.
BARC also mentioned they were giving the dog pain meds and that a foster home had been arranged. That all sounded good to me but I couldn’t help wondering if a dog who looked like this (warning – graphic head injuries photo) was truly behaving normally and even playing. I also wondered if the Vet at an animal control facility was qualified and equipped for this kind of surgical procedure. To my knowledge, this surgery would normally be performed by a specialist.
At any rate, on Thursday night, another, even rosier update from BARC:
Keiko has proven to be quite the resilient pup! Her recovery has exceeded expectations, and her behavior has increasingly normalized. Late this afternoon, BARC’s veterinary team determined that she could be moved safely without jeopardizing her medical status.
Dr. Mendelsohn will begin surgery tomorrow (Friday) morning. We do not have the privilege of knowing Keiko’s medical history, so anesthesia will be applied very cautiously. If the surgery goes as planned, Keiko will be transferred to foster care around 3:00 or 4:00 p.m. tomorrow afternoon, to recover outside of BARC.
Wow – head injuries severe enough to cause the eyeballs to be falling out the dog’s head and yet she’s playful and all she needs is a morning surgery to remove the eyes and by afternoon, she should be on her way to a new home. That really struck me as unusual. Again I wondered if BARC was qualified to undertake this procedure. But they promised to keep us posted:
We will post an update with new details as they develop.
So I’ve been checking back but nothing new from BARC. That Thursday night post was the last update. I checked out No Kill Houston since that’s where I first read about Keiko and got the sad news that after surgery, Keiko died. No Kill Houston offers a good perspective on the entire story and asks:
If a rescue group was willing to take to take Keiko and have her treated by an eye specialist, at no cost to taxpayers, why did BARC continue to refuse?
We have no way of knowing the “what if” scenarios of Keiko’s last days. She may have been too severely injured to have survived surgery no matter when it was performed or by who. On the other hand, she may not have needed to wait for care since rescuers were offering to provide it immediately. We don’t know if Keiko’s life could have been saved but if we are to take BARC at their word, a playful, stable, resilient dog waited several days at animal control for a procedure intended to save her life while outside offers of immediate care were refused. And now she’s dead. That sure seems a shame to me.