Update on Dog with Severe Eye Injuries at BARC

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.

5 thoughts on “Update on Dog with Severe Eye Injuries at BARC

  1. Still no mention of x-rays or the true extent of the damage – talk of eyes, eye evaluations, no talk of brain trauma, skull damage.

    It sounds like they were determined to go ahead with their plans for whatever reason. I can’t help but think that an immediate and full evaluation (with x-rays) would have revealed that this dog should not have sat for days waiting for something to happen.

    And why do I seriously doubt that this dog was behaving “normally” and “playfully”?

  2. I’m stating the obvious here but BARC didn’t want her to live. Had busybodies not stuck their nose into BARC’s business, they would have quietly euthanized her.

    That pissed them off so not only did they show they had total control but they made us all suffer by watching Liberty suffer.

    It has been decades that this has been going on. Until there is a complete change of personal with a complete change in attitude (including many of the volunteers), BARC will stay the same.

  3. If they had euthanized her as soon as she came in, it would have probably been a kindness. But the whole song and dance of control issues illustrates a very disturbing mentality.

  4. Why is BARC so intent of not working with rescues ready to step in and at no cost to them….

    1. Because so many (not all) of the volunteers at BARC, and in the Houston animal community in general, are a bunch of harridans. They complain continuously, loudly, and stridently, but rarely offer even remotely viable solutions. In this case, they did offer a solution, which is commendable, however they have spent so many years haranguing and harassing and heckling even the GOOD people at BARC (yes, there are some) that no one wants to deal with them! Who wants to deal with a shrieking harridan?! Their chosen methods hurt the animals of Houston so much more than they help, as evidenced by this little battle for control between them and BARC, at the expense of this poor dog. The animal community started this little power play. They reap what they sow… and the animals pay the price. When will they learn that shrieking accusations year upon year yields little in the way of legitimate cooperation from others? How many animals at BARC will have to suffer before the “Rescues” wise up and conduct themselves in a manner that will actually foster cooperation?

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