On May 30, 2013, Memphis Animal Services impounded a female Miniature Schnauzer as a stray, listing her as 7 years old. Her photo was never published anywhere online by MAS. She was kept in the stray area, out of view of the public. The day after impound, the dog’s medical records received their one and only entry – listed as “observation” by the MAS veterinarian – along with deworming and distemper vaccination.
Note that the records indicate the dog is quiet, alert and responsive, very geriatric, underweight, with severe dental disease and missing teeth. There is also a notation about the eyes having mild discharge. There are no notes indicating MAS contacted a single rescue group about this dog. Local pet advocate Jody Fisher secured a rescue placement for the dog and on June 6, a rescuer pulled her from MAS. The rescuer immediately noticed the little dog was deaf and blind. This is what she looked like:
The rescuer took the little pet to a veterinarian the next morning for evaluation. The veterinarian estimated the dog to be about 15 years old, not 7 as MAS had indicated. He determined she was in pain and had been suffering for awhile. The vet reported she was not only underweight, blind and deaf but also that she suffered from chronic dry eye which had likely lead to blindness, and severe dental disease which had likely lead to heart disease. The dog had a grade 6 heart murmur, irregular heart rhythm, bilateral pleural effusions and was in end stage congestive heart failure. She suffered from severe arthritis which compromised her ability to move normally. Euthanasia was recommended and performed, as the poor girl was medically hopeless and suffering.
I have questions:
- The MAS vet got close enough to characterize this dog’s level of gum disease but failed to note she was in unremitting pain or prescribe any medication to try to alleviate that pain for an entire week?
- The MAS vet noted a “mild” discharge from the eyes when the dog looked like she does in the above photo? And she didn’t note that the dog was in fact blind and deaf?
- Since no meaningful vet care was offered, where are the notes indicating this dog must only be offered soft food and that both food and water bowls must be kept within easy reach of the dog due to her lack of mobility?
- Since no meaningful vet care was offered, where are the notes indicating the dog requires soft bedding at all times and that the bedding must be checked regularly for dryness in case of urination or water bowl spills?
Failing to note that the dog was blind and deaf is not only a disservice to the dog, who would be severely stressed in a shelter environment, it endangers people who might approach the dog believing her to be sighted and with normal hearing ability. Blind and deaf shelter dogs need to be approached in a particular manner, so as not to provoke a defensive bite by startling the dog.
Failing to note that the dog was in unremitting pain and end stage heart failure is simply inexcusable. A Memphis dog owner who kept a dog in this condition without meaningful vet care for an entire week would presumably be charged with animal cruelty and the MAS vet would do the examination to document the forensic evidence. Who will investigate and determine possible charges regarding the MAS vet in this case? Let’s be clear: MAS left this dog to suffer in a cage for a week, making no efforts to get her seen by anyone who might help her and offering her no medical care to address her suffering. Isn’t this a crime? Is it in any way acceptable that Memphis taxpayers pay for a shelter veterinarian and kennel workers but must rely on ordinary citizens to find rescuers willing to pay a private vet to tend to suffering pets at the pound?
The suffering of this little pet is hardly an isolated incident. The head vet at the Memphis pound – on whose watch numerous dogs have starved to death, including a puppy who was forced to eat his own littermate to survive, who scrubbed a degloved cat’s wounds without providing pain medication and left him to suffer in a cage for 5 days, and who neglected then killed a puppy who was impounded with a collar embedded in her neck – is no stranger to animal cruelty. Yet Memphis city leaders defend the cruelty again and again, as they always do with animal abusers on the payroll, and the suffering at the pound continues. How many more, Memphis?
Fire. Them. All.