Three of the 53 dogs taken by police in the islands’ largest-ever seizure of mistreated canines earlier this month have succumbed to Parvovirus infection, but authorities say “significant improvement” has been observed in the overall health and condition of other dogs since arriving at the shelter.
Senior veterinarians from three practices – Cayman Animal Hospital, Island Veterinary Services and The Vet Clinic – were invited 14 May to work with the Department of Agriculture to address the medical conditions of the dogs.
“The private veterinarians who were seeing the dogs for the first time expressed that they were in better condition than they expected them to be,” the DoA said in a press release.
The veterinarians started by addressing the presence of Parvovirus among the animals that were confiscated.
“The improvement of these dogs to date is testimony to the hard work and dedication of the team at the DoA and the private vets who have been assisting us from the beginning. In particular I would like to acknowledge the efforts of DoA’s Veterinary Officer Dr. Dorman, and Drs. Alfred and Olivia Benjamin, the Senior Animal Welfare Officer and the Department’s two Animal Control Officers, who have all gone above and beyond to manage this situation,” said Brian Crichlow, DoA assistant director.
The dogs are being cared for by the Department of Agriculture’s animal welfare unit.
A police investigation into the suspected breeding farm is ongoing.
The first case of Parvovirus was confirmed Thursday evening. Dogs were separated based on their at-risk factors, and rigorous sanitation protocols were introduced.
The veterinary team reviewed and concurred with the protocols implemented and agreed that it was in the best interest of the canine population that the DoA shelter continue to be quarantined with no dogs going in or out – given the contagious nature of Parvovirus – until the threat from the Parvovirus is resolved, according to the DoA.
Care of these dogs will follow a gradual approach to address the various medical issues they have, as the poor state of the dogs’ general health rules out more aggressive medical treatment, the release noted.
The DoA said it had received numerous requests and offers to adopt the dogs.
“Although the ultimate goal remains to find forever homes for these animals, adoptions cannot be initiated until the Parvovirus outbreak has been successfully resolved and the quarantine is lifted,” the DoA press release said, estimating that could take several weeks.
“Eventual decisions about adoption will depend on the overall health of the dogs and when they can undergo spaying and neutering, which is required prior to any final adoptions.
“The DoA will continue to work closely with the private veterinary clinics as it moves through this process.”
The DoA said the veterinarians agreed on an appropriate course of action for addressing the general health and medical needs of the dogs, as well as the specific needs of those dogs with more serious and chronic medical challenges.
“The DoA is very appreciative of the assistance and support received from the private veterinary clinics, not only in terms of the time and advice given by the veterinarians, but also for the very kind donations of certain needed services, veterinary drugs and medical supplies,” said Mr. Crichlow. “The DoA’s veterinary services are targeted exclusively to large animal/livestock veterinary services, and as such we do not stock some of the particular drugs or supplies used primarily in small animal care. Their donations have been a big help.”
The operation has stretched the DoA’s animal welfare unit to the limit.
The department has had to suspend normal operations, including the collection of strays and trapping of feral chickens.
The collection of strays cannot resume until the quarantine on the shelter has been lifted and space is available.
The DoA said it is exploring alternatives for assisting the public with the control of feral chickens, and will provide an update shortly.
The department said it appreciates the offers of assistance received by animal charities and the general public, and is actively looking at ways that these charities and the public may be able to assist with the care of these dogs.
On the veterinarians’ advice and once the logistics have been worked out, the DoA will provide additional information on what and how help can be provided and accepted.