On Thursday 26th October a heavily-pregnant, older dog (CRM 18341) was processed at Mildura Pound.
Rescue groups have dubbed her "Hope". They noticed that Hope was beginning to bleed from her vagina and they asked to be allowed to remove her to a home environment to have her puppies.
"We saw her today she's very sad looking girl and bleeding a lot her back legs bum ect are almost completely covered in blood"
~ rescuer on original FB post
But Mildura Council refused to release her to rescue under Duty of Care or allow her to be fostered locally. According to a Council statement, the veterinary advice to council was;
...to keep the dog at the pound and make her comfortable.
Hope stayed in the pound - which has no isolation area and is unmanned overnight - for Thursday and Friday nights. On Saturday morning….
She was transferred to the vet for an assessment and examination.... The vet indicated that she might have whelped overnight and eaten the puppies.
On physical examination she is in good health and not in any recognised distress or danger. She is currently back to the Animal Pound.
So this poor dog had apparently whelped - alone and in a noisy, contaminated animal pound - and then eaten the puppies, and the most appropriate course of action was deemed to be to return her to the pound where she would finish out her eight days.
Except. When the rescue groups picked her up on her release day;
The smell of her was disgusting. She is now being raced to vet. She is being operated on for pyometra and a huge cyst on her leg. She just lay with her head on her carers leg and seemed relieved to be out, but very flat and listless. Even the flesh covering the bones on her head is shrunken. We expect her to be in the vets for at least 4 days, we will update as we know more
Having blood transfusion as too sick to operate immediately... operation this afternoon
We tried to get her out of the pound under duty of care, but apparently under the code, pregnant doesnt count. We tried to get her our because she was obviously sick and starving. That didnt count either.
The pound took her to a vet, after she had been incarcerated for two days, and they guessed that she had whelped and eaten her puppies, and they pronounced that she was fit enough to serve out her time back in the pound.
So, serve her time she did. Under "the code" wandering dogs have to serve their 8 days. So she did.
One of our amazing volunteers got her from the pound yesterday morning. The smell of her was horrid. She smelled like rotting meat. She had blood and pustulence leaking from her and covering her legs and tail. Her head was hanging and she was listless, and had no spark in her eyes. The flesh on her head was sunken, she was so dehydrated. Straight off to the vet for a vet check.
Is she fit enough to travel to Melbourne? No, she will probably die on the way.
Emergency surgery, but wait, not even fit enough for that. Blood transfusion first. Then the operation.
Pyometra, (look that one up), and for those of you who dont desex your female dogs, it is extremely nasty and often fatal IF not caught in time. Hope had THREE KILOGRAMS of pus and uterus removed. That would have been well more than 10% of her bodyweight.
The sad point for us is, had we been able to take her out under duty of care, she would never have got so sick, she would never have needed a blood transfusion, and even though we dont begrudge any of it, it would have saved us thousands of dollars because Hope would never have got to this stage.
Update. Poor Hope has survived her operation with a pus-filled uterus being removed.
(To follow Hope's continued progress, visit Starting Over Dog Rescue on Facebook)
Were there puppies? Or did Hope have a life-threatening infection, overlooked by pound staff and seriously misdiagnosed by a veterinarian who sent her back to the pound to suffer for more than a week?
Either way, to deem a dog bleeding heavily, and who in a few days later would be deathly ill as being in "good health" raises an awful lot of questions about the competency of the people being paid to run the Mildura pound.
Obviously animal lovers are distraught at the lack of compassion and care this dog has received. However, those who have contacted the RSPCA, have received this reply:
So if you or I are a pet owner who let their dog suffer and nearly die from untreated pyometra, we would likely find ourselves prosecuted by our state RSPCA.
But a pound can do the same with a pet they have responsibility for and it will be managed, not by the RSPCA, but by the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR). Agriculture Victoria, (within DEDJTR), administers and enforces the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTAA).
I’ve looked up the department's record of prosecutions and Agriculture Victoria seems to be averaging about 8 prosecuted cases a year.
And with some extra digging, as far as I can discover, no pound - not one, ever - has been investigated or prosecuted by Agriculture Victoria under POCTAA. So who is actually protecting pets in the pound?