(Continued from last week)

 Herpes virus of young puppies

Some of you may recall that, a few decades ago, there was a great awareness of herpes virus infections in the sexually active human population.  I recall both Time and Newsweek magazines carrying this ailment as their cover page stories. It seemed that the infections of syphilis and gonorrhoea had been pushed on to the back burner and replaced by the herpes infections.  Then, of course, came AIDS. That pushed every other sexually transmitted disease off the entire stove.

Well, yes, dogs also can be infected by a very specific herpes virus.  This virus hits both puppies and adult dogs, although the symptoms differ.  Anyway, before I cause a panic among dog lovers, let me hasten to add that only canines (dogs, wolves, coyotes) are susceptible to this particular canine herpes virus.

So, now that is clear, let us discuss this disease.  The first thing that impresses me is its insidious nature.  In other words, it creeps up on the animal without many sudden expressions of symptoms that would reflect ailment of the puppy (or adult dog).  The mother nurses her brood quite happily; she eats well and seems quite healthy – as do the puppies until just before their deaths.

pet cornerSuddenly, the puppies, usually while they are still nursing (1-3 week-old pups seem to be the most vulnerable), show signs of discomfort.  They cry as if in great pain; the abdomen begins to swell; a diarrhoea (yellowish green) develops.  Then they stop nursing.  Sometimes the puppies shiver as if they are cold; the abdominal muscles show spasmic contractions.  Actually the loss of appetite and the symptoms of pain/distended abdomen/diarrhoea might all happen within an hour or two.  Before you can reach your vet, the pups begin to die ‒  all of this happening within a 24-hour period.

Although we are concentrating on puppy diseases, I will mention how the herpes virus affects adult dogs.  In females, the vagina exhibits an inflammatory condition (redness, discharge, etc) – a vaginitis.  In fact, it seems quite logical to assume that, as the puppies pass through the vagina of the infected mother when she is giving birth, those puppies can easily pick up the virus.  But the disease can also arrive at and spread in the litter by some other infected dog paying a visit to the kennel, or by a person who just handled a dog which is carrying the herpes virus. The only good thing about this whole story is that the mother dogs develop an immunity to the herpes virus.  She passes on the immunity to the pups while nursing, and therefore subsequent litters are not infected.

The treatment will direct itself toward easing the symptoms (see above) exhibited by the puppies.  Your vet will give you good advice, but almost surely some of the affected pups will die.  One thing seems clear: the virus does not flourish in temperatures above 98 F.  This means that if we incubate the pups at temperatures higher than 98 F (we could maintain the pups at 100 F), the virus will not freely multiply.

Since successful therapy seems to be the exception rather than the rule, it would be logical to focus on the control of the disease.  This means primarily keeping the kennel clean, especially during the whelping period and before.  Keep visiting dogs (and people who handle dogs) at a minimum and away from the pups.  Specific vaccines against canine herpes virus do not currently exist.

 The Pit Bull murder  saga continues

Can you believe that there are still persons who agree with the savage murders of defenceless dogs, the video of which is currently receiving wide, even international, coverage and condemnation?  Of interest is the amount of persons holding this view, who are not only educated, but are also in the higher economic strata and hold positions of prominence in our society.  That alone speaks volumes.

There can be no apologies for what we have witnessed on the video.  I agree that those persons who, in all probability, saved the life of the owner’s wife, should be commended.  However, the brutal massacre which followed cannot be honoured with any form of approval and must be strenuously denounced. Further, it must be recognized that this whole sordid episode has a genesis which is of greater import.  Why were 8 Pit Bulls being kept locked up in such small confined spaces?  Were they being bred to be involved in Pit Bull fighting? What methodologies were being used to transform these dogs into psychopathic attackers?  Is this an isolated incident, or is Pit Bull breeding for fighting and the actual fighting widespread?

How widespread?  What happens to the loser in a fight?  Are veterinarians, stitching the losers back up and healing their wounds, so that the dogs can fight again, without reporting the matter to the police? Has the Guyana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (GSPCA) and all those who purport to be animal lovers/activists been able to make any impact on any or all aspects of this (Pit Bull fighting) barbarity?  Has the “protect and serve” GPF been called in to cooperate with the GSPCA and what has been the outcome? Have those who are vile and vicious enough to promote Pit Bull fighting ever threatened members of the GSPCA and the public, if reports are made?

All of the questions listed above need ans-wers.  The approach to combat this evil must be holistic and involve multiple agencies (eg, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Local Government, Ministry of Education, religious organizations, the Private Sector Commission, social upliftment organizations, etc).

Decency alone, if not the recognition that voiceless creatures are fellow travellers on our spaceship Earth, demands the implementation of the laws governing all aspects of cruelty to animals. And dog-fighting must be made to cease immediately.

Please implement disease preventative measures (vaccinations, routine dewormings, monthly anti-heartworm medication, etc) and adopt-a-pet from the GSPCA’s Animal Clinic and Shelter at Robb Street and Orange Walk, if you have the wherewithal to care well for the animals.  Do not stray your unwanted pets, take them to the GSPCA’s Clinic and Shelter instead. If you do not wish your pet to have puppies or kittens, you may exploit the GSPCA’s free spay and neutering programme. If you see anyone being cruel to an animal, or if you need any technical information, please get in touch with the Clinic and Shelter by calling 226-4237.