How to Help Florida and Caribbean Pets Affected by Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma left a widespread trail of flooding and destruction throughout the Caribbean and Florida.  What can concerned animal lovers do to help the dogs, cats, and other animals left homeless by the hurricane?  Animal rescue and relief efforts are underway, led by both U.S. and international animal welfare organizations. Here’s an update on a few ongoing rescue operations.

The Humane Society International and the H3 Foundation are teaming up to help the animals of the British Virgin Islands that have been impacted by Hurricane Irma.  An emergency veterinary team has already arrived on the island of Tortola, with more rescue and relief efforts scheduled to arrive in the BVI in the coming days.  Click HERE to learn more.

The islands of Antigua and Barbuda were hard hit by Irma.  While there are no animal shelters on Barbuda, Antigua humane organizations are helping the pets and farm animals of both islands.  Check out the Facebook page of Paaws Antigua for the latest news and updates on their ongoing efforts to save the animals in both places.

The Florida Keys SPCA is on the front lines of helping the homeless pets of the Keys.  Their facilities were damaged and all their resident shelter animals have been moved into foster homes.  Not only will they need help with repairing shelter buildings on Key West and Marathon, they also expect an influx of many more displaced pets in the coming days and weeks.

South Florida’s wild animals need help, too!  The South Florida Wildlife Center rescues and rehabilitates the wildlife of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties.  Hurricanes can flood birds and animals out of nests and burrows, so wildlife rescue efforts are especially critical after storms.

 

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Helping Pets Impacted by Hurricane Harvey

The news images of thousands of Texans escaping the devastating flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey have been heartbreaking.  We’ve also seen distressing photos of people carrying their rain-soaked pets through the floodwaters to safety.  Sadly, not everyone is able to evacuate with their pets, and not all evacuation centers can accommodate animals.

As we saw with Hurricane Katrina, many pets are displaced during natural disasters.  While some are lucky enough to eventually reunite with their owners, others end up in animal shelters across the affected region (and in many cases, across the country) in need of food, shelter, care…and eventually, a new forever home.

What can you do to help pets affected by the hurricane?  The Louisiana SPCA provides some valuable advice, based on their experience with Katrina (Louisiana is also expecting flooding from Harvey).  As tempting as it is to donate items like food and other pet supplies, sending things that will need to be stored in a flood zone can create serious problems for overwhelmed shelters.  The best option?  Send monetary donations to local animal welfare organizations like the SPCA of TexasAustin Pets Alive is also doing great work helping evacuated pets.  Sending local shelters some pet store gift cards or fulfilling amazon.com wish lists are also helpful ways to donate effectively.

CLICK HERE to view an informative video from CBS News about post-Hurricane Harvey pet rescue efforts.

 

 

Top 10 Pet Health Issues Seen by FACE and our Veterinary Partners

We are often asked about the kinds of pet health emergencies that are seen by our veterinary partners and referred to FACE, so that we may help qualified pet owners pay for life-saving veterinary treatments for their companion animals.  There are many common pet injuries and illnesses that we and our partners see on a monthly or even weekly basis.  Here’s a list of the top pet health issues helped by FACE grants.  Be sure to check out our website for more detailed information on each medical condition!

  1. Fractures

Broken bones are a very common pet injury that we see on an almost weekly basis.  Fractures of a dog or cat’s long bones are like human arm or leg fractures.  Some young or small pets can even sustain fractures from a jump off a couch or bed.  The most common signs of fractures are lameness, as well as pain and swelling at the injury site.  Be sure to get your pet to the vet as soon as possible.  Falls from high places (or being hit by a car) can cause serious, life-threatening internal injuries besides broken bones, like internal bleeding and ruptured organs, so quick diagnosis and treatment are critical.

  1. Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)

Most commonly seen in dogs, especially Dachshunds and other breeds with similar body types, IVDD occurs when the cushions between your dog’s spinal bones swell or rupture.  This can damage the spinal cord and lead to lameness, loss of sensation, incontinence, and even paralysis.  Mild IVDD can be treated with non-invasive measures, but a serious case requires surgery to decompress the spine.  Sadly, vets may often recommend euthanasia if a ruptured disc is left untreated.

  1. Foreign Body Obstructions

Dogs, cats, and other pets will often get into mischief and eat things they shouldn’t.  A gastrointestinal obstruction occurs when the object is not vomited up or passed through the intestinal tract.  Many common household items can cause an obstruction:  toy pieces, strings, rubber bands, coins, pieces of bone, etc.  An object stuck in the upper GI tract can be removed via endoscopy, but many stomach and intestinal obstructions require surgery.  Untreated obstructions can be fatal.

  1. Urinary Obstructions

A very common veterinary emergency, often seen in male cats, urinary obstructions occur when crystals or mucus form in the kidneys and enter the bladder and urethra.  Mild obstructions can cause your cat discomfort and distress, but complete obstructions (and the inability to pass any urine) cause deadly toxins to build up in your cat’s body, leading to death if left untreated.  Your cat’s urinary system will need to be flushed.  Chronic obstructions often require surgery.  Your vet will talk to you about dietary changes to prevent the formation of crystals in the future.

  1. Pyometra

Besides leading to unwanted litters of puppies and kittens, leaving your female dog or cat unspayed can also lead to a life-threatening medical condition called pyometra.  It is a bacterial infection of the uterus, occurring in one quarter of unspayed female pets.  Signs include lethargy, vaginal discharge, and anorexia.  A seriously infected uterus can be fatal, and the recommended treatment for pyometra is removal of the uterus and ovaries.

  1. Rattlesnake Bites

Here in San Diego, rattlesnake bites are a fairly common pet emergency that can happen year-round because of the warm climate.  Dogs are 20 times more likely to be bitten by a snake than us humans, mostly due to their inquisitive nature when they are exploring the great outdoors.  A bite from a venomous snake can be fatal to your pet, and immediate treatment with antivenom is crucial.  Your pet will also require additional treatment for pain, infection, and inflammation.

  1. Emergency C-Sections

Emergency Caesarian sections are sometimes required if your pet is experiencing distress during the birthing process.  Certain dog breeds with large head/small body size (like some bulldogs and terriers) can be especially vulnerable to problems.  It is critical to bring your dog to the vet as soon as possible if she is experiencing intense contractions with no sign of puppies.

  1. Enucleations

Enucleation is the removal of an eye due to an injury or illness that causes your dog or cat discomfort.  In pets, enucleation is often the best solution to relieve pain.  Conditions that may require removal of the eye include glaucoma, cancer, severe infection, and trauma.   Your vet will perform the operation to remove the eye under anesthesia, stitching the skin closed when done.

  1. Laceration Repairs

A laceration is a cut or tear in the skin, with severe lacerations often involving blood loss and damage to underlying structures like muscles, tendons, blood vessels, and nerves.  Surgery under general anesthesia is often required to repair significant lacerations.  Lacerations should be treated as soon as possible to avoid infection of the wound.

  1. Severe Dental Work

Rounding out the list of the most common pet health issues we assist with is a relatively new addition…severe dental work.  Serious periodontal disease in dogs, cats, and other pets can lead to life-threatening health conditions.  Left untreated, diseased teeth and gums can lead to loss of tissue and bone in the mouth and the bacteria can enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body, leading to bone infection and organ damage.  Talk to your vet about prevention strategies like home tooth brushing.

 

San Diego Union Tribune Profiles FACE Success Story Cece the Cat

Meet Cece, a beautiful Siamese cat who escaped from home a few months back.  Cece was struck by a car and suffered a fractured back.  The surgery to save her life was more than her family could afford, but they applied for a FACE grant and Cece was able to have her surgery.  We’re happy to report she’s doing great now!  Check out this VIDEO about Cece and her family on the San Diego Union Tribune website.

FACE co-founder Dr. Keith Richter with his pups Mr. Piggy and Bloopus

Accompanying the video is an ARTICLE about Cece and the work that we do to save pets in need of critical veterinary care in the San Diego area.  With the cost of diagnostic services and specialty treatments for unexpected pet illnesses and injuries often running thousands of dollars, FACE provides hope for pet owners faced with the sad reality of economic euthanasia.

Thank you San Diego Union Tribune, for the wonderful profile of Cece and FACE!