Friday, September 11, 2015

August 2015 Report

The Doggie Street Festival, a whopping response at the HSTJ Center, a huge increase at our monthly clinic, a new way to distribute food, what’s new on the EduCan Project, update on cockapoo hoarding case, and the heartwarming story of a basset hound that fought a courageous battle until the very end. We invite you to read this month’s report.

The 2015 Doggie Street Festival 
We begin by thanking all of you who came out to show your support at our booth. Here are some fabulous pictures that capture the energy of the moment. It was such a boisterous festival, with lots of people coming and going, and many stopping by to say hello to our furry babies. We are happy to report that HSTJ brought 17 dogs to this event, and there were so many people interested in them that volunteers spent the rest of the month doing follow-up calls and visits, aside from our usual adoption events. We are all looking forward to next year's Festival! :-)

The HSTJ Center
This month there was a tremendous increase in the HSTJ Center program. This month vets performed an outstanding 163 spay/neuter surgeries!!! In addition to this, Dr. Angel Hernandez, head vet at the Center, performed eight different procedures, ranging from biopsies, gastrointestinal disorders, to splenectomies, and even a cesarean! Thanks to support from our donors we can subsidize these services year round, and thanks to the self-sacrificing labor of these vets, low-income families and rescuers have access to these services during regular business hours –and all at low cost, or no-cost to them. In fact, we have done the math, and on average, treatments at our Center cost only 31% of what they would cost elsewhere. Now that is progress! In the future, and if donations increase, we would love to open more of these Centers throughout Tijuana.

Monthly Clinics on the Up & Up
With a Grand Total of 62 surgeries in just one day, vets and volunteers alike worked in unison to accomplish such a great feat. A total of four vets attended this month's clinic, which was held in our very own facilities on August 23rd, 2015. Never a dull moment at these Mobile Clinics! Have you ever considered volunteering? If so, please see below, and if you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

***Can you help?***
We welcome volunteers to assist in this, and all of our other activities. There is always plenty to do and all help is greatly appreciated. If you are considering volunteering at a future event, contact us. Transportation into Mexico and back to the U.S. is provided by us.
And if you are a licensed veterinarian and would consider dedicating one full Sunday to perform cat/dog sterilizations in Tijuana, that would be fantastic too! 

Food Distribution program
Humane Society de Tijuana has always tried and tested new and innovative ways to approach the ordinary, and the food distribution program is no exception. In August, Board Members brainstormed new ways of getting dog/cat food donations directly to those who need it the most. They came up with various strategies. One of them was to periodically visit each rescuer and physically observe the amount of rescues that they are able to house and rehabilitate, and based on that update the distribution list systematically. This idea would mean that everyone receives exactly what they need, no more and no less, and it also means that we could potentially expand our food distribution network enormously.
Another idea on the table was to ask if those people who receive the food are available to help in any of our programmed activities, at a time most convenient to them, of course. The Board has agreed to explore these ideas other, in order to streamline the process and achieve an improved and more comprehensive distribution. These adjustments are set to begin during the months of September and October, and if successful then they may become permanent.

What’s up, EduCan?
You will be pleased to hear that our EduCan Project continues to be well received within the communities. In collaboration with DIF (Community Development for Families, a government organization), we have booked this program in eight different communities since May of this year. You can find more information on this project and how it enables us to help at-risk communities here.

From 31… only six are left 
Update on the cockapoo hoarding case, and yes, you read right. Only six are left! If you are not familiar with the full story, you can read it here. Slowly but surely these pups have found wonderful homes. Granted, it has taken longer than initially anticipated, but helping them get a second chance at life makes it all worthwhile.
Many of HSTJ’s loyal volunteers such as Xindi, Adria, and Teresa, just to name a few... have invested countless hours and driven immeasurable distances in order to do initial home visits, and follow up visits, on these pups in their new homes.

How can we truly measure success? When local adopters are not only willing, but also capable, of properly caring for their new addition. Or as one volunteer puts it, “We developed [the interviews] because we want them to ask as many questions as they like, to get all their doubts and hesitations out in the open. We can then fill in the gaps and tell them what to expect. Only then can we discover if this will really be a good match.”
As soon as they are all adopted, HSTJ will prepare a slideshow of all of them in their new homes. Few are aware of this, but there really are lots of excellent homes right here in Tijuana. Cases like this one prove it. A big thank you to all who have participated in making this possible.

Fighting a courageous battle until the very end
We finish our report by sharing a story that must be told. Alika the basset hound lived to be nine years old, and her life teaches us a valuable lesson about senior dogs. We invite you to read her story here.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Alika the Basset Hound & the Lesson she left us

Alika was rescued at 2 years of age. Sarai Garcia and her husband would always see her walking up and down the street, but they thought, "She must have an owner. A Basset Hound can't be living on the streets, can it?" As time went by, the couple noticed she was getting thinner and thinner, and she looked very dirty, so they decided to rescue her.

The next morning they found her foraging for food along a nearby street. As they tried to put a leash around her, she kept running away from them, so they chased after her. But when they got too close to a main road they desisted, fearing she would run into traffic and be hurt by an oncoming vehicle. They walked home, and as they looked behind them, there she was, wagging her tail at them! They named her Alika.

After she put on some weight they were planning to give her up for adoption, as they always did with their rescues, but Alika was found to have Pyometra and had emergency surgery which went very well. They decided to give her sufficient time to recover, but some time after that, she was discovered to have heart murmurs.

As time sped ahead Alika's rescuer, Sarai, had a baby and the family decided to keep their remaining rescues. That was how Alika and four other pups rescued off the streets became the Garcia family's permanent pets. In what felt like the blink of an eye, that 2 year-old Basset Hound turned 9 years old. She suddenly became ill, and despite many attempts, she did not survive her surgery. What had happened? Can we learn anything from it?

Splenomegaly  refers to the enlargement of the spleen. This medical condition can occur in all breeds and genders. 
Although in many cases it can be asymptomatic, an enlarged spleen may lead to such symptoms as:
Lack of appetite
Abdominal pain
Lethargy and reduced activity
Weakness and even collapse

A variety of things are known to cause an enlarged spleen including an abdominal injury, canine hepatitis, infectious disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, bacterial infection, cell tumors of the spleen, and other immune disorders. In Alika’s case a large cell tumor had damaged the spleen, causing it to become greatly enlarged.
Upon examination, a prominent spleen or a protruding abdomen can sometimes be noticed. An ultrasound was used to view Alika's spleen and surrounding areas. In addition to imaging, blood work tests were administered.
Although each case is different, in severe cases such as this one, the only option was to surgically remove the spleen. (splenectomy)
Living and Management
Usually, when the spleen is removed dogs will require rehabilitation to heal properly; and activity is restricted.
There are currently no known preventative measures for an enlarged spleen.

Alika leaves behind her the legacy of a genuine survivor from the streets of Tijuana. 
Alika lived seven wonderful years under the loving care of the Garcia family. Although it is true that she was growing older, this disease progressed rapidly. Her rescuer and owner, Sarai Garcia relates, “It all happened so fast. She seemed healthy, as did the other dogs, but one Monday she began to vomit, lost her appetite, appeared weak and slept excessively. I thought she might have a stomachache or maybe an infection. The other dogs were fine, so I wondered… On Tuesday these symptoms were worse, so Wednesday morning we took her to the HSTJ Center where she was admitted. I had heard from a friend about this place, but now I was going to see it for myself. I met Dr. Angel Hernandez and really liked the way he cared for Alika. He always showed consideration for her because she was an older dog. He quickly discovered what was wrong, and over the next few days, as the tumor grew larger, he insisted that we try and remove it.”

Several dogs were brought in by fellow rescuers in case Alika needed a transfusion. Sadly, the tumor had spread, the spleen had ruptured, and Alika did not make it through the surgery. The family was devastated. Sarai continues, “I would definitely return to the HSTJ Center. I am not new to this scene, as I was an animal rescuer for many years before my circumstances changed. I know that everything possible was done in order to help Alika, and I am grateful for that. The vet told me that if we had caught this just one month ago, her possibilities of surviving would have been much better. I want to share her life because I learned so much from it and from her.”

Alika was a very strong dog who had been through so much. She started growing old, and when she faced this, she just couldn’t hold on any longer. Her life teaches us an important lesson: older dogs require frequent checkups and regular tests in order to prolong their health, much as older humans do too. If you are the happy owner of an older dog or cat, please be sure to schedule regular checkups for them. In many cases, when something such as this is caught early, there is enough time to help.