years ago this April, Jill Robinson first walked onto a bear bile farm. On that day in April 1993, Jill could have walked away, but she chose to act and do what she could. Today, you also have a choice. If everyone reading this donated just US$20, it would pay for the care of over 150 bears at our China sanctuary for a full year. Please help us celebrate 20 years of progress. Donate US$20 today (or whatever you can afford).
47 dogs saved from meat trade safe at Chengdu rescue centre
Cage-loads of pitifully ill dogs were taken in at the Qiming centre in Chengdu.
Many of the dogs were already showing signs of chronic disease the day they arrived at the shelter.
Vet nurse Emily gently tends to an ailing dog undergoing an initial health check.
On 31 December 2008, the Qiming Dog Rescue Centre received 149 dogs after they were confiscated from an illegal dog-meat trader. Animals Asia Foundation responded to a request from the centre to help provide emergency veterinary care to these animals. Unfortunately, with the prevalence of contagious disease and with some dogs already sick or injured, the odds were stacked against us in the race for their survival. However, 47 dogs were saved – a testament to the growing opposition in China to the treatment of companion animals as food.
On arrival at the centre, many of the rescued dogs were already showing signs of infectious disease and unfortunately, many of them did not survive the first few days. Given that there are a large number of serious infectious canine diseases endemic in China (including rabies), it was disheartening, but not surprising, to see more dogs later display symptoms of contagious disease.
With initial examinations by our veterinary team under way, Animals Asia set about making improvements to the existing structures at the centre. Roofs were extended above many of the current enclosures and weather-proofing ensured that the dogs were protected from the elements. Dirt floors were concreted over to enable more hygienic cleaning to reduce the spread of disease between animals.
Animals Asia also provided drugs and veterinary supplies including anaesthetics, sedatives, anti-inflammatory drugs, de-wormers, antibiotics, vaccinations, eye drops, swabs, gloves, face masks, blood tubes, syringes, needles, scalpel blades, disinfectant and hand wash, towels, paper towels, protective jackets and trousers, boots and refuse sacks.
Over the course of our visits, a total of 157 health examinations were performed. An assessment of overall health status, approximate weight, body condition, demeanor and temperament were conducted by our trained veterinary professionals. Some dogs received more than one health examination with second or subsequent examinations enabling our staff to assess the dog’s response to treatment or to perform booster vaccinations.
Animals Asia vet Leanne Clark explains. “The spread of infectious disease amongst the dogs was one of our major concerns. Fatal diseases such as canine distemper virus, canine parvovirus and rabies are commonly found in China. The stressful, unhygienic and overcrowded conditions of transport in the dog-meat trade provide the ideal setting for the spread of these infectious diseases. In general, these dogs arrived at the centre in very poor condition and were likely to be highly susceptible to infectious disease.”
Unfortunately, Animals Asia’s veterinary team were faced with the heart-rending task of euthanising many of the dogs, a decision not taken lightly and, over the course of the next few weeks, one that became depressingly common when all treatment and hope was exhausted for each individual.
The positive test results from the majority of euthanised dogs tested for the distemper virus, vindicated our difficult decision to euthanise those dogs showing signs of the disease. Distemper causes a slow, agonising death, and at least we were able to give these dogs the kindness and compassion in death that they never had the chance to experience in their lives.
Ongoing care Jill said that while the loss of so many dogs had been extremely difficult, at least these poor animals were no longer suffering and the survivors had a great chance of a full recovery. “We have 47 dogs alive today and the centre is a different place. Happy, healthy dogs tearing around glad to be alive. We have concreted more enclosures and left instructions with the owner of the centre for ongoing care and management.”
Animals Asia personnel will continue to visit the rescue centre in order to provide ongoing help for the previous “earthquake dogs” under our care. We will also be checking the rescued market dogs and advising Qiming personnel of any problems arising and recommending appropriate treatment and drugs for their own vet to follow.