Posts Tagged ‘Demodectic Canine Mange’

Warning! A Few Things You Should Know Before Getting A Puppy From A Shelter

July 10, 2010

I’ve bought three dogs in my life prior to the one I recently brought home from a shelter – and all three came from backyard breeders.

The first two were Rottweiler/German Shepherd mix brothers (from the same litter) that were sired by the 3/4 Rott 1/4 German Shepherd dog from next door who beat the purebred Rott to the party.  The third was a purebread Rott.

The two mixes were as healthy as could be.  The purebread Rott had an umbilical hernia – for which the breeder took full financial responsibility.

No other health issues.

The two brothers were housetrained in five days.  The purebred Rott was housetrained in a long (albeit very long!!!) July 4th weekend.

Furthermore, I had a pretty good idea what I was getting when I got my backyard-bred pups.  I was able to see both parents (although in the case of the two mix brothers, I had to look over the fence to see the daddy).

And they were healthy.  The two Rott/Shepherd mixes used to go with me on three-day backpacking trips in the Willamette National Forest.  I would hike 12-14 miles a day, while the dogs chased each other through the trees.  They would EASILY run over 300 miles in those three days.  That’s healthy.

Now let me compare that to my little shelter baby.

First of all, you don’t get a whole lot of an idea what kind of a dog you’re getting, what breed it is, or how big it will likely be, if you get a puppy from a city/county shelter.  That may not matter to you.  But if it does, be aware.

In my own case, I got a “hound mix” puppy.  What’s a hound mix?  There are 23 breeds under the category “hound.”  Moreover, the card said she was 2 months old.  But what does that mean?  If the puppy is 7 weeks old, how do they classify it?  What if it’s 11 weeks old?  There’s very little information to go on, and the employees’ knowledge tends to pretty much conform to the card.  If you’re looking for a anything specific, good luck at the shelter.

It turns out my “hound mix” was a part Dachshund, part Labrador puppy.  A Dachsador.  She’s very cute, but I wouldn’t have picked her if I’d known she was part Dachshund.  Without meaning to disparage Dachshunds, I was looking for a bigger, more athletic, and hopefully less stubborn, dog than a Dachshund.

That said, she IS real cute.

Here’s some pictures of my little Dachsador darling:

She’s a cute little Dachsador, isn’t she?  She’s got webbed feet, like a lab, but her legs shorter than a Lab’s, while her body is longer.  At this point, she’s got a nice, athletic, low-center of gravity without being overly “Dachshundy.”  I hope she stays that way.

Even though she wasn’t what I’d set out to adopt, I loved her right away, and wasn’t about to take her back once I found out about the “weiner dog” part.

Well, read on.

The next thing I discovered was that, having lived in a cage for a good two weeks, in which this little piddle-and-poop machine was allowed out maybe twice a day if she was lucky, she was MUCH MUCH harder to housetrain than a non-shelter puppy from a backyard ever was.

If you get a puppy from a shelter, just realize that the staff have literally trained it to be at home laying around its own waste.  You will have a much more difficult time housebreaking your cute little shelter rescue.

But that isn’t the end of it, either.

In my case, I went to the Coachella Valley Animal Campus and bought myself a disease machine, as well.

The Coachella Valley Shelter has a seven day policy during which they will take some degree of responsibility for an animal’s medical condition.  After that, they will impolitely tell you, you are entirely on your own.

In the seven days you have, there is no possible way to find out that your puppy doesn’t have a potentially serious issue.  You rolls the dice and takes your chances.

First it was bordatella, aka kennel cough.  I noticed my puppy was coughing/wretching in a nasty way.  I didn’t know what it was.  Did I tell you that I’ve always obtained my puppies from backyard breeders, and that I’d never had any problems?

That wasn’t good.  But I got ten days’ worth of antibiotics, and it seemed to take care of the problem.

But read on.

Next I began to discover that my little girl had little patches of hair loss.  At first I thought it was from fleas and scratching, so I waited until after she’d had her stitches out from her spaying and gave her a flea bath.

To no avail.

I took her to the Animal Samaritan Hospital for her third multi- shot, and asked to see a vet to diagnose her.  They didn’t have any available vets, as it was “spay and neuter” day, so I got an appointment.

Then I took her next door to the Coachella Valley Animal Campus, hoping to get her seen by a veterinarian there, and was basically treated like slime for suggesting that – given the fact that the puppy they sold me had two serious diseases – they should maybe help me deal with the problem.

Did I tell you about that backyard breeder who took total responsibility of the puppies she sold?

I insisted that it was only right that a vet at least look at her, and the senior vet tech came out, and, without bothering to look at the puppy, started telling me off.  I asked her if it bothered her that she was selling diseased puppies that would literally make a lot of puppy mills look good by comparison?  She indignantly said that the puppy was NOT diseased.

REALLY, MISSES MEDICAL EXPERT?

  • ‘Kennel Cough’ is the term that was commonly applied to the most prevalent upper respiratory problem in dogs in the United States. Recently, the condition has become known as tracheobronchitis, canine infectious tracheobronchitis, Bordetellosis, or Bordetella. It is highly contagious in dogs. The disease is found worldwide and will infect a very high percentage of dogs in their lifetime.
  • Demodicosis, also known as red mange or “demodex”, is a common skin disease of dogs

Here’s a picture of what this “non-disease” can do to a dog:

Then the “senior vet tech” added insult to stupid.  She personally villified me, loudly telling me that I had been nasty since the very first day I had come in, and that she wasn’t going to deal with me any more.

The problem was that 1) I’d never seen this woman before, nor she me, so how could she know how I had acted?  And 2) I have been in that facility a total of four previous times (to pick out a pup, to take the pup home, to get the border kennel antibiotics, to have her stitches out), with either a friend or family member with me each time.  I had never been anything other than pleasant.  I’d never felt that I had any reason to be unpleasant prior to this moment.

The vet tech was trying to demagogue me, turn me into an “angry man” who had no credibility, so that others wouldn’t take what I was saying seriously.

I walked out.  I’ll never darken the door to that shelter again.

The funny thing was I went looking for a mixed breed at the county shelter because I had decided that “mixed breeds” were healthier.  But not from a government animal shelter, they aren’t.

Here’s the bottom line: think twice before you get a dog from a shelter, especially if it’s a puppy.  People love the “politically-correct” aspect of an animal shelter, and how they “rescued” a dog or cat.

If you’re about rescuing a dog or cat, and don’t care how much it will cost you in vet bills, how much suffering your pet may have to endure due to diseases, or how much destruction will likely happen to your carpet before you finally have housetraining under control, then by all means, get your dog from a shelter.  Just do it with your eyes wide open.

Don’t think I’m mocking people who do the above.  I am familiar with people who actually deliberately seek out dogs with serious health issues.  They love dogs, and are willing to go to the wall for animals no one else would want.

On the other hand, if you just want a good, healthy pet, with the least amount of potential horror story to await you, then start looking around the backyards.

Animal shelters are trying to do the right thing.  I wouldn’t argue that.  But you should read Andersonville, just as one example, so you can see that good intentions can literally pave the road to hell.  In the case of Andersonville (or the Union equivalent at Elmira, New York), there were too many inmates and too few resources.  And horror resulted.

At some point, even people who want to do the right thing become part of the disease and horror that they take part in.  This vet tech refused to look at that; so she lashed out at me as “the enemy” instead.  Even though all I wanted was a little help taking care of an animal who had had two serious diseases inflicted on her as a result of the shelter’s kennels.

When I was in the outer kennels of the Coachella Valley Animal Campus, I saw that a good 2/3rds of the dogs were lying in their own feces, their own urine, or in too many cases, both.  There are WAY too many dogs there for the staff to even begin to adequately take care of.

I should have known then what I might be getting myself into.

The Campus is a beautiful facility.  But somebody spent all the money on the appearance of the facility, rather than budgeting for the cost of actually caring for the animals.

This mange might clear up, but from what I’m told, there is a very real possibility that it will be a long-term, very persistent, very expensive condition.

I just wanted a good, healthy dog.

I could take this puppy back to the shelter and say, “YOU deal with her.”  It would satisfy my sense of poetic justice – particularly if I was able to hand her to that vile vet tech.  But that’s just not the way I roll.  I took responsibility for this animal, even if I got screwed by a dirty, disease-ridden, bureaucratic-ridden den of incompetence.

Say what you want about how anti-pc I am, but I will NEVER get a dog from an animal shelter again.  And I strongly advise you that caveat emptor applies more at your government animal shelter than it does your used car lot.